Given my penchant for highlighting a successful football player that was able to fall between the cracks of the infallible stars rating based recruiting services, I would like to start this final recruiting segment with yet another example of their flaws. This past Super Bowl Sunday there was another zero stars player roaming all over the field making tackles for the soon to be world champion Green Bay Packers. What is even more incredible than his lack of stars is the fact that he was a “walk on” player to boot. In essence every football coach in the NCAA missed on this kid too.
So think about this for a moment; you have 0 stars, no college scholarship, and you decide to “walk on” and play football at the University of Southern California Trojans during their incredible run of success under Coach Pete Carroll. WOW! That takes more Chutzpah than singling out a player at the age of 17 and telling him that he is a can’t miss college football player and sure fire NFL performer by crowning him with the 5 stars recruiting stamp of success before he is even handed his high school diploma. Clay Matthews III chose to do just that and he not only succeeded, he excelled and became a first round draft pick in the NFL.
Congratulations to you Mr. Matthews for showing everyone in both the college and professional football playing world that your hard work and desire to succeed was second to none, yet at the same time second to all according to the recruiting experts. While nobody rated him as a player, let alone a “5 stars” can’t miss prospect, he was all over the playing field in the Super Bowl and left a few Pittsburgh Steelers seeing more than 5 stars with some of his tackles.
Now will we have a Clay Matthews III “walking on” at Georgia Tech this year? No, what I am saying is that who can predict at this point in time whether this Yellow Jacket recruiting class will not have another Clay Matthews III type of player before all is said and done with this current group of kids. It is fascinating that everyone following Georgia Tech football is down in the dumps and predicting doom and gloom for Paul Johnson and this group of players because none of them have the rank of a 5 star general affixed to them by the same folks who somehow let Clay Matthews III escape their radar screen. The bottom line is recruiting is far from an accurate measuring tool as to the collegiate success or lack thereof of seventeen (17) year olds playing high school football.
Now let’s look at the recruits for the backfield positions. First up is Broderick Snoddy; 5′ 9″, 192 Lbs. Broderick played the B-Back position for his team that ran the same high school triple option offense utilized by Paul Johnson. Or is that a college triple option offense? He is a very tough player considering the constant beating that a player at B-Back receives in this offense at both the high school and college level. However, at Georgia Tech he will be an A-Back out on the edge given that he has impressive speed and is the reigning state champion in both the 100 and 200 meters sprints. Recently he ran a sub 10.5 100 meters which was the best time for a high school sprinter in the entire country. He was very productive for his Carrollton team that reached the state championship title game, and was heavily recruited by Kentucky as national signing day approached but many other schools did not recruit him based on his height. This was a steal for Paul Johnson who could care less how tall a kid is as he runs in for touchdowns on Saturdays.
The other primary running back recruit is Zach Laskey; 6′ 2.5″, 205 Lbs., who was very productive running for more than 1,500 yards and leading his team to the state title game in his division. He is projected primarily as a B-Back for the triple option offense, although he was also very impressive on the defensive side of the ball at linebacker and safety too. I look for him to become a 225 Lbs. redshirt B-Back in the future.
The first and primary receiver signed by Paul Johnson for this class was Jeff Greene; 6′ 6″, 200 Lbs., who was also a teammate of the aforementioned Mr. Laskey. Jeff wasn’t as productive his senior season as he had a broken hand that limited his playing time. At any rate, he will need to redshirt as a freshman and bulk up in the weight room as he could easily put on 15 to 20 Lbs. before he actually sees the playing field at Georgia Tech. Once he does that he will be a real tough assignment as the boundary receiver going after those high passes much like Demaryius Thomas did. We will have to wait and see how he develops as a blocker as nobody got after defensive backs quite like Demaryius Thomas.
Chris Milton of Charlton County is an excellent athlete who was playing quarterback for his team and has the skill set to be either an A-Back or wide receiver at Tech. At 6′ 170 Lbs. he possesses both good speed, quickness, and understands defensive schemes and formations from playing primarily at the quarterback position this past season. He might get a look at QB, but would have to put on some weight to take the pounding he will receive running the football in the option. Hopefully he will be redshirted as a freshman.
Corey Dennis was a dual threat quarterback in high school and the first player at his school to rush and pass for 1,000 yards in a single season by running for 1,400 and throwing for 1,170 as a senior in Alabama. He will be playing safety for the Yellow Jackets and is currently 6′ 2″, 185 Lbs. Not on a lot of college radar screens, however, neither was former Georgia Tech player Chris Reis who had an outstanding career on the Flats and is now in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints last time I checked. Corey will also be redshirted which Paul Johnson likes to do with his entire freshman class. By the way, his father Dennis was a DE for the Dawgs back in the 70′s.
Now we come to the most intriguing prospect of the class; Jamal Golden 6′, 180 Lbs., from the same high school in Alabama as our current quarterback Tevin Washington. Jamal was the Alabama Gatorade State Player of the year as a quarterback running and throwing for close to 3,500 yards. So in answer to your question; “why wasn’t he recruited by Alabama and Auburn?”, because those schools are too fixated on the 5 stars guys everywhere in the country and had already loaded up on a bunch of kids who they thought were must haves as opposed to Jamal. It was rumored that they were offering him a grey shirt scholarship near the end of his recruitment, but he decided to come to Tech instead. He was recruited as a defensive back by Jeep Kelly and with his knowledge of offensive formations and tendencies he is an excellent pick up for the Yellow Jackets. The biggest concern is that he is also an outstanding baseball player, and will be participating for Danny Hall and the jolting Jackets in the spring. Keep any eye on this kid in the coming years.
Demontavious Smith is another successful high school quarterback that will be playing in the defensive backfield at Georgia Tech. At 6′ 2″, 185 Lbs. he has the size to play cornerback in the Al Groh 3/4 defense. He has very good speed and as a running quarterback once he turned the corner nobody caught him from behind all season long in high school. In order to set the record straight, he was not offered a scholarship in an effort to get his heralded teammate to commit to Georgia Tech. This kid is a player in his own right and his decision came down to playing for either Virginia Tech or the real Tech. He chose wisely. He will also probably redshirt as a freshman.
Several of these freshman will be competing early for playing time on special teams this season; most notably as punt returners and possibly as kickoff returners too.
Next up will be the Georgia Tech season preview for 2011. Go Jackets!