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Johnson excited about Summers, Burden
100711 SHS FOOTBALL 01
Former Statesboro High running back Michael Summers, right, holds off South Effingham defender Sean Lemon as he scores a second-quarter touchdown in this Oct. 7, 2011, file photo. Summers is a wide receiver at Georgia Tech.

    MACON — A number of football fans throughout Statesboro follow Georgia Tech’s program because the Yellow Jackets’ head coach, Paul Johnson, guided Georgia Southern to national championship titles in 1999 and 2000.
    Football fans now have two more reasons to keep up with Georgia Tech: former Statesboro High School standouts Michael Summers and Freddie Burden.
    Summers, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound wide receiver, and Burden, a 6-foot-3, 290-pound offensive lineman, soon will begin their freshman year at the Atlantic Coast Conference school in Atlanta.
    “They’ll both be coming in next Wednesday,” Johnson said Tuesday during the 11th annual Peach State Pigskin Preview at the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. “We’re excited about them.”
    Summers and Burden could end up being redshirted this season, but Johnson said both former Blue Devils will have an opportunity to compete for playing time immediately.
    Summers likely has the best chance to earn playing time as a freshman considering there is not a receiver on Georgia Tech’s roster who has made a career reception at the collegiate level.  Sophomores Jeff Green and Darren Waller played last season but neither caught a pass.
    Senior Chris Jackson, who played in 13 games last season as a backup wide receiver, enters fall practices as a starter. Junior Jeremy Moore also will compete for a starting job. He saw limited action last season after missing the 2010 season because of an injury.
    Johnson said he hopes to play five or six receivers.
     “We’re going to start Michael out at wide receiver, but he’s a good athlete and can play a bunch of spots,” Johnson said of Summers, who played on offense and defense at Statesboro High School. “There’s a good possibility that we could play a freshman or two at the wide receiver position this year, at least in the rotation.”
    Summers last season had more than 1,400 yards of total offense and 13 touchdowns, including 1,100 yards rushing. He was a three-star prospect and ranked No. 85 as a safety by
    Summers’ father, Michael, played for South Carolina State but was recruited by Johnson in 1984 when Johnson was a Georgia Southern assistant coach.
    Burden, a three-star prospect by, played at tight end for Statesboro High School and was an all-state selection. He is considered a good blocker with good speed. He and Summers, who are lifelong friends, led the Blue Devils to a 10-1 record and a Region 2-AAAA championship last season.
    Burden will compete for playing time on a Georgia Tech offensive line with more depth and talent than at any time during Johnson’s helm with the Yellow Jackets.
    Senior guard Omoregie Uzzi was a second team All-American and a first team All-ACC selection last season. Junior guard Will Jackson is a two-year starter. Sophomore guard Shaquille Mason and senior guard Nick McRae played last year.
    Junior tackle Ray Beno is a returning starter along with sophomore right tackle Morgan Bailey. Junior center Jay Finch is on the preseason watch list for the Rimington Trophy, which is awarded to the player who is considered to be the best center in college football.
    “Freddie will be an offensive lineman, playing offensive tackle for us,” Johnson said. “We had Freddie in camp and he’s very explosive, got good feet, a good athlete and a big kid, so we’re excited about him. We think he’ll have a bright future.”
    Noell Barnidge may be reached at (912) 489-9408.