ATLANTA - Luke Manget has done everything he knows to prepare for today's baptism into college football.
The Parade All-America kicker from Rockdale County High in Conyers, Ga., has maintained a vigil of running and lifting weights every other day for the past eight months. And on the days he's not getting his body ready for the opening of training camp at Georgia Tech, he's on the field kicking one field goal after another.
Manget will find out this morning at 9:30, and again at 4 p.m., if all the work paid off when he joins 30 other newcomers, including 23 freshmen, at the team's first workout of the 1999 season.
"I'm looking forward to finally getting a chance to earn a spot," Manget said. "I'm kind of nervous. I've been going up to (Tech) twice a week in the last couple of months to get used to everything, but this is still a big jump for me. I don't know what to expect.
"I'm glad they're bringing in all the new guys first. We can get to know each other and form a bond between us before the veterans get here. That way it won't seem so intimidating."
The newcomers will practice twice today and two more times on Monday before attending orientation on Tuesday -- the same day returning players are expected to report to camp. The Yellow Jackets will hold their annual media day on Wednesday, followed by the first full-team workout on Thursday.
"The freshmen reporting (day) is always an exciting time," said Georgia Tech coach George O'Leary. "It's exciting for the players to begin their college careers, and it's exciting for us as coaches to begin to work with the players we've recruited."
Several freshmen, including Manget, are expected to help the Yellow Jackets this year.
Georgia Tech was 10-2 last year. The Yellow Jackets finished as the Atlantic Coast Conference co-champions, as well as the ninth-place team in the final polls.
"I expect camp to be really tough, physically," Manget said. "I think it will be very competitive. Everyone will be going at it really hard. I have to go in there and do my best to earn a starting position. I think everyone has a lot of high expectations."
Manget knows the Yellow Jackets expect a lot of him. The place-kicking job is open, and he brings an All-American label into camp.
"It makes it tougher on me because I have to live up to some pretty big standards," Manget said. "I think this next week will be really exciting. I can't wait to get going, but at the same time, I'm a little nervous. I just want to do my best and hope it's good enough to earn a job. It seemed like the day we had to report to camp would never get here. The time (since signing with Georgia Tech in February) went by real slow. Then, all of a sudden, the last month went by really quickly.
"Now the wait is over. It's time to take that next big step."
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