Georgia Tech’s 1st commitment for 2012 gets his scholarship offer pulled

Georgia Tech’s first commitment for its 2012 recruiting class won’t be signing the Yellow Jackets next week, according to his coach.

Junior Gnonkonde, a 6-foot-5, 225-pound defensive end from Lanier County High School, had his scholarship offer withdrawn by Georgia Tech on Friday. He had been committed to the Yellow Jackets since last February.

“We got a call from Paul Johnson saying they were withdrawing the scholarship offer because his test scores were too low,” said Lanier County athletics director John White, who is also Gnonkonde’s legal guardian.

“Coach Johnson was very nice about it. He said he didn’t want to leave Junior hanging in any way. He said he would call Central Florida on Junior’s behalf, which he did and we appreciated … but this whole thing doesn’t make any sense.

DE Junior Gnonkonde is looking for a new school after being committed to Georgia Tech for 11 months (AJC)

DE Junior Gnonkonde is looking for a new school after being committed to Georgia Tech for 11 months (AJC)

“Georgia Tech’s admissions people had his transcript and test score for awhile. Why didn’t they let us know long before this? We’re finding out just now? This kid has been committed to Georgia Tech for 11 months, we didn’t talk to other schools because he was committed there, and now this happens 10 days before National Signing Day?

“I’m confused, upset and very disappointed,” White said. “I feel like I let the kid down. Maybe I led him in the wrong direction by allowing him to commit so early to Georgia Tech and then shutting it down … Coach Johnson told us that his scholarship was ‘guaranteed’ unless Junior pursued other schools, committed a felony or didn’t make it academically. We cuts ties with all the other schools when he committed 11 months ago – Florida State, Georgia, Kentucky and the others that liked him and wanted to know more. We went to five college football games this year. All five were Georgia Tech home games. That was the only place we went. We didn’t do like other kids, and shop around for a free trip to Florida State, or take visits to Florida and Georgia. We went to Georgia Tech and that was it. And that was my fault.”

Gnonkonde will take an official visit to Central Florida next week, while his coach has also had contact within the last 24 hours with Florida, UGA and Louisiana Tech, among others.

Gnonkone’s coach said he has a 3.235 core GPA. Georgia Tech’s admissions office may have been behind the scholarship withdrawal.

“I’ve always given all of Junior’s academic information to Georgia Tech’s people as soon as I got it,” White said. “For the last four months, they said, ‘Coach, I think we’re going to be OK, I think we’re going to be OK.’ And then Georgia Tech’s admission office came back a couple of weeks ago and said let’s take the test one more time. So we went ahead and signed up for the SAT couple of weeks ago. The next thing I know, Georgia Tech is withdrawing the offer. I’m trying to figure it out because this kid has never made a C in high school. I’ve got the NCAA Clearinghouse’s sliding scale right front of me, and Junior has met the requirements to play Div. I football. Now are Georgia Tech’s standards a little higher? I don’t know. I just know he’s qualified to play Div. I football.”

More with John White, Gnonkonde’s coach and legal guardian:

