Georgia Tech's Geoff Collins Keeping Safety a Priority

Ashley Barnett

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Georgia Tech head football coach Geoff Collins has worked diligently, in addition to following the NCAA's strict guidelines, to provide a further sense of safety to those around the Yellow Jackets football program.

Since Phase I of reopening athletic facilities on the Flats began nearly two months ago, Collins and his staff have continually prepared for the 2020 college football season, each day by day, with the well-being of the entire team at the forefront of their minds. 

"The biggest thing, and the philosophy that we've had ever since we left March 12, was to control what we can control," Collins told media on Wednesday via a conference call. "To make sure we're putting protocols in place to take care of our guys. To make sure we have the healthiest and safest standards at our facility. The protocols for our coaches and players and coaching staff, for everybody associated in the organization, that has been the number one priority."

As Tech opened fall practice on Wednesday (August 5), things looked differently compared to that of this time last year - Collins' first preseason camp with the Jackets. 

According to Collins, approximately 180 "safety loops" have been painted throughout Georgia Tech's practice facility. The loops stagger from along the sidelines to the fields. Furthermore, the loops are marked behind the line of scrimmage to serve as a tactic reminder for players, as well as the coaches, to practice social distancing in between reps. 

"This is not business as usual," Collins said. "This is not a typical camp."

In conjunction with the safety protocols, Collins has split morning practices into two groups - essentially two-a-days for the football coaching staff. The team is mainly divided by level of experience. The younger group practiced at 7:30am on Wednesday, followed by the older group at 9:30am.  

“It’s a continuous flow for the coaches and for the staff and for the medical staff and for the trainers,” Collins said. “But for the guys, it’s get in and get out, and then they’ll have other things spaced out as well during the day.”

Each group also has its own locker room with a three locker buffer in order to minimize contact between players. 

To help with the struggles of instructing his team while wearing a mask throughout practice, Collins has discovered a new method to ensure that he's heard. 

"I've got an electronic whistle," Collins said. "I never knew that sort of thing existed until a week ago. That's been a positive thing."

By being inventive while following the detailed protocols put in place, Collins views the unprecedented challenges with the preseason as an opportunity to prosper.  

“The teams that can be innovative, the teams that can be creative, the teams that can think outside of the box are going to be the ones that are successful,” Collins said.

With the other Power Five conferences also gearing up for fall camp, notable players such as Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons, Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley, and Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman have opted out of the upcoming season due to coronavirus and health concerns. 

When asked if any Tech players have expressed apprehension to play this fall, Collins said he has not had a conversation yet regarding the matter. He added “we fully support” should a player contemplate such a decision. 

Related Links:

Notes on Each Power Five Conference Model for 2020 CFB Season

ACC, SEC Announce Differing Plans for 2020 CFB Season

Breaking Down Georgia Tech's New 2020 Football Schedule

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