With the last day of May next Tuesday, the recruiting period when football coaches can be on the road evaluating prospects will end. This has been the fourth offseason that defensive line coach Mike Pelton has been on the job for Tech, starting with his hire in January 2013.
That time has given Pelton a greater understanding of Tech and how to sell the school. The reality for Pelton is that his pool is smaller than at most schools.
“Georgia Tech has a lot to offer,” he said. “It’s just identifying them and getting in and recruiting.”
After determining that a prospect is capable of playing for Tech, Pelton said, the next step is taking a look at his transcript.
“A lot of places you don't have to worry about the transcript,” Pelton said. “But here, you know, Hey, (if a player is) good enough on the field, next thing you want to know is, Hey, what’s his transcript like?”
Next comes finding more about the player’s background.
“Here, you’ve got to find the guy that academics is just as important as football,” Pelton said. “And that’s rare in football. But you also want the kid that can come here and go beat Florida State.”
The smaller pool is simply a fact of life.
“When you’re at another place, it doesn’t have the limitations, but you know that going in,” he said. “We’ve got some good kids here we recruited, and some of them, a lot of people didn’t want. But you’ve got to go out and see what you like and what you think fits your profile and go recruit it.”
Pelton is responsible for the state of Alabama. Quarterback Matthew Jordan, safety Jalen Johnson, defensive lineman Tyler Merriweather are among players to come from the state since Pelton’s hire. Quarterback Jay Jones was a 2016 signee. Pelton also led the recruitment of junior-college signee Desmond Branch.
Among players Tech is recruiting in the 2017 class is linebacker Colin Anderson from Killen, Ala.
The state of Alabama has been quite productive for Tech. In coach Paul Johnson’s tenure alone, quarterbacks Tevin Washington and Justin Thomas, A-backs Orwin Smith and Deon Hill, defensive tackle T.J. Barnes and safety Jamal Golden have crossed the state border to play for the Yellow Jackets.
Pelton is from Alabama, played at Auburn and coached at Troy and Auburn, among other schools, before coming to Tech in 2013. That time has built up a network of coaches who he once played with, knew from Auburn or remember him from his playing days in high school.
“In Alabama, you’ve really got to hit about five schools and they’re going to tell you where everybody is in the state,” Pelton said. “You go somewhere in Montgomery, you go somewhere in Auburn, you go somewhere in Birmingham, you go somewhere in Anniston and you go somewhere in Huntsville. You hit those five spots. They’re going to play somebody in every one of those regions. So I do my background, but really I just pick up a phone and they can tell me 15 schools where the players are.”
Four recruiting cycles have taught him enough.
"It's a combination, but once you're here long enough, it's like anything," he said. "You know the rules, you know the territory. You've just got to go find it."
Check back Thursday for more from Pelton