MOBILE, Ala. — Georgia Tech hired Brent Key as its head coach following an impressive run as the interim coach last season. Defensive lineman Keion White, an outgoing Yellow Jacket who will hear his name called early in the NFL draft this year, approved of that decision.
White is in Mobile for the Senior Bowl, trying to showcase his freakish athletic ability and earn a spot in the first round. During his on-field, post-practice media availability Tuesday, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution asked White for his thoughts on Key’s hiring.
“That’s my guy,” White said. “He really rallied the (locker) room. I think he showed he brought the room together and that he earned that position for sure.”
Key, a Tech alum, went 4-4 as the interim coach after the Jackets dismissed Geoff Collins. The .500 mark was a notable success: Collins never won more than three games in any of his three full campaigns.
Under Key, Tech earned two ranked road wins, upsetting Pittsburgh and North Carolina. The latter victory ended the Tar Heels’ long-shot playoff hopes and helped foil quarterback Drake Maye’s Heisman Trophy bid. Key’s two ranked wins in eight games were more than Collins achieved in 38 contests (one).
“If (Georgia Tech) can just build on what we kind of finished with at the end of the year, I think that’ll be really good,” White said. “They just have to find their leadership in the locker room, which is a big thing we had to do, and every team has to go through it. Have those guys really take control of the locker room. They define what their season’s going to be, not really the coaches. It’s the guys in the locker room because at the end of the day, the coaches aren’t the ones playing, the guys are.”
White has a bright future ahead of him. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper has the edge rusher going No. 19 overall to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in his latest mock draft. NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah ranks White as the No. 8 overall player in the class.
“Overall, White is one of my favorite players in the class and could emerge as the top defender in the class,” Jeremiah said.
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Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com