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Georgia Tech Recruiting Reset & National Signing Day Preview: Jackets Playing the Waiting Game

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After a week with less news than we may have been expecting on the recruiting front, there's about to be a lot of news for the Yellow Jackets, and it's going to happen quickly.

Danny Karnik/Georgia Tech Athletics

It's been a week since our last big recruiting rundown, and in that time there haven't been any additions to (or subtractions from) Georgia Tech's 2016 recruiting class. That there haven't been any additions is probably frustrating to some, but the fact that none have come close to flipping away is a testament to the job that the Yellow Jackets' coaching staff has done to retain their commitments and prevent players from being tempted to visit elsewhere. It marks the third season in a row where there has been minimal (if any) action regarding players flipping from commitments to Georgia Tech shortly before National Signing Day -- that coming after a stretch of several years where January felt like open season for other teams in the southeast on players committed to the Yellow Jackets. So, for the coach to keep the recruiting class together in the final weeks before it's final is commendable by itself.

That said, there are still a few names outstanding that could be added to the class before things are said and done. Let's review where Georgia Tech is at, who's left, and any relevant updates since last week. For reference, last week's Recruiting Reset can be found here, and a detailed Scholarship Breakdown can be found here (and is accessible from the "Library" tab at the top of any FTRS window).

Current Recruiting Class

Position Player Height Weight Status Rivals 247Sports Composite
LB Emmanuel Bridges 6-1 208 Enrolled (1/11/2016) 3-Star (5.7) 3-Star (0.8634)
BB Dedrick Mills 5-10 220 Enrolled (1/11/2016) 3-Star (5.6) 3-Star (0.8535)
DE Desmond Branch 6-4 265 Enrolled (1/11/2016) 2-Star (5.4) 3-Star (0.8348)
AB Xavier Gantt 5-10 170 Committed (2/11/2015) 3-Star (5.7) 3-Star (0.8606)
LB Jakob Brashear 6-1 210 Committed (3/19/2015) 2-Star (5.4) 3-Star (0.8339)
DT Chris Martin 6-2 250 Committed (5/9/2015) 3-Star (5.5) 3-Star (0.8454)
DB Jarrett Cole 5-10 185 Committed (7/30/2015) 3-Star (5.5) 3-Star (0.8473)
OL Parker Braun 6-3 272 Committed (8/29/2015) 3-Star (5.7) 3-Star (0.8712)
WR Steve Dolphus 6-5 200 Committed (10/21/2015) 3-Star (5.5) 3-Star (0.8410)
OL Kenny Cooper 6-3 285 Committed (12/8/2015) 2-Star (5.3) 2-Star (0.7852)
WR Jalen Camp 6-2 210 Committed (12/9/2015) 2-Star (5.2) 3-Star (0.7986)
WR Jair Anderson 6-2 185 Committed (12/26/2015) 2-Star (5.4) 3-Star (0.8456)
QB/ATH Jay Jones 6-0 180 Committed (1/16/2016) 3-Star (5.7) 3-Star (0.8515)
OL/DL Jahaziel Lee 6-3 260 Committed (1/24/2016) 2-Star (5.2) 2-Star (0.7678)
DT Brandon Adams 6-2 300 Committed (1/24/2016) 3-Star (5.5) 3-Star (0.8309)
DE Jordan Woods 6-3 250 Committed (1/25/2016) 4-Star (5.8) 3-Star (0.8869)
QB Lucas Johnson 6-3 185 Committed (1/25/2016) 3-Star (5.5) 3-Star (0.8162)
Total Commitments: 17

So, again, no movement from where this stood last week. The only changes would be the addition of a few local preferred walk-ons, which you can review in our Storystream for this recruiting class, found here.

Now, the wish list for this recruiting class remains the same as last week, and looks like this:

  • 1 Quarterback
  • 1 Offensive Lineman
  • 1 Defensive Tackle
  • 1 Defensive Lineman (DT/DE)
  • 1 Defensive Back
  • 1 Athlete (Defensive Back/A-Back)
  • (Up to 2 Best Available, at coaches' discretion)

The six specific slots outlined (not counting the "Best Available" spots) are mostly filled at this point, with the exception of a defensive back. As a reminder, these six slots were designed to give Georgia Tech 18 commitments, and therefore to put them at 83 scholarships, two below the maximum of 85. That would leave room for the Yellow Jackets to add a potential transfer, or to reward walk-on players who have earned a full scholarship -- and history tells us that the coaches traditionally reserve 1-2 scholarships for these types of potential situations.

So, that's where Georgia Tech is at as of Monday evening. Let's take a look at the Big Board moving into the final 24 hours before Signing Day.

