The verdict on Tech: Not awful, but where are the Georgians?

PJ meets his public, which offered a standing ovation. (Photo by M. Bradley)

Paul Johnson meets his public, which offered a standing ovation. (Photo by M. Bradley)

If recruiting isn’t everything, neither is it nothing. As good as Paul Johnson is with middling talent, imagine how he’d do with better players. (Actually, we don’t have to imagine. We saw Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl only 13 months ago.)

At issue isn’t what this coach can do with what he has; at issue is what he has, and hasn’t, been able to get. The five best players on that Orange Bowl roster were recruited by Johnson’s predecessor. On Wednesday the Jackets announced their best recruiting class, if we go by the rankings, since Chan Gailey’s banner haul of 2007, but it wasn’t as good as it could/should have been.

Forget competing with Georgia and its Dream Team. SEC programs recruit on an entirely different level. What’s troubling about this Tech class is that it has been ranked in the lower half of the ACC, and the Jackets are based in the biggest city in a Southern state famous for its football. What’s troubling is that Georgia Tech could sign only four of the top 50 players in Georgia.

Yes, Tech is a bit different. Johnson recruits for his offense, which means he prizes running quarterbacks and smallish backs and linemen, and running quarterbacks and smallish backs and linemen aren’t afforded four- and five-star treatment. There’s nothing  wrong with the players the Jackets signed — they loaded up on linebackers and might have landed the new Joshua Nesbitt in Vad Lee of Durham, N.C. — but in a year considered bountiful even by this state’s exalted standards, should Georgia Tech be ranked behind Boston College?

“I feel we did well,” Johnson told a gathering of Tech fans at the Edge Center on Wednesday. Then this: “We feel like everyone we signed has a chance to have a good career. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t have signed them.”

Outside the conference room, Johnson was asked about the five publicized “de-commitments” Tech sustained over the final three weeks. “There’s always a story behind every story,” he said. “It always assumed that somebody [meaning the player] changed his mind, and sometimes that’s not true. Sometimes it’s grades; sometimes it’s admissions. You can paint that however you want.”

Rate Tech's signing class.

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

This Signing Day was widely viewed as a time for Tech, which seemed to run low on top-shelf talent in its slide to 6-7, to restock. Did it get what it needed? “I think so,” Johnson said. Then: “You never get everybody you want.”

The promise inherent in Johnson at Tech — a promised realized in the 11-3 season of 2009 — was that the mastermind would finally, after his splendid work at Georgia Southern and Navy, have the chance to deploy talent of the first rank. But Johnson’s fourth recruiting class as coach of the Jackets includes only one player (Jabari Hunt-Days of Powder Springs) of the 23 Georgians assigned four or five stars by Rivals.com.

Johnson was the head coach at Georgia Southern, as was co-offensive line coach Mike Sewak; quarterbacks/B-backs coach Brian Bohannon is a Griffin native who worked at Georgia Southern; recruiting coordinator Andy McCollum grew up in Marietta. This isn’t a staff that lacks a feel for the terrain. And yet …  more than half of these 22 signees hail from out of state.

Is it possible Tech football is held in higher esteem beyond the state borders than within them? If so, that has to change. This is a proud program that needs apologize to no one. Tech shouldn’t have to avoid its geography; it should embrace it. And it won’t make Johnson any less a coach to evince a bit more enthusiasm toward recruiting. Heck, it might make him an even better one.

By Mark Bradley

417 comments Add your comment

Paul H

February 2nd, 2011
2:29 pm

Paul H

February 2nd, 2011
2:30 pm

Finally back on top!

GTman

February 2nd, 2011
2:31 pm

PMC

February 2nd, 2011
2:34 pm

how could we rate a class yet when we haven’t even seen them play?

I’m not as concerned about the offense, I am a little concerned that they aren’t getting the number and quality of athletes they have had of late on the defensive line.

They’ll make due fine though.

PMC

February 2nd, 2011
2:36 pm

One thing GT has been stellar on in the past few years is growing linebackers into outstanding NFL players.

It seems that they have landed another good crop.

IL Jacket

February 2nd, 2011
2:36 pm

Mark, I know it doesn’t help us in the State of Georgia, but I wish there were some way we could get Randy Shannon on our staff. He is an impressive guy and would really help in the South Florida talent pool, which is probably the richest in the country.

Mark Bradley

February 2nd, 2011
2:38 pm

Kudos to Paul H

Vixzilla

February 2nd, 2011
2:38 pm

wow – This Blog is on FIRE….NERDS!!!

