Tech 2008 signing class delivers in classroom

After her son Nick graduated from Georgia Tech in August, Lisa McRae hung up his diploma on a wall in her bedroom.

Said Lisa McRae, “I get to wake up and look at it and smile.”

Nick McRae’s playing career at Tech never lifted off; the offensive lineman from Dublin has played 42 games for the Yellow Jackets line but started only two. However, McRae can lay claim to a more noteworthy achievement. Out of the 15 players in the 20-member 2008 recruiting class – coach Paul Johnson’s first – who were on the team four or more years, 13 have graduated. The final two, nose tackle T.J. Barnes and outside linebacker Malcolm Munroe, are on track to graduate in the spring. (What’s more, the five who transferred earlier have either graduated or are on track to graduate at their schools, which would produce a stunning 20-for-20 mark.)

The senior Jackets will complete their playing careers against USC in the Sun Bowl, Dec. 31 in El Paso, Texas. Starting with the 2009 season, their on-field performance has included two ACC Championship game appearances (and a victory in 2009) and a 31-22 record. However, if the Yellow Jackets can’t beat the Trojans, they’ll also have their second losing season out of four. The diploma trumps.

Seeing Nick walk across the stage to receive his diploma, Lisa McRae said, “It was just amazing and mind-blowing.”

Of Tech’s seniors from the 2009 signing class, all have either graduated or are on track to graduate by next summer. They are part of a larger pattern of classroom improvement since Johnson’s hire. Credit can be traced to a variety of sources – to former athletic director Dan Radakovich, who beefed up academic support for the football team and all varsity athletes; to Johnson, who took on Radakovich’s mandate to improve graduation rate; and to the athletes themselves.

“At some point, you’ve got to put it on yourself,” Nick McRae said. “The coaches can tell you, but it’s you that’s got to go out there and do it.”

The seniors, who include quarterback Tevin Washington, guard Omoregie Uzzi and A-back Orwin Smith, have set a standard for following classes and will also leave behind a meaningful gift for the athletic department. Next summer, when the NCAA releases its annual academic progress rate (APR) report for every Division I school and team, Tech should enjoy a considerable jump. The APR, which measures eligibility and retention over a rolling four-year period, was 957 when Johnson arrived and 974 last year. Both were fifth best in the ACC, as scores have risen nationally. The next released score will be the first that measures only the team’s academic performance since Johnson’s hire.

“I think our academic support has done a good job,” Johnson said. “It’s also important to us as coaches. That’s one of the big things we needed to do when we came here, was to get that graduation (rate) up.”

Should Barnes and Munroe complete degree work, the 15-for-15 mark for 2008 signees who stayed for four years would be a drastic improvement for Tech from the last NCAA graduation success report, which tracked athletes who entered college 2002-2005. In it, Tech’s graduation rate, as measured by the NCAA, was 55 percent, tied for last in the ACC.

Radakovich, associate athletic director Phyllis LaBaw, assistant academic services director Chris Breen and others have created a structure that has better supported football players and other student-athletes. Hired in Feb. 2006, Radakovich roughly doubled the number of academic services staffers during his tenure. The 2005 Tech football media guide lists two academic advisers on the football support staff. There are now six.

Other changes, such as a program that permits freshmen to enroll in the summer rather than the fall, has helped players adjust to the Tech course load.

A summer internship program, available only to academically qualified students, has provided another incentive. Enhanced academic monitoring and tutoring programs have helped players stay on track.

Cornerback Rod Sweeting, a 2009 signee who completed his management degree in 3 ½ years and graduated Dec. 15, said his mother Williesa Toomer helped him the most by staying in his ear and motivating him. After that, he named Breen.

“I think the best adviser here is my adviser, Chris Breen,” Sweeting said. “He does a lot to help me. He makes sure I’m always on top of my stuff.”

For the fall term, 35 players earned a 3.0 or better to make the dean’s list, including 23 scholarship players. The team GPA for the term, Johnson said, was around 2.56.

“Those guys are doing good academically,” he said. “I’m proud of ’em.”

Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog

72 comments Add your comment

1

December 25th, 2012
4:56 pm

1

December 25th, 2012
4:57 pm

Ken do a story on the 2012 class which ones redshirted, what position are practicing at, high weigh changes, etc

www

December 25th, 2012
5:14 pm

nice job, fellas. keep it going.

ToeMeetsLeather

December 25th, 2012
5:33 pm

Good article Ken. Great to see the Institute and the kids both holding up their ends to the committments made with the athletic scholarships the NCAA was built upon. We can at least take pride in this as we get pounded 42-10. Maybe one day the stars will allign and we can start accomplishing both.

