Last week, Georgia Tech signed 18 new players to come and join the program. With the exception of still-unsigned 5-star athlete Demetris Robertson, that wraps up the 2016 recruiting class, meaning it's time to start looking ahead to the 2017 recruiting class. For reference, we'd recommend checking out the full Scholarship Breakdown, which can be found and accessed at any time by hovering over the "Library" button on the FTRS banner above.
Going through this, keep in mind that NCAA rules dictate that, at the start of the season, Georgia Tech can have a maximum of 85 players on its football team on an athletic scholarship. (So, although as we progress through the summer there could conceivably be a point where the Jackets appear to have more than 85 on scholarship, that total will have to be no higher than 85 by the time the team heads to Ireland to start its season.)
Now, barring any major injuries, Georgia Tech is set up to have only 13 seniors on its team in 2016 -- including 10 in their fifth year of eligibility. That's a small senior class by most standards, and it will lead to another undersized recruiting class in 2017.
The only thing that would increase the size of that class is from "early departures" by players who have eligibility remaining -- players who graduate and elect not to return for a fifth year, players who transfer out, players who are dismissed, players whose careers end due to medical reasons, and so on. Although history tells us there will be more attrition than that, we can conservatively estimate that two more players currently on scholarship will be gone by the time the 2017 begins.
With 13 seniors and an estimated 2 other players leaving the team before the 2017 season, the next recruiting class for the Yellow Jackets should be around 15 players. Again, more attrition means that number grows, but it's the basis for our projections here.
A look at the Scholarship Breakdown shows a few large-scale trends.
- Headed into 2016, the Jackets sport a wealth of youth at the offensive skill positions. Between A-Back, B-Back, and Wide Receiver, Georgia Tech has 18 players who will be redshirt sophomores or younger, and only 6 who are juniors or older. That said, it's unlikely that many scholarships will be spent on those position groups in the 2017 class.
- At only 13 on scholarship, Georgia Tech already finds itself short of the mark of 15 offensive linemen that it looks to carry in an ideal case -- enough to fill three full lines. Add to that the graduation of Freddie Burden, as well as potential for attrition within the group, and the offensive line will be an area of focus within the recruiting class.
- With several recently-graduated players on defense and more to come, and with only 7 defensive signees in 2016, the defense figures to be the other primary focus of the recruiting class. With 6 seniors in the front 7 and a secondary thinned out by recent graduations, the defense should be a majority of the class.
Basically, with a lot of offensive skill position players in the last two recruiting classes, a slight shortage of offensive linemen, and a lot of recently-graduated players on defense, the 2017 recruiting class figures to be heavy with offensive linemen and defensive players.
With all that said, here's how the class projects at the moment.
|QB||1||Under Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech has always taken at least one QB.|
|BB||0||With several young B-Backs already in place, this might be a rare year where none are taken, barring players leaving before exhausting their eligibility..|
|AB||1||Graduations of Lynn Griffin and Isaiah Willis open up room for at least 1 AB in the class.|
|WR||1||Although everyone has eligibility left after this season, there's a chance that one of the redshirt juniors won't return.|
|OL||3||Freddie Burden is set to graduate (meaning they'll need a center), and the Jackets need two more between OG and OT already.|
|DT||2||Pat Gamble and Francis Kallon are in their final years of eligibility.|
|DE||2||Rod Rook-Chungong and Kenderius Whitehead will be graduating, making room for two defensive ends.|
|LB||2||Chase Alford and P.J. Davis are each set to graduate following the 2016 season.|
|CB||2||Georgia Tech finds itself short on cornerbacks headed into 2016. They'll need at least 2 in the next class.|
|S/NB||1||A bit of risk for early attrition at this spot and a continued emphasis on the 4-2-5 leaves room for another body here.|
|Specialists||0||Although Harrison Butker and Ryan Rodwell are due to graduate, a scholarship player here is likely to come from within the program this time, as opposed to being recruited.|
It's worth mentioning here too -- this is subject to change as the number of open scholarships for the class changes. Extra attrition could necessitate more recruited players at certain positions, likely directly correlating with the positions of the departing players.
If there are three positions to watch in particular, it's these:
As mentioned above, multi-year starter Freddie Burden is due to graduate after 2016, and there's an outside chance of further attrition beyond that -- not to mention the shortage already in place. After missing on Donavaughn Campbell and Jordan Johnson, it's important that the staff comes through with a strong group of linemen in the 2017 class.
The Jackets got a strong pair of interior linemen in the 2016 class, and need to follow that up with a repeat performance in the 2017 class. Pat Gamble and Francis Kallon are both set to graduate following the 2016 season, with only Kyle Cerge-Henderson as the only other DT on the 2016 roster with any in-game experience so far. A currently young group will need more support moving forward from the 2017 signing class.
With the recent graduations of D.J. White and Chris Milton -- with a combined 5 years of starting experience -- this group finds itself thin heading into 2016. The need for numbers at this position group might be offset a bit by position changes rather than recruiting numbers.
The spring months are a time for a lot of evaluations, primarily between on-campus camps, recruiting camps (such as those for Rivals or Nike), and some specialty events (such as 7-on-7 tournaments). This is a time period when a major first wave of offers will go out -- and several already have. This is also a time when Georgia Tech traditionally adds a few commitments -- business won't really pick up until June and July, but there are a scattered few who will commit early on, mainly between March and April.
So, keep an eye out, and we'll keep you updated as any developments come about for the 2017 recruiting class!