RB Jonathan Dwyer

2007 Statistics

Coach: Paul Johnson
1st year
2007 Record: 7-6
at Notre Dame WON 33-3
at Virginia LOST 23-28
at Maryland LOST 26-28
at Miami FL WON 17-14
ARMY WON 34-10
at Duke WON 41-24
Fresno State LOST 28-40

2007 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2008 Outlook

Some Tech fans are worried that their new head coach hasn’t had enough experience at the BCS level (zilch, to be exact, even as an assistant). Can this man guide their team to higher heights? His inexperience is obvious, but focusing on that fact simply scratches the surface of his coaching record, one that shows success at every stop. He turned Navy into a powerhouse in only two years (his only losing campaign as a head coach at any level was his first in Annapolis, 2002’s 2-10 mark) and won two national championships (I-AA) at Georgia Southern as he went 62-10 (.861) in five years there.

Now, Johnson inherits some serious (and already honed) talent, probably the most he’s ever had to mold. It seems naïve to think that Johnson won’t ultimately have the Yellow Jackets flying high, and pretty quickly at that, but just how quickly the wins come will depend on how the players adapt to the head man’s complicated offensive system. Knowing the intricacies of the offense and having a new QB under center means there are way more questions than answers until the games begin.

Josh Nesbitt is the hands-down most talented of the quarterbacks competing for the starting spot, but it was Bryce Dykes who was seen as the most competent in all phases this spring. At times, the triple-option look will still be Johnson’s weapon of choice (like it was at Navy), and with the spread complimenting that – forcing opponents to prepare for two diametrically opposite types of approaches – Johnson will have A- and B-backs (see OFFENSE section for more details about each) in open space more often than not. I-formation plays will further force foes to show their hand and will give Johnson and his staff an upper hand. Keeping foes guessing is how the Midshipmen were able to overcome size disparages, so with top flight prospects at his ready, the potential for the offense seems exponential…once the right QB is found.

Unfortunately, the defense has only two upperclassmen in its starting back seven. The tackles are special, as the entire line goes two deep with quality and interchangeable speed. Despite the way it seems, the defense will likely be the bigger reason GT will struggle. Losing Jon Tenuta as coordinator, the main guy who helped to produce Tech’s recent five consecutive top 30 (total) defensive rankings, doesn’t mean Dave Wommack isn’t a quality assistant, but whether Wommack can repeat this level of results seems more of an uncertainty than the offense eventually finding its groove.

There is barely any warm up period before two tough road tests occur. Clemson is also away, and that game kicks off a closing sequence that also ends away, this time in Athens versus their nemesis. Just beating the Dawgs would assure Johnson that his tenure here is to be a long one since that hasn’t happened since 2000. The school’s 11th head coach, six-year man Chan Gailey, couldn’t beat them while here. Never discount what it means to beat an archrival after such a drought. With the NCAA rule that awards a team only one win per season toward bowl eligibility against FCS foes, having two such opponents means Tech actually has to go 7-5 to be deemed bowl-worthy.

Getting to postseason play would be a modest achievement in Johnson’s first year. The ACC is pretty evenly weighted, with a bulk of teams landing around the four-to-seven-loss range. This is a conference that is ascendable, one where perennial powers have faded and any school has a shot at rising above the heap. We can see this wreck ramblin’ back into the conference race, just not this year. Seeing three backs behind their QB, as well as seeing whether this unique approach can work at the highest collegiate level, is reason enough to tune in Georgia Tech for their 116th gridiron product.

Projected 2008 record: 5-7
QB - 2.5 DL - 4
RB - 3.5 LB - 3
WR - 2.5 DB - 3
OL - 3.5 ..
2007 Statistical Rankings
Total Off:
Sacks Allow:
Total Def:

Passing: Calvin Booker, 11-21-1, 167 yds., 1 TD

Rushing: Jonathan Dwyer, 82 att., 436 yds., 9 TD

Receiving: Greg Smith, 37 rec., 588 yds., 4 TD

Scoring: Jonathan Dwyer, 9 TD, 54 pts.

Punting: None

Kicking: Scott Blair, 0-0 FG, 1-1 PAT, 1 pt.

Tackles: Morgan Burnett, 57 tot., 37 solo

Sacks: Vance Walker, 8.5 sacks

Interceptions: Morgan Burnett, 3 for 0 yds.

