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 Draft Scout College Football Player News: Georgia Tech
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  2022 PRESEASON ALLSTATE AFCA GOOD WORKS TEAM NOMINEE: Myles Sims, Georgia Tech,...Sims has dedicated his time and talents to a number of community service initiatives during his three years at Georgia Tech, including Habitat for Humanity and the Salvation Army. Perhaps most notably, shortly after receiving his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Georgia Tech in May, Sims joined a group of 16 Georgia Tech student-athletes from across multiple sports to embark on Tech’s fourth Jackets Without Borders international service trip. - Georgia Tech Football

rJr/2024 CB Myles SimsGeorgia Tech
News Source: Georgia Tech Football
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  The last time Keion White was healthy and playing football, it was at Old Dominion in 2019. A full-systems-go White contributing to a Georgia Tech defense that needs a boost has been a long time coming, but it seems that might finally be coming to fruition. "I'm 1,000% back," White said Saturday at Media Day. "I was getting to the point last year where I was just trying to get back on the field and feel comfortable being back on the field. Wasn't able to get to that point. But over the offseason I've done a lot of rehab, done a lot of training, done a lot of field work, and I'm at the point where I'm confident enough that I feel like I'm better than I was before I was injured. So I'm definitely 1,000% back." White played in the Yellow Jackets' final four games of last season, but wasn't fully healthy. He also didn't get to play in 2020, with Old Dominion forgoing the season because of COVID-19. He transitioned to defensive end in the spring of 2019 after playing two seasons at tight end.

So, now, White brings a unique perspective to Tech in two ways: he's a super senior, one of the older guys in the room, and can break down the game from the perspective of the offense and the defense. He also figures to play an important role on the defensive line, with starters Jordan Domineck (now at Arkansas) and Jared Ivey (now at Ole Miss) transferring, as the Jackets aim to bounce back from three consecutive three-win seasons. "I'm really excited about Keion," coach Geoff Collins said Saturday. "I think when he came to us a year-and-a-half ago, there was a lot of build-up and a lot of excitement. And unfortunately Keion had some injury things and wasn't ever 100% last year, but he is a tough, physical person. He's a leader in the locker room, and it's not a lot of rah-rah, it's not a lot of talk, but just his attitude, his demeanor, his seriousness, his focus, how he works every single day kind of permeates throughout our entire locker room and our entire organization." - Atlanta Journal Constitution


rJr/2024 DE Keion WhiteGeorgia Tech
News Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution
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  The newest addition to Georgia Tech's collection of analysts has a particularly close connection with a member of the Yellow Jackets team. Former Alabama State coach Donald Hill-Eley is the father of Tech linebacker Ayinde Eley. Tech made the hire in July, bringing on Hill-Eley as an analyst for the offense. Hill-Eley was let go at Alabama State in November in the middle of his fourth season as head coach of the Hornets. He replaces Mike Gregory, who left Tech to become the offensive coordinator at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. Hill-Eley brings a considerable amount of experience to the job. He has been coaching since 1991 and was a head coach at Morgan State 2002-13 and then at Alabama State 2017-21. His expertise is on offense. Eley is going into his final season with the Jackets after transferring from Maryland before the 2021 season. - Atlanta Journal Constitution

rSr/2023 ILB Ayinde EleyGeorgia Tech
News Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution
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  It was clear from his first snap that Georgia Tech's Jeff Sims was no ordinary freshman. The big man with quick feet was too slippery for the Seminoles. Sims delivered sizzling passes with a flick of his right wrist. He seemed unfazed by making his college debut at Florida State. The Yellow Jackets won as two-touchdown underdogs that day in September 2020 largely because Sims made plays where none seemed available. The Jackets had a quarterback who could make their painful transition from the triple-option not last too long. Sims has shown flashes of the same magic since then: big plays, big moments, big victories. Consistency is what's been missing. Maybe it wouldn't be if not for injuries. Sims hurt his shoulder in the opener last season, sat out two games and then returned to play a month of good football before going back on the injury list.

