By Darren Page
Georgia Tech has the second longest active bowl streak in the country with their 17th consecutive appearance. The Yellow Jackets and Ole Miss meet for the first time since 1971 in what should be a war in the trenches and a close game throughout. Each has a few prospects worth checking out, especially when the Rebels are in possession.
Ole Miss’ offensive scheme is a difficult one for edge rushers to have a big effect, but Georgia Tech’s Jeremiah Attaochu (#45) has the burst and athleticism to have an impact.
Attaochu will move back and forth between right and left sides of his 4-3 end position. His acceleration off the ball and flexibility around the corner make him a highly productive speed rusher. The play action heavy and quick-hitting passing attack of the Rebels may ask other things of him though. Attaochu struggles to convert speed to power or win with his hands on first contact. His technique as a rusher is still raw and unrefined, which may limit his effectiveness against Ole Miss.
Against the run, Attaochu’s play is direr. A delayed diagnosis of plays plagues him more than anything. He lacks the instincts to react quickly to what he sees. His hand usage and strength at the line of scrimmage also limit his ability to set a consistent edge. Attaochu is far more effective in pursuit, where his never-ending motor and open field speed are put to best use.
Moving to an end spot simplified the game for Attaochu and brought out some of his best qualities. He’s still a developing talent who could do with a fine showing in his last game and in the Senior Bowl in a few weeks.
On the backend of the Yellow Jacket defense is versatile defensive back prospect Jemea Thomas (#14). He will have a big role to play in slowing down a prolific Rebel passing attack.
Thomas moves all around in Tech’s secondary, between deep safety, slot cornerback, and boundary cornerback positions. His versatility and instincts are top notch. He also has the ability to drop his pads and lay the boom at the catch point. Thomas’ footwork and transitions in man coverage are quite poor though. He struggles to limit separation in man coverage, relying heavily on whether or not he’s able to reroute receivers with physicality.
From safety positions or from over the slot, Thomas is heavily involved in the box. He’s aggressive and decisive coming forward and making tackles in space. Tech will also bring him off the edge as a blitzer on occasion. If the Yellow Jackets are to slow down Bo Wallace and his talented receivers, Jemea Thomas will be a big reason why.
Wallace’s most explosive yet inconsistently productive receiver is junior Donte Moncrief (#12). It has been rumored that Moncrief is strongly considering entering the draft.
Donte Moncrief gives Ole Miss a vertical threat with the size to make competitive plays on the ball in the air. Moncrief’s explosive route stem can press cornerbacks out of their backpedal, enabling him to get separation. His combination of size and athleticism will be enough to get him drafted alone.
Moncrief has been inconsistent at the point of the catch this season though. He doesn’t display the type of catch radius that a receiver of his size consistently should. More should be expected from Moncrief in terms of physicality in his release and holding onto balls through contact. A limited route tree in the Ole Miss offense means Moncrief can be taken out of games by being pinned against the sidelines all day. Keep an eye on how Georgia Tech plays him at the line of scrimmage.
Rebel back Jeff Scott (#3) is a big part of the success of their offense but is only a marginal prospect. At 5’7” 162, it’s tough to envision a significant role in any NFL offense. Combine that with an inability to make defenders miss in space and a predictable lack of strength as a runner and you’re probably looking at an undrafted free agent. Having value as a receiver and returner is a must for Scott, so keep an eye on how he is used in those regards.
Others to watch: Georgia Tech CB Louis Young, Georgia Tech DE Emanuel Dieke, Ole Miss CB Charles Sawyer, Ole Miss C Evan Swindall