Georgia Tech offensive line appears in place ahead of opener

Georgia Tech right guard Ryan Johnson appears to have retained his spot in the starting lineup after starting 10 games in 2020 for the Yellow Jackets. (Danny Karnik/Georgia Tech Athletics)

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Georgia Tech right guard Ryan Johnson appears to have retained his spot in the starting lineup after starting 10 games in 2020 for the Yellow Jackets. (Danny Karnik/Georgia Tech Athletics)

It looks as though Georgia Tech’s offensive line has been set in advance of the season opener against Northern Illinois on Sept. 4 at Bobby Dodd Stadium. The probable lineup is Devin Cochran at left tackle, Kenny Cooper at left guard, Mikey Minihan at center, Ryan Johnson at right guard and Jordan Williams at right tackle.

Cochran, Minihan and Johnson have seemed like near certainties, as Minihan and Johnson are returning starters and Cochran arrived as a grad transfer from Vanderbilt, where he was an effective starter for three seasons.

Offensive-line coach Brent Key tried Williams, who started nine games at right tackle as a freshman, at left guard earlier in preseason practice, but it appears that Kenny Cooper will be the answer there.

“He’s playing at a very, very high level at left guard and gives us the flexibility to play center and guard,” offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude said Tuesday of Cooper.

Kenneth Kirby, a grad transfer from Norfolk State, and Nick Pendley, a transfer from Mississippi State, have competed at right tackle along with Williams. Patenaude indicated that Williams will be the answer there, keeping his starting job.

“Jordan Williams is an NFL tackle, but you have to be able to develop guys in behind him,” Patenaude said. “And over the course of a long season, you have to have eight, nine guys that are very capable of going in there and battling.”

Kirby can play either tackle spot. Pendley could be a backup at guard and tackle. Freshman Weston Franklin and William Lay are candidates to back up Minihan.

“We’ve got guys that can interchange, that can step up at a moment’s notice, can play different positions,” Johnson said. “In an offensive-line setting, that’s huge.”

Among the five, including starts at previous schools for Cochran and Johnson, that’s 109 career starts.

“I think guys are starting to pick up some complex stuff in offensive-line play,” Johnson said. “That, to me, is a really positive sign. Not just doing your job, but being able to do your job when things change around you is really exciting to me.”