July 27, 2009

Jackets looking for best five for OL

One thing Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson has made clear heading into fall camp is that the offensive line positions are up for grabs. One of the biggest battles brewing on the line is at the center position where last year's starter senior Dan Voss is coming off a shoulder injury and will enter camp behind junior Sam Bedford who handled the first team duties in the spring.

"There is going to be a lot of competition in the fall," Voss said. "That is going to be great for us. No positions are really set right now. That will push people to get better."

Coach Johnson has been mentioning Bedford's name a lot this summer as a possible new starter on the offensive line and he recently said he was one of the biggest surprises during the spring practices.

"Last year, we tried to piece things together, Johnson said. "We probably have twelve guys fighting for five spots there. Bedford was a pleasant surprise. He worked really hard and he is going to compete. He has himself in a position where he is fighting for a starting job.

Voss thinks the addition of several freshmen linemen to an experienced group of players will make fall camp's competition for the starting offensive line spots even more intense.

"Last year we did not have the depth we should have because we had a lot of young guys that were redshirting, but this year we are going to have a lot of guys who can come in and play. Maybe some of the true freshmen will not redshirt and can contribute. No one is going to sit back and take comfort in being the starter. Just being good enough to start will not be good enough."

The Voss-Bedford competition could be the biggest key to the team's success upfront because of the importance of the center in Coach Johnson's offensive schemes. Voss welcomes the open competition upfront because he thinks it will make the entire line better even if Bedford ends up winning the job.

"Two years ago I was competing with Trey Dunmon for the starting center spot and he transferred," Voss said. "I think this year not being in the driver's seat for the starting spot pushes it to a whole new level of working hard. I am sure Sean is feeling the same way I was before. We will both work hard and even if center does not work out I will push Josh Gilbert and Cord Howard for their position that way we will have the best five people on the field even if it is not me."

Voss thinks the biggest obstacle in overtaking Bedford will be his snap rhythm with quarterback Josh Nesbitt.

"My snap rhythm was not good last year," Voss said. "The technique we use now is a little different and I did not really play center until last year, but I have been out there working in 7-on-7's with Josh, Jaybo Shaw and Tevin Washington working on snaps. That will be the biggest thing for me this year, learning to snap and step quickly at the same time as opposed to snapping and waiting before you take a step. If you let the defensive linemen get that half second jump on you, then you have already lost."

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