Monday, February 18, 2008

Football - Recruiting - Jackets Nab Two More for 09

Folks, another year, and another trend continues to drive like a freight train. That would be the early commitments of high schoolers. Today the Jackets picked up two more verbals, one a DE and one a DT. To give you a little perspective here, the first guy to verbal AND sign with the Jackets from our most recent recruiting class gave his pledge in May 2007 (Embry Peeples). We'll ignore that WR Chris Jackson actually verballed in 12/2006, but ended up at 'Bama.

So here we are in February and there are already 3 kids that have pledged themselves to Paul Johnson and GT. So who are they?

JOHN DREW, 6'3" 295lb DT, Columbus GA (Northside HS)
Well thought on in the state. Probably Top 30 caliber in the state. Probably not as tall as 6'3", but he is athletic. Plays hoops for his high school team and claims to have a 33" vertical. Had 70 tackles and 9 sacks his junior season. He was hearing from a lot of bigtime southern schools and apparently UGAg has been high on his list for awhile. Some message board chatter from UGAg fans was that he was a talented kid from a good family and that they wished they had gone after him harder sooner. I have no idea what that means, but it is what it is. Seems like a good get all around, and a great interior bookend to go with JC Lanier, the first recruit to verbal in the class of 2009

EMANUEL DIEKE, 6'7", 205lb DE, College Park GA (N.Clayton HS)
Think Michael Johnson. Tall. Fast. Not strong enough. Raw. A bit of a project. But with weight + strength on that frame, the sky's the limit. Send him to the Chinese all-you-can-eat buffet a bunch of times, then send him to the weight room. Then back to the buffet, then back to the weight room. You get the idea. From the same high school as Morgan Burnett. Wants to major in pre-med.

It's interesting. With these early commitments, fans don't have the typical barameters to decide in their minds - "this is a great get". Most of the commits GT is after haven't been ranked by or There aren't a list of articles about the kids. They have only played their junior seasons, so there's limited stats to pick up on.

So here's what seems to happen - a ridiculous amount of people get excited about just having a commit this early. That fact alone for some reason is important enough to people and is "great news". While getting commits early in-and-of-itself is no better than getting great players later in the process, there are reasons to be excited. First, you have to believe that the recruiting process generally involves sending out scholarship offers in waves. A group of Tier 1 kids in a particular position get offers knowing their are X number of spots available. These are the kids the staff has identified as their top targets.

That doesn't necessarily mean they are the best players according to or What it does mean is that they are the best players for our system + the right character guys + the right academic credentials. So you generally have to believe that JC Lanier, John Drew and Emanuel Dieke are considered top priorities by the staff. After all, we are basically on the first wave of offers for the class of 2009.

Paul Johnson has made it clear that his goal is winning championships. To do that, he must attract top caliber talent and bring in kids have to fit his system and can handle the coursework. So be excited because:

  • 1. These seem to be "first wave" offers. Tier 1. That's encouraging.
  • 2. These kids are all from the state of Georgia. That's encouraging.
  • 3. Games are still won in the trenches, no matter what scheme you run. Having some "first wave", Tier 1 DL-man is a nice way to start the class, considering our depth is taking a major hit the next 1-2 years
  • 4. The kids all seem to be solid character kids from good families, which was always a trademark of Coach Gailey. Nice to see PJ bringing in the same type guys.
  • 5. Lots of very positive comments from kids from PJ's first junior day a couple of weeks ago. Evidently it was a well-run, effective event, and Giff Smith & staff understand how to make sure kids feel the true family atmostphere at GT. With kids pledging so early, "junior day" is no longer an event to just plant seeds for the future. It's about today.
  • 6. Many positive comments on Paul Johnson. This from Drew - “I saw that everywhere he has been, he has won. He has been able to turn them into winning programs.”
  • 7. Who likes to wait until late spring and summer to start seeing the verbals trickle in.
  • 8. UGAg is going to sign a VERY small class this year. That certainly leaves more opportunities for GT
  • 9. The in-state talent is much like 2007, when GT cleaned up. There are a bunch of kids with talent who can make the grade - more than in an average year.

So let's keep the momentum. Welcome to GT young men. Welcome to a new era in Georgia Tech football.