  • How did Coach Johnson explain the low test score to you? “Coach Johnson gave an example. He said ‘You know the average kid coming to Georgia Tech scored 1,400 [math and reading sections only] on the SAT, right?’ I said ‘I kind of understand that, but that most football players coming to Georgia Tech don’t have the same academic requirements as students that aren’t playing football.’ I mean, Junior is an Honor Graduate, and if his ACT test score from last spring was an issue, it should’ve been an issue a long time ago. I’ve been around football for a long time, and we all know academic rocket scientists aren’t signing football scholarships at every D1 school in the country. And I’ve been around football long enough in this state to know that every football player signing with Georgia Tech is a not a straight-A student. I just don’t understand that if there was a red flag, why didn’t they let me know a long time ago?”
  • What was Paul Johnon’s response to your response? “I will be honest. He stunned me so bad about withdrawing the offer that I was pretty much speechless at that point. This was kind of devastating. It was like 10 minutes afterwards ‘Did he just call me? And withdraw the scholarship? Did all of that just happen?’ Coach Johnson quickly steered the conversation the other way before I could get too mad. He said was trying to help Junior after withdrawing the scholarship. At that point, my mind went to ‘Hey I got to get busy and find a college for this kid.’ It wasn’t a real long and drawn out conversation with Coach Johnson. Like I said, I didn’t have Junior’s test score or the sliding scale in front of me at the time. If so, I could’ve said ‘He’s qualified. What the heck are you talking about coach? He’s got this, this and this. What do you mean?’ I just think another part of the story is going to come out about all of this eventually.”
  • Did Paul Johnson leave open any scenario that Junior could still end up at Georgia Tech? “No sir. He never did that. He said we’re withdrawing his scholarship because his ACT score is too low. Never was that an option. Because that was a comment I made. I said ‘We’ve signed him up to take the test again.’ He immediately jumped into the thing about calling UCF. Never once did he say ‘We’re still interested if he can get his scores up.’ They never mentioned waiting on a new test score, putting him a prep school if he didn’t score high enough, or anything like that. It was ‘Coach, we’re sorry, we’re pulling his offer because of a low test score, we don’t want to leave him hanging and I can call George O’Leary down at Central Florida.’ That’s just weird. You would think Georgia Tech would somehow try to work with a kid who had been committed to them for 11 months. There was no option to work something out there.”
  • How is Junior taking the news? “He’s handling it pretty good. He’s panicking a little bit, as would any 18-year old. He wants to play college football and get a great degree. That’s why we picked Georgia Tech because you can’t beat the academics of Georgia Tech. To us, academics played as much of a role for the school we picked as the football program. Obviously, we weren’t picking a football program we thought was guaranteed to play for the national championship. We were looking for a place for great academics and where we felt like the coaching staff would take care of him. And I still feel that way about [Georgia Tech assistant Todd Spencer] . Coach Spencer said that they would recruit Junior better than anyone else, and he did … if we had known last spring’s test score was too low, I would’ve had Junior take it two or three more times. I don’t know why Georgia Tech can’t sign him and explain ‘If you can’t score higher on the test, you can’t enroll next year.’ Georgia and other colleges do that every year, don’t they? We were never told to take the test over until recently and that’s my beef. This whole thing caught us with our paints down. I know I can get his test score up with tutoring. But I was never told by Georgia Tech that we needed to get his test score up. And I will take some responsibility for that. I reckon I put too good of faith into other people.”
  • What will happen next? “I think he’s going to be fine. I’ve talked to Florida, Ole Miss, Central Florida, Georgia and some others. Coach Bobo is supposed to call me back tomorrow when he gets done with the recruits they have over there this weekend. Coach Bobo said when he calls me back on Sunday, he’ll have a better idea on if a scholarship will be open at those positions of outside linebacker or defensive end.”

Note: Georgia Tech’s coaches cannot comment on prospective student-athletes due to NCAA rules.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT OVER THE WEEKEND

AND EVEN MORE RECRUITING NEWS

– By Michael Carvell, AJC Recruiting Blog

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613 comments Add your comment

bcall123169

January 21st, 2012
7:27 pm

im sure he can get in uga!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

tdawg

January 21st, 2012
7:27 pm

Coach McLendon

January 21st, 2012
7:28 pm

Coach McLendon

January 21st, 2012
7:28 pm

Son of a biscuit. I need to get my running back’s speed. Third????????

yep

January 21st, 2012
7:29 pm

Next time, study harder!

Coach McLendon

January 21st, 2012
7:29 pm

Coach Manboobies, you sir are a tool. Get on my level. Go Dawgs!

Rick James

January 21st, 2012
7:31 pm

11 months later?? And by the way I’ll call a Conference USA school on your behalf instead of finding you a job like Saban.Mommas dont let your babies grow up to be recruited by CPJ.When your recruiting and performance crutch is your institution’s academics you dont make matter worse by treating people like this.This practice will get you banned from high school campuses in Georgia but I guess if you’re signing Aussies you dont need Georgia.