GTman

February 2nd, 2011
2:39 pm

I think you have hit the nail on the head. CPJ acts as though recruiting is not that big of a deal (he acts the same way about the UGA game too) and through his genius he can take 2 and 3 star talent and succeed. I am becoming less and less convinced of this. No matter what system you run, you still need talent to run the system and compete against SEC and the upper echelon ACC teams (VT, FSU, NC, Miami, Clemson). His disdain for recruiting filters down to the players and there is no excitement, no talk of dream team, no talk of getting special players, etc. coming from CPJ. I don’t think he sells very well and is probably one of the reasons we lost Tuitt.

He needs to get more involved and enthused about recruiting and oh while you’re at it CPJ – GET FIRED UP ABOUT THE MOST IMPORTANT GAME ON YOUR SCHEDULE!!!

rumcreek

February 2nd, 2011
2:39 pm

Face it fellows. The education system in Georgia does not produce an abundance of div 1 football recruits that can gain admission and stay in GT.GT and Georgia State should have combined and had one team.Then you would have engineering and liberal arts to choose from.Anyone disagree.

Joshua Barlowe

February 2nd, 2011
2:44 pm

I want to know why in the list of UGA recruits, nothing about their GPAs are mentioned, but they are often mentioned with Tech recruits.

Answer that question and you’ll have the answer to your questions above. Tech can’t sign the same idiots that UGA can. They actually have to sign kids that can read.

hahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!

February 2nd, 2011
2:45 pm

Please nerd nation, PLEASE lock this moron down to a lifetime contract already!!! The best recruits he gets PJ ends up chasing off to his conference rivals, LOL!!!!

Hey bugs, I guess Jackson is no longer a “brilliant, student athlete” and is now a criminal thug since he had common sense and decided not to play for a dead program with a mad man running the team, ehh? LOL!!!!!

OMG

February 2nd, 2011
2:45 pm

This class is sub-par. You’re being too kind, Mark.

Joshua Barlowe

February 2nd, 2011
2:45 pm

And that’s largely true with why the SEC dominates college football: they sign the “student athletes” who are much more athlete and very little to none “student.”

It’s an unfair playing field.

Ashley

February 2nd, 2011
2:46 pm

Mark,

Last year Tech signed 19 players, 15 from Georgia. The class had six four-star players according to one or more of the recruiting services. All but one was from Georgia. Of the ten highest-rated players in that class, nine were from Georgia. The only exception was Louis Young, a very late signee who wasn’t able to qualify academically at his first choice Stanford.

One year is not a trend. Half of this coaching staff is new this year. Is it really a surprise that we hit some areas this year that the new coaches had a little more familiarity with?

Joshua Barlowe

February 2nd, 2011
2:46 pm

Jackson didn’t decide not to play at Tech. It was decided for him.

OMG

February 2nd, 2011
2:47 pm

Right, Johsua. That’s why 15 of the UGA signees held offers from Georgia Tech.

Georgia ranks where?

February 2nd, 2011
2:48 pm

Football players already tend to not be the brightest of the bunch. With Georgia’s poor academic rating, how many of these players could actually qualify for admissions. We already saw that Caldwell was a class A idiot, and still hasn’t met admission requirements ( i believe this is ncaa). You should check out how many of the 23 GA players with 4 or 5 star ratings could actually meet requirements, then give us a percentage. The same can be said for the number of Top 50 players in the state.

A lot of our recruits are considered “steals.” Did we by any means blow the lid off the recruiting achievement bucket? No. But just saying we got 1 out of 23 or 4 out of 50 doesn’t paint the whole picture. Mark, by your narrow minded logic, I am starting to think that you did actually graduate from the cow hearding school north of us. “wait, we had 10 cows but now we only have 5, where did the other 6 go?…wait no, 4, where did the other 4 go?wait, no…”

Fez

February 2nd, 2011
2:49 pm

@ rumcreek,

Please. That spin has been proven a lie years ago. Look at the better recruits Johnson had but ran away. They went to lesser respected institutions. The athletes at Yech are no more intelligent than the ones at UGA, Bama, FSU, Miami, BC, etc. Yech just happens to do a fabulous job with their “tutors” taking their test for them.

The fact Reggie Ball and Michael Johnson were both at Yech for 4 years busted that played out myth to pieces. Not to mention hundreds of other athletes as well.

Jan Kemp's Advisor

February 2nd, 2011
2:49 pm

I Have advised GT to fire Andy McCollum as recruiting co-ordinator and hire Mark Bradley because he is brilliant. Anything he say’s will come to pass. Mark Bradley as recruiting co-ordinator/associate head coach, I have advised.

