With Marcus Marshall having chosen to transfer after two seasons, the depth chart for Georgia Tech at B-back will lack experience behind Dedrick Mills. A look at what spring practice might look like for the Yellow Jackets.
Mills – With third-string (now second-string) B-back Marcus Allen graduating, Mills will be the sole B-back in the spring with more than minimal playing experience at the position. Mills looks like a player who could get better and better after a solid season, and the trust that coach Paul Johnson has in him is clear.
There is the matter, though, that Mills has already been suspended twice in his first season, once for one game and later for two for violating team rules. Johnson has been supportive of Mills – he called him “a good kid” after the first suspension – but he’s on notice that he’ll have to walk the straight and narrow for the next three years.
Quaide Weimerskirch – But for a foot injury suffered at the end of the 2015 spring practice, Weimerskirch might be a regular. You may recall that he and C.J. Leggett were at the top of the depth chart that spring, and both suffered serious injuries within days of each other, prompting Allen’s move from wide receiver. Weimerskirch ended up redshirting the 2015 season. In limited opportunities, his performance at B-back has been rocky. He played late in the Mercer game and fumbled on his only carry. Against Virginia, he was put into the game on a fourth-and-1 play and did not make his assigned block, leading to quarterback Matthew Jordan being stopped short.
Weimerskirch has played in seven games this season.
KirVonte Benson – Benson played in the final five games of the regular season in a special-teams role. A redshirt freshman who spent last year recovering from an ACL tear he suffered as a high-school senior at Marietta High, he has not had any carries this season. He was suspended with Mills for the Mercer game for breaking team rules. At 5-foot-9, he’s on the short side for a B-back, but Johnson said that Benson was hard to tackle and showed good vision.
“I think they see at practice there’s still some things that they’ve got to improve at,” quarterbacks and B-backs coach Bryan Cook said in November of Allen, Weimerskirch and Benson. “They get a bunch of reps in practice, and so we just try to get them ready, and I think a couple of them are close. When we’ll end up using them, you never really know. We just try to get them to grow and take a few steps forward every day. But they’re making progress.”
There are no walk-on B-backs who will return. Ryan Braswell, a redshirt junior, has decided to forego his final season of eligibility. It’s conceivable that sophomore wide receiver Mikell Lands-Davis could return there. Lands-Davis began at B-back in 2015 and moved to A-back and then wide receiver to help with depth.
Jerry Howard – A running back from Rock Hill, S.C., Howard committed to Tech in November, flipping from East Carolina. He’s listed at 6-foot-0 and 206 pounds. A three-year starter, he Howard gained 1,053 rushing yards with 15 touchdowns, according to the Herald of Rock Hill. There’s no telling how ready he’ll be contribute in 2017, but his game video shows a back with an impressive power/speed mix. He probably could play either A-back or B-back.
Chances are, Tech will pursue another B-back in the class.
Tech has had its B-back depth chart unexpectedly shortened previously. In the spring of 2014, Travis Custis, whom former Tech defensive tackle Adam Gotsis once proclaimed to be “an animal,” left school for academic reasons after one semester.
And, as noted above, Leggett and Weimerskirch’s injuries in spring 2015 prompted Allen’s return to the position and opened room for Patrick Skov and Marshall to play the majority of the snaps that fall.
If you’re wondering, Custis went to junior college and then transferred to Division II West Georgia. This season, his first with the Wolves, he played in eight games, running 51 times for 301 yards and four touchdowns. West Georgia is ranked ninth in its region. Leggett transferred to Mesa (Ariz.) Community College. He ran 91 times for 295 yards and scored two touchdowns. Mesa is ranked eighth among junior colleges.