Georgia Tech gets first 2012 commitment from Junior Gnonkonde

Lanier County's Junior Gnonkonde has played football only two years, but that was enough time for college recruiters to realize he's a special athlete. (Photo provided by Chad Simmons of Scout.com).

Lanier County's Junior Gnonkonde has played football only two years, but that was enough time for college recruiters to realize he's a special athlete. (Photo provided by Chad Simmons of Scout.com).

The American dream is quickly becoming a reality for Junior Gnonkonde. Only three years after landing in South Georgia from the Ivory Coast in West Africa, Gnonkonde realized his lifelong goal of securing a college scholarship.

Quite unexpectedly — for him at least — he’ll do it on a football scholarship. After playing football for only two years, the 6-foot-5, 220-pound outside linebacker committed to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on Friday.

“No, I never would have imagined it,” said Gnonkonde, his deep West African accent very evident. “It’s like a dream for me.”

Gnonkonde becomes the first commitment of the 2012 class for Tech, which offered him at its first Junior Day camp a couple of weeks ago. At this point he had no other offers but Georgia, Alabama, Auburn, Clemson and numerous other major colleges have been evaluating him.

Gnonkonde is from Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire, located on the west coast of Africa. He came to Lanier County and the city of Lakeland just three years ago to live with an uncle and aunt to play AAU basketball and hopefully get noticed by college recruiters. He said he had never played football until two years ago, when he was recruited off the basketball team.

While football was completely foreign to him at first, Gnonkonde’s size and strength were a perfect fit. Despite his somewhat thin frame he is already one of the strongest players on the Lanier County football team. He’s also one of the fastest. He has quickly become a force as a tight end and defensive end. He’s expected to play outside linebacker with the Yellow Jackets.

“I had much to learn but I feel like I understand it now,” he said.

Gnonkonde spent the last two weeks contemplating the offer he received from Georgia Tech and talking it over with his family and Lanier County athletics director John White, with whom he now resides.

He decided to commit on Friday. He did it from the school via conference call to Tech head coach Paul Johnson and assistant coach Todd Spencer.

“They were really happy,” Gnonkonde said.

As for the possibility of holding out for other offers, Gnonkonde said he didn’t see the point in it.

“Georgia Tech has everything I want,” he said. “They have a good education program. I love technology and computers and things like that and that’s the school to go to learn about it.”

By Chip Towers, The College Recruiting Blog


View Larger Map

166 comments Add your comment

Techmate

February 18th, 2011
10:25 pm

Smart young man with quickness. Great addition for Tech. Welcome, Junior.

Randall "Pink" Floyd

February 18th, 2011
10:27 pm

Good for the kid.

South Ga GT fan

February 18th, 2011
10:36 pm

Welcome to the flats..the kid is good. Could also play Basketball…Hope Hewitts gone first.

Party at the Moontower

February 18th, 2011
10:47 pm

WOW!!!!!!

Now maybe you nerds can beat Georgia!!!!!!!!

GT GRAD

February 18th, 2011
10:49 pm

Congrats to Junior………….great decision!!

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Daniel Gaither, Chip Towers. Chip Towers said: Georgia Tech gets first 2012 commitment from Junior Gnonkonde http://bit.ly/hC8HVc [...]

4 Jacks

February 18th, 2011
11:20 pm

Congratulations to the young man. will get a first rate education and degree and will be a all conference type player. True student athelete from where? Wish more atheletes here in the good ole U S of A had some of the character this young man displays. Good luck Junior, hope you have a great career and alot of fun while your at the Flats, make sure you get that degree!! It will make a difference.

dawgfan

February 18th, 2011
11:21 pm

I wish the young man the best, atleast 10 out of 11 games a year. This is the kind of palyer that plays with heart – what all schools need

Go Jackets 88

February 18th, 2011
11:22 pm

Congrats! Great worker on the field and in the classroom!!

Go Jackets!!

Rusty

February 18th, 2011
11:23 pm

Good story. Congratulations Junior. Go Dawgs.

Jacket Forever

February 18th, 2011
11:34 pm

Better keep your commitment or else!

K Conley

February 18th, 2011
11:39 pm

Congratulations Tech Fans, he’s a good kid and will not waver on this commitment. Good for you guys.

