ATLANTA – Georgia Tech might have solved its long-standing point guard problem, courtesy of the NCAA.
College athletics’ governing body granted transfer Trae Golden a hardship waiver in mid-October. The blessing means Golden, a starter at Tennessee the last two seasons, will be eligible to play for the Yellow Jackets when the season opens Nov. 8.
Golden gives Georgia Tech a proven talent at the point guard spot for the first time since Jarrett Jack’s final season nine years ago. Golden averaged 13 points and four assists per game in his two years as a starter with the Volunteers.
“We are extremely grateful that the NCAA has supported and granted Trae’s waiver for immediate eligibility,” Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory said.
Golden’s eligibility addresses the Yellow Jackets most glaring weakness heading into Gregory’s third season. Georgia Tech returns starters at the other four spots as well as sixth man Kammeon Holsey.
The point guard competition was between sophomore Solomon Poole, who graduated high school early last school year to play the second half of the season for Tech, and true freshman Travis Jorgenson. Poole has been slowed in practice by a sore shoulder operated on during the offseason. Gregory has praised Jorgenson, citing his athleticism in particular, but few coaches relish the notion of starting a true freshman at point guard.
Golden’s challenge is in developing chemistry with his new teammates. He’ll be flanked by a pair of explosive scorers in Marcus Georges-Hunt and Chris Bolden, with another point producer, Robert Carter Jr., and a scoring center, Daniel Miller, in the frontcourt. Golden will be asked to distribute more than score, a role reversal from his Tennessee days.
This season will be Golden’s only one with the Yellow Jackets. He played three years with the Volunteers. An ill family member, his father, prompted the NCAA to waive its transfer rule, which typically requires transfers to sit out one season.
Recruiting Target Draws Attention
Long-time Georgia Tech recruiting target Myles Autry is commanding attention from several schools as his senior season at suburban Atlanta’s Norcross High winds down.
An all-purpose skill player who also returns kicks and punts, Autry underwent knee surgery earlier this year after tearing two ligaments (ACL and MCL) in last year’s state semifinal game. Norcross’ coaches have shown caution in using Autry this season, playing him more at receiver than running back.
Autry appears to have fully recovered from the surgery, both in terms of speed and mobility. He showed his toughness last December, playing and scoring a touchdown in the state title game despite the torn ligaments.
Still, durability remains a question, particularly given his high school coach’s approach to utilizing him so far this fall. As a result, the recruiting frenzy that surrounded him pre-injury has abated somewhat.
The concerns about his knee could benefit Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets have continued to woo Autry, and they have the advantage of an inside man – Autry’s brother, Anthony, plays wide receiver for the Jackets.
Expect a late Tech push for Autry. He’s taken several official visits in recent months, including trips to Florida State, Auburn and Georgia, and has talked glowingly about the Seminoles. Autry would be the cherry on top of a sundae-like class for Paul Johnson.
Key Month Ahead For Football
Georgia Tech football faces another November nightmare, needing to beat an inferior team to gain bowl eligibility and looking for an upset against a superior opponent to appease the fanbase.
The Yellow Jackets open the month against Pittsburgh – their bowl eligibility game – and close it against in-state rival Georgia – the most important of the year from the fan perspective. They go on the road to face Clemson in between in a game that, should Tech win, would lighten the urgency surrounding the Georgia game.
The Jackets also play their second FCS opponent of the season in November in what could prove a major scheduling faux pas. Georgia Tech can count only one win against teams from the lower division toward bowl eligibility, which means if the Jackets lose to Pittsburgh, they will have to defeat either Clemson or Georgia to meet bowl criteria. Many a Georgia Tech fan is wondering why the administration didn’t schedule a game against a Sun Belt, Mid-American Conference or Conference USA foe instead.
Scheduling aside, Georgia Tech comes down the stretch having staked out the ACC’s middle ground. The Yellow Jackets are clearly superior to the league’s also-rans, such as Syracuse and Virginia, but inferior to the conference contenders, such as Miami, Clemson and Florida State.
The offense rediscovered its mojo in late October, rolling up nearly 800 yards rushing in back-to-back wins. The catch is the opponents: Syracuse and Virginia. Syracuse looked like a team that had never seen the option, while the Cavaliers were decimated by injury. Georgia Tech had three running backs eclipse 100 yards against Virginia, including two fullbacks who ran through truck-sized holes up the middle.
Still, credit the offensive line, particularly given the injury-prompted shuffle in the ranks. Left tackle Ray Beno missed the Syracuse and Virginia games, forcing Will Jackson to move from left guard to left tackle, with Trey Braun stepping into the guard spot. And Johnson switched right tackles for the Virginia game, with Chase Roberts replacing Bryan Chamberlain.
The fullbacks found most of their running room over the left side of the line while Roberts threw a key block on a touchdown run against Virginia.
The line erased the penalties that plagued them in losses to Virginia Tech, Miami and Brigham Young. They drew zero flags against Syracuse – the team went penalty free in that game – and just one motion call against Virginia.
“Once we got everyone doing what we needed to do, there wasn’t anything they were going to do to stop us,” halfback Robert Godhigh said following the Virginia win.
The two-week success against Syracuse (56-0) and Virginia (35-25) gives Georgia Tech momentum going into November. A year ago, the Jackets entered the season’s final month with a 3-5 record and won three of their last four games. A repeat of that run is needed to show the program is progressing.