ATLANTA — Paul Johnson is going to keep a closer watch on Georgia Tech's quarterback competition this spring than he expected.
Brian Bohannon, Johnson's longtime assistant who coached the quarterbacks, on Sunday was named the first coach at Kennesaw State, which is launching a new program.
Johnson has assumed Bohannon's duties for spring practice, which opened Monday.
"We'll make it work," said Johnson, who added he will "pick and choose" how he spends his practice time while having a heavier focus on the quarterbacks.
Sophomore Vad Lee is the favorite to win the starting job at quarterback. Lee played behind senior Tevin Washington last season and showed his dual-threat skills with 18 plays of more than 20 yards — 10 passing and eight rushing.
Redshirt freshman Justin Thomas and sophomore Tim Byerly, a transfer from Middle Tennessee State, will compete with Lee.
Lee said he is excited to have more time this spring with Johnson, the architect of Georgia Tech's spread-option offense.
"It has to make me a better player," Lee said. "Just understanding how and why he calls a certain play will help me.
"Obviously, I'm sad about coach Bohannon's departure but I'm also excited for him and excited to have coach Johnson working with the quarterbacks."
Lee may be the front-runner, but Johnson doesn't want the sophomore to assume he'll win the job without a competition.
"Vad works hard," Johnson said. "He and Justin are going to have a good battle."
Johnson said Byerly has "got to get caught up." Byerly, who practiced with the team last year, is eligible in 2013.
Georgia Tech also must replace Orwin Smith, who was the third-leading rusher.
There is good returning depth at the three running back positions. Zach Laskey, who led the balanced running game last season, returns with David Sims, Robert Godhigh, Synjyn Days, Tony Zenon, B.J. Bostic and others.