Jackets sign 17 in 2012 class

Feb. 2 marked the annual National Signing Day — the day where potential football recruits send their letters of intent to various schools. This year, Head Coach Paul Johnson and his staff managed to sign 17 players to become freshmen next season.

The recruiting class is balanced with eight players on offense, eight on defense, and one special teams player. The special team’s player is punter Ryan Rodwell, and he is expected to help solve some of the team’s recent punting woes.

On defense, the Tech recruiting class is heavy on defensive line. A total of four players are committed to play defensive line next year for the Jackets, but the standout of the group is defensive end Francis Kallon.

Kallon played at Central Gwinnett High School this past season. He is originally from England, and just started playing football this past season. However, his lack of experience did not stop some of the top schools in the country from trying to persuade him to join their team.

Tech received another defensive line commitment from another international prospect in defensive tackle Adam Gotsis. The Australia native was originally scouted by a former Hawaii player who played under Johnson at Hawaii, and at six-foot-five and 295 pounds, he should be competing to become Tech’s starting nose tackle in the coming years.

A pair of linebackers also committed to Tech to help strengthen the front seven of the defense. Tyler Stargel and Beau Hankins are both expected to play inside linebacker in Tech’s 3-4 defense and come to Tech as three-star prospects.

Stargel blocked four kicks as a senior, suggesting that he could be a force on special teams right away and help a unit that was a major weakness for Tech this past season.

Hankins, meanwhile, could project as a ballhawk considering his four forced turnovers during his senior year.

The Jackets also addressed concerns on offense with two running backs and two receivers to replace the starters they lost at those positions this season. Tech also received two letters of intent from quarterbacks.

The biggest name in that group is B-back Marcus Allen of Hilliard, Fla.

Allen, who is not related to the NFL Hall-of-Famer of the same name, but is related to longtime NFL star Champ Bailey, chose Tech primarily for the opportunity to play running back rather than linebacker.

Quarterback Dennis Andrews was the first player to sign with Tech, and he is already enrolled in classes this semester. Andrews is small for the position, but projects the athleticism necessary to play quarterback in Tech’s offense.

Justin Thomas is the other quarterback that Tech signed on Wednesday, and he is Tech’s highest-rated recruit in the class. Thomas originally committed to Alabama as a cornerback, but decided to come to Tech so he could have a chance to play quarterback at the college level. Thomas is reportedly one of the fastest players in the nation coming out of high school, and he could create a bit of a quarterback controversy next season if he can learn the offense quickly enough.

The offense also beefed up its offensive line with a pair of commitments from three-star guards. Both Chase Roberts and Freddie Burden come from Ga., and both come to the Flats with surprising athleticism.

Even at 285 pounds, Roberts played tennis in high school while Burden played tight end. One positive for Burden is that he played for a run-dominated offense in high school that is similar to Tech’s scheme.

Tech’s recruiting class includes eight players from Ga., four players from Fla., and four players from Al.

The eight from Ga. is the lowest number of commitments Tech has received since 2008. Tech’s recruiting class is currently ranked ninth in the ACC, according to ESPN.com.