Georgia Tech is one of several programs in the ACC that will usher in a new starting quarterback in 2013. Vad Lee earned some meaningful snaps this past season as the backup to Tevin Washington, but Lee said this week that he is ready to be the team’s full-time starter. He’ll have some competition, though, from rookie Justin Thomas. I spoke with Lee on Wednesday to get his take on the position and the team heading into 2013. Here are the highlights of our interview:
From what I hear it should be an interesting competition. What’s it been like so far from a preparation standpoint knowing Tevin Washington is no longer in the equation?
Vad Lee: It’s very unique because, just being in the locker room, having Tevin there, he’s always been the leader. I’d watch him, and when he’d get ready to go to the meetings, I’d follow right behind him. Now I look down to the left and he’s not there, so it’s all on my shoulders to get to places on time and do things right because I know others are following me.
What did you learn from your experiences this past season and the opportunities you got?
VL: I learned a lot. I got a lot of valuable playing time. I learned that there’s a lot of things I’ve got to get better at, and that playing college ball is not an easy task. It’s something that you really have to work for and something you really have to put the extra time and effort into if you want to be on that next level and live up to the expectations I have of myself.
What are those expectations right now?
VL: One thing I always tell people I tell myself is just to be great. That’s something I used to tell my teammates in high school. It’s something I tell myself to push and motivate me to become the best and just be great because that’s what I want.
How much competition are you expecting from Justin Thomas?
VL: Justin, he’s a great quarterback. He does a lot of things correct and he learns pretty fast, just like myself last year as a redshirt. That redshirt year really benefited him. I’m looking forward to it. He’s a great player and he’s going to be great. When he tucks it in and decides to run, he can really make the defense look silly out there. There were a couple of times at practice he actually did that. He’s an exciting player. We’ll just have to see.
How confident are you that you’re going to be the starter?
VL: Oh, I’m very confident. That’s just my nature and the person I am. I’m very confident. I believe I’m doing things to become the starter. I know that I’m just used to the position. As a backup last year, I kind of had that starter mentality. It’s just carrying over. There’s no pressure or anything added on me. It’s my turn and I’m the guy this year. I’m just picking up from last year.
That’s one of the other things I wanted to ask you -- how big was that bowl win for the program heading into the offseason?
VL: It was huge. That was a great win for us, especially the opponent, a team like USC. That was huge. I know just going to class and being in the community, everybody was excited we were able to win a bowl game, finally. I look at it as something we can build for the future. I look forward to winning four bowl games. Those are the expectations we have as a team moving forward, now that we got that off our back.
How much better do you think you guys can be as a team this year?
VL: Oh, I think we can be a lot better. I was just talking to some teammates about how much talent we have on defense coming back. That should be real exciting because being able to go against them in the spring is going to get the offense better and me better because they have so much experience in the secondary, in the linebacking corps and things like that. I think our offense will do great things as we do, usually. I think we have a lot of playmakers on this offense who are capable of doing a great job next year.