ATLANTA - Georgia Tech quarterback Taylor Bennett uses familiar phases like "freak of nature" and "big-play guy" to describe one of his wide receivers.
And yes, Bennett is aware Calvin Johnson is not coming back to the Yellow Jackets.
Bennett has found a Johnson-like target in redshirt freshman Demaryius Thomas in the early going of spring practice.
Comparing any player to Johnson, who many NFL gurus consider the best prospect in this spring's NFL Draft, is unfair. But Thomas, along with veteran wide outs James Johnson and Greg Smith, should soften the loss of what Bennett calls the "Calvin luxury."
"We relied on him in big-time situations - we needed a play, we went to him, and usually the defense knew but couldn't do anything about it," Bennett said of Johnson.
Thomas reminds Bennett, at least slightly, of Johnson. At 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, he looks like Johnson in his uniform and helmet. And he has made several impressive catches in the opening days of Georgia Tech's spring practice.
Another Johnson, James, will likely get that attention after catching 39 passes for 608 yards and seven touchdowns in 2006.
And with Bennett at quarterback, every eligible receiver on the field is a threat. The redshirt junior spread his 19 completions and 326 yards among six wide receivers in the Gator Bowl.
"We have different types of receivers," coach Chan Gailey said. "We don't have a lot of depth there right now, but we've got some pretty good talent to work with."
More talent is on the way. Gailey's staff signed a pair of tall, athletic wide receivers in the Calvin Johnson mold in the recent recruiting class. He expects both to compete for time this fall.
Gailey is confident the group will thrive without Johnson.
"It'll be different, but I don't expect a falloff," Gailey said.
Reach Adam Van Brimmer at (404) 589-8424 or firstname.lastname@example.org.