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Mailbag 12/11

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We talked about recruiting and the future of the football team!

Georgia Tech v Virginia Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images

Who is 2019 athlete of the year?

Ben: I like your choices with English and PHIII, but I’ll add another option in Jordan Mason. He put on a clinic this season on how to get yards after contact with a patchwork offensive line that was expected to struggle in what was potentially the most impressive playing this season.

Chris: Ahmarean Brown. Far and away the best part of our passing offense this year, Brown was so much fun to watch. The dude can absolutely f l y down-field and was a huge weapon for us, especially in the second half of the season.

When does Clemson get Russia ban for PEDs?

Ben: For PEDs? Probably not happening. Other things? Well, you know the NCAA

Jake P.: All good things are killed by the NCAA, I’d give Clemson another 7-10 years until the hammer drops.

Chris: Have you ever looked at their 247 recruiting page? That’s way more terrifying than thinking they’re on PEDs.

Should we expect Tech to stay in the top 25 recruit rankings after its all said and done in February?

Ben: I think they will definitely stay in the Top 30 and have a chance to be Top 25. This has been a very quality recruiting class thus far. Lots of good players.

Jake P.: The recruiting has been the clear high of Geoff Collins’ tenure so far, the Top 30 is definitely likely, but if Tech wants to be in the Top 20 they’ll have to make some gains.

Andrew: I think we will end up in the top 30, if the cards fall the right way I can see a top 25 class.

Is Tech gonna pull in some more quality O-line & D-line commits for the next two signing days?

Ben: I think D-line is probably a little more likely than the O-line. I’d still like to see Tech get a defensive tackle or two.

Any quality transfers (Football) looking to come our way for the 2020 season?

Ben: I haven’t seen anything specific, but there are certainly some players I’d like to see, specifically the two offensive tackles from Tennessee, Marcus Tatum and Ryan Johnson.

Will the basketball team stop the bleeding when Alvarado and Usher suit back up?

Ben: Man, I hope so.

Jake P.: As long as Devoe doesn’t get hurt, I think they’ll be fine. I’m calling it now, we’ll beat UNC in January.

Nishant: The last time I had expectations for this team, they had four future NBA players in the starting lineup and still went 7-9 in the ACC. I’ll believe it when I see it.

When will Tech basketball find a “Geoff Collins” type coach in the future and what might his name be?

Ben: What’s kind of funny is that Pastner is a “Geoff Collins” type coach. All about selling the program and supposed to be good at recruiting.

Will AD Stansbury pour out some major dough for the next b-ball coach when the Pastner train derails?

Ben: They’ll need the major dough to poor out before they can do that. GTAA spent a decent fortune on the Geoff Collins hire, so as much as people probably don’t want it, Tech is probably stuck with Pastner for the time being.

Jake P.: As much as we would like that, probably not. Geoff Collins and staff are getting paid a lot of money, and if you’re not aware, the GTAA is currently in a major debt situation. I would argue that the current monetary outlook for Tech keeps Pastner’s seat a lot cooler than it probably should be.

Andrew: I don’t think we can really afford it. We need more donor support and more income for the program. If we want to try and compete at the highest level, we really can’t do it on a shoestring budget.

Lucas Johnson Apparently went to the SEC championship game wearing Black and Red (not a uga hoodie however) with his uga girlfriend. How does this make you feel? While not forbidden is this at least unaware especially while wearing the forbidden colors? This is the second time a QB has done this (Taquan Marshal). Its called Clean Old Fashioned HATE people.

Ben: Maybe it’s just me, but if you’re going to get this upset about the color clothes a college student is wearing to a football game, perhaps you should rethink some things in life.

Chris: I dunno. I’ve seen a few other players do similar things when supporting guys they know. A lot of these players are very close with guys on other teams (especially in-state) - they either grew up together, played in high school together, went to camps together etc. If a guy wants to support his friends, I’m not gonna fault him. Now if someone is actually a UGA fan I’d be annoyed, but I don’t think that’s the case here. Also I’m actually assuming his choice to wear red and black instead actual UGA attire is a very aware choice.

Carter: Johnson is from San Diego, so there’s a decent chance he isn’t good friends with anyone on the team. On the other hand, San Diego State’s colors are red (or scarlet) and black, so maybe that’s why he has clothing in those colors.

