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What We Heard: Georgia Tech at the ACC Kickoff

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Since Wednesday night, The Westin Charlotte in Charlotte, N.C., has been overflowing with the ACC’s 14 head coaches, student athletes and media for the 2017 ACC Football Kickoff.

From player expectations and team evaluations to flashy outfits and dancing for the camera, the ACC Football Kickoff has been filled with the utmost excitement for the 2017 college football season.

On Thursday, the Atlantic Division teams captured the spotlight of the ACC buzz. However, the Coastal division teams took the podium on Friday for Day 2.

Gerogia Tech’s head coach Paul Johnson, wide receiver Ricky Jeune, and defensive end KeShun Freeman spoke to the media about their team and the ACC’s growth over the years.

Here is what we head:

During Johnson’s 10 years in the league, the ACC has changed drastically in many ways. Johnson has watched the ACC become what it is today.

“I don’t think there’s any question that the league is much better today than it was the day that I came into the league ten years ago,” he said. “I think that several of the programs have made a huge commitment, both financially and through other levels of support, to try to get to the top level. And they’ve achieved that.

“And if you look — I don’t care what metric you would want to measure it by, whether it’s head-to-head against other Power Five, two of the last four National Championships, the bowl record, the record against the SEC, whatever you want to measure it by — I think you could make a pretty good case that right now the ACC is probably the premier league in the country or has been in the last couple of years anyway.”

In particular, the physical evolution of the Coastal Division stands out to Freeman.

Yeah, to me we are a really, really, really strong group of people,” Freeman said. “Each team — a lot of people say we have equal chances, but each team really wants to win and be the Coastal representation in the ACC Championship. Yeah, we are very physical, man, because everybody is going to be that top spot.”

Georgia Tech’s physicality shined bright last year, as the Yellow Jackets finished their season with six out of seven wins.

The momentum the Yellow Jackets finished with last season is something Freeman thinks the team can hold onto and use to their advantage entering the 2017 season.

“We kind of keep it in the back of our mind, and we’re very thankful for it,” Freeman said. “I think as an older group of people, we played on one of Coach Johnson’s worst teams and one of Coach Johnson’s best teams, so we use each season as an example of what could have happened, what has happened, and what we can take from those seasons to carry over into the future.

“So that’s why this off-season we’re kind of excited because we’ve worked so hard. I mean, our coaches really kind of helped us step our game up by challenging us to a new level when we’re running and when we’re in the weight room. Like I said, I’m very excited to go into camp and see who earns positions and who comes out on top, so when we go into the first game we are very happy with what we’re going into it with.”

The Yellow Jackets will head to Clemson, S.C., in October to face the defending national champions, so they hope to have that momentum on their side.

“Yeah, playing Clemson is always great, man,” Jeune said. “They won the national title last year, and it’s just a great opportunity, man. We know it’s not going to be easy going over there, and we just have to come with our best “A” game.”

–Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

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