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Football Recruiting: DL JaQuon Griffin is Commit No. 20

The Rome native becomes the fourth defensive lineman in this class

Georgia Tech v Pittsburgh Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

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.

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

Position Name Ht Wt Hometown Rivals 247Sports Commit Date Status
Position Name Ht Wt Hometown Rivals 247Sports Commit Date Status
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