Hal

February 2nd, 2011
2:51 pm

I would say we helped improve the offense. But the defense……..When you concentrate on the south, when you have your entire coaching staff geared with experience in the south you expect better. Then when you focus on the state of Georgia and on signing day you sign 3 or 4 out of 50 of the Georgia’s top recruits and not land any highly regarded defensive prospect. I would say you have sealed your fate in improving your defense. CPJ put all his eggs in one southern basket and come up with mediocrity recruiting his defense. Tech should be able to recruit much better. Something is not right. I’ll bet CPJ is just glad it’s over for another year. I am not a happy camper.

Georgia ranks where?

February 2nd, 2011
2:55 pm

GTman,

CPJ doesn’t think recruiting isn’t important, he just doesn’t think it’s the world. He’s not coming up with gimmick after gimmick, like “The Dream Team,” and crapping his pants over this guy or that guy. UGA has had how many top 5 recruiting classes? and even more top 10, and yet they have literally nothing to show for it. His point is that ratings are dumb and don’t mean much in the big scheme of things. He is just telling it how it is. No sugar coating like “we have the best class ever” or making it out to be something it isn’t. He is also probably tired of hearing about it “This blank star recruit this, and that blank star recruit that”

JoeV

February 2nd, 2011
2:55 pm

SEC teams recruit on an entirely different level…

Tell that to Clemson and FSU. Idiot.

Andy

February 2nd, 2011
2:55 pm

Where are all the top GA players? They are over at UGA. This class may be good enough to compete in the sorry ACC. Don’t feel too bad Techies.

Macon Jacket

February 2nd, 2011
2:55 pm

We’re in trouble.

Big trouble.

We_Run_This_Country

February 2nd, 2011
2:55 pm

Holding an offer from GT does NOT mean you can get into GT or that you are academically eligible for GT…..that process weeds out some of our late defections….as seen this year!

We_Run_This_Country

February 2nd, 2011
2:56 pm

Excellent recruiting class by CPJ and the new staff. This is going to be a lights-out defense in the next few years. Shaping up to be special years in 2012 and 2013! Go Jackets!

bjohndawg

February 2nd, 2011
2:59 pm

I think his offense makes it hard to recruit 4 and 5 star talent. They dont want to run a high school offense. They would rather play in a pro set. Remember they want to play in the pros. So they want to showcase their talent. Not grind it out in a wing T.

IMHO

T-Bone

February 2nd, 2011
3:00 pm

MB, I agree. PJ has to make it a point to get more and better players from the state. We lost a few at the last minute that would have made this class a lot better. It is interesting that he got the Mr. Football from Alabama and the Most Outstanding Player from NC.

Now let’s see him do something with them. 6-7 is not going to cut it.

IL Jacket

February 2nd, 2011
3:00 pm

Muschamp stealing CPJ’s line, “in two or three years we will know how good this recruiting class is.”

Tech Forever

February 2nd, 2011
3:02 pm

You want to know why….it’s an easy answer that has been given to me by a recruit, Tech coach, rival program coach, and high school coach. The bottom line is these kids are told over and over and over again “do you want to be an engineer? No? The academics at Tech for non-engineers is just as hard as for engineers” or something to that effect. A high school coach told me he was told it’s easy to recruit against Tech because they don’t offer the programs 90% of HS recruits want and the programs that are offered require the same math and science heavy core curriculums as the engineering programs. “Do you want to play football or sit in a lab all day” is a direct quote to a 5 star recruit from a couple years ago who signed elsewhere over Tech.

YellowJacket21

February 2nd, 2011
3:02 pm

CPJ can coach but not recruit, while CMR can recruit but usually wastes the talent with his inability to coach. I think the solution is to combine coaching staffs.

Yellow Fuzz

February 2nd, 2011
3:02 pm

Where are the Georgians? Our academic standards are as great as a sevice academy. We can’t get every player in the state of Georgia like the dogs can. Wish we could as there are a ton of them.

Mike

February 2nd, 2011
3:03 pm

This was my concern all along with Paul Johnson. Could he not only win with Gailey’s players, but recruit good enough ones to replace them. I think the answer is obvious. All of Gailey’s improvement in recruiting has been wiped away. Gailey’s 2007 class was top 20 and his 2008 class was projected as the same. Gailey had offensive problems on the field, but recruits had taken notice of players like Calvin Johnson and Tashard Choice. Tenuta’s defense had recruits excited.

I like Paul Johnson, but I thought it was very short sighted to uproot all Gailey had built for what has turned out to be one win over UGA. I maintain they should have hung onto Gailey until they could find a pro-style coach who could recruit as well but get better results on the field. That is essentially what UGA did with Richt over Donnan.