Big Board

Position Player Height Weight Status Visit Date Rivals 247Sports Composite
ATH Demetris Robertson 6-0 180 Uncommitted 1/29/2016 5-Star (6.1) 5-Star (0.9839)
OL Donavaughn Campbell 6-5 340 Committed to LSU 1/29/2016 4-Star (5.9) 4-Star (0.9369)
DT Michail Carter 6-3 288 Uncommitted 1/22/2016 4-Star (5.9) 4-Star (0.9346)
DB Romeo Finley 6-1 202 Uncommitted 1/15/2016 4-Star (5.8) 4-Star (0.8927)
OL Jordan Johnson 6-3 260 Uncommitted 1/29/2016 3-Star (5.7) 3-Star (0.8647)
ATH Arkeem Byrd 6-1 190 Uncommitted 1/22/2016 3-Star (5.5) 3-Star (0.8144)
ATH Deshaunte Jones 5-10 170 Committed to Iowa State
1/22/2016 3-Star (5.5) 3-Star (0.8578)
DB Nick McCloud 6-2 166 Committed to NC State 1/22/2016 3-Star (5.6) 3-Star (0.8488)

We'll start with the only status changes from last week, and then discuss each of the prospects above in order.

Off the Board

Nick McCloud

After visiting the Flats the previous weekend, McCloud ended up committing to N.C. State on Saturday night. With him off of the board, Georgia Tech's options in the secondary have slimmed down quite a bit.

Deshaunte Jones

A one-time QB/ATH target for Georgia Tech, Jones committed to Iowa State last night. He was one of three players that the Yellow Jackets were recruiting for two spots, and it would appear that commitments from Jay Jones and Lucas Johnson meant Deshaunte Jones was the odd man out. I had originally kept him on the board because I thought there was a possibility that Jones could also play defensive back, but that the coaches seemingly weren't interested in that while there remained a void at DB in the recruiting class suggests otherwise.

Still in Play

Demetris Robertson

Robertson visited campus this weekend with his family, and by all accounts it was a good visit. He tweeted this picture on Saturday, hanging out at Bobby Dodd Stadium with Jay-Z former Georgia Tech player and current Assistant Director of Player Personnel Saeed Khalif:

Perhaps as important as anything is that Robertson was due to visit Alabama afterwards, but his plans to do so "fell through" for the third time in a month. You may remember that Robertson was formerly committed to play for the Crimson Tide, but backed off of that commitment in April of last year.

It's very likely that Robertson delays signing his Letter of Intent until after National Signing Day, particularly because he's awaiting an updated SAT score to see if he can be admitted to Stanford. If not, Georgia Tech would be in the hunt against Alabama, Notre Dame, and georgia.

Outlook: I'll believe it when I see it. At this point, I trust Georgia Tech to make a good impression on anyone who comes for an official visit, and that especially goes for parents in attendance. This is also a case where Robertson clearly values academics, and Georgia Tech would keep him close to his family to boot. But the Yellow Jackets signing a 5-star recruit is unprecedented, and until it happens, I'm not getting my hopes up. I'd recommend that you don't either.

Donavaughn Campbell

Maybe the one top-rated player that Georgia Tech fans have become the most invested throughout the recruiting process, Campbell was also on campus this weekend for an official visit. Again, by all appearances, the visit was a good one for the Jackets, and a quick look at Campbell's twitter seems to confirm that, as he appears to have become very conflicted. Two weeks after an official visit and then an in-home visit with LSU (where he's committed), Campbell posted things such as these:

So, at this point, Campbell has to decide between playing for the hometown program where he's been committed for over a year, and playing with his brother and cousin in one of the finest cities in the south. I don't envy him for having to make this decision, but we're supposed to find out his decision later this morning, supposedly around 10am EST. When he announces, you can believe that we'll be all over it at FTRS. Stay tuned!

(And please, please, PLEASE -- don't tweet at him telling him what to do.)

Outlook: I'm calling this one a coin-flip. Maybe that's a lazy, easy assessment given what I laid out above, but I could easily see this one going either way. He clearly enjoys Atlanta and has the family connections on the Flats, but I'll reiterate what I've always said -- getting kids that LSU wants to leave Louisiana is an exceptionally hard task, and Georgia Tech's coaches deserve all kinds of credit for being in the position that they are right now, regardless of his choice. But, we'll know soon enough.

UPDATE

Campbell re-affirmed his commitment to LSU over Periscope with Amos Morale III of the Times-Picayune.

Michail Carter

After visiting Georgia Tech last weekend, Carter was set to visit Alabama on Wednesday & Thursday before visiting georgia on Friday & Saturday of this past weekend. Then again, there are conflicting reports that suggest Carter may not have made it to Tuscaloosa at all. There's no word on how those visits may (or may not) have gone, but this still appears to be a four-horse race between Georgia Tech, Alabama, Clemson, and georgia.

Outlook: The scenarios in which Georgia Tech would have likely gotten Carter are approaching being "out-of-the-question". There may be a better chance that the Yellow Jackets land Robertson, at this point. Expect Carter to commit elsewhere when he announces on Wednesday morning.

