The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets are looking to build on a somewhat disappointing 7-6 campaign in 2013 and break through in a wide open ACC Coastal Division. While most of the news for the Jackets has been about players who won’t be back in 2014 due to graduation, transfer, or eligibility snafus, GT will get a major boost from a player who returns to the starting lineup this fall. After missing the majority of last season with an injury, can special teams ace and starting safety Jamal Golden provide a spark for Tech?
As a sophomore in 2012, Golden appeared on the verge of stardom as the team’s primary punt and kick returner while also manning the safety position on defense. He finished the year with two return touchdowns on kickoffs and averaged a strong 28.35 yards per return on kicks and 14.59 yards per return on punts. Golden was dangerous with the ball in his hands but also knew how to make plays on defense, recording three interceptions, a forced fumble, and three pass breakups.
But instead of rising into stardom in 2013, Golden suffered a shoulder injury in September that cost him the rest of the season. In his absence, the GT special teams struggled to provide big plays, averaging just 22.03 yards per kick return and 8.32 yards per punt return with zero returns for a touchdown. The secondary also became less disruptive as no player recorded more than two interceptions and the team overall recorded two fewer interceptions than in 2012 when Golden was in the lineup.
Now, Golden is healthy and stronger than he was in 2012 and will be looking to make a major impact on the field this fall. He’s expected to step right back into his role as the primary returner for kicks and punts as well as the starting safety. He will be looking to make up for lost time and put on a major show for 2014, providing a much-needed spark for Georgia Tech in their hunt for an ACC title.