CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Even Georgia Tech wide receiver Ricky Jeune was a little surprised on Friday when his head coach, Paul Johnson, said the Yellow Jackets have more wide receivers in the NFL than any team in the ACC.
“I was a little surprised,” Jeune said while smiling, “but I’m going to completely agree with him because I play wide receiver here.”
Jeune might agree with Johnson, but no one else does. That’s because the facts don’t back up Johnson’s claim. Currently, Georgia Tech has just two former wide receivers—Demaryius Thomas and Stephen Hill—in the NFL. That’s six less than the school that really does have the most wide receivers playing on Sundays.
Clemson leads the ACC with eight former wide receivers either starting or on an NFL roster. Those players are Sammy Watkins (Bills), Deandre Hopkins (Texans), Martavis Bryant (Steelers), Adam Humphries (Buccaneers), Jaron Brown (Cardinals), Charone Peake (Jets), Mike Williams (Chargers) and Artavis Scott (Chargers).
But Johnson is not going to let the facts get in the way of a good story.
This all started at The Westin Charlotte in Charlotte, N.C. as part of the ACC Football Kickoff as the league wrapped up its annual media days. Johnson’s comment came out of nowhere during a question a member of the media asked about his running backs having to share the carries in his offense.
As Johnson kind of explained how the offense gets blown way out of proportion by the media, he then blew things out of proportion himself by saying a Tech offense, which led the ACC in rushing again in 2016 (258.1 yards per game) and ranked last, again, in passing (129.2), has more wide receivers in the NFL than any team in the league.
“People want to talk about wide receivers at Georgia Tech,” he said. “We probably got more wide receivers in the NFL than any team in the league. Everybody, well, ‘What’s it like, you don’t get to the next level or you don’t catch the ball?’
“Now, we ask our guys to block, and we might not throw it as much, but we’re playing with two wide receivers where everybody else is playing with four, so all four guys that play wide receiver at North Carolina aren’t going to catch 80 balls. You know, it’s divided. It’s the same thing at running back.”
Perhaps there is a reason for Johnson’s confusion. This past April, ESPN ranked Georgia Tech as the NFL’s Best Wide Receiver Factory since 2002, ranking ahead of Alabama and Pittsburgh. Of course, much of that reason has to do with the success of Thomas and now retired wide receiver Calvin Johnson and their combined 10 Pro Bowl appearances in 16 combined seasons.
However, it has nothing to do with the number of players the Yellow Jackets are developing for the NFL. Though Thomas and Hill are good players in the league, it’s quite obvious Georgia Tech is not Wide Receiver U in the ACC.
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