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Opinion Week: Georgia Tech Needs to Start Putting Players in the NFL Again

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And Geoff Collins is the right guy to lead the charge!

Miami v Georgia Tech Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images

Hey guys, welcome to our first segment of our 100 Days to Kickoff: Opinion Week! We got some opinions started yesterday with some pretty spicy takes in our Mailbag, and they’re not going to stop for the next week and a half, so prepare yourself!


It’s been talked to death, but in case you’ve been living under a rock these last several months, Geoff Collins is the new head coach of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, replacing Paul Johnson, who stepped away after an 11-year stint on the Flats. With him, Collins is bringing an uptempo spread offense that he has been calling a pro-style, which seems to be a pretty drastic change from Johnson’s flexbone.

When Johnson became the head coach, he had a handful of future NFL players to work with and was able to find some pretty immediate success, including a victory in Athens and an ACC Championship in his first two seasons. As Johnson continued his tenure, though, those future NFL players became less common.

During his opening press conference, one of the thing that Collins made a major point of was getting players prepared to go to the NFL. After 11 years of running Paul Johnson’s offense, I think that Geoff Collins is exactly what Tech needs to get back to producing NFL players.

Georgia Tech Players Currently in the NFL

Georgia Tech Alumni in the NFL

Player Position Team Draft Info
Player Position Team Draft Info
Jeremiah Attaochu LB Kansas City Chiefs 2014 | Round 2
TJ Barnes DT Carolina Panthers 2014 | UDFA
Morgan Burnett S Cleveland Browns 2010 | Round 3
Harrison Butker K Kansas City Chiefs 2017 | Round 7
Step Durham CB Kansas City Chiefs 2018 | UDFA
Adam Gotsis DT Denver Broncos 2016 | Round 2
Isaiah Johnson S Indianapolis Colts 2015 | UDFA
Shaq Mason G New England Patriots 2015 | Round 4
Chris Milton CB Indianapolis Colts 2016 | UDFA
Anree Saint-Amour DE Minnesota Vikings 2019 | UDFA
Demaryius Thomas WR New England Patriots 2010 | Round 1
Darren Waller TE Oakland Raiders 2015 | Round 6

Ed. Note: Kieffer pointed out that this list does not include former Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan. Upon further investigation, it looks like he was not included on the list I pulled from ESPN due to his current free agent status.

I was actually pleasantly surprised by how many players Tech currently has in the NFL. Currently, they sit at 12, but looking a little deeper, the majority of these players are in reserve roles.

The two biggest names, at least based on NFL achievements, on this list are Shaq Mason and Harrison Butker. Both great players, but not many past that have been able to make a name for themselves like those two.

Demaryius Thomas and Morgan Burnett are both a couple older players who have settled into more reserve roles.

Repairing an Image

I started the last section by stating that I was surprised at the number of former Yellow Jackets in the NFL. I wasn’t lying, and that’s the image that Tech needs to repair.

One of the common tropes during the CPJ era is that his offense did not prepare players for the NFL. Looking at that list, it’s easy to see why that trope prevailed for so long. Only three of those players were on the offensive side of the ball: Thomas, Mason, and Darren Waller.

Having that trope also had a heavy impact on recruiting in that teams could use it to negatively recruit against Tech, which made that trope more likely to occur in a never-ending spiral.

In his time on the Flats, I believe Collins has already done a lot to do away with that trope. He has handled the transition very well by not downplaying the accomplishments that Johnson achieved, but rather focusing his efforts entirely on what he is going to do.

A big part of that is by changing the culture into one that is focused on getting players into the NFL. That’s why he uses the non-descriptive “pro-style offense” moniker to describe his offense. He knows that for the last 11 years, Georgia Tech ran the triple option offense in the mind of everyone outside of Atlanta. Now, Collins wants to make it clear that this is a new era.

Impact on Recruiting

I touched on this a little already, but here I want to focus a little bit more on how getting players into the NFL will have an impact on recruiting.

In short, it will work in the opposite way that the downward spiral of negative recruiting reduced Tech’s input into the NFL. Collins and his staff are spreading the message that they are going to prepare players for the NFL. This will attract better talent which will make it easier to get those players into the NFL.

Success builds on success, and Collins and staff have already started to show the impact they can have on the Flats.

Conclusion

Now, I know all this sounds great, but this is also entirely theoretical. Sure it sounds easy: sell the idea of getting players into the NFL to get players who can make it into the NFL to make that pitch easier to sell to recruits. But recruits don’t walk straight into the NFL.

The purpose of coming to the college level is to be developed into a player ready to go the NFL. This is the area that is vital for the success for the Geoff Collins era. During the Paul Johnson era, player development lacked pretty heavily. If Collins wants to make his time on the Flats successful, that is the main area he will need to improve.

Be sure to check back in next week! I’ll be bringing another article that will serve as a Part 2 to this that will examine some players I think that with proper player development stand a good chance at being drafted in the first couple years of the Geoff Collins era.