Damarius gets a demotion
Bilbo, Ga. Tech's returning starter at QB, moved to RBPosted: Friday August 08, 2003 10:51 PM
Updated: Saturday August 09, 2003 5:41 PM
ATLANTA (AP) -- In a stunning move, Georgia Tech moved first-string quarterback Damarius Bilbo to running back Friday, which increased the possibility the Yellow Jackets will have a freshman taking snaps this season.
While coach Chan Gailey had yet to name a starter, freshman Reggie Ball worked with the first team as Bilbo practiced for the first time at running back.
"It just didn't work out for Damarius at quarterback, and we're trying to find him a spot," Gailey said. "He's hurting. Nobody likes to feel like they're being moved."
A week ago, the Yellow Jackets began preseason workouts without a clear-cut starter, but giving Bilbo the first chance to win the job. He was taking most of the snaps with the first team based on his performance in the spring.
Less than a week into practice, Gailey decided to take a totally different path, though he said he had been considering the move for awhile.
"We felt like if we were going to do right by Damarius and do right by our football team, now was the time to make the decision," the coach said.
Senior A.J. Suggs, who started all 13 games last year, is still in the running to keep his job, but Gailey was clearly unhappy with the veteran after his inconsistent performance last season.
Ball, a 5-foot-11, 192-pound signee from suburban Stephenson High School, will get first crack at the job.
"He shows confidence, in the huddle and after the ball is snapped," Gailey said.
But the coach isn't ready to name a starter. The Yellow Jackets also are looking at another freshman, Patrick Carter from St. Petersburg, Fla.
"The quarterback job is still open," Gailey said. "Reggie took the majority of the snaps with the first team today, and we'll see how he responds. It's different taking the snaps with (the first team) than with the other guys, and it's different going against the first defense than the second."
Bilbo, a sophomore from Moss Point, Miss, played in eight games as the backup quarterback in 2002. He completed 29 of 67 passes for 487 yards with three touchdowns and five interceptions. He also rushed 43 times for 118 yards and two scores.
"If it doesn't work out at running back, we're going to try to find him a place to help our football team because we know what kind of person he is and we know what kind of athlete he is and we know what kind of competitor he is," Gailey said. "So we want to try to find him a spot."
Gailey made the move after talking with Bilbo just before practice Friday. They discussed a variety of positions, including receiver, linebacker, safety and tight end.
"Every indication to me is that he wants to help this football team win," Gailey said. "There's a lot of things that this young man can do. He just needs to find a place where he is comfortable and can contribute and learn. And he needs some reps. That's why we went ahead and made the move."
Bilbo declined comment after practice.
Ball was hoping to win the starting job, but he considered Bilbo the main competition.
"I was pretty shocked," the freshman said. "I thought he was still going to be a quarterback, the quarterback."
Ball threw for one touchdown and ran for another in Thursday's scrimmage, persuading Gailey to make the dramatic move with Bilbo.
No Tech true freshman has started at quarterback since Stu Rogers in 1980, and Rogers didn't start the first game. But Ball is confident that he can win the job for the Aug. 28 opener at Brigham Young.
"I wouldn't be here if I didn't plan on being that guy," he said.
As for Bilbo, Gailey pointed to the example set by Dawan Landry, who moved from quarterback to defense in 2002.
"Landry didn't like it two springs ago when we moved him, and now he's our starting safety," Gailey said. "That's part of life. [Bilbo is] hurt, but I know what kind of person he is. Together we're going to find a way for him to help our football team."