Kickoff Returns: Jamaal Evans, 25 ret., 20.8 avg., 0 TD

Punt Returns:
Tyler Evans, 34 ret., 9.3 avg., 0 TD


DT Darryl Richard
OFFENSE: Mike Cox-FB, Tashard Choice-TB, Kevin Tuminello-C, Matt Rhodes-OG, Nate McManus-OG, Travis Bell-K, Taylor Bennett-QB (transferred), James Johnson-WR (transferred), Colin Peek-TE (transferred)
DEFENSE: Darrell Robertson-DE, Adamm Oliver-DE, Gary Guyton-LB, Philip Wheeler-LB, Avery Roberson-CB, Jamal Lewis-S, Djay Jones-S, Durant Brooks-P

It’s going to be complicated, this Tech offense, and you’d better pay attention to what we’re about to tell you if you want a basic understanding of coach Paul Johnson’s approach and mindset. Most know of his schemes while leading Navy’s brain-trust, so now that Johnson’s got talent and speed like he’s never had before, don’t expect the triple option to bog GT’s offense down. At Navy, with smaller linemen and only a few talent position guys willing to join the service in wartime (Jon Dwyer wouldn’t go to Navy, but followed Johnson here to now start at B-back), Johnson’s best laid plans ran into annual limitations…now he has limitless possibilities as Josh Nesbitt learns how to combine I-formations with a spread attack and, at times, an overloaded backfield. It should work, a hybrid of Johnson’s triple option and a spread concept, especially run by a winner like Johnson (he’s the coordinator).

Josh Nesbitt has great arm strength, and he eerily conjures Reggie Ball when his No.9 jersey bunches at an angle and it quickly looks like Ball’s streaking No.1. Ironically, Nesbitt was the No.9 dual-threat recruit (Rivals) last year, turning down FSU, Florida and Georgia to take the chance here. For now, Nesbitt has to hold off the experienced hand of Calvin Booker (has been forced to work with four different coordinators in four years), who came here from Auburn in 2006 (sat out) and was given limited exposure in cleanup duty. Booker offers a seasoned vet, but he is a drop-back hurler and will find most of his chances as a pure passer. That means Bryce Dykes is right there battling for the starting spot…yes, beanpole QB/kicker Bryce Dykes. It was walk-on Dykes who had the most success this spring in adopting to the complicated schemes and providing worthwhile results, even on the ground. This is a race that will likely have all three seeing real game reps in search of the magic elixir who can maximize production.

The main B-back – player lined up directly behind the QB, as the staff defines it – will be Dwyer. Possessing 4.4-speed (in the 40), Dwyer fills the option’s oft-used fullback role, though, this Marietta product is actually a bulked-up tailback (if anything) and will produce results accordingly. Lucas Cox and Quincy Kelly are B-backs who could vie for reps, Cox as a bruiser and Kelly as an all-around H-Back-type when the time is right. A proper TE prior to 2008, Austin Barrick looks like another H-back when the spread is used…he’ll be an A-back or slot back/wide receiver, otherwise. A-backs will deploy in different ways, depending on the play call. At times, they’ll be found in the backfield, and at others, they’ll be the extra receivers (spread looks). Tucked into the backfield, leading returning WR Greg Smith will be more dangerous as an option component, though, he likely gets lots of YAC in the flat. Roddy Jones is a great compliment when the three-back sets are used; he’s a bowling ball who will block and run equally well. So is experienced junior Jamaal Evans, although, Evans doesn’t have the same soft hands Jones does.

The pure WRs will be used on the outside, but we can see situations – goal line, short yardage/fourth-down – when guys like Barrick are used in multiple-TE ways. Demaryius “Bay Bay” Thomas will step into the role James Johnson would have had. Johnson’s sudden departure (remains enrolled and in classes here) and Thomas’s size makes Thomas an every-down player. Remember, blocking receivers get nearly as much due as pure snarlers in this kind of an offense. Correy Earls is another deep threat who will be open often since fakes and misdirection will have the defenders in coverage confused. Earls has afterburners from hell. Walk-on Zach Fisher is finding playing time with the vacancies in this area; Fisher’s size makes him in favor.

The O-line is grounded by All-American Andrew Gardner. Mobile enough to remain effective when moving laterally, Gardner is a rock in pass protection at the vaunted left tackle spot. Dan Voss will shift from guard, and A.J. Smith has enough prowess to keep the start since he was first-team for six games last year. Injury prone (elbow), Smith could give way to Jason Hill for pure pushing power. Howard is an all-around type, playing anywhere needed (six starts at right tackle in 2007). Howard and Smith were out this spring, so Brown and Gilbert have seized their chances to bump into the permanent rotation. The OL looks lean and ready to move and protect as a gelled group. This line can give extra time and leeway for the talent position Yellow Jackets to create the space to do their thing(s). Johnson has surprises for anyone who thinks he will run it as often as he did at Navy – over 80% of the time.