Supersize that order, mutt

December 25th, 2012
5:50 pm

Ken……surprised to see an article from you today. I hope the earlier parts of the day were more enjoyable for you. Let me be the latest to wish you a Very Merry Christmas. And the same to all you bloggers as well, including, when they show up, the trolls. Today is a day for good will, so I will even wish them a Merry Christmas. I won’t be so generous tomorrow……LOL

Supersize that order, mutt

December 25th, 2012
5:51 pm

Oh, and by the way, that was a great article. You got to be proud of each and every one of them.

Unbiased Sometimes

December 25th, 2012
6:05 pm

I realize that 3.0 is deans list but that 2.56 number is pretty low. Especially when the majority of our scholarship players are riding the M Train. Regardless, congratulation to those who have graduated (just leave the gpa off the resume)

Unbiased Sometimes

December 25th, 2012
6:07 pm

and if above 3.0 by all means put that in bold! That is an accomplishment by any standard.

jacket backer

December 25th, 2012
6:29 pm

At the end of the day, this is the most important statistic there is…Isn’t receiving a degree the most important reason for attending college?? While I’m not happy with the direction the football team is heading under Johnson, I am extremely happy with the improved graduation rates during his tenure. He needs to be given alot of credit for that. Well done and Go Jackets!

Wrecker

December 25th, 2012
7:20 pm

The average student at Tech graduates with about a 2.6, so I would say that is an accomplishment no matter the major. Congrats to these fine student-athletes who put the student part first.

wreckbone

December 25th, 2012
7:39 pm

Say what you want about GPA or the degree obtained. That is a really good average for a football team at Georgia tech. They all have to take calculus and other courses that are pretty tough at tech. I commend them.. You will not find a coach that ruins a cleaner program and wants too win more. The recruiting is the same. I hope Johnson is here for a long time. Those are impressive numbers at tech….without cheating!!

Ken

December 25th, 2012
7:48 pm

Winning on the field is great… Winning off the field is even better…

A big thanks to the students, the the Athletic Department and the Coach Johnson for bringing in such fine young men to represent the Institute in this outstanding fashion…

Good luck to you all…!

Unbiased Sometimes

December 25th, 2012
7:52 pm

The all male average at tech is usually between 2.90 and 2.95. I didn’t mean to belittle the achievements of this football team but when you have 35 players making Deans list and the average is a 2.56 that means that a lot of players are getting far below that number. All i’m saying is that there is a lot of room for improvement.

Big Ol Stinger

December 25th, 2012
8:14 pm

And you got your degree where exactly Unbiased Sometimes? Or do you have one at all? Ever seen the inside of a college class room?

I think I smell dwag squeeze.

5150 UOAD

December 25th, 2012
8:21 pm

I want to win a national championship but that is a dream. I do want to see Tech win every game but I know that will not always happen either. I do Love that Tech is educating & graduating quality young men and putting a pretty good product on the court or field that I pay to see.
STUDENT athlete…………COLLEGE football…….those terms imply that SCHOOL & EDUCATION come before games & fans.
Thanks Coaches and Staff for getting good kids and graduating them.
Congratulations to the Players for Caring enough to give your very best in the Classroom and on the Field.
To the TECH fans that seem to think the only thing that matters is winning and want Johnson gone. I say to you go be a fan of any win at all cost SEC team of your choosing. Tech fans should want to win but not over having QUALITY Graduates worthy of a Tech Degree playing on the team.

Supersize that order, mutt

December 25th, 2012
8:35 pm

Well said, UOAD

Unbiased Sometimes

December 25th, 2012
8:56 pm

Big Ol Stinger, I am a Georgia Tech alumni and a big fan of yellow jackets athletics. I’m not sure how or why I offended you. I’m always looking at ways to improve our school in every way possible.

gt40pinhd

December 25th, 2012
9:22 pm

never had a recruiter or potential employer ask me my grade point average when applying for a job. once in the army, but he didn’t count.
with the amount of time spent on the field and the energy required, graduating with any gpa is an accomplishment we should all applaud.

alan

December 25th, 2012
9:37 pm

Unbiased Sometimes your comments regarding the “M Train” are offensive and wrong. The Scheller College of Business (the M Train”) is the 27th ranked business school in the country (out of over 600 colleges that have a business/management degree and ranked in the top 10 for public schools). Engineering student who take the business courses do not better on average than the business students.

Tokyo jacket

December 25th, 2012
10:08 pm

Merry Christmas Ken.

I gotta say I’m stoked to read this. I’m very proud of the academic success do our student athletes of late. It’s not just grades, but the internships, and other things these kids are doing to set themselves apart.

Ken, do you think there’s any chance the academic success will parlay into recruiting success? In a few years, if a college coach came knocking at my kid’s door and told me that he graduated all his players, I’d definitely look real hard at him. I gotta wonder if this would have affected Tuitt’s mom or Tomlinson in any way?

