In his second year as Tech’s head football coach, Paul Johnson brought in a 21-player recruiting class that featured all-around balance and filled a number of gaps in next year’s roster.
“We addressed some needs on the line and added a number of skill players who will be solid contributors…. I think that we met a lot of our needs, and I think it’s a well-balanced class,” Johnson said in a press release.
Perhaps the most notable aspect of the class had nothing to do with the positions or skills of the recruits—it was the fact that 14 of the 21 new players were from Georgia.
“That’s something that I’m proud of. The coaching staff did a great job of working and evaluating the state,” Johnson said.
Restocking the defense was a priority, and the biggest focus was the defensive line, which lost three All-ACC senior starters in end Michael Johnson and tackles Vance Walker and Darryl Richard. The Jackets added four athletic defensive ends, along with 335-pound tackle J.C. Lanier, the lone four-star recruit in the class. The young secondary performed well after senior Jahi Word-Daniels suffered an injury, but the addition of three defensive backs, including safety Lance Richardson, will only help. A pair of linebacker recruits will give that unit some additional depth.
On offense, Johnson focused on the offensive line, which has to replace starting tackles Andrew Gardner and David Brown. The Jackets will bring in four new linemen next year, a group highlighted by guard Will Jackson, the first Tennessee recruit Tech has signed in eleven years. Surprisingly, Tech also brought in a pair of tall receivers to its young receiving corps with 6-4 Stephen Hill and 6-3 Jeremy Moore. Johnson would not definitively say whether their additions indicated that he planned to include more pass plays next year.
The backfield was both young and relatively stable last year, so it was not a major concern on the recruiting trail. Still, Johnson added to his quarterback stable with Indiana prospect Jordan Luallen, a highly regarded dual-threat quarterback.
As for running backs, junior B-back Jonathan Dwyer will finally have a true backup in bruiser Daniel Drummond. Athletes David Sims and Jemea Thomas will likely suit up at quarterback and A-back, respectively.
The class was not without controversy, though. Dontae Aycock, a highly touted athlete from Tampa, committed to Tech in early January. However, when Auburn made him an offer and invited him to visit, Aycock made the trip despite Johnson’s warning that his scholarship to Tech would be withdrawn if he made the visit. Aycock ended up signing with Auburn.
“I reiterated to him, ‘Dontae, don’t get on that plane.’…When he chose to [visit Auburn], he was telling me, in my mind, he didn’t want to come to Georgia Tech, and so we moved on,” Johnson said.
Another minor issue arose with Hill, who committed to Tech in December. A Tuesday report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that he was still considering the University of Georgia, but the receiver did sign with Tech, and Johnson mentioned that he was never worried about the receiver backing down from his commitment, citing well developed ties with the family.
The Jackets’ off season preperations continue in March, when Tech kicks off spring practices on the 23rd, which will lead up to the spring game which is set for April 18th.