George Stein

January 21st, 2012
7:33 pm

If we had his scores and told him everything was fine and now are pulling the rug out from under him, someone needs to hauled out and asked some very serious questions. This is unacceptable to do this to a kid that has, as far as we know, done everything asked of him.

josh

January 21st, 2012
7:35 pm

Hey Coach- Maybe he knows if he can’t cut it in the prestigious public school of Lanier Co. than he probably won’t make it through a semester at The Institute. Helping him out!

Atlanta Insight Blog – http://atlantainsight.com

NATS

January 21st, 2012
7:36 pm

JOhnson trying to be like Saban.

smells of saban

January 21st, 2012
7:40 pm

GT must have a better recruit and needs the room. Smells of Saban. FSU HERE WE COME

WnE

January 21st, 2012
7:41 pm

re:
“Georgia Tech’s admissions people had his transcript and test scores for awhile. Why didn’t they let us know long before this? We’re finding out now. This kid has been committed to Georgia Tech for 11 months, we didn’t talk to other schools because he was committed there, and now this happens 10 days before National Signing Day.

“I’m confused, upset and very disappointed. I feel like I let the kid down. Maybe I led him in the wrong direction by committing so early to Georgia Tech.”
_______________________

Ticking off HS HCs is not the way to improve your Recruiting in the state of Ga.

CPJ just “Sabaned” an innocent Recruit that didn’t look around at OTHER SCHOOLS!

And then he calls UCF on the recruits behalf.

Had he told him earlier that his test scores weren’t high enough, then the Recruit might have found his way to Clemson, UNC, Dook, Miami, Va. Tech or another ACC School that would lead him to PLAY AGAINST GT.

CPJ & GT waited “this late” to spring the test score thing on him so he would find it difficult to come back and play against GT by signing with another ACC School.

BOTH CPJ & Nick Saban are “Sabanizers” for what they do to Recruits dreams!

Garyl

January 21st, 2012
7:41 pm

He wont have any problem getting into Georgia !!!

SOUTH GA COACH

January 21st, 2012
7:42 pm

THE KID DID NOT STUMBLE LAST SEMESTER AND HIS ACT TEST WAS TAKEN LAST SPRING. TECH HAD HIS ACT SCORES IN SEPTEMBER. THE KID HAS NEVER MADE A “C” IN ANY CLASS. HE HAS AN OVERALL AVERGAGE OF 90 AND WILL BE AN HONOR GRADUATE.

HE WENT TO EVERY HOME GAME TECH HAD AND NEVER TALKED TO ANOTHER SCHOOL DUE TO THE VERBAL AGREEMENT BETWEEN JOHNSON AND HIM!!!! HE LIVED GA. TECH FOR 11 MONTHS AND GOT SCREWED!

supsalemgr

January 21st, 2012
7:43 pm

But the Dawgs are probably not interested due to grades and talent. There is a reason Tech/UGA don’t go head to head much. UGA goes for better players.

WnE

January 21st, 2012
7:51 pm

re:
josh
January 21st, 2012
7:35 pm
Hey Coach- Maybe he knows if he can’t cut it in the prestigious public school of Lanier Co. than he probably won’t make it through a semester at The Institute. Helping him out!

Atlanta Insight Blog – http://atlantainsight.com
________________

This is the kind of SMUG ELITENESS, that is the main reason WHY GT cannot pick up more “sidewalk fans” and sell out our stadium.

This recruit had about 3.3 GPA but came up a little shy on his test scores, he can probably do the work at GT and from all indications he’s a good kid and a hard worker.

To take cheap shot at child at a time like this show NO CLASS on your part.

Thanks for nothing dee-b@g ice-h0!e.

Mom's basement

January 21st, 2012
7:51 pm

Let him go to UGA…he will win more there anyways. He should count himself lucky, who wants to play at the place that will always be the little sister in this state?

The Truth Will Set You Free

January 21st, 2012
7:54 pm

Michael…c’mon, you know this isn’t the entire story…the whole story is even available in public forums, as well a few stories by the recruiting boards. FIRST, Junior and his coach were well aware of the situation a month ago, and Coach Johnson even called several colleges on behalf of Junior to let them know he was available. In no way was the recruit left out on a ledge without a parachute. SECOND, EVERY recruit that gets a scholarship offer (especially from a school like GT) knows they have to maintain a certain GPA and meet minimum test scores, and it appears that Junior was well shy of it. If anyone failed him, it was his high school and coaches who should have gotten him help to meet the minimum required after the kid has been committed for almost a year! THIRD, Junior still has the opportunity to join GT’s recruiting class provided he meets the acceptable test scores, and he’s on record saying that’s exactly what he wants to occur.

