Paul Johnson picked up a huge commitment yesterday night in the form of three-star defensive lineman Cortez Alston, a product of nearby Westminster who chose Tech over his two other finalists, Cal and UPenn. Boasting an impressive list of offers even outside of his top three, Alston could be an early impact player at what has been a position of weakness for Tech since roughly the dawn of time.
To God Be The Glory!! pic.twitter.com/n57tnXAPsH— Cortez Alston (@CortezAlston_54) December 22, 2016
Alston is the first defensive line commit of the 2017 cycle for the Jackets, and he’s a huge get for Tech for the reason. Along with returning contributors such as Antonio Simmons and starting hopefuls like Jordan Woods, who missed all of 2016 with an injury, Alston figures to be in the mix for playing time very early on at Tech if all goes well. There’s no way of knowing how next year’s defensive line will perform, but the potential is there for it to be much improved given the raw talent on the roster.
Head basketball coach Josh Pastner showed us all why he’s widely regarded as an ace-recruiter with his postgame comments from Tech’s loss against UGA earlier this week, standing by his team’s effort and tenacity despite the final score. There was never any indication that the Jackets ever gave up on Tuesday night, and Pastner echoed that sentiment with his comments. It really isn’t the team’s fault that they can’t win some of these games; the personnel is just not in place to have success in the ACC. Pastner himself knows as much, having referenced that the program is in a full-on rebuild numerous times. Everyone knows that, but it’s relatively rare for coaches to come out and say it just because there’s no incentive to rebuild in college as there is in the NBA or NFL. That’s the kind of mentality you want from someone trying to fix a program.
Sophomore safety A.J. Gray has been enjoying his growth as a player under the direction of Paul Johnson and the rest of the staff, seeing both his confidence and on-field capabilities grow from week to week as he becomes more experienced. There are quite a few reasons to be excited about next season’s defense (one such reason being because it quite literally can’t be any worse than it has been this year), but I believe A.J. Gray will cement himself as one of the premier safeties in the ACC if not the nation next season. Whether or not that will translate to NFL praise remains to be seen, but he’s absolutely one of the most talented guys on the roster and figures to have a major role to play when we kick of in 2017.