ATLANTA -- Thirty-one newcomers to the Georgia Tech football program will continue to get a jump on the veterans with two more workouts today.
The players -- 23 scholarship signees and eight walk-ons -- went through a pair of practice sessions Saturday and will compete in 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. workouts today at Rose Bowl Field.
"I think it's a good group," said Yellow Jackets coach George O'Leary. "Our goal as coaches in those four practices is to find which athletes can help us when the varsity comes in Tuesday night. We'll pencil them in somewhere in the depth chart so they get some reps, and then we can see if they continue to grow from what we saw the first couple of days of practice."
The returning veterans, players who helped Georgia Tech to a share of the Atlantic Coast Conference championship and a ninth-place spot in the final polls last year, will report on Tuesday. They will spend the day moving into their dormitories and getting fitted for their football equipment while the newcomers will attend school orientation.
The team will conduct its media day on Wednesday, then hit the field as a complete unit on Thursday.
"It's great to have the freshmen on campus," O'Leary said. "It's a good looking group with a lot of enthusiasm. Hopefully, they will work well to go along with that."
Several freshmen may work themselves into the team's rotation, O'Leary said. In fact, the Yellow Jackets are counting on two first-year players -- kicker Luke Manget of Conyers, Ga., and punter Philip Newman of Marietta, Ga. -- to step directly into the starting lineup. Both signed as Parade All-Americans.
Others who could figure prominently in the team's plans to contend for a national championship include running backs Mike Kitchen of Lebanon, Pa., Sidney Ford of Lindale, Ga., wide receiver Anthony Lawston of Baltimore and offensive lineman Raymond Blake of Walthourville, Ga. All four players were high school All-Americans last year.
Eleven of the team's newcomers are defensive backs, including Cory Collins of Egg Harbor Township, N.J. Collins was considered one of the top prospects in the country.
"We want to get the kickers into a routine and put them in the mix right away," O'Leary said. "We need to see what they're all about."
Included in the group of newcomers is Chris Morehouse. The punter from Vernon, Conn., played one season at Albright College in Reading, Pa., where he led NCAA Division III with a 43.2-yard average. He was voted as the rookie of the year in the Middle Atlantic Conference Commonwealth League, and was named as a first team All-American.
Morehouse, however, won't be able to compete for a job this year. NCAA rules require him to sit out this season since he transferred from another NCAA institution. He will be eligible in 2000 and will have three years of eligibility remaining.
Georgia Tech, which enters the season ranked 11th in the coaches' poll, will open its season with a road trip to Navy on Sept. 4.
Don Coble is based in Atlanta and can be reached at email@example.com.