Over the last month, we've brought you coverage of National Signing Day (which was, thankfully, uneventful), we've introduced you to the 27 signees from last year's class, and we've even introduced the first commitment of the 2016 class, RB Xavier Gantt. Now, it's time to take a look at who will be joining Gantt to fill out the 2016 class, at least in a general sense.
|QB||Tim Byerly||5th Year|
|AB||Broderick Snoddy||5th Year|
|OL||Bryan Chamberlain||5th Year|
|OL||Errin Joe||5th Year|
|OL||Trey Braun||5th Year|
|OL||Thomas O'Reilly||5th Year|
|DL||Chaz Cheeks||5th Year|
|LB||Anthony Harrell||5th Year|
|LB||Tyler Marcordes||5th Year|
|DB||Domonique Noble||5th Year|
|CB||Chris Milton||5th Year|
|S||Jamal Golden||5th Year|
|DB||Demond Smith||5th Year|
|LS||Sean Tobin||5th Year|
|DL||Adam Gotsis||4th Year|
|CB||DJ White||4th Year|
As of right now, entering this fall, Georgia Tech will have a fairly small senior class. They'll have 16 seniors, including 14 fifth-year seniors, along with fourth-year seniors DT Adam Gotsis, and CB D.J. White. Of those 16, only six are on offense, with nine on defense and one on special teams (LS Sean Tobin).
On offense, seniors will include quarterback Tim Byerly, A-Back Broderick Snoddy, and then four offensive linemen -- Trey Braun, Bryan Chamberlain, Errin Joe, and Thomas O'Reilly. Keep those four linemen in mind as we start to work into the numbers.
Defensively, there are nine players due to leave, including five in the secondary -- White, safety Jamal Golden, cornerback Chris Milton, defensive back Domonique Noble, and defensive back Demond Smith. The seniors on defense will also include linebackers Tyler Marcordes and Anthony Harrell, and defensive linemen Gotsis and Chaz Cheeks.
Something to keep in mind is that Jabari Hunt-Days may also be in the mix here, but his would effectively be a one-year scholarship anyways, and wouldn't affect the numbers at play here. Additionally, this analysis won't account for any early attrition that might happen (and needs to happen) through the course of this offseason.
Those players leave us with the following breakdown of the 2016 team before any recruits are brought in:
Remember, just because there will be a player leaving from a certain position doesn't mean that he needs to be immediately replaced. The numbers won't perfectly reflect players departing, due in part to scheme changes (i.e. a 3-4 to 4-3 to a 4-2-5 base defense) as well as players moving positions to satisfy needs. Also, remember that the final number won't be 71, but rather 69 players after room is made this offseason. (The team is currently at 86 scholarships taken -- one more than the maximum limit of 85, and two more than would allow for Hunt-Days to return.)
With 69 total players, there will be room for only 16 in this class, although that number could increase with attrition past the minimum 2 during this offseason. Without knowing what positions that attrition will come from, let's look at a few positions that will clearly need an extra body.
A player here may or may not come in the form of a high school prospect, and if not then it'll come in the form of a walk-on being granted a scholarship. Either way, it's going to be important to have a go-to guy at this position -- it can create major issues if a team has an ineffective long snapper.
The 5 defensive tackles left on the roster are in line with how many Ted Roof and Mike Pelton like to have in the rotation at any given time. The problem is that if one or more get injured, there's more depth needed. My guess is that at least two defensive tackles are signed in the 2016 class.
First note: this number is including Jaylend Ratliffe as a true freshman in 2016, given that he won't be enrolling in school until January 2016. (That also is under the assumption that Ratliffe will be in a physical condition to play football.) Additionally, history would tell us that Paul Johnson signs a quarterback in every class (not an uncommon practice), and oftentimes moves them to different positions (see: David Sims, Synjyn Days, Dennis Andrews, B.J. Bostic, and Jamal Golden). Look for him to sign at least one in this class, even if they don't end up taking a snap at quarterback on the Flats.
Freddie Burden will be a senior in 2016, with only Andrew Marshall behind him with experience at center. I wouldn't be surprised to see a center included in this year's recruiting class to help prepare for Burden's departure. If not, the coaches will likely have a plan for who to cross-train as a center amongst the guards and tackles.
Projected Class Numbers
All of the above said, let's take a (likely irresponsible) stab at how many players will be included in this class at each position group, without knowing where potential deficits will be.
A few main points here:
- Multiple wide receivers and defensive ends were included to prepare for big graduation numbers after the 2016 season, similar to how I discussed the center position above.
- I included a B-Back based, again, on Paul Johnson's history. Tradition would say that Coach Johnson brings in at least one B-Back prospect per class.
- A kicker was included to prepare for graduations of Ryan Rodwell and Harrison Butker. There is a preferred walk-on (PWO) in the most recent recruiting class who can play either position, but my expectation is that the coaches would prefer to recruit a second specialist for when Butker and Rodwell depart.
- Although there are to be a lot of safeties left on the roster (6), I've included a safety here to prepare for potential position changes, such as David Curry's potential move to linebacker, as well as to account for the various position groupings that Ted Roof is moving towards.
This year's recruiting class is going to be small, and it'll likely be slow-developing and lowly-ranked as a result. (Total commitments are a factor in rankings.) That said, with the recent wave of success (both on the field and in recruiting) could translate into another class of productive, talented players. Keep an eye on how attrition happens over the next 11 months and how it contributes to the construction of the 2016 recruiting class.
Where do you expect players to be added in this year's recruiting class? Disagree anywhere from what I've offered here?