The past year for Jaylend Ratliffe has been eventful, to say the least. After verbally committing to the Yellow Jackets over UNC and NC State in March 2014, Jaylend seemed poised to be the next dual threat quarterback to line up under center in Atlanta. However, a serious ATV accident on July 30 of that same year sent the future of his career spiraling into uncertainty.
Fortunately, the doctors and medical staff have all cleared Jaylend to return to football. And while it is still unclear whether or not he will see the field as a Jacket, Georgia Tech was true in its word and honored his scholarship for his college career. Jaylend signed his official Letter of Intent on National Signing Day.
Despite his injury, Jaylend Ratliffe is still a key pickup for Tech - he is a man of high character with a great football IQ who will definitely make a positive impact on this team one way or another. After all, just his return to the sidelines at Scotland High School filled the stands with fans wanting to see their quarterback again. NFL quarterback Cam Newton also paid him a visit in the hospital just to check up on him. There is clearly no shortage of Jaylend Ratliffe fans and believers in North Carolina, and I have a feeling there won’t be a lack of them in Atlanta either.
As a Recruit
Jaylend Ratliffe did not play his senior year of football due to his injury, but he ended his junior year with an impressive stat line of 104-185 passing for 1,756 yards and a superb 16:2 TD to INT ratio. He also ran for a ridiculous 2,000+ yards (that's over a mile, folks) and 36 TD in 15 games. You can see why he had so many rushing yards in his film below - this kid can take QB keepers up the middle to the house, even when the defense is expecting it.
He collected offers from NC State and UNC before finally committing to the Yellow Jackets, although some recruiting services also report that he received interest from Ohio State as well.
Jaylend’s film speaks for itself - he can flat-out ball. The first thing you notice about his passing game is how comfortable he is receiving the snap and delivering quick strikes all over the field. I’ve always felt that Tech has somewhat lacked in the short pass game in recent years; most of the pass plays CPJ calls are pretty far downfield, and for good reason. Maybe throwing more short passes would throw off the run/pass balance that he prefers, but imagine a bunch of quick slants being run by the A-backs. I think even the occasional quick pass play would cause defenses to hesitate just a fraction of a second longer on each snap, and that’s all the time you need for a strong running QB like Jaylend to make defenses pay.
As far as running goes, Jaylend’s knowledge of the intricacies of the option offense is apparent. While Scotland High’s flavor of the option is a little different than Tech’s, the core concepts are essentially the same. And as we’ve seen with our previous QBs, there is an extremely positive trend between years of experience and performance. Not to mention, Jaylend runs with a great mix of speed and power. He runs the way I always felt Vad Lee could have/should have been capable of.
What to Expect
The future is very unclear for Jaylend. His survival of the accident is a big enough accomplishment by itself - just six months ago he was on a ventilator and lucky to be alive. Being an option QB can be one of the most physically punishing positions in all of college football, too. The interesting part is the fact that the doctors have cleared him to play football again. And while I would love to see Jaylend on the field as a Jacket, my first and foremost concern is and will always be his well-being, a sentiment I’m sure many of us share.
Ultimately, I am extremely proud of the Tech coaches honoring his scholarship offer, and I am glad Jaylend decided to come to Atlanta to continue his football career one way or another.
Welcome to The Flats, Jaylend!
What do you think is in store for Jaylend Ratliffe in the coming years? Will he see the field?