Originally created 04/18/99

Coolness in air stimulates Georgia Tech scrimmagers



ATLANTA -- Most of spring practice has drudged along under unseasonably hot conditions for Travares Tillman.

Though he's projected as a preseason All-American free safety, Tillman is having to make some difficult adjustments as he enters his final season at Georgia Tech.

He has a new position coach in Paul Ferraro and a new defensive coordinator in Ted Roof. Tillman also finds himself in a leadership position following the departure of seniors Jerry Caldwell, Jason Bostic, Brian Wilkins and Kofi Smith.

Thankfully, Saturday offered a fresh alternative. Tillman's last Springfest Spring Scrimmage, held in front of approximately 2,200 Yellow Jacket fans at the "Rose Bowl" practice field, was a nice break.

Maybe it was the cool wind or the little kids waiting for autographs. Whatever the reason, Tillman was grateful that the coaches, including head boss George O'Leary, lightened up. Suddenly, the Sept. 4 season opener at Navy didn't seem so far away.

"This is the coolest day we've had so far," said Tillman, Tech's second-leading tackler last year with 82 total hits. "It's great to have a day like this. It lifts up our spirits."

O'Leary deemed the session, which started at 10 a.m. and ended just after noon, a success -- particularly with the turnout twice that of last year. Clearly, a majority of Tech fans have high expectations following a 10-2 season a No. 9 national ranking.

"I was looking, really, to establish both sides of the line," O'Leary said. "I thought defensively they stepped up today, but offensively we had some penalties. I think we have the ingredients to be a good football team, but I was really wanting to come out and see us solidify the (positions at) two-deep."

He and offensive coordinator Ralph Friedgen got a good look at No. 2 quarterback candidates George Godsey, a sophomore; Jermaine Crenshaw, a redshirt freshman; and Brian Camp, a true freshman who just signed a letter-of-intent in February.

Joe Hamilton, the No. 1 quarterback and a senior who's hyped as a Heisman Trophy candidate, played the least -- completing five of 10 passes for 59 yards. Godsey (7-for-12 for 73 yards and two touchdowns) may have taken the upper hand on Crenshaw (7-for-13 for 90 yards and one touchdown).

Camp, who most likely is headed for a redshirt year, did not play enough to warrant statistics being kept.

"I think we have a ways to go before we can make a decision at QB," O'Leary said. "Hopefully we can make a determination in the next week."

On defense, O'Leary singled out the play of junior cornerback Troy Tolbert (former Josey star) and sophomore Chris Young, who had two sacks at strong safety. O'Leary also was pleased with the entire corps of linebackers and the play of the defensive line.

"If the linebackers look good, that means the guys up front (on the line) are doing a good job," O'Leary said. "It was good to see."

Walk-on placekicker Kai Cornwell helped his cause by hitting field goals of 25, 37 and 44 yards. Cornwell, who also missed twice from 50 yards out, faces an uphill battle in August with the arrival of highly-regarded recruits Luke Magnet and Philip Newman.

GEORGIA SOUTHERN: In their last scrimmage before next Saturday's annual Blue-White Game, senior quarterback Greg Hill completed 10 of 15 passes for a spring-high 123 yards and rushed for 52 yards to lead the Eagles through a scrimmage on Saturday morning.

The Eagles' offensive unit, which cut last week's turnover total in half with just two lost fumbles, racked up 501 total yards and had one TD during the 110-play simulated game.

NOTRE DAME: NCAA enforcement officials have recommended that contact between a former Notre Dame booster and up to a dozen Irish football players be ruled a secondary infraction, meaning no major sanctions would be levied against the program, school officials reported.

The Committee on Infractions, an independent body composed of individuals from member institutions, will make a final decision on what penalties the Irish face. Notre Dame spokesman Dennis Moore said school officials will also have to appear before the committee, but it has not received final word on when a hearing will be held.

"That's the staff's recommendation, but the case is not finished yet," Moore said.

If the committee accepts the recommendation, the Irish will avoid the more serious sanctions that accompany a major violation, including losing scholarships or television privileges, recruiting restrictions and postseason bans.

ALABAMA: Alabama still hasn't decided who its top quarterback will be in the fall, but Andrew Zow made a good play for retaining his starting job in the A-Day game Saturday.

Zow, who started the last seven games for the Crimson Tide last season, completed 4-for-13 passes for 70 yards and one interception. He was sacked once.

His chief competitor for the starting position, Tyler Watts, went 5-for-12 for 58 yards and one touchdown, but was sacked five times.

Coach Mike DuBose, who said earlier this week he plans to use a two-quarterback system through at least the first three games of 1999, said he was pleased with the performance of both quarterbacks during Alabama's final scrimmage of the spring.

"I am convinced we can win with either of them, or both of them," DuBose said. "If we were playing Vanderbilt today, both quarterbacks would play. Andrew would play 60 percent of the time, and Tyler would play 40 percent of the time."

Watts said he wouldn't have a problem with that arrangement.

"It's an opportunity," Watts said. "You know if you can just get out there on the field, you have a chance to prove that you can play. Then, hopefully, day by day, you'll just get a little bit closer."

Watts played nearly the whole game, while Zow played little more than a quarter.