A total of 21 student athletes committed to this year’s football class, leading to the largest number of signees by the end of National Signing Day for Tech since 2011.
“We’re extremely excited about the group of young men we signed this year,” said head football coach Paul Johnson. “Almost every year at this time, that’s what everybody comes out and says, but I think we really fulfilled some needs. We took six offensive lineman, which was a priority for this year’s class, and we got some defensive backs we think can come in and compete right away. Overall, I’m really excited with this class. Right now, we’re at 20, with a chance to get one more this afternoon.”
Ten of this year’s 21 commits are from the state of Georgia, including two from nearby Norcross High School. Tech continues to grow the Norcross pipeline and will now have three players on the roster from Norcross. This class is also very southeast oriented with 17 of this year’s signees from Georgia, Florida and South Carolina.
Headlining this class are four-star running backs Myles Autry and Christopher Leggett, four star cornerback Step Durham and Junior College defensive end Kenderius Whitehead. Tech singed four four-stars, according to ESPN recruiting services, which is the most a Paul Johnson class has ever had during his tenure at Tech.
Other top commits are four-star linebacker Terrell Lewis, three-star quarterback Matthew Jordan and three-star defensive ends Tyler Merriweather and KeShun Freeman.
Of the 21 signees, ten are slotted to play defense and 11 will play on the offensive side of the ball.
Tech also addressed several needs in this year’s recruiting class by signing six offensive linemen, including Trey Klock, who could line up at tight end in some packages. Tech signed three ends, having lost three defensive lineman to graduation.
“In the past couple of recruiting cycles, we had recruited some defensive ends who got big and now they’re inside guys. So the emphasis for this year’s class was more for outside guys then inside guys [on the defensive line],” Johnson said.
Whitehead is the first Junior College player to come to Tech since punter Durant Brooks, who won the 2007 Ray Guy Award. Originally at NC State, Whitehead transferred to Georgia Military College where he was a first team Junior College All-American. He recorded 7.5 sacks on the season and helped GMC to an 11-1 record. Whitehead will have three years of eligibility left and will look to replace the production of Jeremiah Attaochu.
Another position of need was defensive back, which Tech fulfilled by signing five defensive backs to this year’s class, including twins Lawrence and Lance Austin from Lamar County High School. The Austin twins are slotted to play corner back. They are joined by wide receiver Qua Searcy, who is also from Lamar County.
Autry and Clinton Lynch faced off against Leggett as Norcross played North Gwinnett for the Georgia High School 6A State Championship game. Norcross won 31-14 and Tech signees combined for three touchdowns in that game. Lynch and Autry combined for 233 receiving yards and 2 TDs with Autry also adding a 92 yard kickoff return TD. Leggett has the chance to play both A-back and B-back, while Autry and Lynch will play A-back and slot receiver. Autry is the younger brother of Tech sophomore wide receiver Anthony Autry.
“I think CJ [Leggett] is a very talented guy,” Johnson said. “He led the Georgia 6A classification in rushing. He’s got a burning desire to excel. He could either be a b-back or an a-back. Once we get him and get him into the system we will see again where he has the best chance to see the field the fastest and where he fits—that’s where we’ll play him. We’re excited, and we think he can be a real good player.”
Overall, this was a great class for the Jackets as a lot of talented football players will be coming in next year. Many will get redshirted, but some will see a lot of playing time. According to rivals.com, this was the No. 47 ranked class in the country and the highest rated recruiting class Tech has had since 2011.