Sims still is the player who can elevate Tech's offense. A great season for him would mean Tech finally breaks through after being stuck on three wins for three consecutive seasons. Sims has played 18 games for Tech. It just seems longer because he made such a strong first impression. Now is the time for Sims' talent, experience and maturity to coalesce. "My mindset has definitely changed," Sims said Saturday at Tech's media day. "I'm an older guy now. I'm not worried about a lot of things I used to worry about. I'm not worried about outside noise and things like that. On the physical side, I've been putting in a lot of work, too." There's a lot of work to do. Tech is replacing pretty much every offensive starter from 2021, including star running back Jahmyr Gibbs. Lots of new players in the lineup isn't necessarily a bad thing for the Jackets. - Atlanta Journal Constitution


rSo/2025 QB Jeff SimsGeorgia Tech
News Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution
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  Quarterback Jeff Sims can continue to improve his accuracy and decision-making, and having a quarterbacks coach in Chris Weinke who doesn't have coordinating duties should help. But, as a two-year returning starter, Sims' spot in the lineup appears secure. That said, having a backup who can challenge him and be a productive contributor if needed is a priority. Sims started all 10 games as a freshman in 2020, but missed five last season because of injury. Tech may need to call on one of Sims' backups as it did Jordan Yates (now at Sam Houston State) a year ago.

Sims is the only returning quarterback from last season's team, with Zach Pyron coming in as a freshman and Zach Gibson (Akron) and Taisun Phommachanh (Clemson) arriving as transfers. Both Pyron and Gibson took part in spring practice, and Phommachanh arrived over the summer. If a backup is needed, it's possible that Weinke and new offensive coordinator Chip Long could make the decision based on the situation. Phommachanh, for instance, is a bigger threat with his legs than Pyron and Gibson. - Atlanta Journal Constitution


rSo/2025 QB Jeff SimsGeorgia Tech
News Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution
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  Georgia Tech running back Dontae Smith was scrolling through Twitter on July 20 when he came upon something he didn't expect to see - his own name. That was the day he was named to the preseason watch list for the Doak Walker Award, given annually to the nation's top running back. "I'm on Twitter and I see it, and I'm like, 'Whoa," Smith said. If you're a returning starter at running back at a power-conference school, it's perhaps not a big deal. There are 75 running backs on the list (although somehow former Tech All-American Jahmyr Gibbs, now at Alabama, was omitted). But for Smith, who last season was a third-string running back behind Gibbs and Jordan Mason, it was a big deal to be recognized. "I'm extremely thankful," Smith said. "And I'm going to go out there and chase it and try to win that award. It is a motivation."

Smith, who ran for 378 yards last season and averaged a team-high 5.6 yards per carry, was bursting forth with optimism and confidence about the season ahead for him and his team, even as expectations for the Yellow Jackets are low in the wake of three consecutive three-win seasons. Smith poured out his belief at the ACC Kickoff in Charlotte two weeks ago. "We are going to win," Smith said. "Now, the realistic goal is, what bowl game? We want to make a bowl game, so we're going to have to win more games than we have been." - Atlanta Journal Constitution


rJr/2024 RB Dontae SmithGeorgia Tech
News Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution
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  Rather than sharing a secondary with the likes of Tre Swilling, Juanyeh Thomas and Tariq Carpenter, Georgia Tech cornerback Zamari Walton will team with a new set of defensive backs to assist in thwarting opposing quarterbacks and wide receivers. Swilling, Thomas and Carpenter left Tech with 114 combined starts, an exceeding wealth of experience. Tech's secondary returnees total 38 career starts, and 27 of those belong to Walton, a three-year starter from Melbourne, Fla.

Yet, as the preseason approaches, Walton doesn't lack for confidence in what his group can do. "Oh, yeah, most definitely," said Walton, asked if he thought the secondary could be better than last year. "You can already see it now." On its face, Walton's forecast is ambitious. Talent-wise, the new cast has some holes to fill. Carpenter was drafted in the seventh round by the Green Bay Packers, Swilling (Tennessee Titans) and Thomas (Dallas Cowboys) signed undrafted free-agent contracts and safety Wesley Walker transferred to Tennessee. "Guys are working together; we're doing a lot of stuff off the field just to keep building that chemistry and just getting to know each other." - Atlanta Journal Constitution


rJr/2024 CB Zamari WaltonGeorgia Tech
News Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution
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  2022 PRESEASON DOAK WALKER AWARD CANDIDATE: Dontae Smith (Jr.), Georgia Tech,...In 2020, running back Dontae Smith (5-11, 203) enjoyed a breakout season as a third-year sophomore … Appeared in all 10 games … Ranked fourth on the team with 296 rushing yards on just 43 carries, good for a team-best 6.9 yards per rush (min. 5 attempts) … Also caught six passes for 52 yards and led Tech with 10 kickoff returns (176 yards) … Last season, as a repeat redshirt sophomore, Smith appeared in all 12 games … Ran for 378 yards on just 68 carries, good for a team-best 5.6 yards per rush … Also caught seven passes for 33 yards … Ran for four touchdowns, upping his career total to seven touchdowns on just 121 rushes. - Georgia Tech Football

