DE Eric Henderson

2003 Statistics

Coach: Chan Gailey
14-12, 2 years
2003 Record: 7-6
at Brigham Young LOST 13-24
at Florida State LOST 13-14
at Vanderbilt WON 24-17
at Wake Forest WON 24-7
at Duke LOST 17-41
at Virginia LOST 17-29
Tulsa WON 52-10

2003 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2004 Outlook

After losing several key players due to academic problems in the spring of '03, the forecast for Georgia Tech football was gloomy. Young players like Ball and Daniels surprisingly stepped into the breach and led the Jackets to another bowl appearance. More is expected in 2004, and a schedule featuring seven teams that played in bowl games will make it very challenging to live up to expectations.

This is a critical year for coach Chan Gailey. The natives were very restless after a listless 2002 season ended with a blowout in the Silicon Valley Bowl. Last season's surprising success bought Gailey some breathing room, but not much. Gailey is an offensive coach, and his team needs to produce more points to take pressure off a defense that was overburdened, but often rose to the challenge. If a couple of the young wide receivers live up to their potential, the offense will be much improved. There is no question Tech can run the ball, and a consistent passing game, particularly one that can occasionally stretch the field, will make the Yellow Jackets a dangerous team.

Tech's revamped linebacker corps will be the key to determining if their defense can live up to the standards they set. Expect improved pass coverage, few big plays allowed by the secondary, and the continued dominance of the defensive line. If/when Wilkinson can handle the middle of the field, the defense will be strong.

A seven-win regular season is a reasonable goal, and failure to meet that goal will put the pressure squarely back on Gailey. The '03 GT machine performed inconsistently, proving capable of beating Wake Forest and NC State, but losing to Duke and BYU. With Miami and Virginia Tech now foreseeable annual foes, improvements on defense will go a long way toward keeping Gailey into 2005. Smart money says Tech plays well enough to keep Gailey and go to another bowl game not too far from Atlanta.

Projected 2004 record: 6-5
QB - 3 DL - 4
RB - 4 LB - 3
WR - 3 DB - 3
OL - 3.5 ..

Passing: Reggie Ball, 350-181-11, 1996 yds., 10 TD

Rushing: P.J. Daniels, 283 att., 1447 yds., 10 TD

Receiving: Nate Curry, 37 rec., 426 yds., 3 TD

Scoring: P.J. Daniels, 11 TD’s, 66 pts.

Punting: Andy Thomson, 24 punts, 39.8 avg.

Kicking: None

Tackles: James Butler, 119 tot., 56 solo, 6 TFL

Sacks: Eric Henderson, 10.5 sacks

Interceptions: James Butler, 5 for 18 yds.

Kickoff Returns: Kenny Scott, 35 ret., 22.3 avg.

Punt Returns:
Nathan Burton, 1 ret., 18.0 avg., 1 TD


QB Reggie Ball
OFFENSE: Hugh Reilly-C, John Paul Foschi-TE, A.J. Suggs-QB, Jonathan Smith-WR, Dan Burnett-K, Nat Dorsey-OT (NFL)
DEFENSE: Keyaron Fox-LB, Daryl Smith-LB, Ather Brown-LB, Jonathan Cox-CB, Hal Higgins-P

Reggie Ball surprised nearly everyone by winning and then holding onto the starting job. His numbers weren't pretty, but he showed leadership and poise that belied his freshman status. He will continue to use his athleticism to salvage busted plays, and his accuracy will improve beyond his 51.7%. Ball has shown he can make the tough throws, and this year will improve his consistency in making the routine ones. Ball will be among the best. There is no experienced backup on the roster, but Patrick Carter is another dual threat who was a top 20-rated QB coming out of the St. Petersburg prep scene.

Running Back
P. J. Daniels, who began his Georgia Tech career as a walk-on, produced the second best rushing game (307 yards vs. Tulsa) and season (1,447 yards) in school history, and did it all as a sophomore. His strength enables him to break tackles, and his speed makes him a big play threat on any down. He is also durable, setting the school record for most carries in a year with 283. Fullback Jimmy Dixon is a strong blocker who will primarily clear a path for Daniels. Chris Woods has the speed to be an effective backup, and Ajenavi Eziemefe who can play both positions, will see some duty in short yardage.

Wide Receiver
Nate Curry has finally shaken off the injury bug to become the Yellow Jackets' main deep threat. A high school state champion in the 100 meters, he also has good hands and will see more balls thrown his way. Levon Thomas has the inside track for the other starting spot. Thomas also has good speed and can gain yards after the catch. Also in the mix is former quarterback Damarius Bilbo. After losing the battle for starting quarterback to Ball, Bilbo moved to wide receiver. He has outstanding size (6'3", 225 lbs.) and has good moves running the ball, both good characteristics for a possession receiver. The main issue will be stretching the field for underneath and running plays - someone has to become the deep threat for the GT offense to click. If opposing DBs can cheat and create an eight-man box, the offense is marginalized.