Now that the nation has seen what style of team and culture Georgia Tech is trying to build on the field, and now that we see the need to be fully involved as fans in the recruiting game via our support and positivity: What are your favorite ways we fans should plan to support the narrative of the team’s cultural reboot? How could we all help the team by doing our part in recruiting?

Ben: Show up to games and donate to GTAA.

Jake P.: Tweeting with RELENTLESS EFFORT and GriT.

Chris: Do. Not. Tweet. At. Recruits.

Carter: Show up to games, not in recruits’ mentions.

Andrew: I was always told, “Never tweet at croots”. If you really want to help the program, give them as much money as you can.

Who are the new faces we should expect to replace our departing starters (that we know of to date)?

Ben: Of the players listed as seniors on Tech’s roster, three of them were starters: Tyler Davis, Jared Southers and Brentavious Glanton. At tight end, Dylan Deveney is the heir apparent, but Tech also has Billy Ward committed in this class, so one of them should be the starter assuming they don’t add another grad transfer. Southers started at right guard, but ended the season mostly at right tackle. There, I expect we could see a true freshman get that spot. Tackle depth was in short supply this season, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jordan Williams or Michael Rankins start there. At defensive tackle, Antwan Owens will hopefully be able to move back inside.

Nishant: Ben was pretty spot on. There aren’t too many openings in next year’s lineup for departing seniors. Whether the team succeeds in finding a transfer tight end could dictate some of the personnel packages next year.

Which units should improve the most? Do you expect any to get worse?

Ben: My biggest hopes for improving units are the offensive and defensive lines. The defensive line in particular will get a pretty big boost with Antonneous Clayton being eligible this season. He should slot in pretty nicely at the base end position. Kelton Dawson, Jordan Domineck, Chico Bennett, and Sylvain Yondjouen are some other guys I’m excited for at end. I’m a little concerned about defensive tackle, though. As for position groups getting worse, I don’t think any really will since Tech isn’t graduating many players.

Nishant: Kieffer had an article looking at offensive projections yesterday, and there’s one for defensive projections today. Defensive end and wide receiver have the most potential for making big steps forward, tight end is a likely area of regression (barring an impact transfer), and the offensive line is a major wild card that is really building toward success in 2021. Just about every other unit should see some amount of progress, since the vast majority of the guys who played regularly this year will be back.

What’s your best-to-worst ranking of all of our position groups this year, and how do you expect it to fall on opening day next year?

Ben: From best to worst: Secondary, Running Backs, Wide Receivers/Tight Ends, Linebackers, Quarterbacks, Defensive Line, Offensive Line. Moving into next season, I want to see improvement on those bottom four because I think it’s a pretty hefty drop off after wide receivers and tight ends.

Nishant: Same as Ben, but I’d flip the first two. I also think the gap between the receivers and linebackers wasn’t quite that big—David Curry and Charlie Thomas looked decent, and nobody really stood out at WR aside from Ahmarean Brown.

CGC says he puts extreme emphasis on special teams, and it’s evidenced by his use of starters there. The eye test looks like we regressed in many areas: kicking, kick/punt coverages, kick/punt returns. Blocking appears improved. PHIII might have taken a step back, although he’s still the most proficient punter I’ve seen at generating turnovers (is there a stat for that?). What did they do to our Golden boy Wesley Wells? And finally, do stats match the eye test? Are special teams measurably better or worse as a whole?

Ben: I was pretty disappointed by special teams play this season. In SP+ for special teams, Georgia Tech finished 122nd in the country out of 130 teams. The good thing here is that I don’t think there’s really anywhere else to go but up. Harvin needs to work on consistency and Tech needs to find a kicker that can boot it into the endzone on kickoffs. Short kickoffs have killed our kickoff coverage.

Nishant: Yeah, outside of His Grace Pressley of House Harvin, things were... bad. The biggest area where I’d want to see improvement is in the coverage units. On the surface, giving up 20.9 yards per kick return isn’t that bad, but that was on top of the returner catching the ball somewhere around the 10-yard line. And the punt coverage unit gave up 11.3 yards per return, good for 109th among FBS teams. All of this meant the defense was constantly starting with awful field position, which didn’t exactly help. The other thing I’d want to see is consistency at kick return. To answer the question, it was probably about in line with what the eye test suggested—good at punting, mediocre to bad in every other respect.