This is in no way like the Saban incident with a local recruit. Junior has been well aware of what he needed to do for over a year, and it didn’t happen. Also, CPJ and GT went out of their way to find Junior an acceptable alternative to play football and get an education if he didn’t meet the minimum…which he did a month ago. In no way is Junior left without options, as he still has many other schools he can choose as well as the opportunity to join GT’s class if he makes the required score.

Paul in NH

January 21st, 2012
7:54 pm

As soon as they knew that he would not be able to get into GT, the school should have told Gnonkonde so that he could look elsewhere.

BigDawg

January 21st, 2012
7:55 pm

GT, Who’s your daddy?! hahahaha

grades

January 21st, 2012
7:57 pm

they just got his senior year mid term grades and that what did him in.

Jefferson Davis Hogg

January 21st, 2012
7:57 pm

As a Dawg fan, not sure what happened here but I’m sure it will come out in the wash….There must be more thats gone on than what we know thus far……I know CPJ has a strong stance and belief’s about recruits visiting other schools after verbaly commitmenting to GT and that’s on him but I don’t think he has pulled a Saban here….or at least I hope not…we will see…..Go Dawgs

Paul in NH

January 21st, 2012
7:59 pm

WnE – I am pretty sure that Duke, UNC and UVA (and likely WF and BC) have similar academic requirements for incoming SA’s as GT. The graduates I know from the aforementioned 3 schools think they are the Southern versions of Harvard, Princeton and Columbia.

WnE

January 21st, 2012
7:59 pm

BTW this recruit is very athletic and is still growing, since UGA lost Whitehead to NC State and if they don’t get Dawson from Vandy he just might fall into their lap.

With a RS year he might be able to develop in a Jason Pierre-Paul type of player while in college.

He should call up Dook or UNC, or a bunch of other colleges in the ACC, I’m sure he’ll land with one of them.

If he doesn’t like his choices he can always WAIT until after NSD to sign, at almost all BCS colleges there is always 2-4 guys that transfer out after spring practice that open up schollies for potential upcoming Recruits.

All he has to do is wait on transfers, flunkouts, disciplinary cases and he might be able to land a pretty good scholly to a big time program, college Coaches would rather sign a guy like this after NSD than give a walk-on a scholly that has just opened up.

WnE

January 21st, 2012
8:02 pm

re:
Paul in NH
January 21st, 2012
7:59 pm

Even though those schools are also tough academically, they are also “less rigid” than the Hill at GT and are willing to trust the HC if he wants that recruit and are also willing to put more weight on a Recruit’s HS Transcript vs. test scores.

George Stein

January 21st, 2012
8:03 pm

WnE seems to have an uncanny ability to ALWAYS know all the facts before anyone else. What would we do without him???

GTBob

January 21st, 2012
8:06 pm

The Truth Will Set You Free, good post. Michael and the kids head coach neither one are being completely forthcoming about what led to this. Hopefully Junior can catch on somewhere else or can get his test scores up and still become a Jacket. Either way this is another example of why recruiting is so difficult at GT.

WnE

January 21st, 2012
8:07 pm

re:
The Truth Will Set You Free
January 21st, 2012
7:54 pm
Michael…c’mon, you know this isn’t the entire story…the whole story is even available in public forums, as well a few stories by the recruiting boards. FIRST, Junior and his coach were well aware of the situation a month ago, and Coach Johnson even called several colleges on behalf of Junior to let them know he was available. In no way was the recruit left out on a ledge without a parachute. SECOND, EVERY recruit that gets a scholarship offer (especially from a school like GT) knows they have to maintain a certain GPA and meet minimum test scores, and it appears that Junior was well shy of it. If anyone failed him, it was his high school and coaches who should have gotten him help to meet the minimum required after the kid has been committed for almost a year! THIRD, Junior still has the opportunity to join GT’s recruiting class provided he meets the acceptable test scores, and he’s on record saying that’s exactly what he wants to occur.

