Most fans out there (who cheer for the Ramblin' Wreck and otherwise) would likely see a headline of "does Georgia Tech have a legitimate shot at landing a 5-star recruit" and immediately dismiss the idea as a silly one. How could that possibly be a real discussion? The Yellow Jackets' closest thing to ever signing a 5-star prospect in the modern era of recruiting was Calvin Johnson, and even that wasn't a case where he was a consensus 5-star prospect. Heck, they've hardly signed anyone that was even particularly close to "consensus 5-star" status ever since recruiting rankings really took off around the turn of the century.
And yet, here we are.
With the dust settled from National Signing Day 2016, most premier recruits have signed and recruiting rankings are all but finalized. However, there remain a small handful of unsigned prospects, for various reasons. One of them is Savannah native and consensus 5-star prospect Demetris Robertson.
The reason that Robertson hasn't yet signed makes his situation a bit complicated, but more on that in a bit. For now, what you need to know is that, believe it or not, Georgia Tech is squarely in the picture for who might land the top prospect remaining on the board. At 6'0" and 180 pounds, Robertson is a pure playmaker. He exhibits elite speed, agility, vision, and hands, and can play either offense or defense. For the Yellow Jackets, he could play A-Back, wide receiver, cornerback, or safety. He's the type of special talent who would come in and contribute on the Flats from day one.
Now, while Georgia Tech is in contention for Robertson, they're one of several schools in play. Let's look at each of them.
We'll start with the Cardinal, which is seemingly the entire reason for Robertson's delay in signing. The weekend before he visited Georgia Tech, Robertson re-took the SAT, needing to increase his score by something like 100 points in order to gain admission into Stanford. (That much of a jump is quite a bit easier said than done for anyone, by the way.) He's hardly made it any secret that, should he manage to achieve the necessary score, Robertson intends to sign with the Cardinal, seemingly with no questions asked.
That said, although we don't wish for it to become the case, the remainder of this article has to operate on the assumption that he doesn't make that test score. Were he to do make the score, the Cardinal would clear him and invite him for an official visit (another thing that requires admission) which could be his first-ever time on campus. At that point, the only hope for anyone else to sign Robertson would be for him to not like the campus or lifestyle -- though California isn't exactly the type of place to make a poor first impression.
Robertson receives his new SAT score next week, on February 11th. That's where things might get interesting.
The Crimson Tide are considered a major player for two primary reasons: they're Alabama, and Robertson was committed there for nearly all of his junior year. He decommitted back in April 2015 but kept Alabama on the list of schools he was considering.
However, to me, recent events make things appear otherwise. Robertson has now passed on three straight previously-scheduled official visits to Alabama, including one that was supposed to happen on the tail end of his visit to Georgia Tech. There were excuses and reasoning and such ("logistical concerns"), but to miss three visits in a row suggests waning interest, at least to me. At this point, I'll personally be pretty surprised if he ends up in Tuscaloosa.
Potentially taking Stanford and Alabama out of the picture makes for a three-horse race to the finish where eliminations will probably get a little tougher.
Another one in the mix, and one that many national recruiting analysts think is the current leader in the clubhouse, outside of perhaps Stanford. Robertson took an official visit to Notre Dame on the first week of the 2015 season, for the Irish's game against Texas. In early- to mid-January, for whatever reason(s), several of 247Sports' Crystal Ball voters began predicting that Robertson would end up at Notre Dame.
However, things have taken a strange turn of late, with Robertson re-taking his SAT and then visiting Georgia Tech. There were rumblings on Twitter that Notre Dame had given Robertson an ultimatum -- sign with the Irish on Signing Day, or his offer would be pulled. Now, it's unclear as to whether that actually happened, and in general it doesn't make much sense for Notre Dame to have done something like that given the talent that Robertson is at a position of need for the Irish. However, if an ultimatum like that one was given, even if the offer wasn't pulled after Signing Day, the Irish may have poisoned the well and unintentionally hurt their chances with the player or his family.
I'll finish this section with a recent quote from One Foot Down, SB Nation's Notre Dame site, that I think sums up Robertson's standing in South Bend as best as I could think to describe it:
The elephant in the room here is the decision of Georgia athlete Demetris Robertson, #14 overall in the 247 Composite and owner of a very good chance to be a Day 1 contributor - or even starter - at wide receiver for Notre Dame. He didn't sign with anyone [on Wednesday]; every indication is that the Irish are still firmly in front for his services, but his recruitment has been full of misdirection and muddy water, so it's hard to know what to think at this point.