Tight End
Darius Williams moves into the starting lineup this year and his size (6'6", 270 lbs.) will make it difficult for anyone to move him out. Proved during limited action in '03, he will be a threat in the passing game as well as an excellent blocker. Former offensive lineman Gavin Tarquinio will be the backup and is great as primarily a blocker.

Offensive Line
Tackle Kyle Wallace is one of the best in the ACC. The other two returning starters, center Andy Tidwell-Neal and guard Brad Honeycutt, give the Jackets a strong interior line. Tidwell-Neal moves over from guard and Honeycutt, a former tackle, is the most athletic lineman on the team. Powerful Leon Robinson returns to the starting lineup at guard and Kenton Johnson, one of several refugees from the defunct Morris Brown program, fills the other tackle slot. This is a huge line that is experienced and has quality depth behind it. They kept pressure off a young quarterback in 2003 and will be an outstanding unit again.

Georgia Tech will put more points on the board last season, a lot more. The Jackets struggled at times in 2003, particularly in the red zone. Without an experienced kicker, it will be critical for the offense to get into the end zone more often and not settle for field goals. Reggie Ball will improve both his passing numbers and his ability to convert third downs with more experience. He has all the intangibles, and he will continue to learn how to play quarterback. Ball will need a young receiving corps to step up to improve the passing game. P. J. Daniels can't realistically improve his numbers from 2003, but a duplication of them would be a great accomplishment with defenses keying on him. He will be up to the task, helped along by an excellent offensive line. This development would open up the passing lanes and freeze LBs if play-actions and draws are strategically utilized.


TB P.J. Daniels


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Reggie Ball-So (5-11, 195) Patrick Carter-Fr (6-3, 190)
FB Jimmy Dixon-Sr (6-1, 225) Ajenavi Eziemefe-Jr (6-1, 225)
TB P.J. Daniels-Jr (5-10, 210) Chris Woods-Jr (5-10, 190)
WR Nate Curry-Sr (5-10, 190) Xavier McGuire-So (6-3, 205)
WR Levon Thomas-Sr (6-0, 195) Mark Logan-Sr (5-11, 200)
TE Darius Williams-Sr (6-6, 270) George Cooper-So (6-5, 259)
OT Kyle Wallace-Sr (6-6, 295) Eddy Parker-Fr (6-4, 275)
OG Brad Honeycutt-Jr (6-4, 308) Matt Rhodes-Fr (6-3, 268)
C Kevin Tuminello-Fr (6-4, 275) Travis Kelly-So (6-0, 264)
OG Andy Tidwell-Neal-Sr (6-4, 315) Brad Brezina-So (6-2, 275)
OT Salih Besirevic-Jr (6-7, 280) Kenton Johnson-Sr (6-6, 320)
K Travis Bell-Fr (6-1, 205) David Jordan-So (6-4, 210)



Defensive Line
The entire starting front-four returns to improve on their 11th-ranked run-defense status. All-American candidate Eric Henderson is the star of Tech's defense. Few defensive players in the nation disrupt an opposing offense better than Henderson, who racked up 11 sacks and a school record 24 tackles for loss in '03. He has size, speed, agility and a motor that does not stop. Travis Parker moves out from tackle to start at the other end, a position better suited to his size. Like Henderson, he spends hoards of time in opponents' backfields. The tackles are inexperience and unproven, but 6'3", 310-pound sophomore Mansfield Wrotto shows the most potential of the bunch. They need production from the tackles to give Henderson and Parker room to work. Bet that they can hold opponents' RBs to less than 2.9 yards-per-run, which was their stellar '03 bar-setting effort. It will be up to the new LBs to guarantee this fate.

Gerris Wilkinson moves from being an undersized defensive end to a powerful linebacker. Wilkinson is an outstanding athlete with plenty of speed and quickness that will be better utilized here. Though the unit is fully revamped, look for him to make big plays. The other starting spots are up for grabs, but coach Chan Gailey has plenty of young talent from which to choose. Georgia Tech lost their two best linebackers, so this area could be a potential weakness if the youngsters don't progress quickly.

