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National Signing Day 2017 Recap: Georgia Tech Inks Its Best Recruiting Class I’ve Seen Thus Far

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The Yellow Jackets have signed some of their stronger classes in recent years, but this one has to be the strongest.

NCAA Football: Virginia at Georgia Tech Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Back in December of 2011, FTRS founder (and former Ramblin’ Reck driver) Winfield Tufts reached out and asked me if I was interested in joining the staff on the site, specifically to cover the football team’s recruiting efforts. After contemplating a bit, I accepted. At the time, my deepest understanding of recruiting was “high school coaches are chasing high school football players around and hoping to sign some of them” — and on some level, that’s the deepest level of understanding any of us could possibly have on such a bizarre game as college football recruiting. However, I started putting in the time to figure out the current recruiting class, and eventually did some early-morning live blogging at the GTAA’s National Signing Day Celebration at the Edge Center. In the years since, I’ve learned more and more about the process, and followed the recruiting efforts more closely all the time.

I say all of that to say this: the 2017 recruiting class that Georgia Tech has put together is the sixth that I’ve paid close attention to, and it’s pretty clearly the most impressive that I’ve seen. Here are a few of my personal reflections on the class signed today.

The Rankings are Pretty Good!

The 2017 recruiting class finishes ranked in the mid-to-upper 40’s depending on the service, with one exception, as shown here:

Georgia Tech’s 2017 Recruiting Rankings

Service 2017 Ranking ACC Rank
Service 2017 Ranking ACC Rank
Rivals 40 8
247Sports 46 8
Scout 52 8
ESPN 40 9

Truth be told, recruiting rankings where they are aren’t particularly impressive in a vacuum. However, considering the context with Georgia Tech’s limitations in the recruiting game, this ended up being a strong class for the Yellow Jackets. Ranking-wise, this is also one of the best classes this coaching staff has assembled since Paul Johnson took over almost a decade ago.

The relatively high ranking is backed up by the 247Sports Composite average rating, which is third-best out of all of the classes that Johnson’s staff has assembled.

Georgia Tech’s Historical 247Sports Composite Averages

Year 247Sports Composite Avg
Year 247Sports Composite Avg
2017 0.8393
2016 0.8356
2015 0.8443
2014 0.8377
2013 0.8220
2012 0.8486
2011 0.8321
2010 0.8047
2009 0.8171

A Class Built on Connections

One of the things that sticks out about this class, to me, and is a big reason that it ended up so strong? Look at the deep personal connections involved in its creation:

  • LB T.D. Roof is the son of defensive coordinator Ted Roof.
  • DB Tre’ Swilling and LB Bruce Jordan-Swilling are sons of Georgia Tech legend Pat Swilling, all of whom have a great relationship with T.D. and Ted Roof.
  • DB Kaleb Oliver has a great relationship with fellow Murfreesoboro, TN native DB Gentry Bonds.
  • OL Boe Tufele was a last-minute visitor who was discovered through the coaching staff’s connections shortly before National Signing Day.
  • DB Tariq Carpenter flipped from UCF, around a week after DE Antwan Owens did the same. (Maybe there was no contact between them in the mean time. I doubt it.)

In a world where it’s not always clear where coaches manage to find players, it’s incredible to know that they’ve maximized on the connections available to them, and have encouraged the players to do the same.

Speaking of the players building connections, we’ve seen the committed players helping the recruiting efforts for the last several months. Their ownership over their own recruiting class also contributed to the eventual strong finish.

Staying Home, and Also Searching Far and Wide

The Jackets’ coaching staff did a nice job of recruiting their home state of Georgia, scoring 12 of 24 commitments without having to cross any state lines. The other commitments? Well, there were...

  • 3 from South Carolina
  • 2 from Tennessee
  • 2 from Florida
  • 2 from Louisiana
  • 1 from California
  • 1 from Hawaii

Often, recruiting discussions among the Georgia Tech fan base will swing back and forth from year-to-year on whether the coaches should be recruiting their own state more, or “casting a wider net” and trying to spread Georgia Tech’s message on a more national level. Well, with this class, they’ve done quite a bit of both. Half of the recruits were from in-state, while half were from elsewhere — including 4 from non-neighboring states, and 2 from clear across the country. We also knew about other targets from far away — multiple players in Hawaii, another in Oregon, and a late decommitment from Louisiana. The coaches seem to have struck a nice balance between recruiting locally and nationally, which they will hopefully manage to continue building on.