rJr/2024 RB Dontae SmithGeorgia Tech
News Source: Georgia Tech Football
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  Georgia Tech running back Dontae Smith is not immune to venturing into the den of the unwashed - perusing Twitter to read users' comments about his football team. "I do see what they say, and I do take it into account," Smith said. "And I'm so ready to prove everybody wrong." After three consecutive three-win seasons, frustration is high within the Yellow Jackets fan base, and expressions of that animus - mostly with coach Geoff Collins - are perhaps most unshackled in the social-media sphere of Twitter.

It was revealed, too, in the home attendance (lowest since 1989) and in the sea of red that was the backdrop for Tech's final home game last season against Georgia. "I mean, obviously, there's going to be a lot of negativity when you have the past three seasons we have," tight end Dylan Leonard said. "When you have three wins (each) the past three seasons, you don't blame them. Crowds are going to show up when you're good, and they're not going to be there much when you're not doing as well. We realize that. I'm not stuck up about it or anything like that. I think that's with every fan base and every Twitter fan base you go to." But, as is perhaps the case with every team that is counting down the days to the start of the preseason, the Jackets believe better days are ahead this season. Leonard, Smith and cornerback Zamari Walton all shared different reasons for their belief at the ACC Kickoff media event Thursday in Charlotte, N.C. "I definitely feel like it's our time," Walton said. "Definitely why not Georgia Tech?" - Atlanta Journal Constitution


rJr/2024 CB Zamari WaltonGeorgia Tech
News Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution
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  2022 PRESEASON DOAK WALKER AWARD CANDIDATE: Hassan Hall (Sr.), Georgia Tech,... From 2018 to 2021 at Louisville, running back Hassan Hall (6-0, 196) played 42 games and has one season of eligibility remaining … Amassed 3,843 all-purpose yards (1,299 rushing, 175 receiving, 2,369 kickoff return) and 13 touchdowns (11 rushing, two kickoff return) in his four seasons with the Cardinals … Earned second-team all-ACC honors as an all-purpose back and third-team recognition as a return specialist as a sophomore in 2019, when he rushed for 501 yards and five touchdowns, caught 12 passes for 99 yards and averaged 30.5 yards per kickoff return (good for third nationally), including a 100-yard touchdown at Wake Forest.

Began his collegiate career by appearing in all 12 games (including a career-high five starts) as a true freshman in 2018, racking up 1,220 all-purpose yards (303 rushing, 99 receiving, 818 kickoff return) and four touchdowns (three rushing, one 99-yard kickoff return vs. Clemson) … Had 611 yards (223 rushing, six receiving, 382 kickoff return) in eight games in 2020 and 667 yards (272 rushing, 19 receiving and 376 kickoff return) in nine games in 2021 … Rushed for three touchdowns over final two seasons at Louisville (two in 2020, one in 2021). - Georgia Tech Football


rSr/2023 RB Hassan HallGeorgia Tech
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  In need of depth on the defensive line, Georgia Tech picked up a commitment from the transfer portal Saturday. Former Western Illinois defensive lineman Daniel Carson announced his commitment to the Yellow Jackets in a tweet. Out of high school in Independence, Mo., Carson was a three-star prospect in the 2018 class who signed with Texas over offers from Alabama, Miami and others.

At Texas, however, he played in four games in three seasons and transferred to Western Illinois in December 2020. Playing the FCS season in the spring of 2021 and again in the fall, Carson played in a total of 12 games. He started eight of the 12, including seven in the fall of 2021. In seven games last season, he was credited with 13 tackles, including two for loss. It would appear that Carson has two seasons of eligibility remaining. - Atlanta Journal Constitution


rSr/2023 DT Daniel CarsonGeorgia Tech
News Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution
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  Georgia Tech incoming freshman kicker Aidan Birr will have to wait a year to earn a spot in the Yellow Jackets lineup. Birr revealed in a social media post Tuesday that he had suffered a torn ACL in April, and he added an image of his right leg following surgery. "Road to recovery starts today," Birr wrote. "I'm coming back 10x harder!" It's conceivable that Birr could be cleared for spring practice after the 2022 season.

