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Georgia Tech Football: 2016 Recruiting Review

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Of the players that Georgia Tech signed in February, where did they come from?

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

After taking a look at how recruiting in the state of Georgia played out in 2016, it's time to take a look at Georgia Tech's performance. We previously established that the Jackets had a particularly poor year in the Peach State, but was that due to a focus on recruiting out of state, or was it simply a bad performance? Today we'll break down commits by state, and take a look at trends developing in Paul Johnson's recruiting efforts.

Breakdown by State

Here's how the class broke down by state, with comparisons to previous years:

State 2016 2011-2015 Avg Change
Georgia 11 10.8 0.2
California 1 0 1
Florida 1 4 -3
Tennessee 1 0.6 0.4
Louisiana 1 0.2 0.8
Alabama 1 1.6 -0.6
Texas 2 0 2

Despite the lack of Top-50 recruits in-state this year, it does not appear that Georgia Tech reduced its focus on local talent. As you can see in the next table, this year Tech had the highest proportion of in-state recruits in years.

State 2016 2011-2015
Georgia 61% 52%
Texas 11% 0%
California 6% 0%
Florida 6% 19%
Tennessee 6% 2%
Louisiana 6% 1%
Alabama 6% 8%

Out of state, the Jackets pulled recruits from a variety of states, some that had not previously been recruited during Paul Johnson's tenure. Texas produced 2 recruits for Georgia Tech, which on paper is new territory. Upon closer review, however, these two recruits were not really recruited from Texas. Desmond Branch was originally from New Mexico, but attended a Junior College to have a shot at playing Power-5 football. The coaches never had Branch on their radar until Mike Pelton received an email from Branch's brother Alan, who plays for the New England Patriots.

The other Texas recruit, Parker Braun, was on the Jackets' radar thanks to his brother Trey, who was recruited out of Florida by the coaches years ago. Neither of these players were really found by in Texas. That isn't to diminish the recruiting efforts of the coaching staff or the players themselves, but to show that these players' recruitments do not show a trend towards more recruiting in Texas by the Jackets.

The biggest disappointment from the out-of state recruiting effort was Florida. While Tech generally grabs a few recruits from the Sunshine State, this year's class only had one. That recruit, however, was the highest rated in the class and the lone 4-star. There were some notable disappointments in Florida during this cycle, from whatever happened with Jordan Johnson to the Romeo Finley whiff. Hopefully Tech can pick up the slack in Florida in 2017.

In State vs. Out of State

While over half the recruits in this year's class hailed from the state of Georgia, many of the top recruits in this class came from out of state. In order to investigate the magnitude of the difference between the in state and out of state recruits, I took a look at the average Rivals Rating for each group. The in state recruits had an average Rivals Rating of 5.45, which is between a 2-star and a low 3-star. The out of state score was 5.54, which was in-between a low 3-star and a mid 3-star. It's important to remember that a 2-star has a Rivals Rating of 5.4, while a 6.1 score is a 5-star. This seemingly small difference is significant.

Georgia and Atlanta

As was noted in the previous article in this 2-part series, Tech had only 1 recruit in the Georgia Top 50 this year, the lowest number since 2013. Here are all the Georgia Top 50 recruits Tech has signed since 2011:

2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
#15: Jabari Hunt-Days #21: Francis Kallon #25: Shamire Devine #36: Andrew Marshall #39: Anree Saint-Amour #44: Xavier Gantt
#31: Chris Milton #39: Patrick Gamble #46: CJ Leggett #40: AJ Gray
#41: DJ White #43: Will Bryan
#50: Tyler Cooksey

By these numbers, This could be considered the worst in-state recruiting effort under Johnson, topping even 2013. With the benefit of hindsight, however, it would be difficult for this class to come even close to the disaster 2013 has become. That class was a special kind of awful, one that can cause a program to feel its effects years later. The 2013 class also lacked the strong out of state recruiting effort 2016 possessed.

This class continued the strong focus on Atlanta-based talent, matching 2015 class with the highest number of local recruits in many years.

Year 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Number in Class 3 3 3 3 6 6
Percentage of Class 13% 18% 21% 14% 22% 33%

What's even more surprising is the concentration of recruits in Gwinnett county. Of the 6 Atlanta recruits in this class, 5 hailed from Atlanta's northeastern county. The Gwinnett pipeline has showed signs of opening up since county native Ted Roof joined the Tech coaching staff in 2013, and appears to be in full force now.

Looking Forward

The 2016 recruiting class did not rank as highly as many would have hoped, and saw a trend of strong in state recruiting falter. While the out of state recruiting was far more successful, the coaches have shown they are not shifting their focus, and have set up a strong pipeline to Gwinnett county. Expect none of these trends to change over the next 3 years or so. The coaching staff has expended a tremendous amount of effort into building relationships and local scouting, and will seek to cash in on those relationships in the coming years.

The 2017 class is going to be even smaller than this one, barring significant attrition. With a limited number of scholarships available, the Jackets will again play this year slowly. They won't be pushing for commitments early, and will try to get into the recruitments of a few elite recruits. The coaches will also want to focus on academics with this class, as academic disqualifications cannot be afforded in such a small class. This cycle will hopefully be the last in which Tech pays for the class imbalance caused by the 2013 recruiting class, allowing for more consistent recruiting efforts in the future.