#TGW: Summers in Spring Practice
Wide receiver Micheal Summers is being asked and tasked to lead more and receive more
By Matt Winkeljohn
The Good Word
Micheal Summers chuckled in referring to himself as, "an old head," yet Georgia Tech's leading returning receiver has not just one but two seriously growing roles as the Yellow Jackets start spring practice this week.
While he transitions from underclassman to Alpha wideout, No. 84 is being asked and tasked to lead more and receive more.
Since redshirting in 2012, Summers has not exactly been in the background. He played in all 27 games over the past two seasons, starting 19.
He hasn't become a household name yet, though, for simple reasons: the Jackets don't pass often, and when they did, fellow former wide receivers DeAndre Smelter and Darren Waller most often were on the receiving end.
That figures to change next fall, when the 6-foot-1, 196-pound former Statesboro High two-way standout will be a good bet to surpass his seven receptions of last season, and the 10 he caught as a redshirt freshman.
Summers made perhaps the play of the day Monday when he adjusted a long route to make a sweet catch in the spring's first practice, yet his greater responsibility may be to catch his many younger teammates when they might fall.
Sure, many hours have been spent in the offseason reviewing film and fine-tuning technique under the eyes of wide receivers coach Buzz Preston, who has an inventory of abundantly young and inexperienced pupils.
His coach has in mind growth on multiple levels, however, telling Summers to, "Step into that leadership role. I'm an old head; I've been here for four years now and it's time to step into that leadership role the way DeAndre and Darren, Stephen Hill, Demaryius Thomas and even Calvin [Johnson] did.
"Understand that the guys are going to look at the leader when things seem bad in their eyes. I'm self driven, and when I look around and I see one of my teammates down or tired that motivates me more to bring more energy. Hopefully, through me, he'll see he can do this."
With excellent speed, Summers splashed onto the scene as a collegian. He caught three passes in his first game, against Elon in 2013. There was plenty of playing time that season, when he also rushed twice for 19 yards and averaged 21.1 yards on his 10 total receptions.
Tech is going to need more from him.
The run-oriented Jackets totaled 106 receptions last season, and the players responsible for 94 of them have no more eligibility.
In sum, with Snoddy out while rehabbing a broken leg (he may participate late in the spring), the Jackets have nine receptions back from last season, and one of those was by a quarterback.
Summers has cast an especially critical eye upon himself in recent months, since catching two passes in the Jackets' Orange Bowl win over Mississippi State.
It's time to for him to step up, and the process has involved inspection.
"I did a lot of self evaluation, looking at every part of my game as a receiver and asking others for input as to how I can get better as a receiver: coach Preston, Justin and coach [Paul] Johnson," Summers said. "I definitely ask coach Preston for help. He has an open-door policy.
"It's about route running, studying coverages and being able to see everything on the run, see everything quickly . . . just to run with confidence. The more you know about the game, the more confident you are."
There's more than football in the life of the son of former South Carolina State and Indianapolis Colt football player Micheal Summers Sr. and Vivian Summers.
Micheal Jr. expects to graduate in December with a degree in business administration, and he won't stop football or school there. As his role on the field expands, he is seeking to grow options for a future beyond the game.
"I plan on starting my Master's next spring in building construction and facilities management," Summers said. "I have a minor in sports, science and technology, and . . . I could see myself working in a front office for an NFL team. I would like to start out as a scout. I've been trying to build connections within that arena.
"At the same time, within building construction and facilities management I could see myself working in administration as a facilities manager for a university."
Here is a young man with plans.
Football is a big part of that, and even though he snickered at his own reference to, "an old head," there's evidence of a wizening - on and off the field
"Being able to play in . . . that packed house in Athens helped a lot from a composure standpoint," Summers explained. "I was a lot calmer when I approached the [ACC] championship game and the Orange Bowl.
"I have never been a boastful person or one who looks for glory, but I would say you're going to get a player who will sacrifice and do whatever the team asks of him. When my name is called, I will capitalize on that opportunity and I will help these young guys on our journey become better men and better players."