QB A.J. Suggs

2002 Statistics

Coach: Chan Gailey
7-6, 1 year
2002 Record: 7-6
at Connecticut WON 31-14
at Clemson LOST 19-24
at North Carolina WON 21-13
at Maryland LOST 10-34
at North Carolina State WON 24-17
at Georgia LOST 7-51
Fresno State LOST 21-30

2002 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2003 Outlook

Georgia Tech will proudly unveil the newly renovated Bobby Dodd Stadium this season. Their fans are wondering if they will see a similarly improved football team playing in it. Second year coach Chan Gailey, who actually has been coaching for 30 years now, has some work ahead of him to re-establish this program as a contender in the ever-improving ACC.

The ACC Area Sports Journal summed up the 2002 Yellow Jackets as a team with "average talent, average coaching, and average results." An extra year of experience should yield the same results, regardless.

Gailey begins his 30th year as a football coach. Gailey's staff has now had a year to acclimate to the ACC. It will be interesting to see how much Gailey will insert himself into the offense of Bill O'Brien, who still runs much of former-coordinator Ralph Frigedens' system. He will step in early on if the QB's learning curve does not slope drastically up. Gailey cannot afford to let things "slowly develop" after going 7-6.

A veteran defense now has a second season under Jon Tenuta's more aggressive schemes. It is their size that will make the coach's strategies that much more important. Look for an overall improvement with much statistical range in the results. Winning will occur, just not with dominant defensive numbers.

Despite that, it is still hard to see the Yellow Jackets joining the upper echelon of the ACC (Florida State, Maryland, Virginia, and NC State) this season. With out-of-conference games against BYU, Auburn, and Georgia along with conference games against six other ACC schools (that all went to bowl games), another 7-5 regular season would be an accomplishment for Tech. If the injury bug bites hard again, as it did last year, it will be a long, agonizing season in Atlanta.

Projected 2003 record: 7-5
C Hugh Reilly
DE Eric Henderson
WR Xavier McGuire
TE George Cooper
QB - 3 DL - 4.5
RB - 4.5 LB - 4
WR - 3.5 DB - 2
OL - 4 ..

Passing: A.J. Suggs, 363-208-15, 2242 yds., 12 TD's

Rushing: Ajenavi Eziemefe, 70 att., 282 yds., 2 TD

Receiving: Jonathan Smith, 36 rec., 430 yds., 3 TD's

Scoring: Jonathan Smith, 3 TD, 1 two-pt. conv., 20 pts.

Punting: none

Kicking: Dan Burnett, 0-2 FG, 3-3 PAT, 3 pts.

Tackles: Daryl Smith, 99 tot., 43 solo

Sacks: Daryl Smith, 5 sacks; Eric Henderson, 5 sacks

Interceptions: Keyaron Fox, 1 for 35 yds.

Kickoff returns: P.J. Daniels, 11 ret., 21.3 avg.

Punt returns: Jonathan Smith, 6 ret., 13.0 avg.


DE Greg Gathers
OFFENSE: Gordon Clinkscale-TB, Kerry Watkins-WR, Will Glover-WR, Will Heller-TE, Raymond Roberts-Blake-OG, Luke Manget-K
DEFENSE: Fred Wright-DE, Recardo Wimbush-LB, Marvious Hester-CB, Cory Collins-SS, Jeremy Muyres-FS, Dan Dyke-P, Chris Morehouse-P

written by James Johnson

Nothing takes the pressure off a quarterback like a strong running game. Bad news has come about in Atlanta. After leading the nation in rushing through the first four games last season (649 yards on 92 carries, 11 TD's), Hollings tore up his knee. However, Tony Hollings has now been dismissed for academic reasons, creating once again, an opening at the TB spot. In summation, Georgia Tech will be without its top two rushers from 2002. That load now looks to be shouldered by Ace Eziemefe and Phillip Daniels.

A veteran and talented line will again anchor Georgia Tech's offense. Juniors LT Nat Dorsey (6'6", 330 lbs.) and LG Leon Robinson (6'4", 315 lbs.) could be the most powerful blocking tandem in the ACC. Dorsey struggled with shoulder problems and carried extra weight last year, but will bounce back to help Robinson anchor the Jackets' line from their left side. Other returning starters C Hugh Reilly (6'4'. 285 lbs.) and RT Kyle Wallace (6'6", 280 lbs.) make this a formidable group.

One of the most glaring deficiencies, as in 2002, is inconsistency at quarterback. The two men who shared the position are back to compete again this season. Senior A. J. Suggs received the lion's share of playing time, while sophomore Damarius Bilbo came off the bench eight times. Offensive Coordinator Bill O'Brien's most important task will be improving QB productivity.

