Signing day in the books

Photo by Taylor Gray

Geoff Collins came to Tech in December as a tornado of recruiting power and strategy. February 6 signified the completion of another recruiting cycle for the Jackets, but marked Collins’ first go-round in Atlanta. The former head coach of Temple brought in 23 signees, some of whom had initially committed to other schools before the efforts of Collins and his staff won their favor. Tech signed 18 players during the December period, then added five more in February. The signees included a flurry of three-star recruits with a few standouts such as four-star running back Jamious Griffin and defensive back Wesley Walker. Here is a recap of exactly who the Jackets have convinced to don the white and gold.

Offensive Skill Players

Quarterback Demetrius Knight was ranked the No. 31 dual-threat quarterback in the nation by 247Sports and was the first Division I football player from his school, Strong Rock Christian. Incoming quarterback Jordan Yates made waves at Milton High School in nearby Alpharetta by leading his school to its first state title in school history this past year, after which he saw Rivals bump him up to a four-star prospect. Yates accumulated 6,452 yards of total offense and scored 65 touchdowns in his final two seasons. He also lettered in basketball and track, which reveals a versatile side that could serve the Jackets well. Running back Devin Ellison hails from St. John’s, Fla. and holds the school rushing record with 3,345 yards in his high school career. Tony Amerson was signed for the same position and came out of high school with multiple school records, including 5,082 career rushing yards that helped him reach No. 39 among players in the state of Alabama. 

Running back Jamious Griffin was named the Georgia Gatorade Player of the Year and was arguably the biggest name that Collins brought to the Flats. He initially committed to North Carolina State, but continued to take trips to schools such as Auburn and Miami leading up to National Signing Day in February. Rated the No. 25 running back in the 2019 class and the No. 369 player in the country according to 247Sports, Griffin had his eyes on the Wolfpack, Tigers, Hurricanes and a few others during the final stretch of the recruiting cycle.

However, on decision day the four-star prospect chose to join older brother Quon Griffin, who is a defensive lineman for the Jackets. The recruit rushed for 2,424 yards and 36 touchdowns in his senior season with Rome High School, lending his outstanding stats to his offseason work ethic, according to AJC.com. This class of running backs follows in the footsteps of players such as Clinton Lynch and Qua Searcy, who graduated this past winter.

Front Seven

Griffin was not the only recruit to make Tech a family affair. Lineman Jamal Camp signed to join his older brother wide receiver Jalen Camp over offers from Tennessee, Tulane and James Madison. Another defensive lineman, D’Quan Douse, comes from Calvary Day School in Savannah, Ga. where he was a three-time all-region selection. The third defensive lineman is Sylvain Yondjouen, a Belgian athlete who played under the same international coach — Brandon Collier — who has connected Tech with potential recruits in the past. Mike Lockhart is an intriguing late bloomer; he was tabbed as the No. 17 player in Alabama by Rivals even though he did not begin playing football until his senior season. Rounding out the front seven prospects, linebackers Cornelius Evans and Chicho Bennett have good size at six-foot-four; each stands at about 220 pounds and can certainly benefit from a Division I strength and conditioning program; their frames could use more weight.

Secondary

Defensive back Jordan Huff was previously committed to Michigan State before recommitting to Tech. He was ranked the No. 41 athlete in the country and also received offers from Tennessee, Louisville and Pittsburgh. Huff plans to be an early enrollee, allowing him to get a head start on academics before the season gets into full swing. Jeremiah Smith comes to Tech alongside Huff as a defensive back and was the first player to commit to the 2019 class. He received offers from a number of schools, including Coach Collins’ former home: Temple. A third defensive back was added in Wesley Walker, who was rated a four-star prospect by ESPN. He received offers from Notre Dame, Virginia, LSU and Mississippi State before accepting a spot with the Jackets. The fourth defensive back in the class of 2019 is Kenan Johnson, who initially committed to North Carolina, but switched to Tech immediately following an official visit to Atlanta. 

Pass-catchers

Like Johnson, tight end Dylan Deveney just needed a visit to Atlanta to flip his commitment from Rutgers to Tech. Wide receiver Zach Owens recorded 31 touchdowns in his final three season with his school and was ranked No. 91 among players in Georgia, as well as No. 111 among wide receivers nationwide. Kalani Norris joins Owens as an incoming wide receiver from Miami. He was named an All-Dade County honoree on the way to becoming a state champion in the largest Florida classification: 8A. Wide receiver Ahmarean Brown had an offer from Alabama among other schools and was ranked the No. 85 wide receiver in the nation coming out of Jefferson High School in Tampa before signing to Tech.

Additionally, wide receiver Nazir Burnett was ranked as the No. 24 player in Pennsylvania by 247Sports and recorded 45 touchdown receptions and 3,663 receiving yards in his final three years of high school. 

Former Miami wide receiver Marquez Ezzard transferred in to become one of the new Jackets. Ezzard was a four-star prospect just a year ago but seldom saw the field in Coral Gables. At Tech, he will have more chances, particularly given that the Jackets figure to pass more this season than they have in nearly a decade. The same logic applies for UConn grad transfer tight end, Tyler Davis, who smartly saw an opportunity to staff a long-unused position at Tech and jumped at the chance.

The Jackets have a stacked incoming class with talent and much needed size. Collins and the fresh coaching staff will have no problem selecting players for their needs and may end up struggling to choose between players for the starting lineup. With new offensive and defensive schemes in place, the Jackets can use all the players they can get. National Signing Day was a good start for Collins at the Flats.