Reporters’ notebook: Tyler Allgeier OK with another running back

Falcons running back Tyler Allgeier (25) warms-up during OTAs at the Atlanta Falcons Training Camp, Wednesday, May 24, 2023, in Flowery Branch, Ga. (Jason Getz /

Credit: Jason Getz /

Credit: Jason Getz /

Falcons running back Tyler Allgeier (25) warms-up during OTAs at the Atlanta Falcons Training Camp, Wednesday, May 24, 2023, in Flowery Branch, Ga. (Jason Getz /

The following, a new weekly feature of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, allows our reporters to open their notebooks and provide even more information from our local teams that we cover daily. We think you’ll find in informative, insightful and fun.

Allgeier excited when Falcons drafted another running back

Falcons running back Tyler Allgeier set a franchise record for rushing yards by a rookie last season with 1,035, breaking the 43-year-old mark that was previously held by William Andrews (1,023 in 1979).

So, was he stunned when the Falcons used the eighth overall pick in the recent NFL draft to select running back Bijan Robinson?

“I was excited,” said Allgeier, who was drafted in the fifth round last season. “The guys upstairs do things for a reason. We are bringing the right guy in here. It’s just competition. That’s the name of this game. Competition. I’m excited for him to come in and see what’s up.”

The Falcons finished third in the league in rushing yards last season when they averaged 159.9 yards per game.

Allgeier, perhaps being polite, said he wasn’t sure if he was consulted about the move.

Both backs were working in the offense during the open OTA on Wednesday.

“He’s trying learn from me, but I’m learning from him,” Allgeier said of Robinson. “Him being an all-around back, that’s my goal. To be an all-around back … protecting the quarterback, obviously running the ball and then just being a threat (out of) the backfield. I’m still struggling to do that, so having him, having us compete with that is good.”

Setting the franchise’s rookie rushing mark is starting to sink in with Allgeier.

“I get that a lot,” Allgeier said. “It took a while. … Now, it’s just building off of that.”

Allgeier enjoyed have some rest over the offseason.

“Going on my rookie January, combine training and then boom, in-season, everything is on a schedule,” Allgeier said. “Then just really taking time off until like Super Bowl week. Just taking that time off to really just gather all of the injuries, gather all of the nick, knacks and bruises, just getting those right. Then just getting back at it. Then just training and now we’re here.”

Ex-Georgia State standout thrilled to be back home

After signing with the Falcons, former Georgia State wide receiver Penny Hart had to call the phone company.

He had to get his phone number changed.

“It was amazing,” said Hart, who played with Seattle for the past three seasons. “It was a surreal moment. Growing up in Roswell, Georgia. Going to King’s Ridge Christian School in Alpharetta. Going to Georgia State University and being here, it means everything.”

The move was a big hit with family and friends.

“It was kind of like a full-circle moment to all be here again and have me home again,” Hart said. “I was five hours away, a five-hour flight away before. Being able to be here and people who haven’t seen me play since high school or college have that opportunity to see the grown-man Penny.”

Hart said he’s been contact with Georgia State athletic director Charlie Cobb and former quarterback Dan Ellington, who’s coaching for the Panthers.

“Everybody over there is extremely excited, whether they reached out to me or not,” Hart said. “The respect goes both ways, and I appreciate that university for everything.”

Hart is 5-foot-8 and 182 pounds and was a reserve wide receiver the past three seasons with the Seahawks. He played in 39 games and was targeted 17 times, catching 11 passes for 82 yards and no touchdowns. He also had 17 tackles on special teams.

Heyward has a story to tell … one day

During an interview with the AJC and WSB Channel 2 Action News, Dodgers outfielder Jason Heyward revisited his Braves days. He indicated he’ll have more to say down the line regarding his departure, which came via trade in November 2014.

“I learned the business side of things pretty early,” Heyward said. “Maybe one day I’ll have the chance to tell the story of how things played out and how I ended up not playing for this team for my whole career. Whatever that looks like. To me, it’s never been about money or anything like that. But it was cool as a fan growing up, playing for the franchise and then competing against them.”

Heyward, who grew up in metro Atlanta, homered against the Braves on Tuesday. He spent his first five seasons with the Braves before he was traded to St. Louis as the team launched a rebuild.

No more tears

Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman didn’t shed any tears in his return to Atlanta this time. It helped to have Heyward alongside him. “Having your best friend here makes it a little bit easier,” Freeman said. “But this time around, it was always going to be a little better.” Freeman spent 12 seasons with the Braves, earning five All-Star nods, the 2020 National League MVP and a World Series ring in 2021.

One trade leads to another

One more piece of Braves history on the Dodgers: right-hander Shelby Miller, who’s doing a nice job (2.91 ERA) in the Dodgers’ bullpen. When the Braves traded Heyward, Miller headlined their return. He was an All-Star for the Braves in 2015.

The team dealt Miller to Arizona the following winter for a package that included shortstop Dansby Swanson. Heyward and Miller certainly played roles in helping build the 2021 champion Braves.

Dream player Rhyne Howard throws out the first pitch before the Braves game against the Dodgers on Wednesday, May 24.  (Photo by Matthew Grimes Jr./Atlanta Braves/Getty Images)

Credit: Getty Images

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Credit: Getty Images

Dream’s Howard gets moment on mound

Rhyne Howard, the Dream’s 2022 WNBA All-Star and Rookie of the Year, threw out the first pitch at the Braves game Wednesday. She became the first Dream player to do so for the Braves in franchise history.

Howard was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 WNBA Draft, was selected as an all-star, won all four Rookie of the Month awards and earned Eastern Conference player-of-the-week honors for the first week of the season in her breakout year. She averaged 16.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.59 steals in 31.3 minutes in 34 games (all starts) last season for the Dream. She finished the season ranked 11th among all WNBA players in scoring average and setting the Dream franchise rookie records for total points (552) and rebounds (154) in her first professional season.

Doing the job in the classroom

Georgia Tech athletes did the job this semester in the classroom. Their average GPA for the 399 Yellow Jackets athletes for the spring was 3.08, the ninth semester in the past 10 that the overall average was 3.0 or better.

Ten programs – baseball, men’s cross country/track and field, women’s cross country/track and field, golf, softball, men’s swimming and diving, women’s swimming and diving, men’s tennis, women’s tennis and volleyball – all had a 3.0 average or better in the spring. Interestingly, the perennially strongest programs in the athletic department – women’s tennis and golf – were especially high achieving. Coach Rodney Shelton’s women’s tennis team had the highest average at 3.66 while coach Bruce Heppler’s golf team had the highest average among men’s teams at 3.34. Both teams also made their respective NCAA tournaments this spring, the golf team for the 25th consecutive season and the women’s tennis team for the 23rd (neither counting the 2020 season canceled by the pandemic).

The three programs that did not make 3.0 – men’s basketball, women’s basketball and football – all improved their GPAs from the fall semester, including football by 24%.

-Staff reporters D. Orlando Ledbetter, Ken Sugiura and Gabriel Burns contributed to this article.