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Georgia Tech vs. University of Tennessee: Draft Prospect Watch

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The last game of the first week of college football is an intriguing match up between the #25 ranked Tennessee Volunteers and Paul Johnson's Georgia Tech team (8 PM ET on ESPN). The Vols are replacing a ton of talent this year with Derek Barnett (hey!), Josh Dobbs, Jalen Reeves Maybin, Alvin Kamara, Joshua Malone and a few other guys now graduated or in the NFL. Georgia Tech remains a younger team, and the triple option offense always tends to give even the most talented defenses headaches. Even with so many Vols heading to the NFL last draft and Georgia Tech's relative lack of hype, there are still some interesting draft prospects to keep an eye on.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

  • Lance Austin, Cornerback: Georgia Tech was the least talked about nine win team in the country last year and because of that, good players like Lance Austin fly under the radar. The senior cornerback is a bit smaller, standing only 5'10" and 185 pounds, but he doesn't play like it. Austin got his hands on 15 passes last season, including three picks, ranking 15th in the country. He also returned one of his interceptions for a touchdown. Austin is a feisty cornerback who does a great job using his body at the catch point to box out receivers despite his own size. Against a team like Tennessee, he will need to be on his A-Game given the talent he is about to face in the passing game.
  • Ricky Jeune, Wide Receiver: If there is one thing that Georgia Tech isn't know for, it's throwing the ball. However, they have a long history of having physical specimens at the wide receiver position. This year, junior pass catcher Ricky Jeune fits into that mold with his 6'3" and 220 pound frame. He has speed to burn and it shows in his numbers. While last year he only averaged 17 yards a catch on 25 receptions for one touchdown, his freshman year he averaged over 21 yards every reception and scored four touchdowns on only 24 catches. The sample sizes are always small for Georgia Tech receivers so it is important to look at efficiency. Tech will be starting a new quarterback this year but it is doubtful they throw the ball any more than they have in the past. Even so, Ricky Jeune will be due for at least one big catch every game this season.
  • Anree Saint-Amour, Edge Defender: Georgia Tech hasn't produced a top tier defensive line prospect since the likes of Derrick Morgan or maybe Michael Johnson, but there is reason to be excited about rising junior Anree Saint-Amour. The 6'3", 250 pound defender hasn't filled out his frame or the stat sheet yet, but he has impressive get off and effort around the edge. With the Yellow Jackets looking for new defensive playmakers this year, there is a good chance Saint-Amour rises to the occasion.

Tennessee Volunteers

  • Jauan Jennings, Wide Receiver: Jauan Jennings is pretty renowned to the college football fan for his big play propensity, catching a Hail Mary and a few other huge plays last season. While he did not lead the Vols in receiving, the 6'3", 205 pound receiver did have an impressive seven touchdowns on only forty catches. Jennings has all the tools of a number one receiver, but he needs to get more consistent with his hands and attacking the ball in the air. He has moments of brilliance but his youth showed a more than a few times last season. With Josh Malone now off to the NFL, there are lots more targets that Jennings will need to answer for. Working a new quarterback as well, Jennings will be depended on more than ever to provide the big plays.
  • John Kelly, Running Back: Alvin Kamara rightfully got a lot of love last season and was eventually drafted in the second round by the Saints, but it was John Kelly who led Volunteer running backs in rushing. The 5'9", 212 pound back rushed 98 times for 630 yards (6.4 YPC) and scored five touchdowns. Kelly lost a lot of carries to Alvin Kamara and Josh Dobbs, but his workload is certainly set to increase now that they're both in the NFL. Kelly is a powerful back who is low to the ground and hard to tackle. Better yet, he has good quickness and the speed to run away from defenses. While he doesn't have the numbers yet, it won't be surprising to hear him talked about among the better backs in the country by season's end.
  • Rashaan Gaulden, Cornerback: It is hard to point to who the Volunteer's best returning defender is with so many of their top playmakers no in the NFL. However, there is a sneaking suspicion that more people will be talking about Rashaan Gaulden this year. The 6'1", 193 pound defender was an important part of the Vols' nickel defense last year. His size and tackling ability made him an asset near the line of scrimmage against the run and he was solid against the pass as well. With Cameron Sutton now in the NFL, Gaulden will likely play more on the outside, but against a team like Georgia Tech tonight, he will be depended on to show off his strong run defense. He is an intriguing player given his physicality and size at cornerback and seeing him in a larger role this year is exciting.

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