Romeo Finley

After visits to Georgia Tech and Clemson the past two weekends (respectively), Finley visited Mark Richt and Miami for the final weekend before Signing Day. A prospect visiting Miami, even when that prospect supposedly has Georgia Tech at the top of their list going in, is terrifying for Yellow Jacket fans. Too many times in recent memory, the Hurricanes have been able to swoop in at the last minute and steal a recruit, undoing all of the many months of effort put into their recruitment towards Georgia Tech. (Corn Elder comes to mind here.)

For Finley, though, there's reason for optimism. He left Coral Gables on Sunday without committing to the Hurricanes, which is a good sign for Georgia Tech. Another good sign is that the Hurricanes were rumored to be much more interested in Finley's high school teammate and Auburn commit Elijah Stove, who then passed up visiting this weekend. Maybe the Hurricanes didn't want Finley for anything more than a package deal, after all.

Finley is set to announce on Tuesday evening on his decision between Georgia Tech, Miami, and Clemson.

Outlook: That Georgia Tech was the favorite going into the weekend and Finley left Miami without committing is a good sign to me. The Jackets are seemingly going for broke on Finley given the eliminations of Nick McCloud and Deshaunte Jones, so hopefully Finley ends up on the Flats. I'd put this at better than a coin flip, but not by much. I'd guess there's around a 60% chance that he commits to Georgia Tech, with Miami being the only other real contender. I don't see him ending up at Clemson.

Jordan Johnson

The proverbial "prodigal son" of Georgia Tech's 2016 recruiting class if there ever was one, Johnson was on-campus this weekend for an official visit. All signs would suggest that Johnson had a good time on the visit, and is back in the good graces of the Yellow Jackets' coaches following his well-publicized decommitment a couple of months back.

He's due to decide on Wednesday morning between his top three options, which at this point appear to be Georgia Tech, UCF, and Georgia Southern.

Outlook: A quick look at the schools involved and a quick review of Johnson's history with Georgia Tech (the fact that he was committed for several months, in particular) would tell you that the Yellow Jackets have to be the favorite here, assuming that the coaches still want him (which is consistent with inviting him to visit). For Johnson to commit elsewhere would suggest, to me, that there's more to the story than Georgia Tech getting out-recruited. His recruitment has been one of the strangest that I can remember following over the last several years, and nothing should surprise me on Wednesday morning. Then again, I'm sure I'll be surprised if he ends up somewhere other than Georgia Tech.

Arkeem Byrd

Ever since he left the Flats, there haven't been a lot of rumblings connecting Byrd with Georgia Tech. He visited Mizzou this weekend, and his window for taking his offer from the Yellow Jackets may have closed.

Outlook: If Byrd were going to commit to Georgia Tech, he probably would've done it by late last week. That he went on what appeared to be a bit of a last-minute visit to Missouri is usually the type of thing that would lead the Yellow Jackets' coaching staff to move on without him. I'll be very surprised if he ends up on the Flats.

Outlook

It should be pointed out here that Georgia Tech's staff deserves a ton of credit going into National Signing Day. That they have several blue-chip recruits reasonably interested with less than 48 hours to go is impressive by itself. To do so coming off of a 3-9 season, and considering the situations for some of the individuals involved, is something I would call a very commendable effort. Regardless of what happens, the staff has done a nice job of assembling this recruiting class and holding it together.

We'll know a lot more about this class within about 12 hours of it being posted, as two of those blue-chip recruits are set to announce their intentions on Tuesday -- Finley and Campbell. I don't know what either one does, but it feels to me like Georgia Tech not getting either one is the least-likely scenario. Although it's probably not too likely that the Yellow Jackets get both, I think that it's less likely that they get neither one.

The worst-case scenario should probably also be discussed here -- what if Georgia Tech gets none of the players left on the board, and everyone commits elsewhere? Although the hope is that this scenario won't come to fruition, it should probably be discussed briefly. In that case, the coaches have a few different options:

  • They may find players who have yet to sign and still intend to take official visits that could fill a spot and contribute. They would take official visits after National Signing Day (which is allowed) and could commit/sign whenever they chose to.
  • They may more aggressively pursue transfer options, intending to fill the slot without compromising on player quality any more than is necessary.
  • They may save the extra scholarship, award it to a walk-on this fall on a one-year basis, and then have room for an extra player in the 2017 recruiting class.

The likelihood that they choose any of those options depends entirely on the market for unsigned players and transfer players, and only the coaches would have any idea what those markets look like (especially with transfers).

What's Next?

As mentioned above, we'll find out about Donavaughn Campbell and Romeo Finley on Tuesday morning and evening, respectively. Michail Carter and Jordan Johnson are both set to announce on Wednesday, and Arkeem Byrd may do the same, while Demetris Robertson has yet to set a timeframe (and will most likely stretch it out deeper into February).

FTRS will keep you posted all day on Tuesday as news is breaking, and our own Kieffer Milligan will be in attendance at the Edge Center on Wednesday morning for Georgia Tech's National Signing Day Celebration. We'll also have an open thread that morning to discuss any developments as they come through. Stay tuned to FTRS for any and all developments that happen over the next 48 hours, and join us on Wednesday morning to discuss the class in our open thread!