Nov 8, 2012
Chapel Hill, N.C. — When Georgia Tech quarterback Vad Lee was coming out of high school at Hillside in Durham, he was a highly-touted dual-threat that had garnered offers from Auburn, South Carolina and the collective North Carolina schools, but the 6-foot-2, 210-pounder decided that it was Georgia Tech that best suited him.
Yellow Jackets head coach Paul Johnson is happy with Lee’s decision and expects him to play a big role when he returns to the Tar Heel state to play North Carolina Saturday.
“I think Vad’s a good athlete,” Johnson said. “He’s 210 pounds and has a good arm. He can run, has got good speed and he’s a very athletic young man, so he’s got a bright future.”
After redshirting last season, Lee has taken to the versatile Georgia Tech offense with great success in his first year on the field. Lee has emerged as the second backfield leader in the Georgia Tech huddle, splitting time with senior and three-year starter Tevin Washington.
Lee has played in seven of the Jackets’ nine games in 2012, racking up 322 yards on 47 carries with six touchdowns. And Johnson isn’t afraid to let the youngster air it out a bit in the option offense as Lee has thrown for two touchdowns on 12-of-24 passing.
“I think clearly there’s a learning curve no matter what offense you do,” Johnson said while joining Mark and Mike on 620 the Buzz Thursday. “He’s worked extremely hard and put in the time and now I think he’s ready to go out and play. Is he as good as he’s going to be? I doubt it, but he’s got enough ability to help us win games now.”
Lee posted a 4.54 second 40-yard dash, an 8-foot, 8-inch broad jump and 4.44 second short shuttle in high school where he also racked up over 2,000 passing yards and 650 rushing yards with 12 touchdowns as a senior – numbers that align themselves with Georgia Tech’s offense.
Last week, Lee threw the ball just twice, but led the Jackets in carries with 12 during a 20-point conference road win at Maryland. Said Johnson, “Anytime you can win a conference game on the road it’s a positive.”
For Georgia Tech to get a second consecutive road win, Johnson said that controlling the number of North Carolina possessions will be key – something that his team’s style should do by being true to their values.
“I think certainly we need to stay on the field offensively and try to minimize their possessions. They’re used to playing with 17-18 (possessions). I think if we let them have the ball 20 times they are going to blow the scoreboard lights out against us,” Johnson said. “We’re used to normally playing a game with 8, 9, 10 possessions, so I imagine it is going to be somewhere in between.
“I don’t think we will make an effort to slow it down,” he continued. “I just think that the nature of what we do will slow it down. If we just play our normal game the thing is not going to get to 20 I assure you.”
Georgia Tech (4-5, 3-3 ACC) is averaging 449 yards per game this season – 318 of which are ground yards – and putting up 35 points per game. Johnson said that the Jackets’ defense containing Gio Bernard will be key on Saturday, but if they are to beat UNC, Lee’s ball control will be equally important.
“We think Vad is a very talented young man and he’s continued to grow and progress,” Johnson said. “We’re excited about the future and certainly he’ll play some Saturday.”