Key pleased with Yellow Jackets on and off the field

Georgia Tech head coach Brent Key reacts as he speaks to members of the media following their first day of spring football practice at Bobby Dodd Stadium, Monday, March 11, 2024, in Atlanta. (Jason Getz /

Credit: Jason Getz

Credit: Jason Getz

Georgia Tech head coach Brent Key reacts as he speaks to members of the media following their first day of spring football practice at Bobby Dodd Stadium, Monday, March 11, 2024, in Atlanta. (Jason Getz /

As Georgia Tech goes into its final week of spring practice, second-year coach Brent Key appears pleased with his team – not just with their efforts thus far on the field, but its makeup off the field.

“If I stand up here and I haven’t felt that in a day you’ll notice it in my face. I’ll promise you that,” Key said when asked if he has been satisfied with his squad during spring ball. “They’re a fun group to coach. They really are. It’s a good group of guys. We practice hard, we practice long. Human nature, people don’t want to go out every day and bang around and run and be yelled at to run faster and bang around harder. These guys have come out every day with the right frame of mind.”

Key’s second spring in charge of the Jackets is markedly different than his first to be sure.

The former Tech offensive lineman has a large host of returning playmakers of both sides of the ball and the majority of his offensive assistants back as well. But he also brought in a number of new defensive coaches and a few off-the-field staff members to help strengthen the program’s core in a number of ways.

Allen Mogridge and Tim Salem are two of those newcomers who are both serving Key as senior advisors. Mogridge has been in the college game more than 20 years, Salem more than 35.

“They have the ability to affect kids,” Key said about the pair of coaching veterans. “That’s something I, every single day, ask from everybody in the entire building. You have to have the ability to positively affect these kids every single day. If you’re not doing that you’re not building those relationships with our current guys on the current team, with guys in recruiting, with families, with families in recruiting- really, in this day and age in college football, if you can’t do those things, there’s really probably not going to be a place for you on a college football staff.

“To be able to bring those guys in, that have experience and the wealth of knowledge they have, they’ll be able to help us in a lot of ways as the season gets near.”

Key’s staff being whole for the time being has translated to consistent effort on the field through 12 spring practices. Key said there has only been one day in which the Jackets were moving at a pace a bit slower than his liking – that was addressed and corrected the next time out, he assured.

Coaching continuity has been important for the Jackets, too, with co-offensive coordinators Buster Faulkner and Chris Weinke, offensive line coach Geep Wade, running backs coach Norval McKenzie and special teams coordinator Ricky Brumfield returning for the 2024 season. Key then brought in some new blood and new energy with wide receivers coach Trent McKnight and defensive assistants Jess Simpson, Cory Peoples and Kyle Pope.

Those moves, according to Key, have paid early dividends for a team aiming to improve on a 7-6 record and fourth-place finish in the ACC.

“It’s a fun group of coaches to see the way they work, the way they work at the game, the way they work at building relationships with the kids, the way they work at recruiting,” Key said. “As a leader, as a head coach, to be able to say something to the staff in the staff meeting and know that you don’t have to circle back around the next day on it to know that it’s been carried out, not just in the moment but the next day whether it’s through the meetings with the guys then carried out throughout the entire practice and then built upon later on, that’s when you know have a good staff being around you that all are on the same page.”

After an off day Monday, Tech is scheduled to resume practice Tuesday, hold another workout Wednesday and then a walk through Friday ahead of the program’s annual spring game at 1 p.m. Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium. From there the Jackets will be off until officially resuming team practices July 22 ahead of the Aug. 24 opener against defending ACC champion Florida State in Dublin, Ireland.

Key said the time between Saturday and that fourth Monday in July will be an important period for strength training, team bonding and mental conditioning.

“We got a lot of work to do between now and (fall camp),” Key said. “I think if we can continue with the right mindset, coming out each day with these guys coming out wanting to get better, I think we’ll have a chance to do some good things, especially when June gets here and we’ll have a complete team here.”