I saw the recruiting class ranking is the highest in a decade, but the “star-power” on an individual basis doesn’t look much different from CPJ’s last few years. Two or three 4* and whole lot of 3*. I know recruiting services can be funny with the size of the class. Is this just a case of quantity vs quality? If we look at the average of all players from each of the last three classes, is there a significant improvement this year?

Ben: This is a much better class. Look at more than just the star ratings. Chris goes into a lot more detail below.

Chris: The star power is much improved from the last few years. We currently have four 4*s. 2019 had one, 2018 had two, 2017 had one, 2016 had zero, 2015 had zero, 2014 had one, 2013 had one, 2012 had two. Our average rating for 2020 (btw all of this is from 247Sports) is 0.8678. Going backwards five years: 0.8553, 0.8523, 0.8389, 0.8322, 0.8446). So yeah. Significant improvement.

Andrew: I agree with Chris, it is a much better class.

Nishant: To tack on to what Chris said, we’re seeing a step up even in the quality of three-star recruits, which might be even more telling since they make up the bulk of the class most years. There are 18 players in the current class who have a rating of 0.8500 or greater on the 247Sports composite index. Compare that to the past several years: 13 in 2019, seven each in 2018/2017/2016, nine in 2015, six in 2014, and five in 2013. Recruiting is a very inexact science, of course, but it’s a very positive trend.

CJP has done ok so far in his tenure, but one gripe I have with him is the repetitiveness and hopeless optimism. Not that a coach should be down on his own team, but last year’s “we’ll be a good 3 point shooting team” got really old as we were close to last nationally in 3pt%. This year’s version is making the NCAA. Barring a super strong ACC run, is the NCAA even realistic? Is CJP digging his own grave?

Jake P.: If the Jackets look semi-strong against Kentucky, and play well in the ACC, I don’t think that Tech will get into the tournament, but I think they will be on the bubble. Unless the wheels fall off completely, I don’t think Pastner has any chance of getting fired.

Andrew: I don’t think we can afford to fire him. I have been incredibly let down by his recruiting, something that was supposed to be his strong point.

Would the AJC ever tweet anything like this (Tweet 1 | Tweet 2) about Tech?

Ben: Get Georgia Tech to have the kind of consistent success that UGA has had since Mark Richt got the job, and yeah, I could see that happening.

Jake P.: I could see the first tweet being sent out, but the second tweet is completely wrong. I don’t think that Atlanta really has one true team.

Chris: If Tech becomes nationally successful, yes. You’d be surprised how quickly things like the local media jump on bandwagons.

Of all the commits currently in this incoming signing class, who are the most liable to not sign with us? Who has the most upside? Who’s most likely to see the most playing time next year?

Ben: I think Jahmyr Gibbs is the answer to every single one of these questions. Outside of him, I’m starting to get a little concerned about DL JaQuari Wiggles. He announced yesterday that he will be deciding between us and Illinois, which he has shown a lot of love to recently on Twitter, during the early signing period. Most upside, I’ll go on a limb here and say Wing Green. He’s pretty raw but is currently 6-7, 270 pounds and still growing into his frame. He could be a huge asset in a couple years. Most likely to see playing time, I’ll again go on a bit of a limb and say Tucker Gleason. As of when I’m writing this, he’s our only QB commit, but there’s some smoke about another kid who I think could also see some time next year, but I’ll stick with Gleason.

Jake P.: Based off of my limited knowledge of the current recruiting scene, I would have to say Jahmyr Gibbs. He’s Tech’s highest rated player, has excellent film, and has drawn interest from schools like Florida and Ohio State. If CGC & co. can hold onto him, that’ll be a huge accomplishment.

Andrew: I think Gibbs is the most likely to flip. I really like the tape on Nate McCollum, he is incredible with the ball in his hands and could be a weapon on jet sweeps and in the screen game. I think one of the early enrollee OL, mainly Rankins or Williams will end up being a starter next fall.

Nishant: All of the WR prospects are intriguing. Nate McCollum is a fascinating player for the reasons Andrew described, and it would not be a surprise if the team draws up more four-wide sets to get both him and Ahmarean Brown on the field more often. But don’t overlook Bryce Gowdy or Ryan King on a team that desperately needs a reliable outside threat to emerge, and Avery Boyd is better than his rating suggests. Beyond them, four-star cornerback Miles Brooks should contend for playing time immediately, as will Jahmyr Gibbs (if he signs) and several of the offensive linemen. This is Collins’ first full class, so expect all of these guys to have opportunities to prove themselves in camp.