Linebacker Daniel Drummond is preparing to play his final season at Georgia Tech with a heavy heart and high expectations.
The former Flowery Branch standout, who helped led the Falcons to the state championship game in 2008, lost his father, Jim, to a sudden heart attack on Dec. 10, 2012. That’s served to strengthen his purpose to honor the memory of his father and make his final season on The Flats all it can be.
“That first game of the season is going to be extremely emotional not seeing my father on Yellow Jacket Alley before the game,” said Drummond, who is in the hunt to start at middle linebacker. “But I know he’ll be watching from up above and I want to make him proud.”
The summer leading up to what could be his final season playing football has been a busy one.
Drummond is splitting his time between rigourous training and working as an intern with Atlanta Network Systems, the Suwanee-based technical business solutions company his father founded in 1992. There’s not a lot of free time after getting up first to run at 6 a.m., hit the office for eight hours and a weightlifting session hurried in during lunch. At work, he’s delved into business training tools, such as creative writing and search engine optimization, which will come in handy after he completes his business management degree in December.
Drummond doesn’t want to leave any regrets during his fifth season as a Yellow Jacket. Primarily, he wants to do his part to steer Georgia Tech, which ended 2012 with a Sun Bowl win over Southern California, to an Atlantic Coast Conference title.
“I’ve put in five years of work and it all comes down to this,” Drummond said. “I’m going to work and train as hard as I can.”
Drummond, who recorded 36 tackles with an interception in 2012, is locked in a battle with third-year junior Jabari Hunt-Days for the starting spot at middle linebacker in Georgia Tech’s new 4-3 alignment under its new defensive coordinator Ted Roof. The 6-foot-3, 245-pound linebacker’s best game of 2012 was also his only start, with 11 tackles and a pick against Clemson early in the season. His experience will likely be counted on more as the only interior linebacker on the field.
“In four years, I’ve really learned to adapt to change,” Drummond said. “There’s a lot of differences from the old defense.”
Now, Drummond wants to put together that one great season from beginning to end, and try to stave off knee injuries that have kept him off the field for a pair of games each of the past two seasons. As a sophomore, Drummond finished the season with 44 tackles, including a career-high 12 stops against Utah in the Sun Bowl.
He says all the ups and downs of his career, combined with the untimely death of his father, have made him stronger.
“I’ve had a lot of adversity during my time here,” Drummond said. “I feel like if I can go through playing football and handle the academics at Georgia Tech, I can tackle anything in the world.”
Drummond feels like the Georgia Tech defense is headed in the right direction, and bringing in Roof to helm the unit with only make it stronger after an inconsistent 2012 regular season. Last year ended on a more promising note with a solid showing in a 21-15 loss to Florida State in the ACC Championship game, followed by a 21-7 win against Southern California in the Sun Bowl.