Defensive Back
Free safety James Butler set a school record for a defensive back with 119 tackles. Butler's size, athletic ability, and intelligence (and three forced fumbles) make him the unquestioned leader of Tech's secondary. Dawan Landry, the strong safety, is a fierce hitter and excels in run-support. Reuben Houston, a former All-ACC triple jumper, is the teams best pass defender. Houston is a lockdown corner and teams seldom even throw to his side of the field. Dennis Davis, one of the team's fastest players, will join Houston at corner. Davis can expect action, but will be up to the task. This group plays the run extremely well, but needs to improve its pass coverage, especially since the pass rush may drop off. And, until the LBs jell, the crew will need to help out in multiple underneath capacities.

Georgia Tech's defense excels against the run. That fact should continue with the completely new group of starting linebackers. The defensive line should again control the line of scrimmage and provide pressure that opposing backs will have to stay home for. This secondary is full of good tacklers and will improve their spotty (53rd-ranked pass-efficiency defense in '03) coverage. The linebackers will determine if this defense is good or excellent. If some of the young players can even begin to approach the levels Kenyaron Fox and Daryl Smith did, this will again be one of the best total defenses.


FS James Butler


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Eric Henderson-Jr (6-3, 265) Chirod Williams-Sr (6-4, 235)
DT Joe Anoai-So (6-3, 255) LeShawn Newberry-Fr (6-0, 315)
DT Mansfield Wrotto-So (6-3, 310) Marcus Harris-Fr (6-1, 255)
DE Travis Parker-Jr (6-5, 265) Adamm Oliver-Fr (6-4, 250)
WLB KaMichael Hall-So (6-0, 225) Philip Wheeler-So (6-2, 215)
MLB Gerris Wilkinson-Jr (6-3, 230) Nick Moore-So (6-1, 225)
SLB Chris Reis-Jr (6-0, 210) Tabugbo Anyansi-Sr (6-1, 225)
CB Reuben Houston-Jr (6-0, 195) Brian Fleuridor-So (5-11, 185)
CB Dennis Davis-Sr (6-0, 185) Kenny Scott-So (6-1, 180)
SS Dawan Landry-Jr (6-2, 215) ..
FS James Butler-Sr (6-3, 210) Nathan Burton-Sr (6-2, 200)
P Andy Thomson-Sr (5-11, 180) ..




David Jordan is the only player on the Yellow Jackets' spring roster listed as a placekicker, and he has never attempted a field goal or extra point. He saw some action in 2003 kicking off and has a strong leg, but Tech's kicking game becomes, by default, a huge question mark.

Andy Thomson is in his first full season as the Jackets' punter. He moved into the job midway during last season and showed a strong leg. His kicks had good hang time, but he needs to improve his ability to drop kicks inside the opponents' 20-yard line.

Return Game
Kenny Scott will again handle kickoff returns. He doesn't have great breakaway speed or elusiveness and put up solid, but not great, numbers in '03. Dennis Davis is faster than Scott and may see more time returning kicks. There are no experienced punt returners on the roster, so the job is wide open.


The offense was a bit inconsistent. The running game is solid, but they need to get better at throwing the football. The Jackets are employing a shotgun package to help open up the passing game. RSF QB Patrick Carter has been the most impressive of all QBs. He has good vision, excellent accuracy, and is improving his game management skills. Though he won't oust Ball, he provides a damn good backup! RB Chris Woods has risen to be the top backup behind P.J. Daniels. A transfer from Morris Brown, Woods is a slasher who provides a good change of pace to Daniels' bruising running style. Altogether, RBs and the entire backfield are a very deep group. Something to watch out for is former QBs (turned receivers) Mark Logan and Damarius Bilbo. You will see them lining up at QB for a trick play or two. Kyle Wallace has moved from RT to LT in order to protect Ball's blindside. OG Leon Robinson sat out with injury this spring, which allowed RSF C Kevin Tuminello to work with the first team. Robinson's absence moved Andy Tidwell-Neal over to the vacated guard spot. There are concerns that Robinson's injury could keep him out longer than expected, and if that's the case, this will be a young line. On a sidenote, freshman kicker Travis Bell has been a solid replacement for Dan Burnett and looks to carry on the proud kicking tradition.

The defense marginally outplayed the offense this spring, but questions still abound, especially at LB. There has been much shuffling to try and get the best trio, and coaches think they have it now. Gerris Wilkinson, who played DE last season, steps into the middle. He will be flanked by KaMichael Hall and former-SS Chris Reis. This group is marginally undersized (especially Reis), but DC John Tenuta feels their athelticism and grit will compensate for lost mass. FS James Butler leads the defense overall, getting help from DE Eric Henderson. The Jackets possess a quick front seven.

QB Patrick Carter (rsf)
RB Rashaun Grant (rsf)