After Birr signed with Tech in December, it was anticipated that he would compete with Jude Kelley and Gavin Stewart for the placekicking and kickoff jobs. A year ago, grad transfer Brent Cimaglia took field goals and extra points and Stewart handled kickoffs. Birr was named all-state in Texas as a junior, earned honorable-mention honors as a senior and was also ranked the No. 11 kicker in the class nationally (247Sports Composite). Last year, Stewart and Kelley were both 0-for-1 on field-goal tries. Stewart recorded 33 touchbacks on 55 kickoffs, a 61.2% touchback rate. It was the highest rate by a Tech kicker since Harrison Butker's 74% average in 2016. - Atlanta Journal Constitution


Fr/2026 K Aidan BirrGeorgia Tech
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  In its continuing efforts to mine the transfer market, Georgia Tech added a defensive player with some versatility coming from UCLA. Christian Burkhalter, who could be a fit at either linebacker or defensive end, announced his commitment to Tech on Wednesday via social media. From Mobile, Ala., Burkhalter was a 2021 signee with UCLA. He did not see game action in his lone season with the Bruins and entered the transfer portal in late April, just before the deadline for fall- and winter-sports athletes to be able to transfer and be eligible to compete in the 2022-23 academic year. Burkhalter was rated a three-star prospect and a top-500 prospect nationally (247Sports Composite). - Atlanta Journal Constitution

rFr/2026 OLB Christian BurkhalterGeorgia Tech
News Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution
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  Taisun Phommachanh's path to the field at Georgia Tech won't be easy. In transferring from Clemson, the former four-star quarterback will contend with Jeff Sims, the Yellow Jackets' two-year returning starter. His role on the roster will be to add depth at the quarterback position and to push Sims on the practice field. But Phommachanh likely isn't coming to Tech to watch from the sidelines. He just as easily could have done that at Clemson. "In the end, it was an opportunity to compete and play," Phommachanh's high-school coach, Pierce Brennan, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "He felt he wasn't getting that at Clemson. He did what he needed to do there; he grew as a player, he graduated, he got a degree, and now it's time for something new." Phommachanh went into the transfer portal in December at the end of his third season with the Tigers.

In those three seasons, he appeared in 13 games. He spent the first two of the seasons backing up Trevor Lawrence, an All-American and eventual first overall NFL draft pick. After Lawrence's departure, Phommachanh was passed by D.J. Uiagalelei. A torn Achilles injury suffered in Clemson's 2021 spring game, from which Phommachanh made a stunning recovery to be able to play last fall, didn't help. But he did appear in six games last season, completing 11 of 19 passes for 131 yards, a touchdown and an interception. When he went into the portal, his plan was to transfer between semesters to be able to participate in spring practice at his new school. California, Florida State, South Carolina and Pittsburgh were among schools that showed interest, according to a report in December by the Connecticut Post. "Cal was the big one," Brennan said. "Cal was the one that I thought it was going to be a done deal with." - Atlanta Journal Constitution


rJr/2024 QB Taisun PhommachanhGeorgia Tech
News Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution
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  K.J. Wallace showed he wasn't afraid of a challenge in choosing to sign with Notre Dame as a four-star prospect at the Lovett School. He demonstrated his willingness to take on hard work in the way he left, too. Seeking more playing time after three seasons with the Fighting Irish, Wallace wanted to go into the transfer portal, but would do so only if he could leave South Bend, Ind., with his degree. But his path to his political-science degree in three years required that he take 20 credits in the spring and another nine this summer.

That was on top of a summer-school class he'll take at his new school - Georgia Tech. Wallace will graduate this summer and be eligible to play for the Yellow Jackets this fall as a grad transfer. "It was a very busy springtime for me," Wallace said in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Wallace joins a secondary crowded with aspirants seeking the playing time vacated by safeties Juanyeh Thomas, Tariq Carpenter and Wesley Walker and cornerbacks Tre Swilling and Tobias Oliver. There are no fewer than 17 scholarship players in the secondary. Wallace, who made five tackles in 16 games over his three seasons at Notre Dame, said he has no issue with competition. In his recruitment, "definitely, no one made any promises to me," Wallace said. "If anything, there's more of a 'you've got to earn it' (feeling). You've got to do what you're capable of doing, and that's really all I was asking for throughout this entire process, is just a real solid opportunity." - Atlanta Journal Constitution


rJr/2024 FS KJ WallaceGeorgia Tech
News Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution
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