Great story

February 18th, 2011
11:39 pm

Now where is that idiot WnE ? Please keep the hate at bay for just once. This is too cool of a story. Go Jackets!

German Shepherd Dawg

February 18th, 2011
11:50 pm

Way to go, Techies. Looks like a great kid with tremendous potential.

wrecked

February 19th, 2011
12:03 am

At this point he had no other offers , typical Tech coup.

Party at the Moontower

February 19th, 2011
12:22 am

If UGA signed this kid, he would be an “inexperienced nobody” in Techies eyes.

But since Tech signed him….. “what a GREAT story!!”

And oh, look….. how cute. He loves “technology and computers, and things like that.”

It’s such a glory for Tech fans(sic) to despise everything UGA, but when hate is returned, you dorks act likes it’s a crime against humanity.

TO HELL WITH GEORGIA TECH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ManUp...

February 19th, 2011
1:08 am

Chill out, haters. Good kid, according to the evidence here. Up with the White and Gold!

GO JACKETS!!!

Red Dog 77

February 19th, 2011
1:31 am

What a great story, the “American dream” is real !……..Hope the young man gets the great education he is looking for at Georgia Tech……….and best of luck to him and the other Yellowjackets………..except for that last game in November…………RED DOG

Dawg in Clemson

February 19th, 2011
2:39 am

Congratulations GT, sounds like you have a great kid with a lot of potential. Looks like all the lunatic fringe UGA fans haven’t read this article yet…..you know the “Far Mark Rickt” crowd.

heeldawg

February 19th, 2011
4:03 am

Good pickup, Jackets! My guess is that he’ll be an impact player and a great representative of Tech off the field, as well!

African in the house

February 19th, 2011
6:07 am

Congrats and welcome my brother, good luck on your college career at GA TECH

Stinger2

February 19th, 2011
6:20 am

I hope he did not make his decision too soon given CPJ`s policy on recruits.

dawgerbrown

February 19th, 2011
6:25 am

Congrats to the kid. Looks like Tech has a good one here. He understands and appreciates all this country has to offer and will work hard to be a success. Good luck, hope you have a great career.

Paddy

February 19th, 2011
6:46 am

Type of kid you can really pull for! We will know alot more about his abilities after his Sr. season. My guess he might outgrow the linebacker position and become a defensive end. It will be interesting to follow in 2011. Can’t imagine anyone hating on this story!

Oh, Please

February 19th, 2011
6:48 am

He was being “evaluated ” by Georgia, Alabama, etc”..Yeah, right. just like the evaluate thousands of players before eliminating them from scholarship consideration. What a reach to make this signign sound good. I think Tech probably beat out Mars Hill and Shorter to land this prospect.. At least he will be right at home with the foreign majority students at Tech. I just hope he can defend himself against the muggers.

GTDog

February 19th, 2011
7:14 am

I wouldn’t worry about the kid getting into trouble by looking at other schools. You see, these kids who didn’t grow up here in the good ol’ US of A, they don’t have that feeling of entitlement, and strive to accomplish more in life than get cut at an NFL pre-season camp.

He’ll be fine. He’ll go to GT, have a nice career, get his degree, and live out the Amrican Dream rather than the Hood Dream…

Great story

February 19th, 2011
7:22 am

Party ant the moontower and oh please: Come on man! Bunch of hypocrites. “If UGA signed this kid, he would be an “inexperienced nobody” in Techies eyes”.Please! You and the rest of the mutt nation are a bunch of hypocrites and you know it. You say the same thing about Tech. And Oh, Please, go check out Scout.com brother. He was checked out by bama and believe or not, UGA! Hate on hater. TO HELL WITH GEORGIA!

Football_365

February 19th, 2011
7:27 am

this guy might be a great football player, but I wonder if he will end up like 57% of all the other tech football players and not graduate!

Jacket Man

February 19th, 2011
7:33 am

Junior didn’t even know English until just a few years ago when he, and a few of his friends, came over from Africa as exchange students and wanted to play high school basketball (Junior also played soccer). Junior taught himself English using “Rosetta Stone,” that second language learning program you see advertised on TV.

When Junior called his parents to tell them about his offer, it was an emotional time for the entire family. He’s a great addition to the Jacket family.

