Friday, November 6, 2009


McRae enjoying Yellow Jackets’ success
By Coley Harvey -

For now, Nick McRae may not be the most game-used member of Georgia Tech’s offensive line. Just a redshirt freshman, the versatile player is still learning the Yellow Jackets’ spread option system and is hoping to be a key contributor in future seasons. Somewhat pleasantly surprised by the success his team has had, the former Dublin standout is excited to be along for the ride. The Telegraph’s Coley Harvey caught up with the lineman to talk about his current role at Georgia Tech, as well as his high school alma mater:

QUESTION: To begin, just how has this second year at Georgia Tech progressed for you?

ANSWER: Everything has been going real well. We’re 8-1, so we’re winning games, and we have a chance to win the ACC championship if we keep winning games.

QUESTION: What is it like just to be around all of this? The atmosphere has been pretty exciting all year.

ANSWER: It feels great — and not trying to boast about my old high school football program or anything — but I’m used to winning. So it’s kind of like where last year we were so disappointed about the way we played in the bowl game (a 38-3 loss to LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl), we’re really trying hard to make up for it this year. It’s just all about keep moving forward and keep going full steam ahead, just like our motto (this year) says.

QUESTION: Of course you were one of those players who was recruited when head coach Paul Johnson and his offense first arrived at Georgia Tech. While some recruits thought about avoiding the transition, you stuck with it. Did you foresee this type of season to happen so quickly?

ANSWER: I thought we could do well back then. But really, I didn’t think the success would be this early. I thought we’d win games, but not quite like we did last year. But you know, our offensive system is so unique, and not very many people understand how to defend the triple option. It’s a hard offense to defend if you don’t hit the right man and watch your keys. So I knew eventually we were going to have great success, but I really didn’t think it was going to be this early. It’s just been great so far.

QUESTION: Nagging injuries and banged up players have been issues lately on the offensive line. Coach Johnson has talked about it just being part of the 10-week straight grind you guys have been under. How has all this affected you, and the rest of the line?

ANSWER: We’re holding up pretty good, everyone is getting better and better. I think if somebody goes down, we’ve got good enough players to step up and take their spot. Even the injured players are helping the other players out like us young guys who aren’t playing that much. Everyone has been stepping up and practicing hard, and the whole O-line as a group is getting better. Because, you know, everybody was talking at the beginning of the year about how the O-line was weak, so we just had to show what we were about.

QUESTION: You had almost 600 yards of total offense last week, and senior guard Cord Howard and center Sean Bedford have received weekly ACC honors this year. Have you silenced the critics?

ANSWER: People are starting to respect us more. We don’t have the respect we want, but we’re starting to get it more and more every week. People are starting to respect our offense and can see that we can put up a lot of points.

QUESTION: I’m sure some Georgia Tech fans back in Middle Georgia are jealous that you have shared huddles with players like Josh Nesbitt and Jonathan Dwyer. What do you tell people about playing with guys who could be serious Heisman hopefuls and NFL prospects?

ANSWER: It’s great. They’re great people, and they work hard. Nesbitt is silent, but you know when he says something that he means it. People respond to that. He’s a silent leader, but he leads by action. And Dwyer is our best player, so when he gets himself fired up by making a long run, it just gets the energy up for the rest of us. We all feed off him; all the players.

QUESTION: Do you still talk to some of your former Dublin teammates? (McRae was part of four Fighting Irish teams that went to the GHSA playoffs. The 2006 team won a co-state championship).

ANSWER: Oh yeah, of course.

QUESTION: What about Rashard Smith? (Smith starred at quarterback for the Fighting Irish before receiving a scholarship this fall to North Carolina State. A defensive back for the Wolfpack, he was lost for the season after suffering a game-related injury a few weeks ago).

ANSWER: I spoke with Rashard earlier in the year when he got hurt, and was telling him to just keep his head up. He’s still young, and just make sure you come back from that injury healthy. Of course he was disappointed, but stuff like that happens. He’s just got to figure out how to respond to it. I know he’s going to bounce back. I know what kind of player he is.

QUESTION: Even though Dublin is 7-2, for some down there, this start hasn’t quite been what some fans there are used to. How can you convince them that that there is still a chance they can return to Atlanta and the Georgia Dome this year?

ANSWER: I mean, look at my senior year. We lost the opening game to West Laurens. We were almost in the same boat — except it wasn’t two region games. But they can come back and win from two losses. I remember my ninth-grade year, we had three games and we came back and were able to go to the Dome (for the semifinals). Anything is possible; you just have to keep getting better every week. They’ll be fine. Coach (Roger) Holmes is a good coach; he’s going to have them ready.

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