Top 10 returning players at Georgia Tech anchored by LB duo Ayinde Eley, Charlie Thomas

The top 10 returning players at Georgia Tech are anchored by their linebacker duo of Ayinde Eley and Charlie Thomas.

The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets have had quite a time switching away from the triple-option offense under head coach Geoff Collins. After a nearly complete overhaul of his coaching staff below him, Collins has his work cut out for him in the 2022 college football season. Despite some talent among their top 10 returning players, Georgia Tech will have to answer a ton of questions about their offensive line and defense in general before they’re considered favorites in many ACC contests.

For every conference’s top returning playersAAC | ACC | B1G | Big 12 | Conference USA | Independents | MAC | Mountain West | Pac-12 | SEC | Sun Belt

Top 10 returning players at Georgia Tech

We’re counting down all the top 10 players returning to action on every team — we’ll deal with transfers later — from Air Force to Wyoming, from Miami to Hawaii, and all in between. Here are the top returning players to Georgia Tech.

10) Paula Vaipulu, G

After starting five games a season ago, Paula Vaipulu is back to anchor what is expected to be an inexperienced offensive line. Vaipulu will have the most experience on the interior and has five career starts at left guard. He’s a big man with a wide base and excelled on the ground when he was able to move in space and plant defenders on their backs.

9) Jordan Williams, OT

It’s a depleted offensive line, but Jordan Williams is back on the right side after starting nine games a season ago. Williams has now started nine games in back-to-back seasons, proving to be a terrific pass protector when he’s in the lineup. Williams has also helped pave the way for the impressive Georgia Tech rushing attack. Staying healthy is key this season, but his experience will be critical for the offensive line regardless.

8) Jaylon King, S

Jaylon King knows a thing or two about touchdowns. Not only can he score them, as he did on a 40-yard fumble return, but he limits the opposing offense from scoring all the same. King is set to see an expanded role in 2022, but what he was able to put forth in 2021 should lead to big things for the 6’1″, 192-pound safety.

7) Kyle Kennard, EDGE

Though the Jackets lose eight of their top 11 tacklers from last season, Kyle Kennard is more than just a tackler. He’s back after laying waste to tackles in his way on multiple occasions last year. Kennard has ridiculous length and a great size profile, as he showcased in 2021 against North Carolina with his two-sack performance. If Kennard turns that UNC performance into an every-game regularity, he’s an All-ACC candidate.

6) Myles Sims, CB

Defensive backs don’t come much bigger than Myles Sims at 6’4″, 185 pounds. Sims is a terrific cornerback who earned more starts as the season went on last year. He’ll be counted on to handle the nickel duties in Georgia Tech’s 4-2-5 defense as that position is essentially an every-down player under defensive coordinator Andrew Thacker. He’s big and fast and has the ability to cover any kind of receiver from the slot.

5) Malachi Carter, WR

Georgia Tech returns Malachi Carter for his fifth season in Atlanta. Carter is a massive receiver on the outside and is as dependable as they come. He’s the most experienced player with 34 career starts and led the team with 489 receiving yards last year. Carter is a walking first-down machine as he averaged 13.2 yards per reception a season ago.

4) Jeff Sims, QB

Though he’ll enter with some quarterback controversy in 2022, Jeff Sims proved to be a dynamic dual-threat last season. Sims ripped off 371 rushing yards and four scores on the ground while throwing for 1,468 yards and another 12 touchdowns. He has the athletic ability to keep the job despite two impressive transfers (Zach Gibson and Taisun Phommachanh). Sims has a great arm, and harnessing his decision-making will show that off in 2022.

3) Zamari Walton, CB

With a knack for finding the football, Zamari Walton is a true ball hawk. He’s always around the football and made great strides as a cover corner in 2021. With terrific size and length, Walton locks down one side of the field for the Jackets and uses his 6’3″ frame to blanket any receivers in his area.

2) Ayinde Eley, LB

The Yellow Jackets returning leader in tackles from 2021, Ayinde Eley is a tackling machine. Eley recorded at least double-digit tackles four times a season ago and showcased an elite ability to weave his way through blockers to find the ball carriers. Eley used his size advantage very well and showcased what makes him truly special last year when he blitzed and got home with pressure more often than not.

1) Charlie Thomas, LB

An all-around force on the defensive side, Charlie Thomas is back for his fifth year with the Yellow Jackets. He patrols the middle of the field brilliantly, covering anything that moves underneath against Georgia Tech. Thomas is a stalwart in run defense and plays strong through any attempt to block him. He ranks second among returning players in tackles from a season ago but impressively led the team with 10 tackles for loss in 2021.

Honorable mention players returning to Georgia Tech in 2022

  • Dontae Smith, RB
  • Kaleb Edwards, S
  • T.K. Chimedza, DT
  • Kenyatta Watson II, CB
  • William Lay III, OL
  • Weston Franklin, G

Related Articles