It sure is.
It wouldn't be a complete list of candidates for one of the state's top prospects without the in-state recruiting powerhouse.
After three total visits to Notre Dame, Cal (in October), and Georgia Tech, Robertson is allowed up to two more official visits before signing his Letter of Intent. The three primary schools where he hasn't yet taken an official visit are Stanford (where he can't take an official visit until he's been accepted), Alabama, and georgia. It stands to reason that Robertson is saving a visit for Stanford, and until the status of that visit is solidified, Robertson will have one official visit to use on visiting either Athens or Tuscaloosa. Given his recent track record, it seems more likely that he'll end up visiting Athens, and it's likely to happen in the next few weeks.
As for how georgia fits in to Robertson's recruitment, it's fairly unclear, and an official visit to Athens will likely result in a more clear standing for the bulldogs. An interesting note here: the recent signing class for georgia already has several receivers signed on to the current class -- as many as 5, depending on how certain players are classified. While Robertson's talent would likely be too much to pass up for the bulldogs, the numbers at the wide receiver position would either drive them to want to use Robertson on defense, or it could require a player at wide receiver to change positions. Additionally, the log jam of highly talented players at the position could create issues with playing time for Robertson, which could be a deterrent in recruiting. Though again, to be fair, lots of this is pure conjecture, and he could be talented enough to bypass much of that log jam in fall camp.
Finally, there's the scrappy underdog in the race. The Jackets received an official visit from Robertson on the final weekend before National Signing Day -- something that would usually be much more significant and meaningful, although the situation in question is an unusual one. The visit seems to have been a good one by all accounts, and it sounds like Robertson has a good relationship with Coach Johnson.
On a non-football level, Georgia Tech's recruiting pitch would seem to be as good as it gets. Robertson's strong interest in Stanford and Notre Dame suggest that academic prowess is a high priority for him, which is something that Georgia Tech can offer as well. (Although academic diversity could be a question.) If being in a big city is something that interests him, being in the heart of Atlanta sounds much better than being in the suburbs of San Jose (in Palo Alto), or 90 minutes away from any major city (in South Bend). Being in Atlanta would also put him a short 4-hour drive from home, and also puts his family a 4-hour drive from seeing him play on Saturdays.
On a football level, Robertson would be an instant star in the sense that he would assuredly have immediate playing time and impact, would likely get lots of time in the spotlight as the most talented player on the team, and could play several roles for the Jackets to play to his strengths as much as possible. It also doesn't hurt that Robertson's offense in high school used many similar formations, plays and concepts to those used by Paul Johnson's offense -- which would give him an added level of familiarity. There's also the knowledge that he would be the first-ever 5-star prospect to sign with the school, and some people can be particularly enticed by the opportunity to be a "pioneer" of sorts.
So, what now?
In a sense, that's the million dollar question.
As mentioned above, Robertson receives his updated SAT score later in the coming week, on February 11th. Once that happens, you're likely to see him set up his final two official visits, and from there you can expect a final decision. Signs are pointing to Robertson's recruitment ending before February is over, so while there won't be any immediate updates, there should be a final verdict within a few short weeks.
As mentioned, at worst, multiple recruiting powerhouses are involved here, and there's a reason that they can be referred to as "recruiting powerhouses" where Georgia Tech can't. Make no mistake -- this always has been and will continue to be an uphill fight for the Yellow Jackets. Although it may be a slight exaggeration now, I'll remind you that I said a few weeks back in a Recruiting Reset that signing Robertson would be like the recruiting equivalent of a "Christmas miracle".
Yet, at the same time, there is a lot that Georgia Tech has to offer that seems consistent with what other schools involved are offering, while being an upgrade in certain areas as well.
So what are Georgia Tech's chances here?
It's hard to say, but it's probably fair to say that they're not especially high. Giving the Yellow Jackets anything more than a 20% chance is probably wishful, and even that mark seems a little high.
You never know, though. As mentioned above, of the five primary candidates, two may already be eliminated, and another may be eliminated by default. Weird things happen in recruiting sometimes, and each player is different -- they have different motivations, different priorities, and so on. And, as they say...
There's a first time for everything.