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Justin Thomas takes over at QB for Georgia Tech

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 26, 2014 at 5:47 pm •  Published: August 26, 2014

ATLANTA (AP) — Justin Thomas is ready to take plenty of hits as Georgia Tech's starting quarterback.

It's all part of the job in coach Paul Johnson's spread option offense.

Quarterbacks carry the ball as much as running backs. They are tackled lightly in practice, even during the season, to get ready for the hammering they take in games.

"No big deal," Thomas said Tuesday. "I'm just as big as anyone out there. I'm 190. It's all the same. I'm just going out there playing football, something I've been doing since I was a little kid. I'm ready."

When the Yellow Jackets open the season Saturday at home against Wofford, Thomas will be Johnson's most recent full-time starting quarterback, following Josh Nesbitt, Tevin Washington and Vad Lee.

All have stayed relatively healthy. Nesbitt's season-ending injury, a broken arm in November 2010, occurred as he tried to tackle a Virginia Tech player following an interception.

"If you go back and look, we've been here six years, and it's the same party line every year — that guys are going to get knocked out and you need to have two or three of them with the licks they take," Johnson said. "To be the best of my knowledge, we haven't one knocked out yet."

The 5-foot-11 Thomas, listed at 185 pounds by the school, easily beat out Tim Byerly for the job in spring and summer practices. Johnson says that Thomas has proven quick enough to compensate for an undersized frame.

"Can Justin Thomas, at 185, do the same things that Josh Nesbitt, at 220, did on short yardage? Probably not," Johnson said. "But if you're good at reading (the defense) and you're good at doing other things, you don't have to. If we call a 'follow' play, J.T. ain't going to go, 'Oh, no.' He's going to run it."

Thomas will run an offense that's finished among the nation's top six in rushing during each of its six years under Johnson, and the coach is again returning to his playbook roots.

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