Furthermore, Key spoke this summer about his strategy when it comes to approaching free agency.
“I do have some personal opinions and philosophies on the way I do handle the transfers as far guys and how many years (of eligibility) left versus not many years left,” Key said in July. “There is a certain amount of shared adversity in a locker room that I believe that kids go through, especially at a place like Georgia Tech.
“To bring somebody in that only has six months to play and has already graduated and is just in some sort of second major-type class or whatever? How much of that shared adversity are you truly getting in that locker room?”
One of the most-affected areas on Tech’s roster, as far as transfers are concerned, will be on offense.
Quarterback Jeff Sims left Atlanta after the 2022 season and is expected to start at the position for Nebraska this season. That left Key, offensive coordinator Buster Faulkner and quarterbacks coach Chris Weinke with a QB competition this preseason.
Even with former starters Zach Pyron and Zach Gibson part of that competition, Tech signed Haynes King from Texas A&M. King was a four-star prospect at Longview High (Texas) before enrolling at A&M, where he would go on to have three up-and-down seasons.
King arrived on campus in January and joined the team for spring practice. He acknowledged he was apprehensive about living in a metropolitan city for the first time in his life, but adjusted quickly to life as a Yellow Jacket.
“It was really easy,” he said. “Probably the first month after I moved in I was like, ‘Oh, I can do this.’”
King won the competition with Pyron and Gibson and will start the season opener Sept. 1. Behind King and the QBs in the backfield another transfer was brought in to produce in running back Treyvion Cooley.
Cooley played the past two seasons at Louisville, where he rushed for more than 700 yards. It’s expected that he and Dontae Smith will be a 1-2 punch in Tech’s rushing attack this season.
Then there is the Tech wide receiver group, which has a meeting room filled with transfers.
Dominick Blaylock was a fan favorite at Georgia for four seasons before trading colors in the Tech-UGA rivalry. Blaylock has battled multiple injuries over his career and is looking to return to a freshman form that saw him make 18 catches for 310 yards and five scores.
Chase Lane is a former teammate of King’s who had a solid season at A&M in 2020, when he made 29 receptions for 409 yards. He has only 18 catches in the two seasons since.
Christian Leary played in 18 games for Alabama the past two seasons. Abdul Janneh was an all-conference performer at Duquesne in 2022.
“The good thing, and any coach will tell you this, when you’ve got good depth and you got a lot of talent in your room, it’s a good pressure that you’re able to create,” Tech wide receivers coach Josh Crawford said. “I’m very fortunate to have a lot of guys that I feel like we can roll, and they know when they come to practice every day they have to be on their ‘A’ game. It’s a great group. It’s a tight brotherhood, but they also know that they’re competing. That’s something that we make very clear in the meetings, that it matters, that you go out and that you execute and you know your assignment and you’re where you’re supposed to be.”
Tech also added former Princeton standout Connor Scaglione and Charlotte transfer Jordan Brown to bolster depth on the offensive line.
On defense, Tech is putting its eggs in the transfer basket with four new linebackers, two of which will start alongside returner Trenilyas Tatum.
Like King and Lane, Andre White came from Texas A&M, where he made 139 career tackles for the Aggies while playing four seasons of SEC football.
Braelen Oliver is another veteran at the spot, having spent five seasons at Minnesota. Oliver started 10 games for the Golden Gophers last season.
Austin Dean joined the squad after starting his career at Rutgers. Paul Moala spent one season at Idaho, where he led the Vandals in tackles. He was at Notre Dame before then.
“With my story, and by the grace of God, I just wanted to go until I couldn’t go anymore,” Moala said. “Being granted this opportunity just kind of opened my eyes to God’s plan and what he wants for me. I just taking it with a grain of salt and going as far as I can go, as far as my body will let me.”
Tech’s defensive line now has the additions of Etinosa Reuben from Clemson and Eddie Kelly from South Florida. Omar Daniels, formerly of Kansas State, was brought in to provide depth in the secondary, namely at the nickel position.
The addition of so many transfers for the 2023 team certainly is intended to bridge the gap between coaching tenures, as Key took over for former coach Geoff Collins after four games in 2022. And many of those transfers have eligibility remaining, allowing them to continue their careers at Tech in 2024 and beyond if they chose to do so.
But if Tech is to return to the postseason, those transfers will need to make their presence known sooner rather than later.