With the loss of Juanyeh Thomas of Tariq Carpenter, Tech will be breaking in two new starting safeties in the coming season. With former safeties coach Nate Burton also out of the picture, the safety room will look entirely different this season, as they are now sharing the room with the other defensive backs.
With all this change, I think it is really great that Tech brought in four new safeties to play with this season. Two of them came from the portal (Khari Gee from Notre Dame and Ahmari Harvey from Auburn) and the other two will be true freshmen in the fall.
After spending his freshman season at Notre Dame, Gee put his name in the transfer portal back in December. He did not play in his lone season in South Bend, so he will have a full four years to play four on the Flats. He stands at 6-2, 195 pounds and is originally from Atlanta, so I imagine that helped bring him back.
As a transfer, the 247 Sports Composite has Harvey rated as a three-star recruit (0.8800), which is slightly down from where he was coming out of high school (0.8871). Rivals does not re-rank transfers, but as a recruit, they had Harvey listed as a four-star (5.8).
Since he did not play any snaps at Notre Dame, I’ll take a look at his high school film.
Gee has a lot going for him. He is incredibly long, and his long stride helps him keep up—or even outpace—other players who look faster. He also has a good eye for what is happening in front of him. Obviously, this is a highlight reel, so we aren’t going to see him mess up, but I was particularly impressed with how he played with the ball in front of him. He also proved to be pretty serviceable in man coverage. At Tech, he’ll definitely be at safety, and I imagine he will probably find a home at strong safety in more of a run support position.
Similar to Gee, Harvey entered the transfer portal in December after not playing in his true freshman season. He stands at 6-0, 175 pounds and is originally from Tallahassee, FL.
As a transfer, he is rated as a three-star prospect (0.8900) by the 247 Sports Composite, which is a more drastic downgrade from his high school rating, where he was a four-star prospect (0.9174). Rivals also had him listed as a four-star prospect (5.8).
Like Gee, I will be watching Harvey’s high school film.
Harvey’s film is a lot of fun to watch. He is definitely a ballhawk, and he shows it off throughout his highlights. One thing that surprised me is that he looks a bit bigger than 6-0, but that’s what Tech’s website says. He also served as a kick returner for his high school. I think he runs a bit upright when he has the ball, but honestly, if he can even just cause turnovers, I would not be mad about that at all.
Marshall is one of the highest-rated commits from the 2022 class, with the 247 Sports Composite rating him as a four-star recruit (0.8913) and Rivals rating him as a three-star recruit (5.7). He committed to Georgia Tech over several other reported offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, and several others. He comes in at 6-3, 190 pounds.
Robert did a great job of breaking down Marshall when he originally committed, so I’m going to drop that in here:
In game footage, we see a sure tackler who looks like the best athlete on the field as he makes plays in the backfield and impressively breaks on the ball in the secondary. In practice, we see a guy who loves to line up in press coverage, use his physicality, and prevent his receiver from even being targeted. He possesses a rare combination of athleticism and physicality for a 17 year old. That combination makes it easy to see why Coach Popovich would want to use him as a lockdown guy on the outside. Though his high school competition up until now has not presented much of a challenge, it’s easy to see why has had the attention of the best of the best over the course of his recruitment.
Of note, Marshall is enrolling early and participating in Spring practice.
The last safety to be joining Georgia Tech is Clayton Powell-Lee. Standing at 6-2, 180 pounds, Powell-Lee was rated as a three-star prospect by both Rivals (5.5) and the 247 Sports Composite (0.8527). He committed to Tech over other reported offers from Kansas State, Michigan State, and West Virginia, among others.
Again, I’ll be deferring to Robert’s analysis here.
Powell-Lee is a versatile safety who operates from both a nickel spot covering the slot and as one of the deep safeties in two high looks. He’s long and rangy, and he uses his length effectively to attack the ball when it arrives at the targeted receiver. His play against the run jumped out at me, as he demonstrates a very impressive physicality given his relatively slight build (you can see one example at 1:20, when does an excellent job filling the alley from a deeper safety alignment.) He’s got solid instincts when a play breaks down, and he uses his leverage well to force ballcarriers back towards the meat of the defense. He doesn’t jump off the screen athletically, but he’s a player with good fundamentals and instincts, with a frame that I’m sure the GT coaching staff thinks they can fill in.
Which new safety are you most excited about?