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QB Justin Thomas finishes spring healthy, but Jackets have other injury concerns

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ATLANTA — Coach Paul Johnson was pleased to report that Georgia Tech made it through a rainy spring scrimmage with no major injuries.

The Yellow Jackets had a long list of ailments before spring practice ended Friday night.

Injuries had sidelined 14 players listed on the team's two-deep depth chart by mid-week.

"I got what I wanted out of the game — nobody got hurt," Johnson said. "That's really all I cared about and giving the guys a chance to have a little fun."

Quarterback Justin Thomas' white team beat the gold team 21-0 in steady drizzle, and Johnson did everything he could to keep his star player healthy.

Thomas, who led the Yellow Jackets to an 11-3 record, an Orange Bowl victory and a No. 8 ranking in the last Associated Press poll, wore a special jersey to avoid getting hit.

Thomas was off limits from contact all spring. He played in just three series Friday and completed his only pass attempt for 21 yards.

"It was the first time doing that while I was here at Tech," said Thomas, a rising junior. "I don't feel like it was any hindrance. I felt like it helped focus on the mental side."

Injuries forced three starting offensive linemen and three of the top four linebackers to miss the scrimmage.

And C.J. Leggett, expected to be a starting B-back in Johnson's spread option offense, received some bad news in the final spring practice this week when an MRI revealed a torn knee ligament. He's unlikely to play in 2015.

"He'd been working hard," Johnson said. "I feel bad for him, but you've got to go with the next-man-up mentality."

The Yellow Jackets also might be without second-string B-back Quaide Weimerskirch, who recently had foot surgery, so Johnson was pleased that Marcus Allen has emerged as a potential starter.

Allen, originally as a B-back as a freshman before switching to linebacker and then receiver, ran 14 times for 77 yards and a short touchdown in the spring game. He returned to his original position when Weimerskirch was injured.

"He's been there all of about seven days," Johnson said. "The biggest thing was that he ran hard. People had a hard time tackling him. He broke some tackles, made some runs."

A-back Dennis Andrews ran for a 23-yards touchdown and quarterback Tim Byerly connected with Micheal Summers for an 11-yard TD strike.

Johnson, who stood at midfield behind the offense throughout the scrimmage, matched the first-team offense and against the first-team defense and second-teamers against each other. He estimated that both offensive units only ran three or four different plays.

Thomas was pleased to end spring fully healthy. He said he's used the sessions to work closely with his new top three receivers — Summers, Ricky Jeune and Antonio Messick — and his new running backs.

"For guys that haven't gotten many game reps or any game reps, this spring was for me to just get comfortable with the guys and making sure we're on the same page at all times, even with the small things," Thomas said. "Going through the spring, we've figured out some weaknesses and strong points, now we know what to work on during the offseason to help us all jell."

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