GEORGIA TECH NOTEBOOK: Smelter just ‘OK’ in first full-pads practice for Ga. Tech; ex-Monroe star Chamberlain shining in fall practice

Georgia Tech OL and former Monroe star Bryan Chamberlain is making a strong push in the Yellow Jackets' preseason practice.

Georgia Tech OL and former Monroe star Bryan Chamberlain is making a strong push in the Yellow Jackets' preseason practice.

ATLANTA — Georgia Tech practiced in full pads Monday for the first time in fall camp. DeAndre Smelter, a receiver hopeful playing organized football for the first time since 2009, played it off like it was no big deal.

“There's nothing like putting pads on,” said Smelter, the former Tattnall Square star who joined the team after three seasons with the Yellow Jackets baseball team. "It was fun out there."

The assessment, however, from coach Paul Johnson, was luke warm.

“He was OK. He's got to learn to get back into football with pads, but he's like everybody. He did some good things and some not so good,” he said.

Tech has hopes that Smelter will be able to make a swift transition, as depth at receiver is meager. Two receivers on the roster have any career catches — Darren Waller with eight and Anthony Autry with three — and Autry is out for the year with an ACL tear.

Smelter said he is beginning to get adjusted to the plays and can think through his assignments. But he is still not to the point where he can hear a play call on the field and know exactly what to do.

“I feel like once I get that, then I can start doing some things,” he said.

With receivers coach Buzz Preston out while recovering from an infection related to a surgical procedure, Smelter has been getting tutored by Joe Hamilton. The former Tech great is on the recruiting staff but has been designated as an on-field coach while Preston recuperates.

“As he gets more accustomed to running routes, getting low out of his cuts, he'll be a guy that can definitely help us out,” Hamilton said.

Waiver received: Offensive tackle Nick Brigham, who transferred from Maryland in January, received a hardship waiver from the NCAA to be able to play immediately. Brigham, who is from Atlanta and graduated from Marist, left Maryland last September because his mother Mary Ellen was suffering from cancer and his father Neil had lost his job.

While transfers are typically required to sit out one year, athletes can gain immediate eligibility if they transfer closer to home due to an illness or injury to an immediate family member. Brigham, a redshirt freshman, said his mother was “doing much better.”

“It was a great relief,” Brigham said of the waiver. “It was kind of a distraction to what I wanted to do and when I trained and now that that's out of the way, I can really just focus on this upcoming season and helping the team out the best I can.”

Back at practice: A-back Robert Godhigh returned to practice Monday after breaking his right pinkie finger two weeks ago. Smiling and wearing a cast on his right hand, Godhigh said he broke it “just being dumb” and declined to elaborate. He said he'll probably wear the cast until the end of fall camp. As the sole senior A-back, Godhigh said his preseason goal is to help the younger A-backs learn the offense “so that way we can all be interchangeable when the games come.”

Godhigh has a new pupil in Broderick Snoddy, the fleet B-back who is now also practicing at A-back in an effort to get him onto the field.

“Hopefully he can get all the plays down because he's an explosive player,” Godhigh said. “If we can get that down, we'll have another weapon out there that can make big plays.”

Making an impression: With offensive tackle Morgan Bailey out with an injury, former Monroe star Bryan Chamberlain has been performing well with the first-string offense, offensive line coach Mike Sewak said. Losing about 12 pounds since last year to get to about 285 has helped.

“He moves so much better; he gets up on (linebackers),” Sewak said. “He's working hard now and he's looking to get better each day. He's making every step count.”

Bailey is in Philadelphia for an unspecified surgical procedure, Johnson said. He is expected to be out six weeks.

New announcer: Tech announced Monday the hire of its new voice of the Jackets, former Butler announcer Brandon Gaudin.

“Seems like a really nice guy when I had the chance to meet him, so I'm sure he'll come in and do a great job,” Johnson said.

Gaudin is excited.

“Between Wes (Durham) and Hall of Famer Al Ciraldo before him, Georgia Tech has quite a broadcasting legacy,” Gaudin said in a statement. “I'm honored to follow those two greats.”

Etc.: Defensive end Jeremiah Attaochu was named to the 22-player watch list for the Ted Hendricks Award, given to the nation's top defensive end. It is the fifth award watch list that he has been named to this preseason.