Georgia Tech quarterback Justin Thomas will be in the spotlight this spring as the Jackets look to replace Vad Lee, who decided to transfer this offseason. I spoke with Thomas recently about how he expects his role to change. Here are the highlights of our conversation:
What’s changed for you with the quarterback position and the role you have now? What has this offseason been like since Vad is no longer in the mix?
Justin Thomas: I’m just working hard and staying motivated, trying to get ready for the season and trying to get the guys ready, making sure we’re all prepared, doing what we’re supposed to be doing.
How much individual work have you done?
JT: Whatever days we can get out there. On Mondays and Wednesdays we go throw at 1:30; we get snaps with the center on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Sometimes people have different times they can go, so we just have to go off people’s schedules.
What was your reaction to Vad’s decision to transfer?
JT: It was shocking, but I really can’t comment too much on it. I’m not him, so he had to make the best decision for himself. He did what he felt like he had to do.
How did the experience that you had last year help you heading into this season?
JT: It helps a little bit. You’re not going in blind; you know what to expect from our players. I kind of have a feel of what’s going to happen, what’s going on.
What are you looking to improve upon most?
JT: Just getting out there and making sure I’m going through my reads, my progressions, making sure of ball security, just trying to make the offense flow how it’s supposed to flow.
What are your thoughts on the guys you have around you to work with?
JT: I have great expectations for all of them. We’re all working hard this offseason, by themselves and with the team. They made great progress and I’ve seen all of them play and know they can play, so I feel good about being around them.
How much better do you think you guys can be as an entire team?
JT: I feel like we can compete with anybody on any day. It’s just the fact we have to make ourselves better and we have to get better as a team, just come together more. We were in basically every game we played, we just didn’t finish strong. This year we have to focus on finishing strong.
What does it mean to you to be a starter?
JT: It means a lot. It comes with a great expectation, so you have to try to take it in as much as I can. Whoever gives me advice, I try to take it and be the best I can be.
I know you played in 10 games last year, but you haven’t started yet. How much different is the mental preparation for that?
JT: I won’t say it’s different because even when you’re the backup, you have to come in the game prepared like you’re the starter. You never know when you’ll get in, so that mental part, you always have to have it when you’re starting or you’re not starting.
Do you feel like your teammates have embraced you as the leader?
JT: I feel like they have. I feel like they show a lot of support, helping me get things together. I feel like they’ve embraced me, and I’m going to give them the best I can.
I don’t know much about Tim Byerly. How confident are you that this is your job? What’s the competition going to be like out there this spring?
JT: There’s always competition, no matter where you’re at. I haven’t started a game yet, so the competition is still up in the air. Tim, he’s not nobody to look over. He’s a competitor and I feel like he’s a great football player. We’ve both been training really hard this offseason together. He’s stayed right along with everybody, so I think it will be a great competition.