QB Reggie Ball

2005 Statistics

Coach: Chan Gailey
28-22, 4 years
2005 Record: 7-5
at Auburn WON 23-14
at Virginia Tech LOST 7-51
at Duke WON 35-10
at Virginia LOST 17-27
at Miami FL WON 14-10
vs. Utah LOST 10-38

2005 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-24

2006 Outlook

Chan Gailey has only had modest success in his four years at Tech (28-22 overall), never earning more than seven wins – well, that has actually been the total number of victories each of his years. He has NFL experience and has worked on both sides of the ball as an assistant. Still, with his trailer hitched to talented-but-inconsistent dual-threat QB Reggie Ball each of the last three years, some stacked Yellow Jacket squadrons have been hampered by his signal-caller’s potential never being fulfilled. Last campaign, Ball shocked many by looking good in leading GT to a 23-14 win in the opener against Auburn, and proved he can manage and win big games (at times). But after suffering a dismal 38-10 defeat to (non-BCS aligned) Utah in the Emerald Bowl, many wonder what ’06 will disseminate. A win this year’s opener against top-ranked Notre Dame – a home date – would silence many, but forget that premise two straight seasons.

More likely, Tech rides its defense to stay competitive against even the best foes, but Ball just cannot be relied upon to take Tech to any next level(s). Their best bet is to limit Ball’s throws and try to look to the future with a chosen backup (Bennett shows most promise after hurling five TDs in final spring scrimmage). Otherwise, all-American Calvin Johnson will never truly reach his huge potential. He is so good, all he has to do is get the rock and he, along with a talented WR corps, can carry this team, as can an already-gelled OL and tough set of big RBs. Really, Ball could step up anytime and have the huge impact he always promises, but managing this talented group should be his/their goal. The defense (ranked in the top 25 nationally in most categories in ’05) is good enough to hold a lead if provided, but developments at safety and MLB have to occur to keep foes from exploiting the deep middle. With so many special teams issues, close games can go either way, so there are just too many uncertain variables to make us think this will definitely be a big year in Atlanta.

Crucial tilts with four ACC foes in five weeks – starting in Blacksburg and ending in Raleigh – will dictate where the Ramblin’ Wreck wind up, and the ender with their in-state rival UGA (a game Gailey has never won) could foretell whether Gailey is even retained. The range of how many wins Tech has by bowl time is so vast that only watching this hugely talented team will assure what they do. We wish we knew, but they will bring it each week and smack all in the mouth before being ultimately dispensed.

Projected 2006 record: 7-5
QB - 4 DL - 3.5
RB - 3 LB - 3.5
WR - 4 DB - 2.5
OL - 3.5 ..

Passing: Reggie Ball, 379-182-12, 2165 yds., 11 TD

Rushing: Tashard Choice, 117 att., 513 yds., 6 TD

Receiving: Calvin Johnson, 54 rec., 888 yds., 6 TD

Scoring: Travis Bell, 11-21 FG, 27-27 PAT, 60 pts.

Punting: none

Kicking: Travis Bell, 11-21 FG, 27-27 PAT, 60 pts.

Tackles: KaMichael Hall, 64 tot., 38 solo; Philip Wheeler, 64 tot., 36 solo

Sacks: KaMichael Hall, Philip Wheeler - 4 each

Interceptions: Philip Wheeler, 4 for 18 yds.

Kickoff Returns: Rashaun Grant, 11 ret., 22.6 avg., 0 TD

Punt Returns:
Pat Clark, 30 ret., 6.4 avg., 0 TD


CB Kenny Scott
OFFENSE: P.J. Daniels-TB, Damarius Bilbo-WR, Brad Honeycutt-OT
DEFENSE: Eric Henderson-DE, Gerris Wilkinson-LB, Dennis Davis-CB, Chris Reis-SS, Dawan Landry-FS, Ben Arndt-P

