What grad transfer Kyric McGowan brings to the table for Georgia Tech

In 2019, the transfer portal produced two full-time starters and captains for Georgia Tech in tight end Tyler Davis and Jared Southers. In 2020, another grad transfer, right guard Ryan Johnson, arguably was the team’s best offensive lineman and also a captain.

In Kyric McGowan, a grad-transfer wide receiver from Northwestern and Dalton High – one of three grad transfers joining the team for the 2021 season – coach Geoff Collins has another strong candidate to furnish the Yellow Jackets with production and leadership.

Catching 47 passes in the past two seasons as a starter speaks to his play. Matt Land, McGowan’s coach at Dalton, can address the leadership.

“In my 28 years at Dalton, he’s probably one of the top two or three most coachable kids I’ve ever coached,” Land told the AJC.

For a team that lost its leaders in receptions, receiving yardage and touchdown catches for both of the past two seasons – Jalen Camp (2020) and Ahmarean Brown (2019) – McGowan’s arrival is timely. McGowan sees an opportunity to produce on the field and be an influence on a position group that will have a number of freshmen and sophomores.

McGowan said he has three goals – to win as many games as possible, grow as a leader and put up numbers.

“They’re excited with the leadership I can bring, and the experience,” McGowan said of Collins and wide receivers coach Kerry Dixon.

McGowan said that he decided to transfer after the Wildcats played Ohio State for the Big Ten championship Dec. 19. While it was his senior season, he said he had been planning to return for the extra season granted to all fall-sports athletes if he didn’t think he was ready to take his shot at the NFL.

“I just felt like I had accomplished everything at Northwestern that I could do, and that’s get my degree and play for a championship, and I did that,” McGowan said. “It was a good run, but I felt I was ready for something new.”

After putting his name in the transfer portal, Tennessee, Duke, Purdue and Kansas State were among teams that he considered other than Tech. The Jackets had a couple of advantages in their favor. One, Tech is in McGowan’s home state. Two, he is close friends with Tech running back Jahmyr Gibbs and linebacker John Ross, a freshman walk-on linebacker, who both played for Dalton High.

“I only heard good things from them when it came to speaking on the staff and speaking on the culture and them knowing me and who I am as a person and what I like and what I value,” McGowan said. “They knew I would be a good fit for Tech, too, so it was good to hear from them.”

Being close to Gibbs and Ross, he also had watched a number of Tech games this year. From that perspective and also being shown clips of the offense by Collins and Dixon on videoconference calls, McGowan liked what he saw.

“They told me and showed me the different ways they’re going to get the ball in my hands, and also special teams and the return team,” he said. “I’m just really excited.”

Land, his coach at Dalton, helped sell him to Collins, telling him that “the thing that you’re going to love about this kid is his high character,” Land said. “He’s a kid that’s going to be very coachable. He’s going to be a kid that’s going to echo the message that you’re driving home as a coaching staff.”

McGowan, 5-foot-11 and 205 pounds, was a favorite target for Northwestern quarterback Peyton Ramsey this season with an ability to win balls against tight coverage, run sharp routes and adjust to the ball.

He made a standout play in the Wildcats’ win over Wisconsin on Nov. 21. Running across the middle about 20 yards downfield, McGowan had to stop his route when Ramsey’s throw was behind him. McGowan left his feet to reach back to gather in the throw, fully extending to bring in the ball just off the ground. The fourth-quarter catch converted a third-and-10, helping the Wildcats bring down then-No. 10 Wisconsin.

A catch made by former Northwestern wide receiver Kyric McGowan against Wisconsin on Nov. 21, 2020, in Evanston, Ill. McGowan is a grad transfer to Georgia Tech.
A catch made by former Northwestern wide receiver Kyric McGowan against Wisconsin on Nov. 21, 2020, in Evanston, Ill. McGowan is a grad transfer to Georgia Tech.

Credit: Youtube/Gifrun

Credit: Youtube/Gifrun

McGowan caught 34 passes for 366 yards this season and also had 24 carries for 141 yards and a touchdown. McGowan sometimes lined up in the backfield, but took many of his carries running jet sweeps, where he showed quick acceleration and a willingness to lower his shoulder pads to finish runs. McGown also led the team in kickoff returns this season, with seven returns for 178 yards.

With his versatility, McGowan figures to have a spot in offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude’s offense. Having graduated in December from Northwestern with a degree in learning and organizational change, McGowan can enroll for the spring semester – he will pursue a master’s in building construction and facility management – and take part in spring practice.

McGowan described himself as thankful for the opportunity to play at Northwestern and for the relationships that he made with teammates and coaches. But he’s on to a new chapter.

“It’s a big plus that I get to play in front of my home state and close to family and friends,” McGowan said. “It was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down.”

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