This is in no way like the Saban incident with a local recruit. Junior has been well aware of what he needed to do for over a year, and it didn’t happen. Also, CPJ and GT went out of their way to find Junior an acceptable alternative to play football and get an education if he didn’t meet the minimum…which he did a month ago. In no way is Junior left without options, as he still has many other schools he can choose as well as the opportunity to join GT’s class if he makes the required score.
______________________

So you’re calling the AD for that School System a LIAR?

You are accusing him of intentionally misleading M Car vell and giving false info in that interview?

5150 UOAD

January 21st, 2012
8:08 pm

2 + 2 = Dwag

5150 UOAD

January 21st, 2012
8:15 pm

Now the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has gone ahead and quantified that by comparing average SAT scores and grade-point averagesGPAs of athletes with the rest of the college’s student body. Not surprisingly, football and men’s basketball players came out on the bottom, and some averaged hundreds of points lower on SATs than their classmates.

The Journal-Constitution studied 54 public universities, “including the members of the six major Bowl Championship Series conferences and other schools whose teams finished the 2007-08 season ranked among the football or men’s basketball top 25.”

We all suspect that big-time student athletes sometimes aren’t the best and the brightest academically.

Some highlights:

Football players average 220 points lower on the SAT than their classmates. Men’s basketball was 227 points lower.
University of Florida won the prize for biggest gap between football players and the student body, with players scoring 346 points lower than their peers.
Georgia Tech had the nation’s best average SAT score for football players, 1028 of a possible 1600, and best average high school GPA, 3.39 of a possible 4.0. But because its student body is apparently very smart, Tech’s football players still scored 315 SAT points lower than their classmates.
UCLA, which has won more NCAA championships in all sports than any other school, had the biggest gap between the average SAT scores of athletes in all sports and its overall student body, at 247 points.
Some “universal truths,” according to the Journal-Constitution:

All 53 schools for which football SAT scores were available had at least an 88-point gap between team members’ average score and the average for the student body.

Schools with the highest admissions standards, such as Georgia Tech, the University of Virginia, the University of California-Berkeley, UCLA, and the University of North Carolina, had the biggest gaps between the SAT averages for athletes and the overall student body.

Football players performed 115 points worse on the SAT than male athletes in other sports.

The differences between athletes’ and non-athletes’ SAT scores were less than half as big for women (73 points) as for men (170).

Many schools routinely used a special admissions process to admit athletes who did not meet the normal entrance requirements. More than half of scholarship athletes at the University of Georgia, the University of Wisconsin, Clemson University, UCLA, Rutgers University, Texas A&M University and Louisiana State University were special admits. . . At Georgia, for instance, 73.5 percent of athletes were special admits compared with 6.6 percent of the student body as a whole.

At a glance, here are the top 10 highest and lowest schools based on the average SAT scores of football players (out of a maximum 1600 score):

FOOTBALL SAT SCORES:

THE TOP 10

School, Average

Georgia Tech, 1028
Oregon State, 997
Michigan, 997
Virginia, 993
Purdue, 974
Indiana, 973
Hawaii, 968
California, 967
Colorado, 966
Iowa, 964
THE BOTTOM 10

School, Average
Oklahoma State, 878
Louisville, 878
Memphis, 890
Florida, 890
Texas Tech, 901
Arkansas, 910
Texas A&M, 911
Mississippi State, 911
Washington State, 916
Michigan State, 917

GTBob

January 21st, 2012
8:16 pm

lol. UGA fans are now arguing that CPJ is the new Nick Saban. This is hilarious.

George Stein

January 21st, 2012
8:17 pm

It’s odd that Johnson can’t recruit but every player that commits but doesn’t end up at Tech is all world to WnE. Also, he seems to have a personal relationship since he know the player is still growing.

GT Alum

January 21st, 2012
8:17 pm

Even though those schools are also tough academically, they are also “less rigid” than the Hill at GT and are willing to trust the HC if he wants that recruit and are also willing to put more weight on a Recruit’s HS Transcript vs. test scores.

