Tech’s new recruiter knows Georgia like a native, which he is

Andy McCollum knows Georgia: Born at Kennestone Hospital long before it became Wellstar Kennestone;  grew up off the Marietta square; played at Marietta High in Northcutt Stadium under the famed Ray Broadaway.

“I was a quarterback,” McCollum said, laughing. “Eric Zeier broke every record I had in about five games.”

Mentioning his roots isn’t just a way for McCollum to make conversation. Those roots are essential to his new job. McCollum is Georgia Tech’s recruiting coordinator, hired from North Carolina State to replace Giff Smith, whom Chan Gailey — hey, didn’t he used to coach at Tech? — hired to coach linebackers for the Buffalo Bills.

The consensus throughout college football is that Smith will be missed. He knew Georgia, too, hailing from Cobb County — he played at Pebblebrook — and working at Georgia Southern before arriving at Tech. Smith was the driving force behind the signing class of 2007, which was ranked No. 18 at the time by Rivals.com but has just been re-rated as the third-best of that year by Andy Staples of SI.com.

That class — featuring Derrick Morgan, Josh Nesbitt, Jonathan Dwyer and Morgan Burnett — boasted no 5-star recruits but took the Jackets to an ACC title and the Orange Bowl. Within Tech circles, the belief was that Smith was about to reap a similar crop come February 2011. But now he’s in the NFL, and McCollum is on the case.

“Giff is a close friend of mine,” McCollum said. “He did a tremendous job.”

Can the new man pick up where Smith left off? “I think so.”

Here’s why: “When I was coaching at Middle Tennessee [he was the Blue Raiders' head coach from 1999 to 2005], half to three-quarters of my team was from the state of Georgia. When I went to N.C. State, there wasn’t a Georgia player on the roster. When I left there were 18. I know how football is in Georgia. I know how it’s coached and how it’s played.”

And McCollum has some notion of where Tech fits. The Jackets are rarely going to out-recruit the Georgia Bulldogs in terms of quantity — there’s that pesky calculus requirement — but Smith just proved that a recruiter who chooses wisely can get results.

“Recruiting comes down to relationships,” McCollum said. “When you walk into a school with ‘GT’ on your shirt, that speaks highly. There’s no doubt Paul Johnson is a winner. He’s won everywhere he’s been — we were coaching against each other when he was an assistant at Georgia Southern and I was at Middle Tennessee back in the ’80s.”

That said, Johnson’s spread offense has its idiosyncrasies –  not many forward passes, which wouldn’t seem much of a lure for a highly rated receiver or a dropback passer. Do such stylistic differences tie a recruiter’s hands?

McCollum: “The team is coming off an ACC title and is going to have a receiver [Demaryius Thomas] who’ll be a high draft pick. That’s a pretty good ’sell’ right there … I know what Georgia Tech stands for. It’s for someone who wants a serious education, a great education, and there are lots of guys in the state who want that.”

Does he plan to change anything Smith was doing? “Giff did a tremendous job. But recruiting ain’t a one-man thing — it’s about a staff. It’s all of us. There are great recruiters on this staff. I know; I’ve recruited against them. It’s all of us together.”

Until he finds a place to live — he’s hoping to settle in Acworth, where his dad lives  — McCollum figures he retains enough local knowledge to find his way around. And what will he do for food? Well, he was looking forward to eating at the Varsity and planning to make the pilgrimage to that Cobb County landmark.

“The Big Chicken,” he said. “They’ve fixed it up from when I was living there, but it’s still the Big Chicken.”

74 comments Add your comment

UA Alum92

February 17th, 2010
11:39 am

UA Alum92

February 17th, 2010
11:40 am

Woohoo! And there was much rejoicing.

[...] Shameless plug: Andy McCollum, Georgia Tech’s new recruiting coordinator, talks about his job, the state and t… [...]

Mark Bradley

February 17th, 2010
11:43 am

Kudos to UA Alum92. I rejoice on your behalf, you should know.

Barnacle Bill Bavasi

February 17th, 2010
11:44 am

He’ll do OK. I could go for a chili dog, onion rings and an FO right about now myself. Too bad I work 90 minutes away.

gdawginkalamazoo

February 17th, 2010
11:44 am

Looks like he should be eating at Subway with Jared instead of the Big Chicken and the Varsity.

Mark, this one falls under the journalism article classification of: SO?

UA Alum92

February 17th, 2010
11:46 am

Thanks, MB. Interesting article. I agree local knowledge is key. That is one of the reasons I believe the loss of Kirby Smart would have been so big.

Mark Bradley

February 17th, 2010
11:47 am

Don’t get me going on food, Barnacle Bill. It’s Ash Wednesday — no meat today.

Mark Bradley

February 17th, 2010
11:50 am

Put it this way, UA (that’s kind of a rhyme, by the way): Recruiting coordinator for a major Southern program is a tough job for a transplant. It helps if you know where to go and who to see from Day 1.

Charles

February 17th, 2010
11:54 am

There’s not one shred of difference for minimum entry requirements for football players to UGA and Tech. NCAA mandated.

