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Grading the Offseason Plan

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The AD made clear he was backing “his man” for one more year; how’s the plan working so far?

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

It’s been a whirlwind two weeks for the Georgia Tech Football program and its fans. During the week of the UGA game, Todd Stansbury confirmed that Geoff Collins would be returning for his fourth season at the helm of the team. The day after the Georgia game saw the dismissal of coaches Patenaude, Burton, and Popovich. At that point, it was largely clear where ADTS and CGC thought changes were needed for the program to see improvement next year. Taking that day as a dividing line, I wanted to catalog every significant personnel change since.

We’re going to look at the additions and grade them on an “Excitement Index,” and we will look at the losses and grade them on a “Concern Index.” Here’s how I would calibrate my ratings:

Excitement Index 1 = Little to no positive impact foreseen

Excitement Index 5 = 5 Star Commit, Program Changing Coaching Hire

Concern Index 1 = Little to no negative impact foreseen

Concern Index 5 = Equivalent of Losing 5 Star player, Program Changing Coaching Loss

For fun, we will add up excitement and concern points and see how the ledger balances after a wild two weeks.

Additions

Commitments

Jamie Felix

Position: Running Back

Ratings: 3 Star, 5.6 on Rivals, 88.24 on 247 Composite

Summary: Felix was rated as a high 4 star last year but missed most of his junior season with a serious hamstring injury. He returned to the field this year and began gathering more and more attention as the season went on. As Ben detailed in the link above, this looks like an encouraging late-class addition, especially after Coach Choice departed, and Coach Coleman took over as Felix’s lead recruiter. Clearly, Felix will get every chance to play as a true freshman.

Excitement Index: 3

Transfer Portal Incoming

Summary: There have been no official commitments from the transfer portal, but several guys have crystal balls logged to GT on 247. Those include Zach Gibson (QB from Akron, 87 transfer rating on 247), Paul Tchio (OL from Clemson, 88 transfer rating on 247), and Pierce Quick (OL from Alabama, 87 transfer rating on 247). Gibson is a solid floor-raiser in the QB room. Tchio and Quick are both formerly high rated prospects who so far have not broken through at blue-bloods but provide some needed upside on the ever-needy offensive line.

Excitement Index: 3, 3, and 2

Coaching Hires

Chip Long

Position: Offensive Coordinator

Summary: Chip Long filled the highest profile coaching vacancy for GT this offseason. Justin has broken down Long’s Notre Dame offense from a film perspective, I added my insights from a stats perspective at each of Long’s three OC stops, and Ben got the insight from Long’s most recent coaching position. There’s no indication that this is a bad hire. There are, however, questions about just how much improvement should be expected under Long’s tutelage given some of the ongoing personnel limitations at GT. There’s not much about Long’s scheme that seems particularly adept at overcoming talent deficits.

Excitement Index: 2

Travares Tillman

Position: Secondary Coach

Summary: Tillman was the second hire for GT, ostensibly replacing both Burton and Popovich. He’s coached with Mel Tucker at three different stops and received steady promotions along the way; of course, he helped preside over what was a terrible pass defense (103th in EPA/pass allowed; still better than GT’s 130th!) for the Spartans of Michigan State last year, but it’s hard to know exactly how to parse out blame for that. That confusion is echoed in the insight Ben got from the Michigan State side of things. Tillman is known for his recruiting prowess, but that won’t show up in this cycle of things.

Excitement Index: 2

Losses

Decommitments

Jaron Willis

Position: Hybrid Safety/Linebacker

Ratings: 4 Star, 5.9 on Rivals, 93.15 on 247 Composite

Summary: The star of the class is no longer in the class. Losing Willis hurts from a couple angles: he was a player who could have contributed from day one at a position of need, and his decommitment shows how much luster has fallen off of this program. Willis was explicit in tying his decision to decommit to his desire to play for championships, and he clearly didn’t see GT as a place where he could do that.

Concern Index: 4

Javin Simpkins

Position: Running Back (2023 Class)

Ratings: 4 Star, 5.7 on Rivals, 91.12 on 247 Composite

Summary: Simpkins flashed as a potential future playmaker on the Flats. He was the highest rated commit (out of 3) in the 2023 class. His junior season saw his ratings fall off slightly but still hold at a high level. He had a strong relationship with Coach Choice, which seems to be the clear impetus for his decommitment.

