The first item that jumps out from the Georgia Tech 2011 recruiting class is the lack of any of those can’t miss 5 stars players that every college coach must have to be successful according to the pay for services experts. Just for clarification, the 5 stars ranking means that the player will be playing on Sundays based upon the comprehensive failsafe analysis performed by these stellar football savvy gurus who I believe never played the game at the college level. Given the high esteem I attach to these bastions of football knowledge, I would like to point out just another glaring flaw in their overreaching approach.
Back in 1998 (pre-expert recruiting services era) there was a “0” stars kid out of Akron, Ohio who wasn’t even on the radar of the local schools as he was considered too short to play major college football in addition to some discipline issues. Given this lack of interest he eventually trotted off to a Midwest powerhouse school; Kent State for his college football playing days. Hard to believe that James Harrison of the Pittsburgh Steelers was able to win a couple of Super Bowls and named the NFL defensive player of the year in 2008 without being given the instant red carpet path to the NFL coming out of high school as a 5 stars can’t miss must have player. Congratulations on all of your success Mr. Harrison because you are what constitutes a real football player; tireless worker, winner, and toughness beyond measure! That is what epitomizes this 2011 crop of high school players put together by Paul Johnson and his hard working coaching staff.
Let’s start off with the quarterback position and Mr. Vad Lee from North Carolina who was rated as a wide receiver or athlete according to these experts when he committed to Georgia Tech way back in August, 2010 before he began his senior year of football. What were Paul Johnson and his staff doing recruiting a wide receiver prospect for quarterback? Didn’t they read the recruiting service reports that this kid was a wide receiver prospect, not a quarterback! All he did after that was lead his team to the state title with a 16 and 0 record while running for 1000+ yards and throwing for more than 3,000 this past season. At 6′ 2″ 210 Lbs. he is close in stature to our very own Josh Nesbitt.
So after his phenomenal senior season many more schools were after him hot and heavy heading into the last month before signing day. After all, he was the state championship quarterback and had 5 touchdowns in that final game. Hard to believe that the infallible scouting services glossed over this kid, which is why the recruiting of players is better left in the hands of the actual coaches and their staffs as opposed to the arm chair types. Given his ability to throw the football, Mr. Lee is going to fit in nicely as a true dual threat quarterback in the Paul Johnson system. Paul Johnson knows how to throw the football and will tailor an offense to maximize the skill sets and strengths of his players. This is a kid to keep a close eye on heading into the future.
While we are on the offensive side of the 2011 class, let’s look at the linemen up front who will be blocking for Vad Lee the next 4+ years depending on whether they can be redshirted as freshman. Trey Braun, 6′ 5″ 305 Lbs. decided he wanted to be a Yellow Jacket all the way back in April, 2010 when he gave Paul Johnson his verbal commitment. Trey is also a standout wrestler which is always a great combination in a lineman. He enrolled early this January and will be participating in spring practice and getting into the program much like Derrick Morgan did as a freshman. Both of his parents are graduates of West Point and this is a very disciplined kid who also has great size and athleticism which is what Paul Johnson has been missing up front in the line of scrimmage since he arrived on the Flats back at the end of 2007.
Bryan Chamberlain is another big lineman who will be slotted to play tackle at 6′ 4″ 285 Lbs., and given that we lose 2 players at that position with the early departure of Nick Claytor and graduation of Austin Barrick, he has an opportunity to play much earlier than anticipated. Bryan committed a few days earlier than Trey Braun and knew that he too wanted to play for Georgia Tech.
Shaquille Mason is a 2 way lineman from Tennessee who at 6′ 3″ 305 Lbs. is a true road grader who will be playing on the interior line at the guard or center spot opening up holes inside for the B-Back in the triple option offense. Just like Vad Lee, his team also won a state title this past season so he knows what it takes to win a championship. He wasn’t recruited by more teams as he never bothered to post on YouTube or had his high school coach act like a Hollywood agent. But once other schools actually watched this kid play, they were all knocking on his door. But unlike other kids, Mr. Mason held true to his word and signed with the Yellow Jackets.
The final lineman on the offensive side of the line of scrimmage is Errin Joe who at 6′ 4″ 305 is a very aggressive player who knows how to finish off a block and is another road grader up front that will probably be playing inside at guard. For the first time since taking over the Yellow Jackets, Paul Johnson is starting to get some badly needed size up front to really make this triple option system work by opening up larger gaps for the B-Backs to power through. These incoming freshmen, as well as Catlin Alford (295 Lbs.), and Morgan Bailey (305 Lbs.), from the 2010 class who both redshirted last year are the necessary ingredients to maximize not only the run but the play action passing game that has been curtailed due to the inability of the lineman already on the roster to muster much of a pass blocking scheme.
I will be addressing the ball carriers, wide receivers, and athletes in the 2011 recruiting class in the next article. Go Jackets!