GT sets their own higher requirements

February 17th, 2010
11:58 am

Charles, GT maintains higher requirements than the NCAA mandates. All recruits must be approved by the administration before they can be confirmed.

UGA does in fact go by the minimum NCAA requirements.

Asheville Dawg

February 17th, 2010
12:00 pm

Any body that eats at the Varsity and The Big Chicken is all right in my book. Now if he mentioned the Colonnade (sp) he’d be right.

John

February 17th, 2010
12:02 pm

I have to say his choice of places to eat is horrible, at least if those resturants are your highlights. They are also way to tourist trap-y. IF those area ll he remembers, he has been gone way to long. What about Fat Mats, or Merry Mac’s. And if you have to have a shout-out to Marietta, you could go with something good like Marietta Pizza on the square. Anything but a KFC. you can get KFC anywhere

jan kemp

February 17th, 2010
12:14 pm

is that the same administration that approved Kenny Anderson and Stephon Marbury?

buzz

February 17th, 2010
12:22 pm

Jan, in fact it is not. Care to discuss the merits of a Management degree versus general studies (or whatever the hell you guys call that place you stash athletes)? You know the academics for your athletes is a freakin’ joke when you have tests that contain questions like “how any points is three point shot worth”.

Jaded Jacket

February 17th, 2010
12:22 pm

I wonder which UGA grad will take McCollum’s order at the Varsity.

The Real YellowJacket

February 17th, 2010
12:25 pm

Last I checked this was about football recruiting, and no it isn’t Ms. Kemp.
Is the question “how many points in a 3-point shot” still taught at uga?

Mark Bradley

February 17th, 2010
12:25 pm

I confess that I informed McCollum there’s now a Varsity at Town Center.

"Chef" Tim Dix

February 17th, 2010
12:33 pm

We’ll find out how good of a saleman he is should he convince a TE to come to GT. (Considering they don’t deploy one.)

This Buzz for You

February 17th, 2010
12:34 pm

Before you guys start, UGA SUCKS!

NCAA

February 17th, 2010
12:37 pm

If all these football players are coming to NATS for the great edumacation then why is your graduation rate so low?

gdawginkalamazoo

February 17th, 2010
12:46 pm

Please don’t take my post as anti-Varsity. I would be there once a week if there was one within a days drive of Kalamazoo. If your calorie intake and cholesterol can handle it there is nothing better than the frosted orange, two chili dawgs, fries and o-rings.

gdawginkalamazoo

February 17th, 2010
12:46 pm

Please don’t take my post as anti-Varsity. I would be there once a week if there was one within a days drive of Kalamazoo. If your calorie intake and cholesterol can handle it there is nothing better than the frosted orange, two chili dawgs, fries and o-rings.

Mark Bradley

February 17th, 2010
12:46 pm

I should also recommend Willie Rae’s on the square. I had lunch there with my world-famous orthopedist last month.

hey jan kemp

February 17th, 2010
12:50 pm

you ignorant slut…… for ever example you can produce wrt gt any fan in amerca can produce hundreds of ugag athletes that fall under a particular category….

we have half a dozen that should not have been at gt over the years… ugag has a dozen or so every year.

we have a few bad apples who get in trouble with the law… ugag has 10 plus each and every year.

so your point is?

Otto

February 17th, 2010
12:50 pm

If you want a Chili Dog in Marietta, Brandy’s is far better than any Varsity.

1eyedJack

February 17th, 2010
12:51 pm

I remember one time they had to shut down the Big Chicken to clean all of the pigeon crap out of it that was leaking through the roof when it rained. Never ate there again.

Not Disappointed

February 17th, 2010
12:52 pm

Mark as a Tech fan, how can you not be excited after reading this article. Good Job!

Ramblin Wreck!

Dawglasville

February 17th, 2010
12:53 pm

Did the Tech administration review Reuban Houston, John Dewberry, and Tyrone Sorrells before they let them in?

JD

February 17th, 2010
12:53 pm

If he is a native of the state of Georgia, he wouldn’t be associated with the Nerds. Tech is a school for Yanks and foreigners who are good at math but lack basic common sense.

Otto

February 17th, 2010
12:58 pm

JD even this UGA will admit GT had strong Marietta HS ties from the Dodd era to the early 70s.

Poindexter Jugdish

February 17th, 2010
12:59 pm

Is it true that we have to rent our cheerleaders?

Otto

February 17th, 2010
12:59 pm

Dr.Phil

February 17th, 2010
12:59 pm

I know many doctors who went to UGA and many Dairy Queen managers who went to Tech! How’s that Geritol working for the Tech Coaches anyway ??

he ncaa you dimwit

February 17th, 2010
1:01 pm

what is meaningful wrt graduation rates is how it is relevant to the student body as a whole…

not only is gt fb grad rate higher than ugag’s but when you compare it to the student body its not even a contest.

i dont have the exact facts but i dare say that maybe 2/3′ds of gt students that enroll ever graduate. i would also guess that ugag’s average is considerably higher. so of course our athletes will not graduate at a high rate. what is YOUR EXCUSE?

that being said…. ugag over the years has had plenty of cheating going on such as kemp issue, the basketball final and most recently the shame that ugag had to endure over its cheating in the school of pharmacy.

explain to us how ugag with a considerably easier curriculum still has to cheat to graduate even its regular students????

now get back to those fries an btw the stalls in the men’s room need toilet paper. is your degree handy?

