Trio of Georgia Tech quarterbacks competing for starting job

All eyes are on Georgia Tech’s quarterback competition this month. Four days into the team’s preseason practice, Chris Weinke likes what he’s seen from his pupils.

“I’ve had the opportunity to coach a lot of quarterbacks over the years, and I always look for makeup first. This summer, this is about as excited as I’ve been approaching a fall training camp,” Weinke said Friday after Tech’s fourth practice of the preseason. “The reason I say that is because of the young men in that room. To me, the most fun being a coach is when you have competition.

“I go out there every day with energy and enthusiasm because I’m so excited to get on the grass and coach these guys. I’m looking forward to seeing how this thing unfolds, but right now I’m enjoying the ride. Continuing to develop these guys each and every day, and it’s been a lot of fun.”

Credit: Chad Bishop

Weinke, in his second season with the program as the team’s quarterbacks coach (and in his first as a co-offensive coordinator), will be working with coach Brent Key and fellow offensive coordinator Buster Faulkner in trying to determine which of the quarterbacks on Tech’s roster gives the Yellow Jackets the best chance to win. Three of those seven signal-callers, Zach Pyron, Haynes King and Zach Gibson, have the most-likely shot at taking the first snap Sept. 1 when Tech faces Louisville at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Pyron played in three games in 2022, Gibson appeared in six and King transferred in from Texas A&M.

“I prepare every day as if I’m going to be the starter. That’s the expectation coach Weinke sets in the quarterback (meeting) room,” Pyron said. “No matter where you are on the depth chart, you prepare every game and every practice as if you’re the starter.

“So I’m kind of just taking it one day at a time, focused on how I can get one percent better every day and sustain over the course of fall camp to become a better quarterback and put myself in a position to perform and hopefully lead this team and just focus on taking it one practice at a time and letting my work speak for myself.”

As a freshman, Pyron made waves in November when he led the Jackets to a 28-27, come-from-behind victory at Virginia Tech. But the following week against Miami, the Alabama native broke his clavicle in a 35-14 loss.

Since then the 6-foot-3, 208-pound Pyron has focused on rebuilding strength in his shoulder and improving his game to possibly take over the reigns of the Tech offense.

“I want to win a lot of games this year. I want to win a lot of games,” he said. “I think the team sees that, so I think it’s easy to lead a bunch of guys that are wanting to (follow).”

Gibson started his career at Akron after graduating from Johns Creek High in 2019. He threw for 589 yards in 2022 and led the Jackets to a 21-17 win at North Carolina in November.

King has been a starting quarterback before, before the start of the 2021 and 2022 seasons when he played for Texas A&M. But up-and-down results and injuries made King’s career numbers inconsistent before he opted for a change of scenery.

“The transition was actually very fun, very good,” King said. “At first coming here, this is a big city, never been in one. Always kind of, like, a little small-town vibe that I’ve always been in. When I got here I was very welcomed by all my teammates. That’s really what made all the transition very fun and very good. It was really easy.

“Probably after the first month after I moved in I was like, ‘I can do this.’”

Credit: Chad Bishop

Faulkner said this week that the quarterback that can separate himself from the rest of his peers will have proved that he is, “the toughest guy in the building.”

“The beauty of coach Weinke and I, we see it the same way. Didn’t know each other seven months ago, and the first time we talked, we talked about quarterbacks, and it was spot-on. We’re aligned as far as that goes,” Faulkner said. “As far as the race we’re going to have, all three guys are getting reps, they’re getting plenty of reps, they’re all getting an opportunity to play, and whoever comes out on top you guys will know when we know – or maybe the first play of the first game. We’re in no hurry to announce it, that’s for sure.”

Tech moved away from option football in 2019, and the program is still searching for its first 2,000-yard passer since then. Jeff Sims, now at Nebraska, threw for 1,881 yards in 10 games in 2020. Taylor Bennett was the last Jacket to throw for 2,000 yards in a season, in 2007. George Godsey (2001) and Joe Hamilton (1999) are the only Tech QBs to throw for 3,000 in a single season.