The 2016 college football season is right around the corner, it’s time to grab the face paint and foam fingers and scream the fight song at the top of your lungs.
As Georgia Tech looks to rebound from a forgettable 3-9 season, three special yellow jackets are set to break out on the grid iron this season.
Marcus Marshall, B-Back
As the younger brother of the tough Georgia Bulldog runningback, Keith Marshall, Marcus Marshall has high expectations before him. He did well as a true freshman in the 2015 season, with 654 yards on 86 carries (that’s an outstanding average of 7.6 yards per carry). However, half of those yards were in two games (184 yards vs. Alcorn State and 154 yards vs. Pitt), and there were games where the young back struggled. For example, Marshall couldn’t get any traction against Duke in which he only gained 14 yards on five carries. He also had a 0 yard game against Notre Dame, but he had only one rushing attempt that game.
Now, a staple of Paul Johnson’s option offense is the rotation of players, so it’s a mystery if Marshall will have more playing time and carries or not.
Ideally, the young player will hit his stride and become a consistent rushing threat, while still being a role player in the option offense, allowing for fresh players to come into the game after a few carries by Marshall.
Ricky Jeune, Wide Receiver
The passing game is often an after thought for Georgia Tech football, and that’s understandable in an option offense that focuses on the rushing attack. However, receivers play a major role in the option by stretching the field (thereby spreading out the defense), blocking or setting up lanes for the rushers, and of course catching the ball on occasions where the forward pass is utilized.
Jeune led the receiver stat line in 2015, with the most receiving yards (520), most total receptions, and most TD receptions. It’s no question that the kid has the athletic ability to be a top receiver in the ACC, he just needs to maintain his current leadership role on the team and hope that he gets more chances to catch the ball. However, if he simply maintains his current level of production, he can still be useful in stretching the field as a deep threat that the defense must respect, which will open up the field for the run game.
Keshun Freeman, Defensive End
The hulking defensive lineman and Georgia native Keshun Freeman was a sensation in his freshman year in 2014. He was named to several Freshman All-America lists and even received the honor of being an honorable mention to the 2014 All-ACC list. In 2015, he received no accolades for his play on the field, but he still played his heart out. Freeman led all d-lineman in tackles with 44 (23 solo, 21 assisted), and also recorded 4 tackles for a loss, 2 of those being quarterback sacks.
To be successful in college football, you must have some resemblance of a defense, and defenses are so often anchored by the play of their front seven. Freeman is the perfect candidate to be a leader in the trenches on the defensive side of the ball going into his Junior season.
No one knows how the 2016 season will go for the Jackets, but these players’ resumes sure make it easy to get excited for what the future holds.