Suggs, a two-year Tennessee transfer, hurt his own cause by hurling only 12 TDs compared to 15 INTs last campaign. His coaches are comfortable with the way he manages a game, but he struggles with quick decisions, which means he struggles against blitzes and with broken plays. Suggs has neither the mobility (to buy time against a pass rush), nor the arm strength to make some of the more difficult throws. The Georgia Tech staff hopes an additional year of experience will help him reduce the costly mistakes.

Bilbo is one of the better pure athletes on the team. He possesses the arm strength and mobility that Suggs lacks, but struggles in grasping the offense. Bilbo completed only 43% of his passes, with two TD's and six interceptions. In his most extensive playing time, he completed 7 of 20 passes with 4 INTs in the Silicon Valley Bowl. If he continues to struggle, a position change will soon follow. Any drastic developments, as well as the naming of the starter, will be updated here.

Senior receiver Jonathan Smith needs to develop into a deep threat and the main receiving playmaker to give either quarterback a chance of improving. His top catch was for 34 yards, a simple statistic that says it all. Smith's drop off to 36 receptions displays their need for a go-to possession receiver. And if he is the one-dimensional, main focus of the receiving corps, most defensive coordinators will have easy success in scheming against this offense


OT Nat Dorsey


Returning Starters in bold
QB A.J. Suggs-Sr (6-4, 215) Damarius Bilbo-So (6-3, 225)
FB Jimmy Dixon-Jr (6-1, 220) Johnathan Jackson-Jr (6-2, 225)
TB Ajenavi Eziemefe-So (6-2, 225) Phillip Daniels-So (5-10, 205)
WR Jonathan Smith-Sr (5-10, 189) Nate Curry-Jr (5-10, 190)
WR Lekeldrick Bridges-So (6-0, 170) Levon Thomas-Jr (6-0, 195)
TE John Paul Foschi-Sr (6-4, 270) George Cooper-Fr (6-5, 252)
OT Nat Dorsey-Jr (6-6, 330) Reggie Koon-Sr (6-4, 310)
OG Leon Robinson-Jr (6-4, 320) Andy Tidwell-Neal-Jr (6-4, 295)
C Hugh Reilly-Jr (6-4, 285) Clay Hartley-Sr (6-4, 280)
OG Brad Honeycutt-So (6-4, 295) Zeb McHargue-Fr (6-4, 285)
OT Kyle Wallace-Jr (6-6, 285) Jeremy Phillips-Jr (6-7, 285)
K Dan Burnett-Sr (6-2, 250) David Jordan-Fr (6-4, 200)



written by James Johnson

Georgia Tech has a respectable defense that will be even better than the previous season. They kept the Yellow Jackets in most 2002 games until the 51-7 meltdown at Georgia. Defensive Coordinator Jon Tenuta will enter his second year at Tech with a group of talented veterans with which to work. Can they improve on allowing 20.5 PPG?

The quality starts up front. A young (but experienced) defensive line will return intact this season. They will be led by ends Eric Henderson (sophomore, 6'3", 260 lbs.) who had 13 tackles for a loss last season, and 2003 superstar Greg Gathers. The tackles will be sophomore Travis Parker (6'5", 260 lbs.) and Alfred Malone, a 6'4" 290 pound junior. They all play hard, but are somewhat undersized. After earning second-team All-America nods (from Football News and Sporting News), Gathers valiantly tried to play in 2002 despite a serious kidney ailment. The disease sapped too much of Gathers' strength and stamina, however, and he sat down for the season following the third game. Gathers was a senior last season, but will still have another year to complete his college stint. He did not attend school in the spring while adjusting to a powerful new medication. Gathers holds the school's staggering record with a total of 31 career sacks. His presence would give Tech a very imposing line. Bank on his presence, but wait to see his intensity in spring ball before sizing up the defense. He will make that much of a difference.

The linebackers are led by the return of leading-tackler Daryl Smith. But his elbow injury meant he did not quite make the impact expected. His hungry, unfulfilled destiny should motivate higher play. The team's third leading tackler, senior Keyaron Fox, returns to give Tech a pair of effective and experienced linebackers.

Georgia Tech's secondary will be the potential weak link of the defense, featuring only one returning starter, senior CB Jonathan Cox (5'10" 185 lbs.). Cox is not a big-play defensive back, but he is considered a steady technician who will not give up long gains. He teams with Reuben Houston .

The starting safeties figure to be juniors Nathan Burton and James Butler. Both have excelled on special teams but have little experience in the defensive backfield. They are likely to be the targets of opposing offenses early. Teams that stack 3 and 4 receivers, as well as have a QB that 'reads' coverages well, will exploit these two for their deficiencies.