Yellow Jacket 89

December 25th, 2012
10:20 pm

Way to go Jackets! Nice work players and CPJ.

Unbiased Sometimes

December 25th, 2012
10:44 pm

O grow up….I was a student when we made the M Train video. Look it up on youtube. Anyone with a sense of humor thinks it is funny. Even the kids in the program. I know it is a good program but they do tend to get better grades. This doesn’t mean it isn’t hard, it just means the classes are scaled differently.

NOVAJacket

December 25th, 2012
10:57 pm

Unbiased,, you may want to cut some slack on the GPA since the average student doesn’t carry the time commitments that a D-1 athlete does.

Unbiased Sometimes

December 25th, 2012
11:04 pm

I’m not here to argue with everyone. I understand all of the odds stacked up against many of these D-1 students. I just don’t see why they have to settle for a low gpa. Graduating is wonderful, especially from tech. However, employers do care about your gpa when getting your frist job because they may not have much else to go off. Also, the economy is bad and so employers much more picky (even with tech students). I’m in grad school now for this reason.

Ohio Jacket

December 25th, 2012
11:24 pm

Very proud of these guys. Thanks, Ken. Merry Christmas to all.

Flowery Branch Yellow Jacket

December 25th, 2012
11:55 pm

As I’m approaching my 30th reunion year, I am always proud when Tech teams are competitive on the field (or court) of play … even if they don’t necessarily win as many as I would like. However, I am MUCH MORE proud of the academic success of our student athletes. I hated to see DRad move to Clemson, although I bear no ill will toward him for making the move. The guy provided excellent facilities for our sports programs and rightly put a greater emphasis on academic excellence. I believe CPJ and CBG are equally committed to the academic success of their players … and I KNOW the same applies for the coaches in our other sports. Like Tokyo Jacket, I hope this success will allow us to recruit even better athletic talent for all of our teams.

Go Jackets!

SatchelBuzz

December 26th, 2012
5:52 am

@5150,..Huge CPJ supporter here,…won’t him on the Flats for a long, long time. Also,..kudos to the guys for their academic work,…job well done. However,……..need many more W’s in the ledger.

THWG!!!

GT-06

December 26th, 2012
7:37 am

No one graduates from Tech, we “get out”. Congrats Seniors!

Taco

December 26th, 2012
8:03 am

As a graduate myself this is the biggest deal of all. This floors me to just to hear it. This feat is much harder than winning games.

TechLB

December 26th, 2012
8:09 am

Merry Christmas all you college football fans! Yes, even you dawg trolls on the blog -

@Unbiased – I think you play into our competitors and most trolls hands when you make stupid comments like “Scaled differently” or in some way biased in favor of our athletes. While Management is not Engineering, it’s still a demanding major and some serious math classes are required. There are a lot of non-athletes who graduate with a GT Management degree as well.

To compare it in anyway to any number of the many liberal arts choices available at UGA and even Notre Dame or Sanford is to do GT and those who earn that degree a disservice. While “Riding the M Train” sounds funny to a BSME or equivalent graduate and most Techies understand it’s just a lower level of academic hell, the haters will use it to belittle our players. That’s the point.

More respect to those who came and saw it through with the demands of D1 sports on them as well.

Now, I’m trying to fight my instinct to wear a big Corn hat and yell “Go ‘Huskers”…

TechLB

December 26th, 2012
8:12 am

…And yes, this is what really matters to most of our guys…makes me much more tolerant of CPJ and patient as he keeps working to get more W’s.

THWG! Don’t lose to Nebraska dawggies

Coach

December 26th, 2012
8:27 am

You guys make us proud. This is an incredible accomplishment. You are to be commended for your hard work, and CPJ for recruiting students that are such fine men!!!

blackandwhitestripes

December 26th, 2012
8:55 am

excellent!!!! If there were any transfers that were not going to graduate, I would suggest they drive through downtown athens with their window down and ugag will throw a diploma in the front seat. Job well done for the Tech athletes.

Flak Jacket

December 26th, 2012
9:27 am

Great to see the Jackets are passing in the classroom,now we could use more passing on the grid iron.Beat USC.

juvenal

December 26th, 2012
10:36 am

way to go, troops! as one who has occasionally questioned some of CPJ’s decisions, this is enough reason for him to stay as our coach as long as he is producing young men who will be winners in life……..academics>>>$port$

Shambo

December 26th, 2012
11:00 am

First let me congratulate any kid who “Get’s Out” of Tech. There are no easy programs there. However, I am disappointed at some of you guys for giving Mr Unbiased such a hard time. The only thing he is advocating is “continued improvement”. Tech grads excell in professional life because they strive to do this very thing.
And as for the dean’s list numbers, don’t anyone kid themselves into believing there has been no grad inflation over the years. I “got out” in 1969 with an engineering degree with a 2.6 GPA out of 4.0 and was in the upper half of my graduating class, working 2 part time jobs, carrying a 22 quarter hour class load and trying to avoid a draft board trying to send me to Viet Nam 2 quarters short of graduation.
So, great job getting the sheepskin, but understand the road to mediocrity is paved with self-congratulations.