Dawg 1

February 19th, 2011
7:39 am

Sounds like a nice pick up. Agree with Dawg in Clemson. Nice pick up and smart to grab him. I have found that athletes that move from Africa hard usually are fantastic atheletes and equally good students.

Wish the young man nothing but success.

GTDog

February 19th, 2011
7:57 am

Football_365:

Let’s show a little class and quite trolling the Tech article, unless you can find something a little more coherent to discuss. Please, you’re embarassing the rest of us UGA fans here…

Football_365

February 19th, 2011
8:07 am

Gtdog go play in traffic! Last time I checked when I turn on my cpu and go online I can read and comment on any article I want! Its not my fault tech fans brag about academics on every blog but fail to mention that only 43% of the players graduate! Go change your tampon and stop acting so sensitive!

stan

February 19th, 2011
8:08 am

good get . congrats young man

ToeMeetsLeather

February 19th, 2011
8:12 am

Sounds like a perfect fit for the 3-4. Just curious, how many of these GT haters on here have a degree from UGA vs just picking up a GA hat and car flag at Walmart? Any of you care to respond?

BYRDDAWG

February 19th, 2011
8:14 am

Sounds like a good kid that doesn’t have the punk Reggie Ball attitude…. Congrats bees!

Dooley

February 19th, 2011
8:16 am

Football_365….Get off your parent’s computer and get back to work. The chicken nuggets are burning.

Football_365

February 19th, 2011
8:22 am

Dooley you sure put me in my place with that chicken nugget line! How will I go on with life after that low blow!

ToeMeetsLeather

February 19th, 2011
8:27 am

For those of you refering to the graduation rate for football players, it is right in line with the graduation rate for the overall student body. A TECH degree is earned, not given to you, and is very valuable!

R.Ball

February 19th, 2011
8:29 am

CPJ should enter Hooters wet t-shirt contest this year, his melons are almost as nice as that fat dude “Bob” in the movie Fight Club.

BYRDDAWG

February 19th, 2011
8:32 am

R Ball where’ve you been dude?? I’ve really missed watching you play!!!!!

Neal

February 19th, 2011
8:33 am

Welcome to Tech young man. We’re glad you made the decision to come to Tech.

Go Jackets!

Great Story

February 19th, 2011
8:38 am

What I find humorous is that we don’t even know anything about this kid except from this article, just like all the other articles we read and yet we talk trash about them? Come on guys, grow up! I don’t care if you are a Tech or UGA fan, show some freagin dignity and class. Is that even possible? No wonder everyone thinks that UGA fan base is obnoxious.

GT93

February 19th, 2011
8:47 am

sounds like a great pickup for the Jackets!

To R.Ball — his name was Robert Paulson

J.D.

February 19th, 2011
8:49 am

Junior, you’ll be playing for a great defensive coordinator and person, Al Groh. He is building something really special for GT and we’re glad you get to be a part of it.

Al Groh is a class act. I ran across this on the web. After being fired at UVA, he still gives a respectable departure when he could of said many other things. See below…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-WjGROPz24

Boobie Bowden

February 19th, 2011
8:49 am

Dawg dignity is peeing in public with your eyes closed so others won’t see you.

Fire Hewitt

February 19th, 2011
8:56 am

Welcome Junior to GT. Looking forward to seeing you play. Heard you also had a brother playing at LHS is that correct? Have a great year and Go Jackets.

GT hulk

February 19th, 2011
8:56 am

Surprised to see Wofford, Elon, UAB or Troy were not after him, usually they are the ones PJ can only get

Coach Hewitt...

February 19th, 2011
9:11 am

meh….big fonkin’ deal…

BigTimeTECHfan

February 19th, 2011
9:13 am

Congrats Junior,
Will be special to see his parents walk him on the field on Senior day in a few years.
Kid works hard, in a year and a half his bench press went from 200 to 395. huge LB,

Nice pickup for Tech, was one of the best players in Junior game, may be best LB in the country.

1eyedJack

February 19th, 2011
9:21 am

Coach Fish Fry is making inroads into Africa. Maybe he can find a good placekicker there. Seriously, good story. It reminds me of the Richard Samuel story. Congratulations Tech. Cross your fingers that Stanford doesn’t offer. ;)