Justin Thomas, QB, Georgia Tech
Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson took the option offense that worked so well at Georgia Southern and Navy and adapted it for the ACC. In his time at Tech, Johnson’s arguably never had another quarterback better suited to running the scheme than Justin Thomas.
That’s not distinction I give out lightly; Joshua Nesbitt was outstanding in 2009 when the Yellow Jackets won the ACC championship. Thomas had nearly identical rushing and passing yards as Nesbitt last season as Nesbitt in ’09.
However, Thomas is more dangerous with the pass. He threw 18 touchdowns and, perhaps more impressively, averaged almost 10 yards per attempt.
His dangerous passing ability gives defenses preparing for the Tech option something to think about. However, they yield too much on Thomas as a ball-carrier. Mississippi State learned that the hard way in the Orange Bowl, when he scorched the Bulldogs for 121 yards and three touchdowns.
Tearing up what was one of the SEC’s more talented defenses should have catapulted Thomas into the stratosphere. There may still be a stigma about the option at the Power 5 level, but Thomas will have no trouble shaking that if Georgia Tech is in the College Football Playoff hunt.