Countdown to Kickoff: 4 DAYS
It’s been a long offseason. This past Sunday marked exactly 9 months since we last saw Georgia Tech’s football team in live competition against a real opponent. During that time, some people may have totally checked out, only just now returning to get ready for the brand new football season. Whether you’ve been here every day since, or are just now coming back, let’s get you caught up on the big things that have happened since Georgia Tech last took the field:
Georgia Tech added four new commitments to their still-developing 2016 recruiting class — OL Kenny Cooper, WR Jalen Camp, JUCO-transfer DE Desmond Branch, and WR Jair Hawkins-Anderson, respectively. Of those, Camp and Branch are the most likely to play in the 2016 season.
On January 4, Paul Johnson announced that the program had parted ways with Special Teams Coordinator/Co-Offensive Line Coach Ray Rychleski, after both of his units underperformed in a rough 2015 season. About a week later, his replacement was hired in Ron West, who was brought in purely as a Co-Offensive Line Coach, while Special Teams duties were split up among the rest of the coaching staff.
On January 11, four players enrolled “early” at Georgia Tech — LB Emmanuel Bridges and BB Dedrick Mills, as well as QB Jaylend Ratliffe and the aforementioned Branch. Aside from Branch, you’ll mainly see Mills this season, as Paul Johnson announced last night that he would be a co-starter at B-Back with Marcus Marshall. Ratliffe was enrolling nearly a year after he signed with the Yellow Jackets, as his high school graduation was delayed by a tragic ATV accident that nearly killed him. Unfortunately, we learned only a couple of months later that Ratliffe was medically disqualified from football and would not appear on the field at Georgia Tech. He was cleared to remain with the team though, and was seen standing with Paul Johnson holding a clipboard during the Spring Game.
On January 26, the 2016 football schedule was announced, featuring a ton of home games early in the year.
January also saw the 2016 recruiting class take its final shape, adding five commitments, including big DT Brandon Adams, dynamic quarterbacks Lucas Johnson and Jay Jones, and four-star DE Jordan Woods. Of those, Adams is most likely to play this season, while Woods had surgery near the end of fall camp and will miss the year.
The recruiting season come to a close on February 3, as Georgia Tech signed 18 players on National Signing Day, including last-minute flip Ajani Kerr. The class ended up pretty decent, considering the season that the Yellow Jackets were coming off of. Personally, I think several of its players were also underrated.
With the country focused on the heart of college basketball season (and Georgia Tech’s coaching search in no small part), the Yellow Jackets gained commitment #1 for their 2017 recruiting class in the nation’s #1 punter, Pressley Harvin III.
Only a day later, one of the best wide receivers ever to play the game, and arguably the greatest player in Georgia Tech football history, Calvin Johnson announced that he was calling it quits after a 9-year NFL career. While he’s unlikely to come out of retirement for any more time on the football field, his college career has supposedly started back up...in the classroom, at least. Johnson is expected to be finishing the degree that he began on the Flats so long ago.
Georgia Tech’s recently-graduated seniors participated in their on-campus Pro Day on March 18, working out for NFL scouts. The following month’s NFL Draft saw Adam Gotsis and D.J. White selected, while several others have been signed in the months since.
On March 21, we learned that Georgia Tech QB Christian Campbell would be switching to defense during spring practice, helping to bolster a secondary that lost several pieces after 2015.
As spring practice kicked off on the Flats, we learned on April 2 that redshirt junior DB John Marvin had been dismissed from the team for a violation of team rules, and that rising junior DE Antonio Simmons was not in school — although he was eligible to return. Marvin had been a bit of a disappointment at Georgia Tech after looking like an exciting prospect while in high school.
On April 23, spring practice concluded with a bit of a dud of a Spring Game. The White team defeated the Gold team 13-3 in a low-scoring affair, although several starters were held out of the game for various medical ailments. (Those ailments have since healed.)
On the weekend of April 28-30, Adam Gotsis was drafted at the end of the second round (#63 overall) by the Denver Broncos, while D.J. White was drafted with the 178th overall pick in the 6th round by the Kansas City Chiefs. Fans of the respective teams seem to be very pleased with them both so far! The weekend was concluded with several other players signing with NFL teams as Undrafted Free Agents (UDFAs).
An otherwise uneventful month for Georgia Tech football ended with a major landmark, as we began our annual 100 Days to Kickoff here at From the Rumble Seat. For more from that series, look at the 69 nice articles we’ve posted so far to prepare you for this season.
Georgia Tech’s 2017 recruiting efforts heated up a bit in June, adding five new commitments to bring the class to 6 total players, including some serious beef on the offensive line and some major talent on defense.
On June 8, we learned that Georgia Tech’s radio play-by-play man and “Voice of the Jackets” Brandon Gaudin would be departing the Flats for a new job with Westwood One, and more importantly to be the new voice of the Madden NFL video game franchise.
On July 18, on the eve of the football season’s true, official beginning — the ACC Media Kickoff — the conference announced a new TV network it will be launching in conjunction with ESPN. The full network won’t show up on your TV package for a few years, but several more streaming opportunities for ACC games will begin this fall.
On July 21, we found out that redshirt sophomore B-Back C.J. Leggett had been dismissed from the program for a violation of team rules, and that DE Antonio Simmons was back in school and seemingly would be eligible for this fall. Leggett was the presumed starter at B-Back going into 2015 before a torn ACL in spring practice ended his year, but his status on the depth chart was in flux going into 2016 before his dismissal. Simmons, on the other hand, figures to continue to bolster the Yellow Jackets’ pass rush on defense in 2016.
As fall camp got underway, we learned on August 3 that senior walk-on offensive lineman Michael Muns has been awarded a scholarship for his final season on the Flats.
Prior to Fan Day on August 6, Paul Johnson met with the media and confirmed that OT Chris Griffin’s career is over as a result of complications from a torn ACL suffered over 18 months prior. He became the second offensive lineman that Georgia Tech has lost this offseason, joining Jake Whitley’s disqualification due to concussions.
On August 9, it was announced that Athletic Director Mike Bobinski had taken a job in the same role at Purdue. That’s not particularly relevant to football, but I can’t imagine it took too long for Paul Johnson (who was notoriously not fond of his boss) to cope with.
On August 18, we found out that true freshman four-star DE Jordan Woods needed surgery and will miss the 2016 season.
Finally, August has been one of the best summer/fall months for recruiting at Georgia Tech under Paul Johnson. The Yellow Jackets have added a trio of four-star recruits, including commitments from DB Gentry Bonds and Hall-of-Famer Pat Swilling’s sons — DB Tre’ Swilling and RB/LB Bruce Jordan-Swilling.
After a busy offseason, Georgia Tech is set to begin another season this Saturday. There’s a renewed sense of optimism around the team as injuries have healed, young players have gotten experience, and the team has a chip on its shoulder. Here’s to hoping the 2016 season ends up better than 2015 did.