New starting QBS are popular topic at Georgia, Georgia Tech



MACON, Ga. — Hutson Mason is eager to begin summer camp as Georgia’s undisputed starting quarterback.

Mason has waited four years “to hopefully make an impression that lasts” after watching Aaron Murray become the Southeastern Conference’s career passing leader.

At Georgia Tech, coach Paul Johnson will replace starting QB Vad Lee, who left school earlier this year and transferred to James Madison.

Johnson will decide between redshirt sophomore Justin Thomas, who’s listed first on the depth chart, and No. 2 Tim Byerly, a redshirt junior.

Johnson and Georgia coach Mark Richt were the main attractions on Tuesday at the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, where the state’s football programs gather annually to discuss the coming season.

In two starts last year after Murray tore a knee ligament against Kentucky,

Mason helped Georgia rally from a 20-0 deficit and win in double overtime at Georgia Tech. But against Nebraska four weeks later, some dropped balls in the red zone took the luster off his 320 yards passing as the Bulldogs lost 24-19 in the Gator Bowl.

Mason acknowledges that many Georgia fans question his ability, but he said he doesn’t pay much attention to critics. He plans to stay off social media accounts this year.

“It just helps me stay focused,” he said. “When you get (negative) stuff like that, it can be a little discouraging. You don’t realize how blunt people can be.”

Johnson was surprised when Lee decided to transfer, but he said Georgia Tech will benefit from having a true competition at quarterback this summer.

Despite having a role in five of the game’s 13 fumbles in the Jackets’ rainy spring scrimmage, Byerly impressed Johnson with 101 yards rushing and 69 passing.

Byerly began his career at Middle Tennessee State after leading Chattahoochee to the Georgia Class AAAA state title and a 15-0 record in his senior year. He’s beginning his third season with the Jackets.

“He’s got toughness,” Johnson said.

“He’s a good runner. He’s got good speed. I don’t know if he’s blazing, but he’s got good speed.”

Georgia Tech, which went 7-6 last year and tied for second in the Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division, returns five starters on offense with running back Zach Laskey as the top playmaker.

Thomas was held out of the spring game because of a shoulder injury, but Johnson said then that he could’ve played if it had been the regular season.

“He’s quick, fast and does have blazing speed,” Johnson said. “He’s probably got as quick a release as anybody (Johnson’s staff has) had at Georgia Tech throwing the ball. Strong arm. He’s not as tall, so we have to find ways that he can” find receivers.


ATHENS, Ga. — The off-season purge of Georgia’s secondary continued Tuesday.

Safety Tray Matthews, one of four players arrested on the eve of spring practice, was dismissed from the team. He became the fourth 2013 starting defensive back who won’t be in the the Bulldogs’ defensive plans for 2014.

“We are trying to make room for guys who want to do things right,” coach Mark Richt said in a statement announcing Matthews’ removal from the program.

Richt didn’t indicate if there was a last straw for Matthews that led to his decision.

– Morris News Service