Reporters’ notebook: Why Georgia Tech’s Brent Key is back on social media

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

Credit: Jason Getz

Credit: Jason Getz

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

The following, a 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 it informative, insightful and fun.

Why Brent Key is back on social media

Just ahead of Georgia Tech football’s season-opener in 2023, Brent Key went dark – on social media that is.

Tech’s coach deleted his personal social-media pages in September before his Yellow Jackets played Louisville at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Those accounts remained inactive until May 8 when Key unceremoniously resurfaced on both X, formerly known as Twitter, and Instagram.

“I think it’s an important time right now in the landscape of college football. It’s one of those things I think it’s important for an assistant coach or our players to portray our program the right way, to be marketed,” Key said about resurrecting his accounts. “I don’t read anything on (social media), but thought it was another good vehicle to put our program out there.”

Key’s first post, on both X and Instagram, was to tout his program’s 3.02 GPA, which he reported was the highest team GPA in program history.

Tech baseball standout Jones honored

Tech senior baseball player Cam Jones has been named a semifinalist for the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award.

Jones has been one of the top two-way players in the country, joining the 10-player Olerud Award semifinalist list as the lone representative from the ACC. A Warner Robins native, Jones was hitting .335 entering Thursday’s series opener, with 63 hits, 11 doubles and four home runs with 29 RBIs and reaching base at a .440 clip. He also ranks third in the ACC with 26 stolen bases, having been only caught once.

On the mound, Jones leads the Jackets with a 5.04 ERA over 15 appearances and six starts with a 3-1 record, three saves and two complete games. In his 50 innings of work, the left-hander has allowed only 44 hits and 28 runs, walked 18 and struck out 38. Opponents are hitting only .239 against Jones.

The five finalists for the Olerud Award will be announced during the coming NCAA Tournament, with the winner announced June 17.

Tech golf advances to national championships

Seniors Christo Lamprecht and Bartley Forrester each fired a 4-under-par 66 on Wednesday in leading Georgia Tech to a 7-under-par round of 273 to finish in fourth place at the Chapel Hill Regional and advance to the NCAA Championships for the fifth consecutive time. The Yellow Jackets will be making their 32nd all-time appearance in the event Friday in Carlsbad, California.

Tech has made it through the NCAA regional round each of its past five chances (the NCAA Championship and regionals were not conducted in 2020 because of COVID-19) and 28 times since the NCAA went to the regional qualifying format in 1989.

Clemson, East Tennessee State, North Carolina and Baylor also advanced from the Chapel Hill Regional.

Atlanta United frustrated

Mired in a seven-match winless streak, two of Atlanta United’s veterans expressed their frustrations in different ways after Wednesday’s 1-0 loss at Cincinnati.

Goalkeeper Brad Guzan, the team captain, spoke to a journalist for 8 minutes, 23 seconds.

The longer he spoke, his voice gradually rose in volume and his language became slightly more salty as he tried to explain what is happening, and what can be done to fix the issues.

Dax McCarty, not officially a captain but the most experienced player on the roster, mostly looked straight ahead and spoke in a very serious tone for 4 minutes, 53 seconds.

He looked at his interviewer once when there was a point he wanted to emphasize.

Fantasy break out player

Falcons wide receiver Drake London is embracing the notion that he could be a fantasy breakout player with the addition of veteran quarterback Kirt Cousins.

“Let’s just say, I have a bad taste in my mouth,” said London, who’s headed into his third season. “I’ve got to go out there and play and ball.”

London caught 72 of 117 targets (61.5%) for 866 yards and four touchdowns from quarterbacks Marcus Mariota and Desmond Ridder as a rookie in the 2022 season. He caught 69 of 110 targets (62.7%) for 905 yards and two touchdowns from Ridder and Taylor Heinicke last season.

“You always have something to prove in this league,” London said. “There are always new people coming in. There are always vets who are going to stay there and be great. I want to go out there and make a stand for myself as well. I know what I can do. I know what type of player that I am.”

London on the NFL, NBA player debate

NBA journeyman Austin Rivers, who played at Duke, stated that 30 NBA players could make it in the NFL during an appearance on the Pat McAfee show. It started an NBA versus NFL player debate.

Falcons receiver Drake London, who played basketball and football at USC and averaged 29.2 points per game in high school, believes he could have played in the NBA.

“I’ve seen (some) of the buzz around it,” London said. “I know I feel I can do it. I was a better basketball player coming out of high school. I thought I was going to play basketball, but I’m here now. So, I guess I’m living proof of it.”

