These are the kinds of where-are-they-nows I enjoy: Andy Staples of SI.com re-ranks the recruiting classes of 2007 on performance, as opposed to potential, and discovers … knock me over with a feather … Georgia Tech’s was really, really good.
A bit of history: Tech’s class of 2007 was rated 18th-best by Rivals.com. According to Rivals, the Jackets didn’t sign a single 5-star player that year. But when viewing that class today — and many of those players will play for Tech again next season — Staples rates it third behind Florida’s (which was indeed rated No. 1 back then and included Joe Haden, Carlos Dunlap and the Pouncey twins) and Boise State’s (which was rated 68th but has yielded a three-year record of 36-4).
Staples on Tech’s class of ‘07:
“Chan Gailey signed a great class in 2007, only neither he nor anyone else realized just how good it could be. The Yellow Jackets brass fired Gailey after the 2007 season and brought in Paul Johnson, a coach who knew how to unlock the potential in [Josh] Nesbitt, [Jonathan] Dwyer and [Roddy] Jones. It didn’t hurt that this class also included [Morgan] Burnett and [Derrick] Morgan, two defenders who would have become stars under any coach.
“Who knows? Maybe Gailey, now coaching the Buffalo Bills, will draft one or both players in April so he can spend more time coaching them.”
You know the really weird part? It almost seems as if Gailey, who ran a pro-style offense, was signing players to fit into his successor’s spread option. Would Nesbitt, who runs better than he throws, have become a starter under Chan? Would Jones, who’s on the smallish side, ever have been more than a third-down back, as opposed to a starting A-back? (Dwyer’s not an issue: He’d have been a starting tailback had Gailey been allowed to stick around.)
Oh, and maybe you’re wondering about Georgia. The Bulldogs were ranked No. 9 according to Rivals in 2007; they didn’t make Staples’ top 10. Or his five honorable mentions.