Concern Index: 3

Alton Tarber

Position: Defensive Tackle

Ratings: 3 Star, 5.6 on Rivals, 85.05 on 247 Composite

Summary: Reports indicate that Tarber was dropped from the class because of some testing issues, but crystal balls have emerged on both national recruiting sites predicting Tarber to Oklahoma. It appears that it is not an NCAA qualification issue but a Georgia Tech one. It’s frustrating that those things weren’t identified earlier in the recruiting cycle, as Tarber looked to me to be a hidden gem at a position of massive need. His pending commitment to Oklahoma verifies how much potential Tarber has.

Concern Index: 3

Jeffrey Bonica

Position: Offensive Guard

Ratings: 3 Star, 5.6 on Rivals, 83.83 on 247 Composite

Summary: Bonica committed to GT relatively early in the cycle, and it seemed clear that his remaining in the class depended on his senior year development. That didn’t happen to Coach Key’s satisfaction, and the two sides mutually parted ways.

Concern Index: 1

Terron Kellman

Position: Running Back

Ratings: 3 Star, 5.5 on Rivals, 84.10 on 247 Composite

Summary: Kellman looked like a solid addition to the now depleted running back room, but academic issues got in the way here too. There are currently no projections for a new commitment for Kellman, so it appears he may have work to do beyond just qualifying for GT.

Concern Index: 2

Transfer portal outgoing

Jaymyr Gibbs

Position: Running Back

Ratings: 95.0 in Transfer Portal Ratings on 247

Summary: 2nd Team All-American by the AP and The Athletic. #4 player nationally in the transfer portal. #3 nationally in all-purpose yardage in 2021. You already know how much this one hurts.

Concern Index: 5

Jamious Griffin

Position: Running Back

Ratings: 80 in Transfer Portal Ratings on 247

Summary: Griffin’s entry into the portal did not come as a surprise. It hurts the depth in the running back room, but assuming decent health next year, the overall production should not be affected greatly.

Concern Index: 2

Jaquon Griffin

Position: Defensive Tackle

Ratings: 84.98 High School Rating, not yet rated for Transfer Portal (My projection: 80)

Summary: Griffin was a central member of the defensive tackle rotation this season, but the younger guys in the room and the incoming freshmen are more talented and more ideally sized. He likely would have seen a drastic reduction in his role next season.

Concern Index: 2

Tony Amerson

Position: Running Back

Ratings: 85.26 High School Rating, not yet rated for Transfer Portal (My projection: 78)

Summary: Amerson was not a contributor during his years at GT.

Concern Index: 1

Jamal Camp

Position: Offensive Guard

Ratings: 81 in Transfer Portal Ratings

Summary: Camp bounced between offense and defense and never found much footing on either side of the ball.

Concern Index: 1

Jordan Yates

Position: Quarterback

Ratings: 81 in Transfer Portal Ratings

Summary: Yates fought valiantly filling in for the injured Jeff Sims throughout 2021, but it became clear that the speed and power of the game was a bit too much for him at this level. He could do very well at a mid to lower tier G5 spot.

Concern Index: 2

Coaches Lost

Tashard Choice

Position: Running Backs Coach

Summary: Widely considered to be GT’s best recruiter, Coach Choice was primarily responsible for the commitments of Jahmyr Gibbs and Jaron Willis. He also oversaw the development of what was the most put together position group on the team. His departure is entirely understandable ,yet painful from an on-field, recruiting trail, and team morale perspective.

Concern Index: 4

Early Departures

Juanyeh Thomas, Jordan Mason, Tobias Oliver

Summary: None of the above came as a surprise, but these three guys have all elected to forego a potential COVID season of eligibility and move on from GT. Oliver and Thomas largely struggled on the back end last year, while Mason would have featured heavily in the run game if he had returned.

Concern Index: 2

Tallying it up

Excitement Index Points: 15 vs. Concern Index Points: 32

The offseason has been frustrating and discouraging for GT fans. GT has lost more than she’s gained since ADTS and CGC began implementing their offseason plans two weeks ago. The morale of the fanbase reflects that. The imbalance in our ledger reflects that. There’s still opportunity for a transfer portal splash or an up and coming coach to be hired, but the clock ticks only louder for this regime.

How would you assess your own Excitement and Concern Indexes so far this offseason?