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Recruiting Classes Revisited: 2018

Taking a look back at last year’s recruiting class.

NCAA Football: Bowling Green at Georgia Tech Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

This week, we’re taking a look back at the recruiting classes that make up the current year’s team. Let’s start off by taking a look back at Georgia Tech’s 2018 recruiting class and what would be the last class to be a part of the Paul Johnson era.

Georgia Tech’s 2018 Recruiting Class

NAME POS LOCATION HT WT 247 SPORTS COMPOSITE RIVALS RATING COMMITTED
NAME POS LOCATION HT WT 247 SPORTS COMPOSITE RIVALS RATING COMMITTED
Charlie Thomas DB Thomasville, GA 6'2" 190 0.8681 5.6 6/5/17
Harrison Jump OL Athens, GA 6'5" 257 0.8256 5.4 6/5/17
Peje' Harris WR Newnan, GA 6'3" 207 0.8276 5.5 6/5/17
T.K. Chimedza DT Bradenton, FL 6'2" 300 0.8743 5.6 6/21/17
Tija'i Whatley ATH Rome, GA 6'2" 180 0.8481 5.5 6/22/17
JaQuez Jackson LB Fort Valley, GA 6'1" 216 0.8463 5.6 6/22/17
Dontae Smith RB Columbia, TN 5'9" 173 0.8614 5.6 6/22/17
Austin Smith DT Mcdonough, GA 6'3" 275 0.8452 5.5 6/23/17
Zamari Walton ATH Melbourne, FL 6'1" 165 0.8460 5.5 7/4/17
Jaylon King DB Nashville, TN 6'0" 170 0.8973 5.8 7/27/17
Michael Maye OL Hoover, AL 6'3" 290 0.8444 5.5 7/27/17
Luke Johns DE Dalton, GA 6'5" 250 0.8310 5.5 7/28/17
Justice Dingle LB Bowling Green, KY 6'2" 235 0.8770 5.8 8/1/17
Juanyeh Thomas DB Niceville, FL 6'2" 208 0.8351 5.5 8/8/17
Malachi Carter WR Lawrenceville, GA 6'3" 180 0.8514 5.5 9/17/17
Jaylen Jackson DB Brunswick, GA 6'0" 180 0.8059 5.4 12/17/17
Zakk McKeehan DT St. Francisville, LA 6'4" 290 0.8202 5.4 12/19/17
James Graham ATH Fitzgerald, GA 6'1" 180 0.8958 5.8 12/22/17
Ja'Quon Griffin DT Rome, GA 6'0" 268 0.8498 5.5 2/5/18
Jordan Domineck DE Lakeland, FL 6'3" 206 0.8431 5.5 2/7/18
Christian Malloy RB Snellville, GA 5'10" 198 0.8065 5.5 2/7/18
Wesley Wells K Dahlonega, GA 6'0" 185 NA NA WALKON
Ryan Lantz QB West Palm Beach, FL 6'1" 190 NA NA WALKON

Last year’s class had some intriguing players make their debut as Yellow Jackets. As it would turn out, the 2018 class would be the last one to play for Paul Johnson. This class would rank 54th and 53rd by 247Sports and Rivals, respectively.

Who’s gone?

Attrition is a fact of life in football at any level. This is true for college football as well, and players, for whatever reasons, will leave their teams. Last year’s class had two players who will not be with the White and Gold this season. In May it was reported that offensive lineman Zakk Mckeehan had chosen to submit his name into the transfer portal.

Around the same time, wide-receiver Jaylen Jackson had also been reported to have entered his name into the transfer portal. With Geoff Collins’ arrival and the installation of the new offensive system, it is understandable that this may have played a factor.

Immediate impact

Of the 23 players from Tech’s 2018 class, only three players saw action in all of the games. Those players were Juanyeh Thomas, Malachi Carter, and Quez Jackson. With their freshman season under their belts, these three will certainly bring experience to their sophomore season on The Flats.

Two other players to look out for are Wesley Wells and Zamari Walton. Wells, who was actually a walk-on who ended up winning the starting job during a practice competition, is the team’s placekicker. He finished off very strongly last season and will be a crucial part of the team’s success this year.

DB Walton only played in four games last season and was redshirted. But in those games, he recorded four tackles and three pass breakups. At 6’3”, he’s got the length at defensive back that could make him a good fit for Collins’ defensive scheme. He set school records as a defensive back in high school and once returned an interception 106 yards for a touchdown.

Intriguing Subplots To Look Out For

On Offense: A question that must be on every Yellow Jacket fans’ mind must be who will be the starting quarterback? As the offense shifts away from Paul Johnson’s option system, it is natural to expect a more pro-style quarterback to be featured. There’s no guarantee that quarterback is currently on the roster. Collins and offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude will have to make due with what they have until the 2020 recruiting class shows up. In the meantime, the 2018 class saw the addition of two quarterbacks:

James Graham saw action in three games last season, where he ran the ball five times for 25 yards and had one pass for one completion. He can be one of the team’s dual-threat quarterbacks.

Ryan Lantz is a walk-on freshman from West Palm Beach, Florida. He was redshirted last season and saw no action. In high school, he passed for nearly 3,000 yards and rushed for 1,000 in three years as a starting quarterback.

Could either of these players be Tech’s quarterback of the future? We’ll have to wait to see.

On Defense: The 2018 class saw the addition of four defensive tackles and four defensive backs. So there should be plenty of depth at those positions. DB Juanyeh Thomas is a versatile athlete who should fill multiple roles in his second season.

Charlie Thomas should be another intriguing story on the defensive side of the ball. In the 10 games that he played in—six of which were starts—he recorded 48 tackles which was fifth most for the team.

Top 5 Players From the Class

  1. S Juanyeh Thomas
  2. WR Malachi Carter
  3. LB Charlie Thomas
  4. K Wesley Wells
  5. LB Quez Jackson

Conclusion

While there’s a lot of question marks regarding the offense and the starting quarterback, to me, its the defense and the scheme Collins brings with him that proves to be the most intriguing story to look forward to for the 2019 season.

With fewer than 40 days before kickoff of the 2019 season, we’ll know soon enough. One thing is certain, the 2018 class will play a major role in what lies ahead.