The entire team’s destiny starts and ends with how well Reggie Ball does in his final season. He isn’t big and makes some funky throws, but his abilities to run, roll out and improvise have carried Tech to victories against some major foes (in 2005, he beat Auburn, Clemson and ran for the winning score versus Miami). The Stone Mountain senior has learned to manage a game adequately, but he still has consistency problems and makes errant throws too often, which ultimately cost. Still, this is the hand the Yellow Jackets are again dealt, so fans can only keep their fingers crossed week to week. Taylor Bennett isn’t quite Ball, and this dual-threat sophomore is (for now) their next option. “Nothing is etched in stone”, is how head coach Chan Gailey’s approach could wriggle either RS soph Kyle Manly or RS frosh Jonathan Garner ahead of Taylor. Garner seems to have an eerily similar quality to Ball – “Sometimes Jonathan doesn’t look pretty in practice, but every time he gets into a scrimmage situation, he moves the team.” Neither Buford-native Manly nor Garner has real game reps under their belts, but both had huge prep successes. Still, Taylor saw the field (started versus Connecticut and won 28-13) in ‘05, so he “is a solid No.2 right now.”

Running Back
Junior Tashard Choice takes over the TB slot with great promise after transferring from Oklahoma (had unfortunate luck of being Adrian Peterson’s backup, which likely meant little-to-no playing time). From Riverdale, he came home to apply his wares. Strong between the tackles as well as having speed for taking corners, he can also burn opposing defenses in the flat. Classmate Rashaun Grant is just as good a running/catching choice as Choice. Grant proved his worth when he stepped in and was voted to the freshman all-ACC second team, so his rebound from last season’s injury will bolster the ground game. FB Mike Cox is a great lead inside and out, but “Bull” needs to see more rushing attempts to compliment his well-established soft hands. Depth at FB isn’t as multi-dimensional as Cox, but the TBs behind Choice and Grant will keep the offense from skipping a beat – especially true freshman Jamaal Evans (Rivals No.6 RB in this year’s class, he enrolled early to be at spring drills and excelled). Any back will prosper with Ball keeping defenders honest.

Calvin Johnson earned all-American status (second team, AP – 2005; NationalChamps.net - 2006) as a sophomore, and is too good not to get even better. This Tyrone-native catches anything and everything Ball throws (accurately) his way, and guarantees any QB’s completion rate to be 10% higher (opposing secondaries have to put two men on him, or else). At 6’4” and 235lbs, he can go underneath with the same decimating effectiveness as when he goes deep and wins jump balls. Sophomore James Johnson (no relation) is smaller, but a step faster. He should have a breakout year with DBs concentrating on the other side. Xavier McGuire, who is big like C. Johnson, and Chris Dunlap, both seniors, are not nearly as proven, but these two are the primary depth and need to produce results since they will be in so many one-on-one situations, too. A trio of talent (especially Martin Frierson) will provide quality depth, enough such that last campaign’s fourth-leading snarler, Pat Clark, has been moved to the Tech secondary. Corey Earls, a true freshman, looks like the fastest Yellow Jacket, so don’t be surprised if this guy from Macon also sees reps. Really, the only question is whether Ball will be able to get all involved.

Tight End
George Cooper and Mike Matthews are a couple of Ohio-based seniors who can both block as well as they go over the middle. Cooper will likely remain the coaches’ main choice play-in and play-out, but Matthews cannot be ignored when inserted (mainly in two-TE sets), though his huge size has meant nagging injuries. Depth here exists and is seasoned, but this position seems to be under-utilized in the passing game (only 12 catches combined).

Offensive Line
Four starters return and are joined by a converted DE to form an underdog OL that will surprise many. Mansfield Wrotto is a senior with enough size, strength and mobility that he will change sides of the ball with excellent effect at right tackle. Andrew Gardner started every game last campaign and was a first-team freshman all-American in the process. Along with Ball’s elusiveness, this left tackle is the main reason Tech only suffered 10 sacks in ’05. A trio of experienced juniors will make running inside (with their 200+ pound backs) a sure thing. C Kevin Tuminello started every game in ’05 and his keen eye (ACC all-Academic) in calling the blocking schemes is a major reason Tech ranked third in the conference for rushing. RG Nate McManus also started throughout the 2005 term – he has proven his freshman all-ACC status was no fluke. Matt Rhodes had 15 knockdown blocks against rival Georgia’s 13th ranked defense. These three, along with Gardner, are all under 300lbs. and can get outside to protect Ball’s improvising as well as pull-block. Four other lettermen return with a bunch of talented recruits to make this line deep and formidable.

