ATLANTA — On the day that Georgia Tech players reported to begin preseason camp, the newest team member offered eagerly awaited news.
From his Twitter account, defensive end signee Kenderius Whitehead announced that he would report with them, having sped through his coursework at Georgia Military College to earn an associate’s degree and transfer to Tech. Whitehead, an M.L. King High grad, will be eligible to play immediately and have three seasons left.
“He’s put in a ton of work, a ton of effort,” GMC coach Bert Williams said Wednesday. “I’m glad he’s getting home, and I’m glad he’s got a place to be in school, practicing and having a chance to play in the ACC. I wish the best for him.”
The announcement brought to an end a tumultuous offseason for the Yellow Jackets, whose ranks were thinned by dismissals, transfers and academic casualties. But Wednesday afternoon, all players were accounted for as check-in ended.
A-back Synjyn Days, whose brother Jabari Hunt-Days will not play this season because he is academically ineligible, said of the purges that “it’s tough to lose somebody that you’ve seen busting their tail in the weight room (and in) academics and everything, but at the end of the day, it’s choices that you make. That’s life.”
He said he thought it will affect the team, as teammates see each other as brothers and look after one another accordingly, but stood behind coach Paul Johnson’s decisions “100 percent.”
“You just have to be step up, be more of a leader in the aspect of making sure everybody’s doing what they’re supposed to do,” Days said.
Days, looking trim and chiseled at 225 pounds, sounded an enthusiastic tone about the team’s summer workouts — “like none other” — and shared his desire to leave a legacy as a senior.
“We want to be known as the team that started the winning tradition again at Georgia Tech and make it to the ACC Championship (game),” he said.
Nose tackle Shawn Green said he hated it for players no longer on the roster, but that it wouldn’t affect the team’s psyche.
“Everybody’s still moving forward,” he said. “Everybody’s mindset is, like, we’ve still got to play ball.”
Green is chief among them, as the defensive line lost five players with eligibility remaining. Teammates have touted him for his work this summer, as he shed fat and became one of the fittest linemen on the team.
As he surveyed the lobby of the team hotel Wednesday afternoon, as team members waited for their room keys, Green said he felt bittersweet about one final preseason camp.
“I’ve been here so long, especially this hotel, but now it’s like, it’s your last go-round,” he said. “But then you’re like, I’m leaving everybody behind.”
But he is here for one more season, and he welcomed reinforcement from Whitehead, a first-team junior-college All-American last season.
“That’s perfect for us,” Green said of Whitehead’s arrival. “We can use him.”