Mailbag 12/29

Danny Karnik/Georgia Tech Athletics

It's Music City Bowl Eve, and we're here getting you primed for the game and the ensuing recruiting season.

Several in the blogger commentariat are now calling the 2014 class CPJ's best ever recruiting job. Please comment on the recent additions as well as those that are said to be a lock by Swarm 247 and others. And do you think the 2014 class will top out at 23 recruits?

You are really something special when it comes to vague questions/statements in the recruiting realms. Unfortunately I don't subscribe to 247 and am not familiar with what you're discussing, but I can speak a bit to the quality of this class. I get the feeling like there are a number of players that are flying under the radar in this class, and that this will end up being one of the more underrated classes in the country. The Austin twins would probably be 4-star players if they were a couple of inches taller (their biggest downside is their 5'9" frames). Freeman-Merriweather-Simmons are all really good DEs who have gotten more attention as they've gone through their senior seasons. Tre Jackson and Terrell Lewis are both really solid LBs that are starting to get attention from other teams. Matthew Jordan is a QB whose skillset fits what Tech needs perfectly -- a run-first guy with a solid frame and an accurate arm. CJ Leggett is looking like a pretty under-the-radar guy who fits the Tech mold very well, both on the field and off.

Long story short, this is an underrated class that may still pick up one or two big names, although the chances of that aren't exactly 100%. (I was so convinced we would get Shai McKenzie.) For numbers, I'd guess 22 or 23, including 4 early enrollees plus Custis, who now counts against this class. We have 19 openings and will have some attrition as well, so I'd imagine we'll stock up a little more than if we knew that everyone would be back. (For reference, we haven't had less than 6 guys leave the team in the offseason for reasons other than being out of eligibility since 2004, and after 2010 we lost as many as 16 guys.)

If Tech should lose to Mississippi, what would be the most likely cause?

Sloppy play on offense, leading to an inability to establish rhythm. You'd probably see quite a bit of Justin Thomas if this were the case.

If Tech should beat Mississippi, what would be the most likely reason?

The defensive front creating absolute chaos in the Ole Miss backfield, and an effective, clean offense.

How good of a player is CJ Leggett? I know ESPN had him rated at 81 (4*) but I haven't heard much on him till we offered him just recently.

His 5'9", 205lb frame will make him a load for tacklers to bring down. He's got good speed and balance, and generally looks like a good ballplayer. If I had to compare him to another A-Back we've seen, I'd say he's like a bigger, stronger version of Robbie Godhigh.

What was the deal with Shai McKenzie? We had him on his last visit and he chose the other tech (v) instead of The Tech school!! Did something sour him or was vt just his dream to go to?

Let me preface this by saying that a lot of recruiting situations are a lot less cut-and-dry than you'd think, and that there's a lot more at play than meets the eye.

So the story goes that his dad wanted him to go to Pittsburgh, which is the home town school. His mom wanted him at Georgia Tech, for her own reasons. He was torn between the two of them, and picked the third option instead of taking sides with one over the other. And that's how we lost on a 4-star RB.

Way too early predictions: does Custis beat out Laskey for starting BB role next year? If we get Autry does he come in as true frosh and start for us? Is there hope that our secondary will get a boost from the return of I. Johnson and new recruits? And last does Vad lead the team to a stunning upset of a highly ranked team on the road passing the ball for a last minute touchdown to win the game??

I can't imagine he does. I think Laskey/Custis next year look a lot like Sims/Laskey did this year. Custis will get carries and will see time, but Laskey will carry the load if I had to guess.

I highly doubt Autry starts as a true freshman, at least at A-Back. There's a chance you see him line up at kick returner, but some of that will depend also on what they decide to do with Jamal Golden when he's healthy.

Our secondary will get a HUGE boost from Jamal and Isaiah being back. We've missed them dearly this year, particularly in the uga loss.

I have no idea as to whether that happens, but I doubt it, if only because that's just not the style in which we'd win a road game at the last minute -- it'd be by running it in.

Which GT BB games are on your "must see" list this Winter?

From here on out...

1/4 @ Maryland -- Can we start conference play properly with a very winnable road game?

1/11 vs Notre Dame, 1/14 vs Pittsburgh -- Back-to-back games against former Big East squads, with Notre Dame at least being very beatable. If nothing else I hope we hang tough with them both.

1/18 vs Miami -- They won at our place last year and lost a lot of talent. I'd love some revenge on them.

1/29 vs North Carolina -- A really weird journey through OOC play showed that UNC is really good but is more than capable of being beaten.

2/4, 2/22 @/vs Clemson -- A rival whose stadium will be hostile, but is a beatable team. How will our guys perform?

3/4 @ Syracuse -- We have nothing to lose playing against a very good team in a hostile environment. Can lightning strike?

Ken (AJC GT beat writer) reporting this morning that Ole Miss' All-American LT will be out for MCB. Crystal ball time - what will be the measurable impact for Sneezy/Gotsis/Dieke/secondary?

Major impact. This kid came in as a freshman and won the job -- not having him will be a very big deal and should be very concerning to all surrounding the Ole Miss program. We have very capable pass rushers who could be the Rebels' worst nightmare in this game.

How are we looking with some of the big time players still on our board? I know Myles Autry is a heavy lean to us because of his older brother but what about some guys like Donte Thomas-Williams, Erick Smith, Marshon Lattimore, and some of the other ESPN 300 guys we have been targeting??

There's a good chance we get Autry. He wants to take visits to Ohio State, Oregon, and another school or two that probably don't want him anyways when compared to other guys they have committed. DTW doesn't look good, thinking he's down to Florida State and West Virginia but I'm also not sure either one of those has room. We may still have an outside shot at him. Erick Smith will be interesting, there's pressure on him to stick around and play at the hometown school (Ohio State) but it's unclear for him from a standpoint of both OSU having room and him having the interest, I think. Lattimore looks highly unlikely at this point, but time will tell.

How happy were you with your Cardinals over the Coral Gables Criminals?

Loved it. Loved every minute of it. Going to miss having Bridgewater around though. Interested to see what happens if this "O'Brien to Texans" thing happens and Penn State comes knocking on Golden's door.

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