Isaiah Johnson poised to make sudden impact for Georgia Tech

Few predicted on signing day that Sandy Creek's Isaiah Johnson would have the biggest impact of Georgia Tech's 2010 signees. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Few predicted on signing day that Sandy Creek's Isaiah Johnson would have the biggest impact of Georgia Tech's 2010 signees. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

First in a series. Poll added. . .

As we embark on the college football season this week, it’s time now to take a look back at the 2010 recruiting classes and try to gauge how they worked out.

We’ll get it started today with Georgia Tech, which signed the No. 32 recruiting class in America, according to Scout.com, and No. 43, according to Rivals.

At this point there’s no question which of the new players is making the biggest impact for the Yellow Jackets. Isaiah Johnson took over the No. 1 jersey left behind by all-ACC safety Morgan Burnett and, as it turns out, it looks like he will be taking over that position as well. The big news out of The Flats this week was that Johnson earned a starting nod at safety.

“I’m not surprised, but I don’t want to diminish the accomplishment,” said Chip Walker, Johnson’s coach at Sandy Creek High, which won the Class AAAA state championship last year. “That’s a huge, huge accomplishment to go in and start your first college game. But I’m not really surprised because Isaiah is a good, good football player and an even better person. He’s a great athlete and a hard worker.”

Which Georgia Tech freshman do you think will ultimately make the biggest impact for the Yellow Jackets in his career, not just this season?

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Johnson was one of three signees that took advantage of early enrollment. He gained close to 15 pounds since January and learned the nuances of defensive coordinator Al Groh’s new 3-4 defense.

Johnson’s impact was not predicted by individual recruiting rankings. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound athlete earned only a three-star rating from all the recruiting services. At least four other Tech signees were rated higher.

“The recruiting services are way overblown and people put way too much stock in them,” Walker said. “I knew he was as good as any safety to come out of this state in a long time, yet everybody was only giving him three stars. The thing about it is, Isaiah never worried about all that stuff. He never wanted to go to combines and all that stuff to get his name out there. He knew that wasn’t going to make him a better football player.”

Johnson is one of what looks to be about four incoming signees to contribute for the Yellow Jackets this fall. Also eyeing playing time in their first year is Jeremiah Attaochu of Washington, D.C., who is currently listed as the No. 2 weakside linebacker; athlete Barry “B.J.” Bostic of Jefferson County, an AJC Super 11 player and four-star prospect, who will likely return kicks and may get some snaps at A-back; place-kicker Justin Moore of Marist, who is competing with senior Scott Blair; and Louis Young, who is currently listed as a second-team cornerback and is penciled in on special teams.

The rest of Tech’s 17-player incoming class will likely redshirt, though nothing is certain at this early date.

So what do you think of the Yellow Jackets’ class so far? Who else might play themselves onto the field this season?

GEORGIA TECH CLASS OF 2010

OL Catlin Alford (6-3, 275), Adairsville: Likely redshirt
LB Jeremiah Attaochu (6-3, 223), Washington, D.C.: Probable playing time. Currently listed No. 2 weakside linebacker and penciled in on several special teams units.
CB Ryan Ayers (5-10, 178), Douglasville: Likely redshirt.
OL Morgan Bailey (6-4, 298) Loganville: Likely redshirt
ATH Barry “B.J.” Bostic (5-11, 165), Louisville: Definite contributor. AJC Super 11 selection will return and cover kicks and likely get limited snaps at A-back.
QB Synjyn Days (6-1, 205), Powder Springs: Likely redshirt. As the No. 4 quarterback Days will dress each week and travel.
DT Shawn Green (6-0, 270), Grayson: Possible playing time. Currently No. 2 nose tackle due to some injuries.
RB Deon Hill (6-0, 205), Phenix City, Ala: Likely redshirt
DB Fred Holton (6-1, 198), Thomasville: Likely redshirt
DB Isaiah Johnson (6-2, 195), Tyrone: Impact player. The early enrollee earned a starting position at safety.
DT Denzel McCoy (6-3, 268), Lawrenceville: Likely redshirt. Missed most of camp with an undisclosed illness.
K Justin Moore (5-10, 160), Atlanta: Possible playing time. Mired in competition with senior Scott Blair.
LB Quayshawn Nealy (6-1, 220), Lakeland, Fla.: Likely redshirt
RB Charles Perkins (6-0, 212), Lawrenceville. Likely redshirt.
DB Jake Skole (6-1, 185), Roswell: Signed $1.6 million pro baseball contract
DE Anthony Williams (6-4, 221), McDonough: Likely redshirt
DB Louis Young (6-1, 190), Washington, D.C. Probable playing time. Listed as a second-team cornerback and expected to play on special teams.
RB Tony Zenon (5-8, 174), Albany: Likely redshirt.