I also think those schools have much higher APR scores than Tech. Maybe if our coaches do a better job of graduating athletes, the hill will be less rigid.

5150 UOAD

January 21st, 2012
8:19 pm

BUT MOM I am SMART nuff to get in every SEC school but Vandy and Florida.

WnE

January 21st, 2012
8:20 pm

re:
11 months later?? And by the way I’ll call a Conference USA school on your behalf instead of finding you a job like Saban.Mommas dont let your babies grow up to be recruited by CPJ.When your recruiting and performance crutch is your institution’s academics you dont make matter worse by treating people like this.This practice will get you banned from high school campuses in Georgia but I guess if you’re signing Aussies you dont need Georgia.
______________

Last year it was Tre’ Jackson 6-4 310lb. OL/DL from Wayne county, and now it is this Recruit, pretty soon we won’t be able to go anywhere in this state and be welcomed by HS coaches and parents.

BTW that 6-4 310lb. Jackson would have looked real nice on our DL this past season, but then again when we come up short on DLs over the next 2 seasons we can all say that CPJ “enforced his no visits rule” and we’ll all feel better.

CPJ…………closing recruiting doors across the State one recruit at a time!

Rick James

January 21st, 2012
8:21 pm

GTBob

Oh no Bob not by a longshot..Saban would only do this for division one talent.

Dawg48

January 21st, 2012
8:23 pm

Smells fishy. Must be a fish fry coming up soon.

GTBob

January 21st, 2012
8:24 pm

Maybe if our coaches do a better job of graduating athletes, the hill will be less rigid.

Remember also the new NCAA guidelines on APR and how they can now influence postseason eligibility. That rule will make the hill even more stringent.

GT Alum

January 21st, 2012
8:25 pm

So you’re calling the AD for that School System a LIAR?

You are accusing him of intentionally misleading M Car vell and giving false info in that interview?

If you’re anywhere near as smart as you seem to think you are, you know there’s two sides to every story, and I don’t see CPJ’s side represented anywhere in here. That’s not to say he’s blameless, but maybe you should have all the facts before passing judgment, especially since, as far as I know, CPJ doesn’t have a reputation like Saban does.

Paul in NH

January 21st, 2012
8:25 pm

GT Alum,
You make a good point about doing a better job graduating athletes – but UNC has produced good APRs by providing “extra tutorial help” in the last few years with their SA’s and GT doesn’t need to go down that path.

GTBob

January 21st, 2012
8:25 pm

Oh no Bob not by a longshot..Saban would only do this for division one talent.

So this kid is not good enough to play in Division One?

George Stein

January 21st, 2012
8:27 pm

Last year it was Jackson after he stopped taking the coaches’ phone calls, WnE. Get your facts straight.

Dawg48

January 21st, 2012
8:28 pm

Bob, he did commit to tech now……

Rick James

January 21st, 2012
8:28 pm

@GTBob

Apologies..Saban wouldnt do this for Conference USA talent.

GTBob

January 21st, 2012
8:30 pm

Bob, he did commit to tech now……

So you think he is terrible at football?

slydog

January 21st, 2012
8:33 pm

This is a scumbag move, same as Saban. Techies, take note: This has nothing to do with your institution or your football program, but the man currently in charge and his actions. CPJ doesn’t have a history of doing this as often as Saban but he did this time. Just be honest with the kid and say”I have 16 commits and I can only sign 18. I believe I can get two or three other players committed who can help us out better in the fututre.” Straightforward, honest talk. But to do this 10 days out? Bad move by an adult as opposed to a kid. Excuses to follow….

The Sham

January 21st, 2012
8:35 pm

He just got “Taylored”!

@GTBob Don’t flatter yourself. Being compared to the worst qualities of Satan is nothing to be proud of. But you ARE a Techie so we aren’t surprised.

5150 UOAD

January 21st, 2012
8:35 pm

Mom if I go to UGa can I get me some white girl red panties? Can I live in sin with Suzzanne Yoculan?

George Stein

January 21st, 2012
8:35 pm

Johnson doesn’t control admissions, slydog.

Brad

January 21st, 2012
8:37 pm

5150 = JAW JAW HOMER