A Ramblin’ Wreck from … here

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 1, 2001


ATLANTA, Ga. – Greg Gathers, a LaPlace resident and a former all-state defensive tackle from East St. John High School, has made a name for himself, relocating to Georgia Tech University and becoming one of the nation’s top pass rushers and tacklers.

In his three years as a Georgia Tech Yellowjacket, Gathers has garnered such accolades as nominations for the Rotary Lombardi Award, All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection and is an All-American candidate.

“I am just thankful for the opportunity and want to take advantage of what I have to the fullest,” said Gathers.

“It really hasn’t been a big change from high school, other than leaving home and my family and friends,” he continued. “I got a lot of tips and help with my fundamentals from my high school coaches. They also told me to come into whatever progress with an open mind.”

“Besides being a great player, he was a great kid,” said East St. John head coach Ronnie Stephens. “We talked about commitment and leadership, Gathers possessed all that.”

Gathers said one of the aspects of joining the Georgia Tech team was it is was located in a city not too far from home. His parents agreed and said they attend every one of his home games. Gathers said the staff support at Georgia Tech has been great and the fans have looked up to him and given him respect.

“That’s one of the best choices he’s ever made,” commented his father Richard. “He fits in real good. There was no better feeling than when I was watching him practice and people kept asking if I was his father and how good of a kid he is.

“It’s the best feeling realizing that he has handled himself well since he went there at only 17 years old. It was a big adjustment for him to make, but he has the right attitude about everything. I’ve got to give him a lot of credit.”

Stephens added, “He’s represented East St. John very well.”

Greg Gathers admitted he had some practice habits he had to break and initially he had to adjust to his surroundings. But, he said it helps when he thinks back to when he was playing in the little leagues in New Orleans East before moving to LaPlace and “how fortunate I am to be in this position.”

Gathers determination shows, as he has started 27 straight games, with at least one sack in 16 of his last 19 games.

He is ranked third at Georgia Tech with 43 career tackles for a loss and trails only two All-Americans in the school’s history with 23 career sacks.

“Greg is a smart football player,” said Georgia Tech head coach George O’Leary. “He picks up things very well and football is very important to him. He can play the run as well as the pass. He’s just a good football player.

“I don’t think Greg is ever going to win a 40-yard dash, but he has great quickness, good hand strength and great flexibility.”

“He understands leverage very well,” said the Yellowjackets’ defensive coordinator Ted Roof. “He uses his height to his advantage rather than letting it be a disadvantage. He uses his hands very well, and that allows him to get off blocks and make plays.”

“We go through so many tackling circuits in practice that it becomes second nature to go to the line, make tackles and go after the ball,” Gathers said. “When I go into a game, my mind stays focused on the game.”

Gathers said if he could play against any team in the nation, it would probably be the University of Miami.

“If you want to be the man, you have to beat the man,” he said. “But we are going to stay on our toes and just go play ball.

“This year’s wide open. We can be in the hunt.”

He said he has not tried to model himself after anyone in particular from the NFL, but that “it’s everyone’s dream to be in the pros.”

In case he does not make the cut for a professional team, he is majoring in business and finance.

“It doesn’t happen for most people,” he explained, “so you have to have something to fall back on. That’s why I want to get a good education.”

His father added, “I told him all I want is for him to get his degree and be an asset to society, so he can move on and do what he wants to do with his own life.”