* Chart made in consult with the AJC’s Tech beat writer Doug Roberson.

MORE TO COME:

>>>Tomorrow: Georgia

>>>Wednesday: Impact freshmen around the South.

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  • E-mail specific recruiting questions to me at AJCrecruiting@yahoo.com. I’ll answer them in the “Mailbag” each Friday.

58 comments Add your comment

rduck

August 30th, 2010
12:41 pm

1st and Johnson looks to be a huge factor this year

rduck

August 30th, 2010
12:42 pm

Looks like the real deal back there at safety. Should be a huge factor on D this year..

TechHappy

August 30th, 2010
12:42 pm

IndianaDawg

August 30th, 2010
12:48 pm

Good luck to the young man. It goes to show that hard work does pay off. Quality young man.

UP WITH THE WHITE AND GOLD

August 30th, 2010
12:51 pm

down with the red and black, down with the red and black, down with the red and black, down with ….wait hold on my wife is yelling something at me, say what, “I’m not suppose to say that anymore?” ok, down with the black and red, down with the black and red, down with the black and red, down with the black and red, down with the black and red

Frank

August 30th, 2010
12:51 pm

Impressive that he starts as a true freshman, good luck except in that little clash in November.

THWGT

collegeballfan

August 30th, 2010
12:55 pm

DT Shawn Green (6-0, 270), Grayson: Likely redshirt

This guy will play. He is on the depth chart for SC State. Injuries are always an issue at DT & DE in the 3 – 4 and he will be the #3 guy when the injured return.

turkerneck

August 30th, 2010
1:01 pm

Dawggie

August 30th, 2010
1:12 pm

Hope that Johnson is ready for a couple of running backs wearing red and black when they coming busting at him 10 yards past the line of scrimmage!

We run this state.

GT Sambo

August 30th, 2010
1:12 pm

collegeballfan,
I saw that too and I thought it was interesting since he was listed on the two deeps. However, I also heard Groh say that other than TJ Barnes, all the part on the line were interchangable, meaning one of the DEs could slide inside. Don’t be surprised if Green deosn’t even make into the SC State game. He may just be listed their now in case of any additional injuries.

Brian

August 30th, 2010
1:21 pm

The secondary and running back positions are so deep for our team, and yet that is where Johnson, Young, and Bostic are looking to make an impact. Good for them, they must really be players.

GT Sambo

August 30th, 2010
1:31 pm

I think Bostic brings something to the A-back position that we haven’t really had. Both of our starting A-backs (Allen and Jones) last year were over 195 lbs. Even Wright and Peebles, while smaller, seem to have good straight line speed but lack an elusvieness. I think Bostic has that elusiveness, which can really be effective as an A-back out on the edge where you might only need one good move to beat one guy for a big gain (assuming you get the other A-back and WRs doing a good job of blocking).

Honky Talkin'

August 30th, 2010
1:42 pm

The days of UGA dominating in-state recruiting are dwindling.

Taylor S

August 30th, 2010
2:05 pm

Hey honky talkin you must not follow recruiting.

Tech Rules

August 30th, 2010
2:06 pm

Yeah right, UGA owns us.

albanytechfan

August 30th, 2010
2:13 pm

Taylor S….according to scout, UGAG’s class is one third of a star better than Techs…just sayin.

GT Anchorage

August 30th, 2010
2:15 pm

Dawgie, I’m not even sure what you were trying to say there.

JM

August 30th, 2010
2:16 pm

Chip, do you agree with Coach Walker’s comments about recruit ranking?

