The final days of last week were seemingly tough - and surprising - ones for Georgia Tech football fans. On Wednesday, January 12, Nick Claytor announced his decision to forego his senior season and test his chances in the NFL Draft. While brow-raising, more odd was Jerrard Tarrant's announcement to announce his decision to join the NFL ranks as well.
It's quite puzzling as to why both these juniors would leave early for the professional level. Many believed that both could have continued to produce for Georgia Tech and improve themselves in the senior season. Both are Chan Gailey recruits and rumors and ideas have swirled around suggesting that neither appreciated the 180-degree turn from vanilla-Chan Gailey or ornery Paul Johnson.
Nick Claytor redshirted as a true freshman in Gailey's last year as head football coach and worked his way up to a starting position. He started 15 games in his career at Georgia Tech as an offensive tackle. Tarrant too, came in as a freshman in 2007 where he also redshirted. In 2008, he did not play due to off-the-field issues. In 2009, Tarrant established himself as the Georgia Tech punt returner and returned two for touchdowns, one that will always be a highlight against the Clemson Tigers on ESPN.
What is odd about these announcements is little to no attention that has been placed on them. Perhaps football teams going 6-7 don't necessarily garner much national praise, perhaps these players really did not fit with Paul Johnson's philosophy and they were ready to get out, or maybe they realized that they were at their peak and it was time to cash-in on what they had garnished.
What's left behind on the offensive line is Phil Smith, the only tackle with starter experience. Gone are Sean Bedford, Austin Barrick who both have used up all their eligibility. Tarrant's exit has opened the way for any Yellow Jacket secondary player as there are now four empty spots left behind in addition by Mario Butler, Dominique Reese and Mario Butler.
The 2010 football season marked the Class of 2007's 4th year. The last of Chan Gailey has just about cleared itself out of the Georgia Tech football system and all that is left are small remnants. The program is moving forward and it is now time for Paul Johnson to begin winning with his recruits, his players, his pieces to the puzzle that is his offensive system. Where 2007 left off, we now get to watch 2008 pick up, 2009 begin to bloom, and 2010 figure things out.Johnson's players will be expected to reach and surpass the hype and potential that has been laid on them. Expectations have been set and now it is their turn to produce.
Editor's Note.I feel BJ Bostic will bring the necessary "mouth" leadership that we all enjoyed with Tashard Choice. We've already see the grillpiece close to the opponent's respective grillpieces with a lot of head-bobbing.
So when the NFL Draft comes, good luck to all the Yellow Jackets who are eligible. We want to watch all of you play on Sundays.