1. I mentioned this in the myajc story that I wrote for Thursday’s paper, but one thing I heard coach Paul Johnson and other coaches say repeatedly was that various signees were a “fit” for Tech.
Johnson’s comments on twins Brad and Scott Morgan, linemen from Etowah High: “Both the twins, they worked to get an offer. They came to our camp and they did everything they could to show us they could play. I think that sometimes people underestimate the team chemistry and the stuff around it. You’ve got to have guys that fit, and I just felt like that those two guys are going to be great guys to have in the locker room. The fit. You’re not going to have to worry about them academically. They’re team guys and they’re the kind of guys you want around the program. It just so happened that they’re bigger and stronger, which helps. We looked at ’em and thought they were good players.”
Translation: Both players wanted to be at Tech, demonstrated that they were capable both on the field and off and aren't knuckleheads.
Johnson, you likely know, repeatedly commented on the unselfish nature of the 2014 team, how there were few complainers, how the team consistently practiced hard and how much easier that made everything. At the Orange Bowl media day two days before the game, he said he could have told the players that they would be scrimmaging in full pads for 70 minutes and they’d willingly comply.
“They would,” he said. “I guarantee they wouldn’t say anything to me. They might (complain) to themselves, but I doubt that. There’s probably two or three that would. But privately. They’d just put their stuff on and go play.”
Obviously, attitude and work ethic don’t show up very well in recruiting rankings, but are clearly qualities that Tech coaches have placed a high value on.
2. Two players – running backs Nate Cottrell from Knoxville, Tenn., and Marcus Marshall from Raleigh, N.C. – have recorded 40-yard dash times under 4.4 seconds, apparently. A third, KirVonte Benson from Marietta High, won the state 6A 100-meter dash championship (11.03 seconds) as a sophomore in 2013 and won the Cobb County 100-meter championship last year.
That’s three more players who will vie for snaps in the backfield with Broderick Snoddy/Justin Thomas speed. It may take some time to show on the field - it took Snoddy until his redshirt junior season before his potential surfaced - but it's there.
Further, wide receiver Christian Philpott from Tallahassee, Fla., won the Class A state title in Florida in the 200-meter dash in 2013 and in the 200 and 400 last year.
“We’ve got some real speed guys, I think, which is something that we’ve really tried to point to, especially at the offensive skill positions,” Johnson said.
3. Defensive end Tyler Stargel will miss spring practice, Johnson said, after undergoing unspecified surgery following the season. Johnson said that A-back Broderick Snoddy is ahead of schedule and will probably be limited in spring practice. Johnson also said that Qua Searcy, who redshirted last season, was moved to A-back during the season. Searcy had started out at wide receiver and was briefly a candidate to play last season as a defensive back.
4. The class next year will likely be considerably smaller than this year’s 27. There are 17 scholarship players on the roster entering their senior season. One, offensive tackle Errin Joe, is eligible for a medical redshirt year and could return in 2016. Almost invariably, spots will open up between now and the next signing day due to transfers and dismissals that could increase the size of the class.
As it stands now, Tech will have to count on one or two players either transferring or otherwise not returning in order to fit in the incoming class. As he recovers from his ATV accident, signee Jaylend Ratliffe coming in January instead of this summer would take care of one spot.
“I may already know something that’s going to happen,” Johnson said. “So I’m comfortable with our numbers.”