Todd

August 30th, 2010
2:47 pm

Nesbitt talking a lot about a nat champ. The guy is a proven winner. Who knows. We would def have the timing right winning some big games at years end.

Axlrodes

August 30th, 2010
2:47 pm

What’s the deal Chip. You are highlighting GA Tech today, probably UGA tomorrow, when you should be talking about that Panther attack from GA State that is set to launch its fury on Thursday.

here is the new Triple Option you need to watch for: hot Pumas, mature Cougars, and bone-crushing Panther football.

Ga State is going to demolish Shorter by at least 2-3 points, and there is nothing those punks can do about it!

Panther Pride! We runt this state!

No.....

August 30th, 2010
2:48 pm

you Hit and Run this state.

Big Dawg in Cumming

August 30th, 2010
2:49 pm

Tech is going to need a lot of good safetys to tackle those BullDawg running backs in the secondary. Your always in trouble when a freshman is your last line of defence.
ACC is in trouble again this year. Anyone who thinks Tech’s recruits are even close to Dawg’s has got to be dreaming! November is always the rude awakening that brings reality.
9 out of 10. We run this state!!

Chip Towers

August 30th, 2010
2:53 pm

Axlrodes: Honestly I don’t have a strong handle on Georgia State’s players yet. You know, they’re all first-year kids except for the transfers. But I’ll be paying close attention and have several features going forward. Tell me who you expect to be impressive in the early going.

GT Sambo

August 30th, 2010
2:53 pm

I have to agree with most of the rational Tech fans here. UGA is always going to dominate Tech in the recruiting rankings. UGA has lower academic (and criminality) standards. UGA is the primarily state university in Georgia. UGA is in the SEC. GT is a research-focused institute with a much narrower focus of majors. Plus, as long as Paul Johnson is coach, UGA is always going to get the “higher ranked” recruits at QB, OL, and TE, because GT won’t even recruit the “highly ranked” recruits for those positions. And GT is going to have different standards for recruiting RB and WR, because both of those positions at GT will require athletes who are willing and able to block. Hopefully sucess with the 3-4 on the defensive side of the ball will help us to at least be competitive in defensive recruiting with UGA.

albanytechfan

August 30th, 2010
2:55 pm

One third of a star, bigdawg, one third of a star!

Chip Towers

August 30th, 2010
2:56 pm

JM: Not entirely. I think of recruiting rankings kind of the same way I do early-season college football rankings. That is, they’re not to be taken too seriously. They’re there to entertain us and to provide some loose context and perspective for how everybody’s doing. I do respect some of the guys who work very hard to assess young football talent. Alas, it’s an incredibly inexact science.

Delbert D.

August 30th, 2010
3:01 pm

GT Sambo – Something else Bostic brings to A-back is that he can throw the ball.

GT Sambo

August 30th, 2010
3:04 pm

Didn’t Roddy Jones play QB in high school, too, or am I thinking of someone else?

5150 P.O.A.D

August 30th, 2010
3:30 pm

I didn’t know this young man could make such a big impact so fast.
GT Sambo Roddy was never a QB in High School at Chamblee.

JM

August 30th, 2010
3:41 pm

Thanks Chip. It is impossible to accurately rank all the players in Atlanta, much less in the entire state. Even breaking them down into 3-4 categories is difficult. I think when a question arises about a player, the system gets biased toward the historically favorite programs. To explain better, what I think happens to a player that’s a solid 3 but may be a 4 star, those deciding consider the coaches that are offering the player. If certain coaches offer the player gets the extra consideration and gets bumped to the next level.

nickj0321

August 30th, 2010
4:10 pm

Nice…he must be very good.

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Cuttysark

August 30th, 2010
5:05 pm

For Johnson to lock up a starting safety position when we returned a bunch of experienced players in the secondary sure speaks about his ability and knowledge of the new 3/4 defense. Al Groh isn’t going to put a freshman on the field unless he is ready to play. Can’t wait for the season to start. For more Georgia Tech Football articles go to http://isportsweb.com. Go Jackets!

blazer

August 30th, 2010
5:32 pm

i guess the red panties don’t worry about winning the sec or first in the east! i worry about the state thing! thought their didn’t care about us! should worry about finishing third in the east!