Tech Forever

February 2nd, 2011
3:03 pm

bjohndawg

That’s crap. We didn’t get 4 and 5 star talent when we WERE running a pro-set offense.

gt45

February 2nd, 2011
3:04 pm

Il Jacket, Maybe Shannon would come in and be our special teams/recruiting coordinator! That would be nice. There seems to be a lot of upside to just about all these kids. Their numbers look like they are very athletic and have lots of room to grow. Some could fill in right now, if need be. The only area we are hurting in is the D-line. I would have loved to have seen Tuitt and Cooper in there,but they have to go where their hearts, or Moms, take them. We are about two play makers away from being as dominant on O as two years ago. This class may have three or four!

jarvis

February 2nd, 2011
3:04 pm

38%. Who can tell me what this number represents?

dobearsbare

February 2nd, 2011
3:04 pm

To answer one question: Yes, Tech’s program is more respected outside state borders than within. The Jackets almost always have more out-of-state signees than UGA does. Which means little 51 weeks out of the year, though I guess you could argue that home-grown recruits might fill more seats at Bobby Dodd Stadium.

Ted Striker

February 2nd, 2011
3:05 pm

Johnson has a triple whammy going.

1) High high admission standards
2) An offense no pro team runs
3) A recruiting philosophy that says “we can shop around till the very end but you can’t”

Two of those things are in his control.

jarvis

February 2nd, 2011
3:05 pm

Stanford got a 5-star recruit from Georgia.

RAID

February 2nd, 2011
3:05 pm

Tech fans, ask yourself this question. If CPJ were to leave for another job is there enough tallent for the next coach to be successful with?……I would think the answer would be no……Say what you will about coaching up the 2 and 3 stars, you would love to be getting the 4 and 5 stars…..And after listening to what the head coach of Colquit Countys HS team had to say, CPJ is losing credibillity at many High schools in this state due to his stance on commitments visiting other schools and then dropping their schollies…….That does’nt sit well with a HS coach who wants to see his players taken care of ……..He best change his policies soon!……..Also ask yourselves, I wonder if Navy would’ve fired CPJ for looking elsewhere when Tech came calling for an interview…….Doubt it……But its ok to go against his own policy and continue to recruit other commited athletes……HE’S DEVELOPING A BAD REPUTATION IN THIS STATE THATS WHY!

The Blue Panther

February 2nd, 2011
3:05 pm

Please do not mix up your sorry program with the one that is growing at Georgia State. We do not want to share a team with Tech. We will surpass Tech in the next 10 years. It will happen, especially if Paul Johnson stays at Tech. I would hate to have to sit and watch that boring untalented offense run every week if I were a Tech student. And now that Gailey’s recruites have gone its gonna get really bad.

If TCU can get in the Big East, maybe GSU can get in the WAC or the Mountain West. Those conferences have won more BCS games than the ACC and they have to automatic qualifier tie ins.

No, Tech and the ACC are boring. I will take GSU and the future.

NoFKNdog

February 2nd, 2011
3:05 pm

I guess everyone knows by now what is felt about the fuga program, et al?

jarvis

February 2nd, 2011
3:06 pm

Notre Dame got a 4-star recruit from Georgia (you might be familiar with him).

NoFKNdog

February 2nd, 2011
3:06 pm

They all SUCK!!

jarvis

February 2nd, 2011
3:07 pm

Oh right….I almost forgot.
38% is you friggin basketball team’s graduation rate.

Hewitt brings in his fair share of dumbasses.

Yellow Fuzz

February 2nd, 2011
3:07 pm

What I do know is that 3-5 years from now, Tech will have done far more with their top 40 recruiting class than the dogs did with their top 5. Good luck to the dog players and coaches but I look forward to deciding it on the playing field like the last 3 meetings! We no longer fear the dogs and NEVER feared the obnoxios dog nation fan base. I have rolled more than a few of you AH’s over the years. Hahahaha.

Tech Forever

February 2nd, 2011
3:07 pm

The Blue Panther

It’ll be faster than 10 years, and GSU has been in “talks” with the Big East for a few years now. The only sticking points being you didn’t have a football program (which is no longer the case) and either the arena needs to be renovated or a contract with Philip’s need to be signed.

GTBob

February 2nd, 2011
3:08 pm

I like that we are recruiting so well outside of the state. We seem to have done well in Florida, Alabama, and North Carolina. I’m not so concerned with in state recruiting if our out of state recruiting is solid. UGA, Auburn, and Alabama recruit hard in Georgia so getting the 4 star guys will always be difficult. I’m just glad we managed to sign our second best class in the last 10 years.

Tech Forever

February 2nd, 2011
3:08 pm

jarvis

You do know that early entranst into the NBA count AGAINST the graduation rate don’t you? And up until last year tranfers did as well.