Time Out with Joe Sobchuk

Photo by Josh Sandler

Tech’s recruiting class isn’t as bad as you think.

Every year you will hear rumblings about how the Jackets didn’t sign as many players as they should have, or that they didn’t land the high-profile players the fans wanted. And the data usually backs this up: this year’s class was ranked 11th in the ACC by Rivals.com, ahead of only Boston College. The same website also ranked it 84th overall (out of 123) in the FBS. However, there are several extenuating factors at play that make this particular class seem worse than it is in the eyes of the fans.

The first thing fans will point out is this class’s small size of just fourteen signees. The smallness is intensified when compared to in-conference rivals Clemson (23) and Florida State (21), not to mention in-state rival Georgia (32). In actuality, Tech’s outgoing class of players was relatively small (only ten players will not return next year), meaning that the team had few scholarships to hand out. Head coach Paul Johnson even claimed before signing day that his hope was to land fifteen players, so his results aren’t far from his goal. When your class size is only about 60 percent of your rival schools’, a lower ranking is to be expected.

I’m also excited to see the two running backs that were signed this year…

Next, fans will focus on the four players that decommitted from Tech at the last minute. Offering a scholarship to a player, only for that player to decide to go elsewhere, is not a good feeling. Depending on when he defects, it may be too late to use that scholarship on another recruit the team really wanted. But I don’t blame these athletes for following their dreams, as nearly every player in this part of the country wants a shot to play in the SEC.

And since Tech is in the middle of SEC country, they must compete for the same players with nearly an entire conference. This, combined with Tech’s stricter academic requirements than most SEC schools, puts the Jackets at a fundamental recruiting disadvantage.

With all of that said, the Jackets still signed some quality talent that will produce results on the field. Both the offensive and defensive lines received a boost, with five total players going to those two units. Shamire Devine, the 6’6”, 360 pound offensive tackle out of neighboring East Point, GA, will don thewhite and gold, as will 6’6”, 265 tackle Chris Griffin. Together, they will anchor the ends of the line and create lanes for our running backs. Defensive end Justin Atkins of Jackson, GA, will join DE Kevin Robbins and defensive tackle Darius Commissiong, both out of Forestville, MD, on the defensive line. These three players combined have the potential to be nightmares for opposing offenses.

I’m also excited to see the two running backs that were signed this year, Donovan Wilson and Travis Custis. Wilson actually graduated early from his Dublin, Ohio high school and is currently enrolled at Tech. Let’s hope his book smarts translate into football smarts as he’s integrated into this triple option offense. The Jackets also signed three defensive backs, two receivers, and a quarterback, but they made an even bigger splash by signing a kicker. Harrison Butker hails from Westminster high school in Atlanta and may be the answer to Tech’s recent kicking problems. He is currently the 3 rd ranked high school kicker in the nation according to Scout.com, and made 94 percent of his kicks back in 2011.

Overall, I don’t think the fans should worry about the quality of the football team in the coming years, as he Jackets signed some impact players that will improve this team when it’s their turn to play.