Yellow Fuzzy

August 30th, 2010
5:39 pm

True Freshman starting at Safety. He’ll get beat more than I do.

Technology

August 30th, 2010
6:22 pm

I’m not too worried about Johnson starting as a Frosh, he took the job from Jarrard Tarrant….

Destin Dawg

August 30th, 2010
6:48 pm

watch Matt Kuchar in PGA Tour championship at Eastlake CC. in 3 weeks… a Jacket we all can pull for.. fine young man.. could win it all this year…. Go Kuuuuuuchar !!

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Duluth Dawg

August 30th, 2010
8:20 pm

Congrats to Isaiah and Tech. This kid sounds like a good one. The RB that he went to high school with who signed with Univ of Tenn is a player too. I think that young man was the best RB in the state last year.

On the downside, if Shawn Green has to play this year in Tech;’s new 3-4 defense, you have BIG problems. At 6 ft 270 lbs, no way Green can hold up, even if he is strong. Tech’s DL is small and has very little depth.

GT Sambo

August 30th, 2010
8:58 pm

Duluth Dawg,
The name of the game in the 3-4 is to occupy blockers. Al Groh, a man who actually understands the 3-4, said that besides TJ Barnes (6′7″ 344, big enough for you), all the parts of the DL are interchangeable, meaning we can slide one of our ends inside when necessary. We actually have a decent amount of big bodies that we can bring in. I read a story on Euclid Cummings that said that 18 months ago when he came to Tech he weighed 210 and now he is 270.

Duluth Dawg

August 30th, 2010
9:10 pm

GT Sambo,
You are correct about the name of the game being to occupy blockers. You are actually making my point. At 270 lbs, Green will occupy a single blocker, not two blockers. Occupying multiple blockers is the object of this defense so your inside linebackers run and roam free. Groh certainly knows the 3-4 defense well, so this means he wants a 300 lb nose tackle. As evidence, look at who Groh had at nose tackle for his UVA defenses (300 lb plus). TJ Barnes certainly has the size but has not figured out pad level unless things have changed. Barnes looked like he was on roller skates in the Georgia game last year. Good luck if Green plays nose because you will need it.

Free This Willy

August 30th, 2010
9:39 pm

Sambo, you also forgot to add that UGA will always out-recruit Tech b/c they own you.

hello

August 30th, 2010
9:48 pm

For what it is worth…..Green is up to 290…but still a freshman cant be relied upon at the NT position. Logan Walls and TJ Barnes will handle it…but hopefully Green gets some game experience because he is our future NT. I wonder if JC Lanier will get PT too….time will tell.

GT Sambo

August 30th, 2010
10:50 pm

Barnes has lost 25 lbs and is reportedly in much better condition than last year. I think he will be fine. I know Green is listed on the two deeps, but I really think that is precautionary only in case TJ gets injured and we have no one else. I think the goal is still to RS Green, depending on how quickly Logan Wall gets back. I bet for SC State one of the ends slides inside when TJ needs a breather (which is going to be frequently).

Flo-Ri-Duh!

August 30th, 2010
11:33 pm

He’s no Barnett.

Nesbitt for Heisman

August 31st, 2010
7:25 am

`
Tech will unveil it’s Heisman Trophy campaign for quarterback Joshua Nesbitt today.

http://www.nesbitt4heisman.com to go live today by 2:00 p.m.

aw

August 31st, 2010
7:35 am

If tech’s players are not close to woofers players, then why in the world do we achieve more? Could it be the coach? Could it be the type of indivuals that play on both sides? Could it be the drunken atmosphere that the other team is exposed to constantly? The woofers are constantly on us re. our weak players,I dont get it.

Flo-Ri-Duh!

August 31st, 2010
7:43 am

Johnson is going to have a big impact on Techs redshirt team.

Not Disappointed

August 31st, 2010
8:15 am

it really looks brite for the Jackets.

Ramblin Wreck!

GT Sambo

August 31st, 2010
8:45 am

I am feeling better and better about this defense. We have several guys back from injury (Hall and Taylor) and guys who started last year are being beaten out by newcomers/younger guys. That is nothing but good for Tech. I still think we are going to have a smoother transition than UGA to the 3-4 even if UGA might have slightly better personnel.