There is too much talent at WR for Reggie Ball to again hit under 50% of his tries (48% in ’05) and think he has fulfilled his potential. When Ball is on the ball, he can lead Tech to wins against the nation’s elite. But his streaky play has taken Tech on too many weekly rollercoaster rides that truly make fans (in a bad way) feel like they are riding in a Ramblin’ Wreck. But, often as not, just when foes think Ball is having a poor game, he leads GT down the field with his improvising. All-world Calvin Johnson definitely has a job on Sundays once he leaves, but we may never see his potential fulfilled with Ball behind center all year. The entire corps is talented and just needs to have the “ball” delivered. Inside running with their well-sized backs and experienced line means sure yards, so it is up to Ball to keep LBs honest in coverage. Expect to see some of the other QBs a bit more, seeing how one of them (likely Bennett) will inherit the signal calling duties. Their offensive depth and talent levels mean Ball just has little excuse (besides his own quality of play) not to make the Yellow Jackets into a Top 25 team by year’s end.


WR Calvin Johnson


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Reggie Ball-Sr (5-11, 195) Taylor Bennett-So (6-3, 215)
FB Mike Cox-Jr (6-1, 245) Justin Guadagni-So (6-1, 232)
TB Tashard Choice-Jr (6-1, 205) Rashaun Grant-Jr (5-10, 200)
WR James Johnson-So (6-0, 190) Chris Dunlap-Sr (5-11, 200)
WR Calvin Johnson-Jr (6-4, 235) Xavier McGuire-Sr (6-4, 215)
TE George Cooper-Sr (6-5, 260) Michael Matthews-Sr (6-4, 270)
OT Andrew Gardner-So (6-6, 290) A.J. Smith-So (6-7, 280)
OG Matt Rhodes-Jr (6-3, 285) LeShawn Newberry-Jr (6-0, 320)
C Kevin Tuminello-Jr (6-4, 285) Trey Dunmon-Fr (6-4, 285)
OG Nate McManus-Jr (6-3, 295) Jacob Lonowski-So (6-5, 290)
OT Mansfield Wrotto-Sr (6-3, 210) Will Miller-Fr (6-5, 290)
K Travis Bell-Jr (6-0, 210) David Jordan-Sr (6-4, 210)



Defensive Line
The shakeup here due to Wrotto switching to offense should not hurt Tech’s 13th ranked run stopping efforts. Junior end Adamm Oliver and senior Joe Anoai are the returning starters who will both lead this line. Darrell Robertson will man the other end slot, and should be able to pick up the sack slack. With his 4.5 speed, this Jonesboro-native can even drop into coverage effectively so that Oliver can effectively stay home to stop RBs or bull rush. Converted-TE Mike Johnson (6’7”) is also athletic to add depth in all dimensions. DT Anoai penetrates well enough to make his across-the-board efforts invaluable. Darryl Richard was ready but had to be red-shirted in ’05 due to a blown knee, and now he returns at the other starting tackle slot. This over-achieving soph started four games as a freshman with amazing impact and may turn out with the best stats of any from this unit. Experienced sophomores Vance Walker and Elris Anyaibe round out the sub-300lb. insiders and will keep legs fresh. (Lack of) size at tackle has not been a negative thing, and the DL’s overall speed is intimidating for both sideline-to-sideline stopping as well as sack prowess.

Senior KaMichael Hall is the leader of a corps that, like the DTs, plays much bigger than they seem. Hall does it all, making coverage and open field tackles that mean he can be left on an island as confidently as he slips blocks. Only a sophomore, Philip Wheeler is just as well-rounded. This Columbus-native is just realizing his potential, so expect even more (11.5 TFLs and four INTs) as his upside compliments Hall to make Tech scary good at stopping foes underneath. Junior Gary Guyton has impressed enough as a top backup to earn the middle slot. From Hinesville, Guyton will be tested early when bigger RBs run right at him, so weighing in at 230lbs. has to equal major stopping force. He only bolsters Tech’s worthy coverage schemes. Travis Chambers and Taalib Tucker give this unit experience in the two-deep. These guys, in any combo, epitomize the gang tackling and the team play Tech will again use to likely improve the front seven’s performance. Most important will be their speed for aiding GT’s decimated secondary (see below).

