Barring unforeseen circumstances, Georgia Tech will receive signatures from 21 or 22 high-school prospects on national signing day, not counting its four early enrollees (offensive lineman Will Bryan, defensive tackle Kyle Henderson, wide receiver Harland Howell and running back Quaide Weimerskirch).
Only time will tell how good this class actually is, but there’s at least a few reasons for Tech fans to feel good about it to this point.
First, the Jackets have had only one player who has gone back on his commitment, wide receiver Brandon Singleton of Boutte, La. (California) The case of linebacker Victor Alexander, who apparently broke a commitment to UCLA to commit to Tech and now may be back with UCLA, is a little unclear at this point. Last year, Tech made it through with every committed player holding fast to his pledge, which has not always been the case. Those familiar with Tech recruiting may recall names like Tolando Cleveland (Mississippi State), Jumichael Ramos (N.C. State), Brendan Douglass (Georgia) and Antonio Crawford (Miami), prospects who spurned Tech late to sign elsewhere.
Obviously, it speaks to a job done well by coaches to keep commitments firm and to select players who have truly been interested in Tech and not just picked the school as a placeholder. It also speaks, one would think, to the impression that has been made upon recruits by coaches and the team’s success that Tech is a worthy destination. And, obviously, in instances when players are poached, you're likely losing one of your top prospects and replacing him with someone at the other end of your wish list.
Second, Tech has held its own against the SEC. I spoke with Cleveland after a Mississippi State Orange Bowl practice, and when I asked him why he had made his choice, the first thing he said was, “You can’t go wrong with the SEC.”
For better or worse, it would seem to be a mindset shared by a lot of prospects in the Southeast, and one that coaches at Tech (and other non-SEC schools) fight. According to the prospects’ Rivals pages, nine prospects chose Tech over SEC offers.
DT Kyle Henderson – Mississippi State, Missouri,
RB KirVonte Benson – Kentucky
LB Tyler Cooksey – Mississippi State, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas A&M
DT Brentavious Glanton – Tennessee
RB Mikell Lands-Davis – Tennessee
LB Brant Mitchell – Mississippi State, Tennessee
WR Christian Philpott – Mississippi, Vanderbilt
LB/DE Anree Saint-Amour – Arkansas, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Missouri, Tennessee.
DB Dante Wigley – Mississippi State
As an aside, it’s an interesting coincidence that Tech coaches went up against counterparts from Mississippi State so often. As best I can tell, the results were something similar to the Orange Bowl. I found two Bulldogs commits who also had offers from Tech.
Lastly, if you put weight in recruiting rankings, Tech has done well compared to past years. According to Scout, Tech has six of the top 75 players:
S A.J. Gray, Washington County, No. 39
CB Dorian Walker, Mt. Paran Christian, No. 54
OL Will Bryan, Franklin County, No. 57
RB Mikell Lands-Davis, Alexander, No. 69
WR Wide receiver Harland Howell, Wheeler, No. 70
DE/LB Anree Saint-Amour, North Gwinnett, No. 75
Scout put five in the top 75 in the state – Saint-Amour at No. 39, Gray at No. 40, Bryan at No. 43, Cooksey at No. 50 and Lands-Davis at No. 62. It compares favorably with recent classes in terms of top 75 in Georgia.
2013: 2 – Shamire Devine, Travis Custis
2012: 4 – Francis Kallon, Patrick Gamble, D.J. White, Micheal Summers
2011: 3 – Jabari Hunt-Days, Chris Milton, Broderick Snoddy
2010: 10 – Anthony Williams, Denzel McCoy, B.J. Bostic, Ryan Ayers, Isaiah Johnson, Charles Perkins, Fred Holton, Shawn Green, Synjyn Days, Morgan Bailey. (Interesting that among these 10, part of perhaps the most heralded in Johnson’s tenure, at least prior to the 2015 class, it was very much a hit-and-miss group.)