Thursday, April 03, 2008

WR Depth Chart Down for the Count

Two football items of note this week relating to our wide receivers, specifically James Johnson and DJ Donley.

James Johnson has battled injuries to various named and unnamed parts of his body, and he's ready to call an end to his collegiate career. As always there is more to the story, and we may or may not know what's really behind the scenes. However, I think some of the conclusions can be drawn without too much of a stretch.
Paul Johnson said Wednesday. "[The first time, before spring practice started,] he was just tired of football."

"He just felt it was time to move on with his life," Buzz Preston (WR Coach) said. "I told him I wish him well. It's nothing personal. I would have loved to have the opportunity to coach him for a while. You know what, you've got to do what you've got to do."

"Tired of football" is just so much more than what's on the surface. The prep that goes into being ready to play is grueling and time consuming. When a player battles injuries year-after-year, it takes the obvious physical toll, but also exacts a mental one as well. Then in your senior year you get a new head coach - one know for running the football.......... uuuhhhhh yyeah.......... Oh yeah, he's an aggressive, pushing coach, who happens to REQUIRE you to block like you've never blocked before........... like your life depended on it. PJ is looking to find out "who wants to compete". Oh, and by the way, it doesn't matter that you're a starter and a senior. The depth chart has been completely blown up.

Maybe it's all just a bit much for a guy who's still fighting nagging injuries. Maybe it's all too much for a guy reaching the point of career realization that his life after college most likely does not involve helmet and pads. Who knows. Maybe they had a blow-up. Maybe James is one guy who's not drinking the PJ Kool-aid. PJ's frank and direct approach and take-it-or-leave-it plan isn't going to resonate with everyone. After all, none of these kids signed up to play for Paul Johnson. Part of PJ's job is to get them believing. For very obvious reasons, the wide receiver position might be the hardest sell of all.

Unless James Johnson and/or the coaching staff comes out with a more detailed story, it's probably wrong to assume anything. Either way, we wish James Johnson nothing but the best. He left a solid, lasting impression with some great performances ......................... He will finish his career as one of the top 15 wide receivers in GT history.

James Johnson ranks 13th in Tech history with nine touchdown receptions,
15th in Tech history with 1,240 yards receiving and 17th in Tech history with 78
catches. But his productivity dropped last season because of hamstring, knee,
rib and neck injuries. He finished with 25 catches for 447 yards, 14 catches and
161 yards below his sophomore totals.

Those numbers stand the test of time. He left something here at GT, and he has plenty to take with him to be proud of. All the best James!!!

The saga of DJ Donley comes to an end. He will enroll at Purdue. Why? One - a prolific passing offense. Two - a handful of players from his high school and other kids he knows play there. Fine...... No problem.

Make no mistake - that is a BIG loss for GT. He has serious NFL potential. At the end of the day it's like this for me....... all the best to DJ....................... now let's get on with life.............. The only bright side of this is that Darth Visor didn't end up getting the kid at USC-east.

Ok, so here's the depth chart at WR:

Tier 1 - BeBe Thomas, Correy Earls, Tyler Melton
Tier 2 - Tyler Davis, Andrew Smith, Jonathan Malone, RB Clyburn, Zach Fisher
Tier 3 - (incoming freshmen in fall), Daniel McKayhan, Quentin Sims

Don't forget Greg Smith has moved to A-back, although a move back is never out-of-the-question (just not expected). That's not what you'd call a lot of experience remaing. However, those tier one guys all have plenty of potential. BeBe still has that "Calvin Jr" type game, Earls is a burner and Melton has shown some serious game this spring.

So let me ask you a question - how much do you think we'll throw the ball this year?

PJ says he taylors his offense to the talent. Losing DJ and James just leads one to believe that maybe things just got swung even more towards the running game. The tier one WR's might have something to say about that. PJ ran the ball 80%+ of the time at Navy.

What's it going to be at GT? How do you think the run/pass mix will shake out?