Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson sat down with the media Wednesday evening to discuss Signing Day. He also gave his thoughts on what commitment means, as well as how the process can be improved.
Here are some paraphrased quotes from Johnson:
That time of year again where you finish up the recruiting cycle. We felt like it went well. We received 22 letters in this morning. Got them in early, didn’t have to sweat that.
We didn’t get everybody we tried to recruit but we got a good group that will help to propel our football team forward. It’s a relief but you start on next year. It was good that it went kind of like what we thought.
On the abundance of linebackers and offensive linemen:
When we changed defenses you added a position. You’ve got four linebackers now. We felt like there were some good players. A couple of those guys may grow into defensive ends. Our numbers were down at those positions. You want a certain amount at each positions.
We didn’t take a guy because we are set at defensive line right now; we have 11 on scholarship. That’s about as many as you want.
We redshirted three guys last year that are defensive linemen.
Offensive line was a big priority. Linebacker was another.
On signing as many as seven players who were quarterbacks in high school:
Those guys are great athletes. We are looking forward to seeing those guys at different spots. Most of the high school teams put their best player at quarterback. You know they are good athletes. A guy like Chris Milton could play a bunch of different places.
On the fact that many of the players already seem big enough to challenge for playing time as true freshmen:
It’s like every class. There will be a handful of these guys that will play next year. The true measure is two-three years down the line. If you have more than a handful that are playing you either had a dynamite class or you are in trouble.
On the challenges of signing a class with more scholarships available:
The deeper you go into it … if you are only going to sign a few you can be more selective. We felt like everybody we signed would be a contributor.
Recruiting is becoming different. There are two ways you can recruit: You can take the commitments for the number you have and hit it close, or if you have 15 you can sign 28 guys and they bear the brunt of it on the back end. I don’t feel good about doing that. I want to be as straight up with these kids as a I can and hit it as close as we can.
On Jamal Golden, Mr. Football in Alabama:
We think he’ll be a great corner, and that’s where he’ll start. You can work some of those guys in every position you have. He can play a lot of places.
On signing just 10 players from Georgia:
It just happened. Every year is different. There were some really good players in the state this year. There’s a niche that has to fit your program and fit your school. Academics come in a great deal in this state. That doesn’t preclude us from everyone. Unless education is a big deal, unless there’s something that draws you. If you want to find a place with a bigger stadium you can. I think every class is different. The year before, we did very well with what are considered the top players. We feel like we got a lot of the top players this year. Time will tell.
On the uniqueness of signing Tyler Marcordes, whose father started the process by recruiting Tech:
We’ll have a lot of people stop by because a lot of people come in and out of Atlanta on business. Most of the time, it never materializes. When we met Tyler you could tell he was going to be a big kid. We watched the tape and got interested. He’s going to be a big guy. He can run. We were up there right before Signing Day. He’s a big guy who can run. He’s every bit of 6-3, 235 and he looks skinny. He’s going to grow into being a really big guy who is an athlete and can run. When you saw the highlight type today he played quarterback.
On signing a long-snapper:
We felt that he was one of the best we’d seen in a long time. You see a lot of schools do that. It’s not that unusual. This kid had scholarship offers. He wasn’t going to walk on.
On players who commit and de-commit. Johnson didn’t name the player, but everyone assumes he was talking about Tre Jackson, a Tech commitment who decided last week that he wanted to visit other schools. Afterward, Johnson said he wasn’t speaking about Jackson.
Every case is different. Don’t believe everything you read. The situation that they are talking about didn’t happen the way it has been reported about forever. We didn’t talk to the young man that you’ve been reading about, for four days he wouldn’t take a phone call. He wouldn’t return a phone call. It was pretty clear to me that he if he won’t take a phone call or return a phone call he’s not coming to school. You can spin it any way you want.
My basic policy is don’t do that to us on the last weekend of signing when we don’t have a chance to replace that thing.
We’ve had guys who have decommitted early, or decided they wanted to look around. My policy on that is if you are going to look around we are going to look around. If somebody takes your scholarship before you come back and say you’re committed, then you lose it. I don’t know any other way to do it, unless you take 30 for 20 and have a free-for-all. That stuff gets all blown out of proportion. The thing about recruiting, because of the rules, you get one side of the story because we can’t comment because of the rules.
It’s a crazy thing. There are times you lose guys and you don’t expect it. They are 17 years old. they change their minds. But at the same time you have to have a philosophy on how you are going to do it. Like I said, there’s only two ways you can do it. You can match the number with the scholarships or you say OK, if I’ve got 20 I’ll sign 30 and at the end I’ll decide who gets to come. I don’t feel good about doing that. I don’t think it’s the right way to treat people.
On committing and then taking visits:
Every case is different. Certainly if a guy is trying to take visits behind your back. I would like someone to explain to me how you are committed but still take visits. What you are doing is holding a reservation. ‘I don’t want to lose this scholarship. You don’t go get anybody else, but I want to look around’. If you’re going to look around then don’t commit, because you aren’t ready to commit. Certainly, we should have the opportunity to replace that spot. It’s clear to me you aren’t satisfied with what you’ve got because you’re still looking. If it ends up being that we don’t find anybody that we like, and you don’t find anybody that you like, then we’ll do something at the end if there’s time. But it’s not going to happen in the last week. You’ve got to protect the school and your interests.
If kids are visiting, they aren’t committed. If you aren’t ready to make that decision, then don’t make it. We’ll keep recruiting you. We had guys early in the process that wanted to commit. Even before the season started they changed their mind. We’ll still try to recruit them but the success rate isn’t too good.
They are looking around for a reason, they feel like they’ve made a bad decision and they want to move on.
On improving the process:
What I’d like to see happen, but I’m probably by myself: if you have 85 scholarships, and you can sign 25 a year or however many you have. When they commit, they sign the papers and you stop. It would stop all the verbal commitments and all the hats. The guys who weren’t ready wouldn’t commit. You’d call their bluff. They couldn’t make their reservation. We’ll talk to kids all the time, juniors right now, who are committing. We’ll say ‘Are you sure you want to do that?’
“Oh coach, I’m open.”
In my mind that’s not committed. That’s saying I’m going to hold this in my back pocket and I’m going to shop it around.
On the nature of recruiting kids who are committed to other schools and other schools recruiting kids who are committed to Tech:
Recruiting’s a contact sport. Bottom line is the kid wants to come to your place or he doesn’t. We’re looking for guys who want to be at Georgia Tech and want to be in the program. Not everybody wants to come to Georgia Tech, just like everybody doesn’t want to go to Florida or Alabama.
– Doug Roberson, AJC