Citing “recent uncertainty in the program,” Georgia Tech defensive tackle Mike Lockhart has made his decision to enter the transfer portal. The third-year player became the third member of the defense to make that decision since Friday, increasing to 11 the number of Yellow Jackets players who have sought to transfer since the end of the season. He announced his intention via social media.
Lockhart played all 12 games last season as a backup and was in position to compete for a starting position.
Lockhart follows defensive back Wesley Walker and defensive end Jordan Domineck with their recent decisions to transfer since Friday. Walker and Domineck were returning starters.
Having 11 players leave by transfer since the end of the season isn’t out of the ordinary. As of Monday, four other ACC teams had had double-digit players go in the portal in that time, according to the 247Sports transfer-portal tracker: Boston College, Florida State, Louisville and Virginia.
A 2019 signee from Birmingham, Alabama, Lockhart was one of the prospects whose recruitment to Tech began after coach Geoff Collins’ hire in December 2018. He played in four games in 2019 as a redshirt, then appeared in 21 of the Jackets’ 22 games over the past two seasons, starting seven. He has three years of eligibility remaining.
This past season, Lockhart had a total of nine tackles, tied for third on the team among defensive tackles. He played 169 of the team’s 826 defensive snaps, according to Pro Football Focus, fourth most among defensive tackles after Djimon Brooks, Ja’Quon Griffin and T.K. Chimedza. His playing time was reduced by Tech’s usage of a 3-3-5 defense, which used one tackle as opposed to the two needed in the 4-2-5.
Of those four, Chimedza is the lone returnee, although tackles Zeek Biggers is among other tackles coming back. Tech will be further fortified with the addition of incoming freshman defensive tackles K.J. Miles and Horace Lockett.
Walker also named “recent uncertainty” within Collins’ team as his reason for going into the portal in his announcement posted on Twitter.
As Collins goes into his fourth season following three consecutive three-win seasons, his staff has undergone considerable turnover since the end of the season. Six of the 10 assistant coaches have left, three by dismissal, as well as general manager Patrick Suddes and director of applied sports science Ryan Horton, among others.
Further, there is a recognition that Collins’ job will likely be on the line this fall.
Moreover, the three players leaving this weekend were preceded by a number of starters or key backups departing – running back Jahmyr Gibbs, defensive end Jared Ivey, wide receiver Adonicas Sanders, quarterback Jordan Yates – that will heighten Collins’ challenge of producing a winning record.
Tech begins spring practice Thursday.