- By Ken Sugiura
As dictated by scholarship limits, Georgia Tech’s signing day will be a limited affair.
After signing 18 prospects during the early signing period as well as receiving offensive lineman Jack DeFoor from Ole Miss via transfer, Tech coaches may be pursuing only two high-school prospects at this point, Rome High defensive tackle Ja’Quon Griffin and Pike County High running back C’Bo Flemister.
Tech also is recruiting a graduate transfer, safety J.T. Ibe from Rice.
Up until this year, national signing day in February was a major event on the college football calendar, as it was the first time that high-school prospects (not including those who enrolled early) could officially bind themselves with the colleges of their choosing. However, with the institution of the December early signing period, most power-conference teams have completed the bulk of their recruiting work for the 2018 class.
In Tech’s case, 82 scholarships have been allocated for the 2018-19 academic year, leaving three available. Whereas a year ago Yellow Jackets coaches were making home visits, checking on committed seniors and making a final run at prospects either uncommitted or committed elsewhere, they have moved on to recruiting high-school juniors.
Griffin, who announced his scholarship offer from Tech on Monday, is an intriguing possibility. Listed at 6-foot and 260 pounds, Griffin is rated a three-star prospect (247 Sports). He was a two-time all-state selection and helped the Wolves win back-to-back state championships.
“I think Quon’s thing has always been that his film is as good as anybody in the country,” Rome coach John Reid said. “If Quon was two inches taller, three inches taller – he’s 6-foot; if he was 6-foot-3 – he would have his pick of any school.”
Griffin was committed to LSU before withdrawing his commitment in December. He has a connection already with new defensive coordinator Nate Woody, who was recruiting Griffin at his previous job as Appalachian State’s defensive coordinator. Woody had great success there with players in Griffin’s mold – undersized but quick. Griffin will take an official visit to Tech this weekend.
“I think Georgia Tech really wants to use him in their defensive scheme,” Reid said.
Reid said he thought that Griffin will decide between Tech and Tulane, the latter of which has consistently shown interest through the recruiting process.
Tech was interested in Griffin’s teammate, defensive end Jamarcus Chatman, but his recently announced list of four finalists – Florida State, Miami, North Carolina and Virginia Tech – did not include Tech. Tech coaches also were recruiting Lowndes High quarterback Michael Barrett, who committed to Michigan last week.
Ibe started 26 games for Rice in his first three seasons and ranked fifth on the team in tackles this past season, with 42. Ibe, who will graduate at the end of this semester, decided to transfer after a turnover in coaching staff at the end of 2017 season. He has spoken with coach Paul Johnson, wide receivers coach Buzz Preston and Woody and plans to take an official visit to Tech. Iowa State and Indiana are among his other options.
As a graduate transfer, Ibe would not sign a letter of intent and said he does not plan to make a decision in the near term.
“I’m not trying to rush my decision or anything,” Ibe said. “I want to make sure it’s the right place that I pick because I’m going to be there for the next eight months.”
At his news conference on the first day of the early signing period, Johnson said that he wanted to become more aggressive in the graduate-transfer market.
Flemister committed to Tech in early December, but didn’t sign in the early signing period. Tennessee made a strong push, and Flemister said that he felt pressure during the early signing period and needed more time to decide. The delay likely did not sit well with Tech coaches.
“Some of the kids are going to wait and they’re going to look around and the kids who do that, then we look around,” Johnson said at the news conference during the early signing period. “You’re not committed if you don’t sign.”
Flemister has since picked up an offer from Notre Dame. He took official visits to Tennessee and Notre Dame in January after taking his official visit to Tech in December. Flemister said that he has continued to speak with Tech’s recruiter for his area, inside linebackers coach Andy McCollum.
“I think I have a good idea of who I’m going to commit to, but I’ve been weighing a lot of things,” Flemister said Tuesday.