Defensive Back
Senior Kenny Scott is the lone returning starter here for a revamped secondary that, surprisingly, is neither young nor inexperienced. At 6’2”, Scott proves effective versus the best ACC WRs, and comes up with big plays at all the right times. Jamal Lewis seems to have the other corner slot secured. Either can be left alone outside, and quality open field tackling from both makes opposing RBs unable to easily take the corner(s). The safety slots may not hold up as well, with two new starters in junior Djay Jones and senior Joe Gaston. They replace all-ACC guys, so expect some drop off early. But both have experience in Tech’s schemes and have shown physicality (via excellent special teams play). Gaston can really do damage in coverage, and Jones as eighth man in the box will compliment the run-stopping efforts well. Safety depth isn’t as good, so injuries here could have major impact on the Yellow Jackets’ D. With such a good front seven, this unit will be tested early and must keep the play in front of them until they gel, or they will get burnt often.

Tech’s defense returns most of their two-deep roster, and after finishing ranked nationally in the top 25 in most major categories, expectations can be for an even better showing, except in pass defense. This team relies on the D to bail out the inconsistencies of Reggie Ball, and they will again respond in kind – week-in and week-out, they can keep the Yellow Jackets from hard losses (only Virginia Tech and Utah took them to the shed in ’05) and can actually win games. The only possible hole in this defense is the deep middle, with two new starters at safety and one at MLB. Foes would be smart to send multiple WRs and TEs in this area until GT proves they have the cohesive effort(s) to stop such. And if an opposing team can run up the gut and pull eight into the box, it will be that much easier to do everything. This is a fast, undersized group (for a BCS-aligned school) that has the speed and toughness to work well as a unit for optimum results (29% conversion for opponent’s third-downs proves much). But Tech was down collectively by an aggregate score of 145-113 by halftime – the offense just has to give them some halftime leads and these guys can then hold on.


LB KaMichael Hall


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Darrell Robertson-Jr (6-5, 240) Michael Johnson-So (6-7, 245)
DT Darryl Richard-So (6-4, 285) Elris Anyaibe-So (6-3, 265)
DT Joe Anoai-Sr (6-3, 280) Vance Walker-So (6-2, 260)
DE Adamm Oliver-Jr (6-4, 265) Brad Sellers-Fr (6-2, 265)
OLB KaMichael Hall-Sr (6-0, 225) Matt Braman-So (6-3, 232)
MLB Philip Wheeler-So (6-2, 225) Travis Chambers-Jr (5-11, 220)
OLB Gary Guyton-Jr (6-2, 230) Taalib Tucker-So (6-1, 233)
CB Jamal Lewis-Jr (6-0, 190) Pat Clark-Jr (5-11, 185)
CB Kenny Scott-Sr (6-2, 185) Avery Roberson-Jr (6-2, 190)
SS Joe Gaston-Sr (5-11, 195) Sam Williams-Sr (5-11, 195)
FS Djay Jones-Jr (6-1, 200) Jake Blackwood-Fr (6-1, 178)
P Durant Brooks-Jr (6-1, 198) Mohamed Yahiaoui-So (5-11, 215)




Former freshman all-American (and Lou Groza Award semifinalist) Travis Bell has to come out of his sophomore slump for Tech to win those close ones (lost the N.C. State game early and never got his groove back). After making 20-of-22 tries in his first 14 games, he is a dismal 6-of-15 since. He was still 7-of-10 inside the 40 in ‘05. Look for Bell to be back amongst the nation’s elite. Mohamed Yahiaoui is the right leg to stay on as KO specialist. Kick coverage has to step up, and with defensive depth at the ready, things should improve here, too.

JUCO-transfer Durant Brooks brings a lofty résumé and two years of eligibility, but hasn’t seen I-A quality pressure in his face. Big-legged Yahiaoui can step in if needed. Control is the goal for winning field position battles, so we will not know what to expect from net results until September.

Return Game
Backup CB Pat Clark failed to impress the coaching staff (6.4 yards per PR; his longest was 20 yards), so the slot has been declared up for grabs, even after spring ball was finished. Rashaun Grant seems the heir-apparent for KR duties, but newbies Corey Earls (4.36 speed) and Jamaal Evans have turned heads. Again, we will report any progress here if decisions are made.