Ebiketie went back to his roots

Falcons outside linebacker Arnold Ebiketie, a native of Cameroon, visited over the offseason.

“That was my first time back,” Ebiketie said. “I had such a great time. It was a long flight, but I made it happen. Just visited family. It’s been a long time since I’ve been there. Everything … it felt kind of new because the last time I was there, I was 13. I guess I wouldn’t say it was culture shock all over again. It was different. I enjoyed my time there.”

They watch games in Cameroon, a nation of just over 30 million people located in Central Africa.

“Yeah, actually, when I got to the airport there were some people there,” Ebiketie said. “I don’t know how they found out.”

His family moved to Maryland, outside of Washington, D.C. He played soccer and basketball before making his way to football in high school. He went on to play at Temple and Penn State before he was drafted by the Falcons in the second round of the 2022 draft.

Ebiketie is from same city – Yaounde – as NBA star Joel Embiid of the Sixers.

Former NFL offensive lineman Roman Oben, who played in the league from 1996-2007 and currently is the NFL’s vice president of player development, is from Yaounde. Also, former NFL defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh’s father is native of Cameroon.

Kirby Smart confident in 2024 team

Georgia coach Kirby Smart is not exactly sure where his team will fit in 2024, the first season of college football’s expanded playoff. But clearly, he likes the squad the Bulldogs will put on the field.

That was evident when Smart was interviewed by Paul Finebaum last week at the Traditions golf tournament in Birmingham, Alabama.

“Yeah, we’ll be the favorite in some people’s eyes; some people will find things wrong with us,” Smart said. “We have a really hard schedule. We play three top-15 teams on the road in our conference. That’s tough. But we’ve got a good football team. We’ve got a very consistent football team. We say it all the time, we’re built to sustain at Georgia.”

The three road games Smart was referencing were Alabama (Sept. 28), Texas (Oct. 19) and Ole Miss (Nov. 9). All three are expected to be preseason top 10. The Bulldogs, who have won 47 of their past 49 games spanning four seasons, already have been tabbed No. 1 in a few “way-too-early” preseason polls.

Georgia returns senior quarterback Carson Beck and 21 players overall on offense and defense who have starting experience. The Bulldogs bolstered that with nine incoming transfers, led by former Florida running back Trevor Etienne and All Pac-12 tight end Benjamin Yurosek from Stanford.

“We don’t want to be a one-hit wonder. We don’t want to live and die through the portal,” Smart said. “We want to grow our players signing with us, make them better and then give them an opportunity at the next level and be better contributors to society.

“I think we’re going to have a good football team next year. I don’t know how good and I don’t know how we’ll play in some really tough road games, but we’ll see where it falls.”

Putting L.A. behind them

The Braves haven’t lost a series since getting swept in Los Angeles. Turns out the season didn’t end following that debacle. Entering Friday, they’re 6-2 since that series; the Dodgers are 6-3.

After the Braves face the Cubs in Chicago this coming week, four of their next five series are against losing clubs. They’ll face the Pirates, A’s and Nationals (seven times) along with a two-game trip to Boston. Across June and July, the Braves are scheduled for only 14 of 53 games against teams currently above .500.

ATL supports ATL

Recently, Falcons running back Tyler Allgeier and Braves center fielder Michael Harris II met at Truist Park before a game.

Harris is a die-hard Atlanta sports fan. The Stockbridge High alum roots for the Falcons and Hawks.

So, meeting Allgeier had to be fun. And before the game, the two athletes swapped jerseys.

Matt Olson, another hometown kid, met Allgeier. Olson also is a big Atlanta sports fan.

Falcons schedule talk

The Falcons have only six games against playoff teams from a season ago – the Steelers, Eagles, Chiefs, Cowboys and Buccaneers twice. The first three of those games come in the first three weeks. The final eight games are against teams that missed the 2023 playoffs.

Does it ultimately mean much? No. The NFL is known for a large turnover in its playoff field year-by-year. Some non-playoff teams on the schedule, like the Chargers and Vikings, could be significantly better this time around. The Falcons are hoping they’re among the newcomers to the playoff field.

There are some opposing big-name quarterbacks on the Falcons’ schedule: Russell Wilson, Jalen Hurts, Patrick Mahomes, Baker Mayfield, Dak Prescott and Justin Herbert. They potentially could face first-round rookies in Bo Nix (Denver), J.J. McCarthy (Minnesota) and Jayden Daniels (Washington).

-Staff writers Justin Toscano, D. Orlando Ledbetter, Doug Roberson, Chip Towers, Gabriel Burns and Chad Bishop contributed to this report.