The other concern is not the front-seven's determination, but their size. If they face a larger team with as much athleticism and speed, it is a forgone conclusion that their smaller linemen will wear down, and opponents will rack up double-digit scoring totals in many fourth quarters. Home games on turf will help this crew utilize their speed. But the LBs do not make up for their size by supplying spirited coverage. Gathers' return to his former stellar level will either motivate those around him, or make him stand out like a sore thumb (on a seven-fingered defensive hand.)

Coach Tenuta would probably like to see his defense make big plays more often. They were only able to come up with 20 takeaways last season, and gave up over 200 yards rushing three times. All of these weaknesses mean opposing offensive coordinators are already chomping at their bits. Team-play will be the requirement for Tech to have any overall defensive success.


LB Daryl Smith


Returning Starters in bold
DE Greg Gathers-Sr (6-1, 270) Chirod Williams-Jr (6-4, 235)
DT Travis Parker-So (6-5, 265) Omar Billy-So (6-2, 270)
DT Alfred Malone-Jr (6-4, 300) Brad Brezina-Fr (6-2, 273)
DE Eric Henderson-So (6-3, 265) Darius Williams-Jr (6-6, 265)
LB Gerris Wilkinson-So (6-3, 230) Sterling Green-Jr (6-2, 210)
LB Daryl Smith-Sr (6-2, 235) Ather Brown-Sr (6-3, 230)
LB Keyaron Fox-Sr (6-3, 220) Tabugbo Anyansi-Jr (6-1, 220)
CB Reuben Houston-So (6-0, 195) Dennis Davis-Jr (6-0, 185)
CB Jonathan Cox-Sr (5-10, 185) Venice Gilliam-So (5-10, 195)
SS Dawan Landry-So (6-2, 215) Chris Reis-So (6-0, 210)
FS James Butler-Jr (6-3, 210) Nathan Burton-Jr (6-2, 205)
P Hal Higgins-Sr (5-10, 185) Andy Thomson-Jr (5-11, 180)




Special teams coach Tommy Raye will have his hands full maintaining Georgia Tech's traditionally high ranking kick returns and coverage. He loses outstanding PK Luke Manget, both punters, and the best kickoff and punt returners from 2002.

Raye will hope someone steps forward to claim both kicking jobs in spring. He could use P. J. Daniels, a backup running back, to return kickoffs. Daniels ran back 11 last season with a solid average of 21.3 yards per return.
Jonathan Smith is the only experienced punt returner on the roster (two last season, 9.5 avg.). Overall, as it stands, the Georgia Tech special teams will be a work in progress as the season begins. We'll let you know.


PLAYERS NO LONGER WITH THE TEAM: RB Tony Hollings, DE Tony Hargrove, LB Anthony Lawston, LB Kingi McNair and RB Michael Sampson (five others, including a starter are no loner with the team, but were not named by the University citing privacy issues).

WR Lekeldrick Bridges displayed rapid development this spring and solidified his role as a primary receiver. Xavier McGuire is another who emerged this spring and will find himself fairly involved…Who will throw to them is still up in the air, as both QBs are neck and neck after spring sessions. Bilbo was noted as sporadic, scattering cheers and jeers amongst coaches and fans alike. The incumbent A.J. Suggs had the more efficient camp of the two, but did nothing to raise confidence. The derby will continue in the fall… With the loss of Hollings and Sampson in the running game, Ace Eziemefe and Phillip Daniels will share the load at RB. Both had solid springs and will most likely split carries this season. Also look out for freshman Reshaun Grant… Redshirt freshman TE George Cooper saw plenty of reps this spring and is a better receiver than starter J.P. Foschi. He may picture prominently in the Jackets' pass packages and will certainly be an interesting prospect to watch… The offense turned the ball over four times in the spring game and committed countless penalties…

CB Reuben Houston got better and better as the spring went along, improving every phase of his game - coverage, tackling and recognition/reaction. This enhancement culminated with a tremendous spring game, in which he was named the MVP. He must maintain this level of proficiency throughout the season, as the Jackets are relatively inexperienced in the secondary…The coaching staff is very anxious to see what kind of impact incoming freshman CB Kenny Harris will have. He is quick and has great cover skills and the staff seems very eager to get him involved… With Daryl Smith inured, coaches gave Ather Brown a look at MLB, to which he responded well. Brown will be the first LB used off the sidelines in relief, or in a four-LB set… With the DT positions so thin, the Jackets may get some early play out of freshmen LeShawn Newberry. Eric Henderson, who was the most outstanding defensive player this spring, will readily pick up the DE spot vacated by Hargrove. Henderson is a large body with great drive. He and Gathers could make up one of the best set of bookends in the ACC.