Bringing football players to Georgia Tech isn’t easy. The competition for Georgia players is wicked, and not just from the state’s flagship university. All the heavy hitters come here to poach, and Tech has to fight twice as hard just to hold its own.
Other considerations: Paul Johnson’s spread option has further siphoned the pool. (Tight ends need not apply, since Johnson doesn’t deploy any, and receivers aren’t apt to be overused.) Al Groh just arrived as defensive coordinator, and recruiting for the 3-4 is a bit different. And this being Tech, there’s always the calculus requirement.
Giff Smith was landing players at a high rate by Tech’s standards, which shouldn’t be confused with Rivals.com’s rankings. Tech is never apt to duel Florida or Texas or Georgia for space in the top 10 — the famed class of 2007 was rated only 18th nationally by Rivals and contained no 5-star signees — but that class powered the Jackets to the 2009 ACC title.
Trouble is, three of those players just left early for the NFL, and now Smith is gone. That’s not good news.
Smith is leaving to join Chan Gailey with the Buffalo Bills as linebackers coach. Smith managed to do good work under both Gailey and Johnson — somewhat different personalities, you’d have to concede — and it was a credit to the chief recruiter that the Jackets’ talent base was as imposing as it was.
The kneejerk response is to say Smith’s departure delivers an immediate blow to Tech, coming as it does eight days before Signing Day. That’s probably not true. Players who’ve committed to the Jackets aren’t going to switch because the recruiting coordinator is Buffalo-bound. (The head coach would be a different story.) Where Smith’s loss stands to hurt is in 2011, when Tech was gearing up to sign its best class since 2007.
Smith is a Georgia guy — grew up in Mableton, graduated from Pebblebrook, played and worked at Georgia Southern, even did a stint at UGA as a grad assistant. He knows the state in a way even Johnson does not. Smith was the one man on this staff Tech could least afford to lose, and Gailey just hired him away.
Yes, Tech fans. Just one more reason to raise a glass to good ol’ Chan.