In Year 2, Buster Faulkner looks to take Georgia Tech’s offense to new heights

Georgia Tech quarterback Haynes King, center, jogs with wide receiver Malik Rutherford (8) during their first day of spring football practice at Rose Bowl Field, Monday, March 11, 2024, in Atlanta. (Jason Getz /

Credit: Jason Getz

Credit: Jason Getz

Georgia Tech quarterback Haynes King, center, jogs with wide receiver Malik Rutherford (8) during their first day of spring football practice at Rose Bowl Field, Monday, March 11, 2024, in Atlanta. (Jason Getz /

Georgia Tech took a major leap forward on offense in 2023. What the Yellow Jackets can come up with for an encore in 2024 has those on that unit salivating this spring.

“The most exciting thing is we got a lot of guys back, right? And then we got a lot of guys here, early enrollees, that we signed in January,” Tech offensive coordinator Buster Faulkner said Wednesday. “I think we’ve got like 38 of 43 guys that are on scholarship going into the fall that are already here.

“Obviously, it’s a new season. What we did last year, it doesn’t matter. We’re just looking to improve every day. We obviously gotta be more explosive, be more explosive in the passing game and continue to run the football. That’s gonna be who we are.”

Along with co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Chris Weinke, Faulkner has most all of his weapons back, and then some, at the start of Tech’s spring practice, the second of which was held Wednesday morning at Rose Bowl Field. Quarterback Haynes King, running back Jamal Haynes, wide receivers Eric Singleton and Malik Rutherford and four of five starting offensive linemen have returned for 2024 to try to improve the nation’s 13th-best rushing offense, 34th-best total offense and 43rd-best scoring offense.

A former Parkview High and Valdosta State quarterback, who reportedly was a candidate to be the head coach at Middle Tennessee and Georgia State and rumored to be a target for Kentucky’s offensive coordinator opening, Faulkner added Wednesday that Tech qualifying for the 2023 Gasparilla Bowl in December tremendously helped his unit’s development.

“The retention has been really, really high,” he said. “These kids have done a great job of retaining a lot of the information we gave them in the fall and the new things that we’ve added.”

The head of Tech’s offensive snake is King, a junior, who threw for 2,842 yards and 27 touchdowns last season to go with 737 yards and a team-leading 10 scores on the ground. If there was one bugaboo, it was King’s interception total, which climbed to 16 by season’s end.

King, from Texas and a Texas A&M graduate, will go into his second season with a chance to continue to climb the leaderboard for career passing records at Tech, despite having played only 13 games for the Jackets thus far.

And, realistically, King’s second season with Tech could very well be his last if he positions himself well enough to be a possible NFL draft pick.

“At any level, if you have success, it’s hard the next year. One, with all the expectations. Two, people like to get complacent. It doesn’t work like that,” King said. “You have to do more. You’re either getting better or you’re getting worse. You can’t stay the same. Everybody else is getting better. So you getting better as well, or you just trying to stay the same, which in the long run is, you’re gonna be getting worse. Never get complacent and always work.”

Credit: Chad Bishop

King’s return isn’t the only reason for excitement when it comes to Tech’s offense. Haynes, a sophomore, rushed for 1,059 yards and seven scores in 2023. Singleton, Rutherford and Christian Leary combined for 119 receptions for 1,525 yards and 12 touchdowns. Offensive linemen Weston Franklin, Joe Fusile, Jordan Williams, Corey Robinson and Ethan Mackenny combined to play 3,262 snaps last year.

Only the tight end position, which saw the departure of Dylan Leonard and Luke Benson, is an area of question. But senior Brett Seither (seven catches for 101 yards and four TDs in 2023) leads that group, which now includes transfers Ryland Goede from Mississippi State and Jackson Hawes from Yale.

Tech also brought in plenty of reinforcements in the offseason to build depth. Offensive lineman Keylan Rutledge joined the program from Middle Tennessee, and 10 of the team’s 15 early enrollees play an offensive position.

It will be up to Faulkner and his offensive staff to put those players, newcomers and returners alike, in better position not only to produce more statistics, but to win more games.

“I think the next step in everything with me revolves around winning,” he said, “And what do we gotta do to continue to win games and take that next step forward and be able to compete for an ACC championship?”