5150UOAD

December 26th, 2012
11:31 am

Who cares? They were lousy on the football field!

Delbert D.

December 26th, 2012
11:35 am

@Shambo – I can relate to the draft board problem you had. I 1967, I got my draft notice while I was a LCpl in the USMC reserves.

juvenal

December 26th, 2012
11:41 am

2 really bright kids from church, 1 is IM & doesn’t think it’s that easy-i asked the other if she missed the all-A’s high school days, & she lamented she got a D in chemistry-i reminded her everybody at harvard gets a B……..whatever the grading, hopefully grads still don’t learn to live with under-achieving….thanks for the Christmas present, Ken…

Shambo

December 26th, 2012
11:44 am

Yeah Delbert, we were just “meat” to draft boards in those days. My draft board never heard of the “co-op” program and insisted that my “2S” deferment must expire in four years. I was dirt poor and could only fund my education by entering the co-op program and working part time jobs while attending classes.
As much as I admire todays kids for handling the stress of D1 sports programs and Tech academics, I might suggest the stress of Viet Nam added to the equation puts everything into perspective.
And Delbert, thank you for your service.

juvenal

December 26th, 2012
12:01 pm

at least you kept the 2S 4 years if you were a Tech student, unlike the folks who got drafted from the other skules in the state…….i escaped in ‘73, was winding down……

The name thief strikes again

December 26th, 2012
12:01 pm

It’s pretty bad when the name thief can’t even correctly type the name he is stealing. It’s obvious that the post at 11:31 was a fake……first because he got the name wrong, and secondly, because the real UOAD would never say anything like that.

TheTruth

December 26th, 2012
12:17 pm

Congrats to all the S/A’s. As anyone who hires students from GT, a 2.56 from GT is like a 3.75 anywhere else. I did on-campus recruiting ‘back in the day’ and when I came to Tech, the last thing I worried about was GPA.

juvenal

December 26th, 2012
12:23 pm

only 4 D1 schools that only grant a BS, so all the S/As have to take math(hint-the other 3 have academy in their name)….obviously not a 5150 post, thief forgot to skip a space….

5150 UOAD

December 26th, 2012
12:27 pm

The name thief strikes again…………………….Thanks. I have started the Christmas Tear Down so this is my first post of the day.

Anybody that reads these blogs knows I would never say that. When I’m MAD about the team you will know but I NEVER NEVER abandon the Jackets. I would NEVER be upset by players getting a great Education for damn sure.

Supersize that order, mutt

December 26th, 2012
1:00 pm

UOAD……it’s only the day after Christmas and you’re already taking the tree down? Way too early for that.

RaleighJacket

December 26th, 2012
1:29 pm

Unbiased, be careful what you say if you have never been a major college sports athlete. Each FB player spends at least 20 hours on the field or in meetings, watching film, etc., not counting the other time they spend on their own for their sport. It is tough getting to your room at 8 pm at night dead tired and realizing you have another 4-5 hours of work to do before you can crash and start it over again. Add to that the travel, missed class and other things the average college student doesn’t have to deal with. It is a blessing nonetheless to be able to play the sport you love and have your costs covered (if you are a football or men’s basketball player – many other sports are partial scholarships if that), but it still isn’t easy. That our football players are at the school average GPA is a great thing. And many other sports blow away the average school GPA.

And I know because I did play a major sport at Tech.

5150 UOAD

December 26th, 2012
1:49 pm

SUPER there are 3 trees to take down.

Eastof A1A

December 26th, 2012
2:31 pm

This is a great article. Like so many other Tech grads, I was 2.6er that was still able to make mine by my early 50s and then kick back. A 2.6 at Ma Tech beats a 3.6 at most other places. My happiest academic day at Tech has always been the day I saw I made a D in Dynamics and didn’t have to take it over again. Thanks to Mr. Radakovich, and way to go Guys.

penelope

December 26th, 2012
2:45 pm

My daughter is an athlete at Tech – in a very demanding but non -revenue Olympic sport- you do not understand how challenging it is to balance the demands of being a student athlete if you in any way criticize the GPAs or majors of these players. GT demands excellence from all student athletes in the form of seminars, community service etc on top of mandatory study halls etc And all of that is on top of tough academics and at least 6 days of practice, some of them two-a-days and also weight training. I hardly think the football players have it easier either.