14 players sign with Tech on NSD

Photo by Josh Sandler

Tech signed 14 players on National Signing Day this year, seven on offense, six on defense and one kicker. After having four players decommit over the past two weeks leading up to signing day, head coach Paul Johnson seemed relieved to be able to go ahead and have the other 14 sign.

“A lot of the guys have got pounded pretty good, the ones who have been committed for a while. I’ve got a lot of respect for the guys that kind of withstood and got to the finish line. They were as excited to get it over with as we were,” Johnson said.

“We’re really excited about the running back we got.”

Eight of the 14 commits in this year’s class are from Georgia. Coach Johnson noted, “We want to do our very best to recruit the state of Georgia as hard as we can. And I think if you look, each year we’ve probably taken more Georgia kids than we have here in the past.”

At the head of the class is four-star running back Travis Custis and four-star offensive guard Shamire DeVine. Other high profile signings include three-star offensive tackle Chris Griffin, three-star kicker Harrison Butker,   three-star wide receiver Ricky Jeune and two-star quarterback Ty Griffin.

Travis Custis comes from Lovejoy High School, which is the same school as former Tech star tailback Tashard Choice, and is projected to play B-back at Tech. His offers included Clemson, Miami and Michigan State among many others. Custis was Tech’s first commit for this recruiting class, and he also was the first to fax in his letter of intent.

Custis ran for 2118 yards his senior year of high school, averaging 7.9 yards per carry, to go along with a total of 35 touchdowns. Custis also led his team to the their second consecutive state championship appearance.

“We’re really excited about the running back we got. We think he’s one of the best in the state,” Johnson said.

Shamire DeVine is a 6-6, 350-pound offensive guard out of Tri-Cities High School. His offers included Florida, Florida State, Tennessee and Georgia.

“We had Shamire in camp and to me, ability wise, he’s as good as any high school junior I’ve ever seen. Not only is he a big guy, he also has feet,“ Johnson said.

Chris Griffin is an offensive tackle from Panacea, Fl. Griffin is 6-6 and weighs 272 pounds. Griffin recorded over 100 pancake blocks during his senior year of high school. Griffin also wrestled in high school.

Harrison Butker is a local coming from The Westminster School in Atlanta, Ga. Scout.com ranked Butker the third best high school kicker in the nation. Listed at 6- 4, Butker possesses height that you usually don’t see in kickers. Butker was 12-20 on field goal attempts his senior year, including an all time school record 53-yarder. Butker handled kickoffs, place kicking and punting in high school, but it is unclear whether he will also be responsible for punting at Tech. Butker also plays basketball and soccer for Westminster. He  will be looking to lead his soccer team to their third consecutive state championship this spring. Butler also had offers from Auburn, Boston College and East Carolina. “The kicker was unquestionably an area we needed help and he’s one of the best on the country,” Johnson said.

Ricky Jeune is a big receiver out of Montvale, NJ and could the deep threat that Tech has been missing. Jeune is 6-3 and weighs 205 pounds, similar to former Tech star Demaryius Thomas who came to Tech standing at 6-4 and weighing 215 pounds.

Jeune put up big numbers his senior year with 882 recieving yards averaging 24.5 yards per catch, and he caught ten touchdowns.

Ty Griffin is from McEachern High School in Powder Spring, Ga. Griffin will start off as a quarterback, but also has the skill set to be moved to either A-back or safety.

Numbers wise this class is smaller than Tech’s classes have been the past few years, last year’s class had 22 players, but it was how Coach Johnson planned it. With very few graduating players of this year’s team, there weren’t many scholarships available to hand out. He said, “I told you last fall we were going to try to take 15, we were willing to take a little more, but it just didn’t unfold that way. We still may pick up a guy or two, we’ll see, but I’m okay where we are numbers wise.” Coach Johnson was asked who the other one or two guys were that may be added to the class later, but was unable to comment on specific prospects due to NCAA rules.

Although this class was only ranked 84th in the country by Rivals.com, Johnson didn’t appear the be bothered saying, “If you’ve got a class with 14 people, you’re not going to be ranked as high as a class with 21. If you’re a fan of the star system and you take the average of those, we probably fit where we usually do. Nothing against Rivals or Scout, but I’d prefer to go with my own rankings.”