Dawglasville

February 17th, 2010
1:11 pm

I had no idea that the foreign language, art, history classes that Tech players took were soooo much harder than the ones the UGA players take. I guess it is the NFL or NASA for the mighty men in gold. GO Jack It!

Mark Bradley

February 17th, 2010
1:13 pm

We need to ask Sonny Clusters about Tech grads managing Dairy Queens. He’s the go-to guy on DQ.

This Buzz for You

February 17th, 2010
1:21 pm

Georgia’s “realistic best case record” as 11-1, the “worst case” record as 7-5 and peg the Dogs’ “likely finish” at 10-2.

There it is you dummies, now if you guys suck this year, I dont want to hear it …
By the way, that one loss in the best case scenario, guess who?, Jackets Baby!

UGA Sucks!

sharecropper

February 17th, 2010
1:27 pm

Dr. Phil: if you know so many Dairy Queen managers from Tech and Georgia doctors, please name one of each. We’ll get back to you in a month or so.(The Georgia doctors should be easy. They’re the ones who leave the boat paddles in the patient.)

[...] More: Tech's new recruiter knows Georgia like a native (because he is … [...]

Charles

February 17th, 2010
2:11 pm

To the GT fan saying Tech imposes higher admissions requirements. Total myth. If you’re bigtime and boderline, Tech will take you just like Georgia will. Stephon Marbury and countless others say hi. Again, total myth created by Techies…no evidence to back it up at all.

Tech Grad 95

February 17th, 2010
2:58 pm

Having worked in the Math department at GT my senior year as a test grader, it is true that all GT student athletes, football and b-ball included, were required to take calculus. I graded many of these tests.

I wouldn’t put much faith that the general studies athletes at uga could even spell calculus.

Tech Grad 95

February 17th, 2010
3:00 pm

If recruiting is such a big deal, where was uga in the final top 25 rankings this year after having 5 historic, monster CMR recuiting classes??????????

Tech Grad 95

February 17th, 2010
3:00 pm

Maybe there is something to having players who can read and write.

Facts - 3,2,2,1 and 0

February 17th, 2010
3:01 pm

Those are the numbers u will keep getting.
3 hated Gator BSC NCs
2 Bama BSC NCs (of the Blackout Beatdown, relax u don’t play them next year)
2 LSU BCS NCs (SEC refs must hate u too to give them the game last year)
1 Tennessee BSC NC (can’t even keep it close with hated Kiffy)
The goose egg belongs to u Uga fans.
Keep on worshiping Herchel though.

Barry

February 17th, 2010
3:19 pm

I am a UGA graduate and have a son at Tech. I am overjoyed that he is getting a fine education at a great school.

However, for you GTU morons who constantly belittle a UGA education, it is with considerable pleasure that I point out the following individuals who received their eduction at UGA:
1) Dr. Hervey Cleckley (investigated and co-wrote “Three Faces of Eve”);
2) Dr. Hamilton Holmes (Associate Dean, Emory Medical School);
3) Colonel Charles Beckwith (creator of Delta Force);
4) Wyatt Anderson, prominent geneticist;
5) Alfred Blalock, pioneer in heart surgery;
6) Jamie Cuticchia, director, human genome database.

Please believe me – many other UGA graduates and professors could be listed, including Tom Cousins, Billy Payne and other corporate CEOs.

UGA is in the top five American Universities in having its students accepted for study overseas.

In short, one can get a fine education at our flagship university. Time for the GTU morons who belittle UGA to move on. Remember, your kids may be lucky enough to attend UGA one day.

Suspiciously Eligible Conference

February 17th, 2010
3:24 pm

Are these UGAg fans seriously arguing academic requirements with us? You really are idiots. Two words: Greg Blue- he wanted to come to Tech but couldn’t get in. Guess where he wound up??? Notice none of our signees ever go off to Hargrave. I’m not saying Tech’s football players are at the same academic level as the rest of the student body- no D-1 program’s are.

T-Bone

February 17th, 2010
3:50 pm

Mark, the question to ask McCollum is how he intends to keep Giff’s 2011 class together.

Toren Anderson

February 17th, 2010
4:09 pm

Welcome Home Andy! Coming full circle has to be an awesome thing! Good for you and congrats on such a great promotion! Hope to see you at the MHS Blue Devil Bash. (Toren Butler)

Nachos con Buzz

February 17th, 2010
4:19 pm

People Please!, no more fighting, here, I will settle this once and for all, for the record, UGA sucks, Tech is better, now, are we all happy, can we move on and talk about something else …