Georgia Tech knows the identity of its likely starter at running back, even if the new staff hasn’t seen him in pads.
The Yellow Jackets are going through spring practice without KirVonte Benson, who was injured in the second game last season. He is still going through the rehab process and is expected to be back at full strength for fall camp. Barring an unforeseen setback, Benson will start the season as the No. 1 back.
Until then, new running backs coach Tashard Choice has watched film on Benson, who rushed for 1,053 yards and was second team All-ACC in 2017. Benson had carried 15 times for 116 yards and two touchdowns before going down with a knee injury against South Florida. Choice knows what Benson can bring to the team.
Now it’s up to Benson. He is working his way through the playbook, even though he can’t participate in spring workouts. By understanding the offense, Benson will be able to adapt quicker when he returns.
“He’d better be mentally prepared,” Choice said. “Because, ultimately, that’s his job. I’ll make sure when he’s in there, he’s locked in and focused to understand what’s going on with the offense. He’s excited and eager to get out on the football field.”
Choice was an All-ACC running back when he played at Georgia Tech. He went on to play professional football with the Dallas Cowboys and wants Benson to understand what it takes to play running back at a high level.
“The best running backs I’ve been around — LaDanian Tomlinson and Marion Barber — they knew what they had to do before they stepped on the football field,” Choice said.
With Benson unable to participate, much of the attention this spring has been focused on Christian Malloy, a redshirt freshman from Lilburn, and Omahri Jarrett, a senior from Douglasville. Both played A-back last season under the old triple-option offense.
“The guys that are in are all the ones you can worry about,” Choice said. “You hope the other guys get healthy, but we’ll manage.”
Malloy was an all-state player at Parkview High School. He has good size (5-10, 195) and good speed.
“He’s a natural running back,” Choice said. “He has to clean up some things, but he’s getting better. The more reps he gets, the more comfortable he gets in the offense.”
Jarrett (5-10, 174) doesn’t have the same size as Malloy, but the New Manchester High School product may have the edge in quickness. He’s also getting a chance to work at slotback and could possibly play both positions in the fall.
“I’ve been in the playbook,” Jarrett said. “They told us from the jump just to get in the playbook, make sure you know everything.”
Another new face to watch is Rome’s Jamious Griffin, a four-star running back who originally committed to NC State. Griffin flipped to Tech on the eve of national signing day, swayed by the changeover to coach Geoff Collins. He rushed for 6,400 yards and 104 touchdowns in high school and helped Rome win two state championships. His brother, JaQuon, is a defensive lineman at Georgia Tech.
Georgia Tech’s spring game will be April 26.