OT Andrew Gardner


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Josh Nesbitt-So (6-1, 214) Calvin Booker-Sr (6-4, 234)
Bryce Dykes-Fr (6-1, 181)
BB Jonathan Dwyer-So (6-0, 228) Quincy Kelly-So (6-0, 238)
AB Jamaal Evans-Jr (6-8, 193) Greg Smith-Jr (6-3, 195)
AB Roddy Jones-Fr (5-9, 194) Austin Barrick-So (6-3, 254)
WR Demaryius Thomas-So (6-3, 229) Zach Fisher-Fr (6-2, 193)
WR Correy Earls-So (6-0, 190) Tyler Melton-Fr (6-0, 199)
OT Andrew Gardner-Sr (6-6, 297) Nick Claytor-Fr (6-6, 304)
OG Jason Hill-Jr (6-4, 299) A.J. Smith-Sr (6-7, 299)
C Dan Voss-Jr (6-4, 294) Andrew Folkner-Sr (6-0, 299)
OG Joseph Gilbert-Fr (6-4, 288) Cord Howard-Jr (6-5, 308)
OT David Brown-Sr (6-3, 271) Clyde Yandell-Fr (6-5, 296)
K Scott Blair-So (6-0, 173) Mohamed Yahiaoui-Jr (5-11, 215)



The challenges on defense are nearly as sizable as the ones being faced on offense. New coordinator Dave Wommack has a decent résumé, but he has a mere four starters coming back and plenty of holes to fill.

Ironically, one area not lacking is the ability to fill holes, the literal kind that RBs try to find. The strength of the run stopping is found in the middle. Vance Walker broke out after his earlier, rather mundane campaigns to earn All-American nods from a few awarding bodies for 2007’s overall effort (highlighted by 14 TFLs and three forced fumbles). Darryl Richard started every game next to Walker; both help each other get free for havoc wreaking. Elris Anyaibe has also developed into a major weapon, gaining quickness with each stage he has developed through. Michael Johnson proved his worth as a backup, and last year’s No.6 DE prospect, Derrick Morgan, rounds out a formidable front four. The ends will benefit from Richard’s and Walker’s constant distraction(s).

The linebackers don’t look nearly as stable. The battle between Kyle Jackson and incumbent Shane Bowen only helps. A thinking man’s linebacker, Bowen is still not 100% from shoulder surgery, and the decision on who will be the starter won’t be known until game one. The weakside in the hands of Anthony Barnes looks secure. Barnes plays like a big safety. Brad Jefferson is ready after his freshman understudy year, but his ability to make the big play isn’t yet realized. Tongo and Clark have promise. The LBs have a nice range of size for the different jobs they do, and figuring out which guy is best in which circumstances is all that is needed.

Luckily, the only two guys who actually had INTs in 2007 come back. Jahi Word-Daniels is the old man of the group and its by-default leader. He’s a lockdown type and will secure his side. Jerrard Tarrant came here as a hot safety prospect, but he matches up in coverage well enough to earn the start outside. The outside depth needs some experience before results are bankable against multiple-WR sets. Morgan Burnett becomes the foundation for deeper results. Last season’s No.7 safety prospect has promise beyond most. Ex-PK Garside shows that Johnson is willing to try anyone to keep Tech’s recent pass defense legacy strong. This season’s pass defense, no matter how promising, won’t be able to keep the recent momentum going. Moreover, the developments in the secondary will go as far as the new offense toward defining where the Yellow Jackets wind up in 2008.


DT Vance Walker


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Derrick Morgan-So (6-4, 270) Robert Hall-So (6-3, 248)
DT Vance Walker-Sr (6-2, 293) Elris Anyaibe-Sr (6-3, 280)
DT Darryl Richard-Sr (6-4, 290) Ben Anderson-So (6-2, 271)
DE Michael Johnson-Sr (6-7, 247) Jason Peters-Fr (6-4, 272)
SLB Shane Bowen-Jr (6-1, 218) Kyle Jackson-Fr (6-0, 226)
MLB Brad Jefferson-So (6-2, 227) Osahon Tongo-So (6-3, 252)
WLB Anthony Barnes-So (6-3, 231) Tony Clark-Sr (6-1, 207)
CB Mario Butler-So (6-1, 181) Jerrard Tarrant-Fr (6-0, 189) (susp.)
CB Jahi Word-Daniels-Sr (6-0, 194) Michael Peterson-Fr (5-11, 185)
ROV Morgan Burnett-So (6-1, 198) Troy Garside-Sr (5-11, 202)
FS Dominique Reese-So (5-11, 178) Jake Blackwood-Jr (6-1, 180)
P Scott Blair-So (6-0, 173) Kevin Crosby-So (6-3, 191)




Scott Blair walked on and proved much with his kickoff successes. Given the reigns for both kicking areas, many eggs are in the Alpharette product’s proverbial basket. Finding nearly 40 yards of net field-changing results will be tough to keep up. Jon Dwyer and Jamaal Evans will share the return duties. Correy Earls is the team speed merchant; having him under the falling ball and sprinting into open space seems like a ‘no brainer’.