A quarterback competition may be brewing in Georgia Tech‘s spring football practices this year. You may ask yourself “who cares about a quarterback competition at Tech? The QB doesn’t throw, just like the RBs at Boise State don’t run.” If this is how you view quarterbacks at Georgia Tech, then you are severely mistaken about the importance of the position in its spread option offense. The entire offense revolves around the quarterback, and a QB competition at Tech is worth taking a look at.
Tevin Washington started every game at QB for the Yellow Jackets last season and is returning for his senior season. Washington led Tech to a respectable, if not spectacular, 8-5 record last year and managed to achieve a QB rating of 155.4. At first glance you may wonder why there is any controversy at all over who the starting quarterback will be. However, the upcoming season figures to be a statement year for Head Coach Paul Johnson, and there are quality options at quarterback beside Washington.
Overall, Coach Johnson has experienced great success since arriving at Georgia Tech. He has beaten arch-rival Georgia once, won an ACC Championship, and has been a consistent competitor amongst the ACC’s best football programs. However, most of Johnson’s success came during his first two years in Atlanta when many of his offensive stars were holdovers from the Chan Gailey era. This fact has not gone unnoticed by the Tech faithful, who are anxious to see if Johnson can replicate the success he had with former starting QB Joshua Nesbitt. So while Johnson and Washington have both performed admirably overall, there is still a lot for both parties to prove.
No one doubts that Washington is a capable player, a student of the game, and a generally likeable guy. The question is whether or not Washington can take the next step and show the toughness of Nesbitt, while also improving as a passer. The consensus among most Tech fans seems to be that the option-based offense can succeed in major college football, but that the Ramblin’ Wreck still need to pass a little more often and more efficiently. Last year Washington completed a less-than-stellar 49.3 percent of his passes. He’s more or less a known quantity — capable, understands the offense, makes mostly smart decisions, and is respected by his peers. The starting quarterback job is rightfully his to lose. “Tevin’s the starter, and there’s a lot of competition between Vad (Lee) and Synjyn (Days) for the next spot” said quarterback coach Brian Bohannon.
Speaking of Vad Lee and Synjyn Days, they are the two primary challengers to Washington. Days was the No. 2 QB on the depth chart last season and saw some playing time. Apparently, he’s also spent the offseason bulking up to improve his arm strength and already-tough running style. Recently, Days benched 365 pounds in the weight room (20 pounds short of the quarterback record set by Nesbitt). And while he’s pretty adamant that all the quarterbacks get along and help each other, but also notes that they can all sense the competition this season. Meanwhile, Vad Lee is the other primary contender. Lee was last year’s highly-touted recruit and the favorite amongst many Ramblin’ Wreck fans. Coming from a spread option offense in high school, he enrolled early at Tech last season to familiarize himself more quickly with Johnson’s offense. Lee may be the people’s choice, which makes him particularly interesting to watch. Plus, going with him would be a bold statement for Paul Johnson to make, and may win him some goodwill from fans in the short term. Receiver Darren Waller praised each quarterback for different qualities; noting Washington’s leadership, Day’s athleticism, and Lee’s arm.
Another Georgia Tech quarterback worth noting is freshman Dennis Andrews. Andrews is a prized recruit that Coach Johnson was able to snag from Alabama late in the recruiting season. Although Andrews likely won’t play this year, he could certainly be a surprise factor in the race. At the end of the day, Washington will likely enter the season as GT’s starter unless he struggles and someone clearly surpasses him in practice. However, the competition may continue into the season if Washington experiences troubles, and there is a option on the bench that is too talented for Johnson to ignore.
(Ed. Note: This is Glynn’s first piece for us. He’ll be regularly contributing content focused mostly on Georgia Tech football.)