The Jackets picked up some welcome news on Monday evening by hauling in a key player from one of Georgia’s top high school programs. JaQuon Griffin, a defensive lineman from Class AAAAA powerhouse Rome HS in Rome, Ga., took an official visit to Tech this past weekend and announced his commitment on Monday via a video on his Twitter account.
It's been an amazing journey! I would like to thank all the coaches who extended an offer and believed in me. After praying and talking it over with my family, I have decided to continue my academic and football career at @Mansell247 @RecruitGeorgia @ChadSimmons #Blessed pic.twitter.com/LqGLqDAG7D— Ja'Quon Griffin (@Jaquongriffin) February 6, 2018
Griffin, who committed to LSU in April before reopening his recruitment two months ago, was rated a three-star prospect by both Rivals (5.5) and the 247Sports Composite (0.8498). His commitment video indicated that he chose Tech over Tulane and Appalachian State, so it’s likely that he was already somewhat familiar with defensive coordinator Nate Woody and his staff when they were hired at Tech. Along with those schools and LSU, Griffin had reported offers from Tennessee, South Carolina, and several G5 schools, according to 247Sports.
With his commitment, Griffin becomes the fourth defensive lineman—along with T.K. Chimedza, Austin Smith, and Luke Johns—in the 2018 class. (Dumb trivia: assuming he signs, he will also extend Tech’s streak of having at least one player with the last name Griffin on the roster, a streak that dates back to 2012.)
Griffin attended Rome HS, which just won their second straight Class AAAAA state title by thumping their five playoff opponents by a combined score of 261-30, including a 38-0 victory over Warner Robins in the title game. The big takeaway here is that Tech’s latest commit was one of the most productive players in a defense littered with Division I prospects.
For a defensive lineman, Griffin is fairly short at 6-foot-0, which is likely the biggest reason he didn’t get more interest from big-time programs. His length is limited, which hampers his ability to get around blockers and to swat passes at the line. That said, being short can be an asset—it’s easier to get leverage against opposing linemen, and in Griffin’s case, he takes full advantage of that. He’s also good at shooting gaps, a skill that will come in handy in Woody’s attacking 3-4 scheme.
Griffin has effective spin and swim moves, which allow him to get around blockers before they can react. The spin move in particular may not translate too well to the next level against longer and quicker linemen. On the flip side, it’s common for high school defensive linemen to rely almost entirely on raw strength in the pass rush, so it’s nice to see Tech getting a prospect who already has two fairly polished finesse moves.
Because of that polish, Griffin seems like a prime candidate to get on the field right away, especially since Woody will be looking for players who can adapt quickly to his three-man front. The most appropriate comparison that seems to jump out—at least among recent Tech players—is KeShun Freeman, another player who was small for his position but made an immediate impact as a freshman thanks to great field awareness and good technique.
That comparison raises the concern over whether Griffin could run into his ceiling quickly like Freeman did. It’s possible, but it’s equally possible that Griffin continues to grow as a player over his career. Only time will tell, but for now, he’s a promising pickup for Tech at a major position of need.
Griffin’s commitment brings Tech’s 2018 class to 20 players (plus Jack DeFoor, an offensive lineman transferring in from Ole Miss). Aside from Griffin and running back C’Bo Flemister, all of the commits formally signed with Tech during the early signing period, so the class now looks like this:
GT Football 2018 Recruiting Class
|OL||Harrison Jump||6-5||257||Athens, GA||5.4||0.8256||6/5/17||Signed|
|DB||Charlie Thomas||6-2||190||Thomasville, GA||5.6||0.8681||6/5/17||Enrolled|
|WR||PJ Harris||6-3||207||Newnan, GA||5.5||0.8276||6/5/17||Signed|
|DT||T.K. Chimedza||6-2||300||Bradenton, FL||5.6||0.8743||6/21/17||Enrolled|
|ATH||Tijai Whatley||6-2||180||Rome, GA||5.5||0.8481||6/22/17||Signed|
|LB||JaQuez Jackson||6-1||216||Fort Valley, GA||5.6||0.8463||6/22/17||Enrolled|
|RB||Dontae Smith||5-9||173||Columbia, TN||5.6||0.8614||6/22/17||Signed|
|DT||Austin Smith||6-3||275||Mcdonough, GA||5.5||0.8452||6/23/17||Signed|
|ATH||Zamari Walton||6-1||165||Melbourne, FL||5.5||0.846||7/4/17||Signed|
|DB||Jaylon King||6-0||170||Nashville, TN||5.8||0.8973||7/27/17||Signed|
|OL||Michael Maye||6-3||290||Hoover, AL||5.5||0.8444||7/27/17||Signed|
|DE||Luke Johns||6-5||250||Dalton, GA||5.5||0.831||7/28/17||Signed|
|LB||Justice Dingle||6-2||235||Bowling Green, KY||5.8||0.877||8/1/2017||Signed|
|CB||Juanyeh Thomas||6-2||208||Niceville, FL||5.5||0.8351||8/8/2017||Signed|
|WR||Malachi Carter||6-3||180||Lawrenceville, GA||5.5||0.8514||9/17/2017||Signed|
|OL||Zakk McKeehan||6-4||290||St. Francisville, LA||5.4||0.8202||12/19/17||Signed|
|CB||Jaylen Jackson||6-0||180||Brunswick, GA||5.4||0.806||12/20/2017||Signed|
|QB||James Graham||6-1||180||Fitzgerald, GA||5.8||0.8958||12/22/2017||Signed|
|DL||JaQuon Griffin||6-0||268||Rome, GA||5.5||0.8498||2/5/2018||Committed|
|RB||Christian Malloy||5-10||198||Snelville, GA||5.5||0.8065||2/7/2018||Committed|