Anyone who follows Georgia Tech recruiting knows that the Yellow Jackets got three dynamite linebackers in this past season's recruiting class: Brant Mitchell, Tyler Cooksey and Vic Alexander. With at least one linebacker spot open, each of these three guys has the opportunity to step up and take that spot.
Before I get too involved in this article, I do want to talk about David Curry a little bit. Curry is currently listed as a linebacker on Georgia Tech's official roster. While he is listed there, and I think he will be a great player, I view him as more of a nickel player (the role that Demond Smith played last season). Time will tell with him, but because that's the role I see him in, I chose not to include him in the players I'm covering in this article.
Of the three linebackers, Cooksey was the first to commit to Georgia Tech on June 15 of last year. As a three-star recruit from Greater Atlanta Christian High School, Cooksey committed to Tech in honor of his father Tom on Father's Day. Tom Cooksey played for Tech alongside Eddie Lee Ivery in 1978 and was awarded the Dean George Griffin Award for most-improved player.
Tyler came into camp at 6-foot-3 220 pounds and ready to play. The thing that makes Cooksey stand out among this group of linebackers is his coverage abilities. While Brant Mitchell and Vic Alexander can both hit really hard, they are not quite as developed as Cooksey in pass coverage. With that added ability, Cooksey definitely has the upper hand.
Now, if you will remember back to the beginning of the article, I said that at least one linebacker spot was open--that spot obviously being vacated by Anthony Harrell. But doesn't that statement imply that another spot could open up? Indeed. It took Ted Roof a good portion of the season, but he finally figured out how to use Tyler Marcordes. Marcordes is good at blitzing. In coverage, not so much. With that, I wouldn't be surprised to see Cooksey spell Marcordes on passing situations since Cooksey is the superior cover man. And that would mean that the inside linebacker job is still open. That makes a lot of sense, because the other two freshman are much better fits in that spot.
The next player of these three to commit to Tech was Brant Mitchell. Mitchell is an absolute giant at 6-foot-2 240 pounds as a freshman. Mitchell could have easily given into the temptation of that Tennessee offer, but I believe he made the right choice in electing to come to Tech.
Vic Alexander was the last of these three to commit after a lot of drama where he seemingly committed to Tech only to commit back to UCLA and then recommit to Tech. It was a strange situation where some people said some things that they should have kept quiet, but ultimately things worked out in our favor and Alexander signed with Tech and is now enrolled. He's a little smaller than Mitchell at 5-foot-10 220 pounds, but Tech has had some pretty good luck with short linebackers.
Mitchell and Alexander, while not as good in pass coverage as Cooksey, are excellent tacklers. And that's something that is absolutely vital from the inside linebacker position. Tech is going to have to face a couple of really good running backs in James Conner and Nick Chubb, and there are going to be times where the defensive line doesn't make the stop. That's where these two come in. You can see from the film of both of them that they are tremendous tacklers and they can hit really hard. It should definitely be an interesting battle during the rest of camp, but I would be absolutely shocked if at least one of these two was not playing fairly regularly by the end of the season.
Looking a little bit more into the future, PJ Davis isn't going to be here forever (unfortunately). Once he graduates, I would love to see Alexander take his spot outside with Mitchell in the middle and Cooksey on the other side. That group would very easily challenge to be the best group of linebackers in the ACC. Before they can do that, though, they need to start preparing for that now.
What kind of impact do you think these freshman linebackers will play this season?