Positive Recruiting Momentum, Externally and Internally

Last thought here — it’s big for perception to start scoring commitments from big-name players on the national scale, like several of the top players in the Yellow Jackets’ recruiting class. Hopefully, that improved perception is helpful for the coaching staff in future recruiting classes.

However, there’s also good reason to believe they’ll be benefiting from some help internally as well. With the recent hire of new AD Todd Stansbury, there seems to be a renewed commitment from the athletic department to providing its programs with the resources they need to succeed. For the football program, much of that includes resources to support their recruiting efforts. As the staff gets more resources to work with, it only serves to further improve their recruiting efforts in the future, hopefully resulting in even better classes down the road.

Here’s one more look at the Yellow Jackets’ 2017 recruiting class. Congratulations to each of these players, their families, and the coaching staff!

Georgia Tech’s 2017 Recruiting Class

Pos Name Ht Wt Hometown Rivals 247Sports Comp Status
Pos Name Ht Wt Hometown Rivals 247Sports Comp Status
DB Gentry Bonds 6-1 190 Murfreesboro, TN 4-star (5.8) 3-star (0.8545) Enrolled (1/9/2017)
DB Jaytlin Askew 5-9 170 Powder Springs, GA 3-star (5.7) 3-star (0.8646) Enrolled (1/9/2017)
P Pressley Harvin III 6-0 230 Sumter, SC 3-star (5.5) 3-star (0.8145) Signed (2/1/2017)
OL Connor Hansen 6-2 320 Tallahassee, FL 3-star (5.5) 3-star (0.8238) Signed (2/1/2017)
LB TD Roof 5-11 202 Buford, GA 3-star (5.5) 3-star (0.8346) Signed (2/1/2017)
DB Dameon Williams 5-10 170 Norcross, GA 3-star (5.5) 3-star (0.8472) Signed (2/1/2017)
OL Zach Quinney 6-6 260 Savannah, GA 3-star (5.6) 3-star (0.8396) Signed (2/1/2017)
OL Michael Minihan 6-3 285 Honolulu, HI 3-star (5.5) 3-star (0.8403) Signed (2/1/2017)
DB Tre' Swilling 6-0 180 New Orleans, LA 4-star (5.8) 3-star (0.8752) Signed (2/1/2017)
LB Bruce Jordan-Swilling 6-0 215 New Orleans, LA 4-star (5.8) 4-star (0.9150) Signed (2/1/2017)
RB Jerry Howard, Jr. 6-0 210 Rock Hill, SC 3-star (5.6) 3-star (0.8147) Signed (2/1/2017)
QB Tobias Oliver 6-2 180 Warner Robins, GA 3-star (5.5) 3-star (0.8312) Signed (2/1/2017)
DL Cortez Alston 6-3 250 Atlanta, GA 3-star (5.6) 3-star (0.8534) Signed (2/1/2017)
OL Charlie Clark 6-4 270 Atlanta, GA 2-star (5.3) 3-star (0.8072) Signed (2/1/2017)
RB Jordan Ponchez-Mason 6-1 205 Gallatin, TN 3-star (5.5) 3-star (0.8158) Signed (2/1/2017)
DE Kelton Dawson 6-2 240 Stockbridge, GA 3-star (5.5) 3-star (0.8359) Signed (2/1/2017)
DB Avery Showell 6-2 200 Cartersville, GA 3-star (5.6) 3-star (0.8320) Signed (2/1/2017)
LB Jaquan Henderson 6-1 210 Covington, GA 3-star (5.7) 3-star (0.8813) Signed (2/1/2017)
DL Antwan Owens 6-4 286 Tallahassee, FL 3-star (5.6) 3-star (0.8192) Signed (2/1/2017)
K Brenton King 6-0 165 Hoschton, GA 2-star (5.4) NR Signed (2/1/2017)
DB Tariq Carpenter 6-2 191 Ludowici, GA 2-star (5.4) 3-star (0.8182) Signed (2/1/2017)
DT Boe Tufele 6-3 290 Harbor City, CA 2-star (5.3) 3-star (0.8207) Signed (2/1/2017)
DB Kaleb Oliver 6-3 200 Murfreesboro, TN 4-star (5.8) 3-star (0.8670) Signed (2/1/2017)
WR Adonicas Sanders 6-1 190 North Charleston, SC 2-star (5.2) NR Signed (2/1/2017)