GoJackets.com continues its series to help you get a view of the big picture in recruiting. With National Signing Day over and Georgia Tech's recruiting class completed, GoJackets.com is taking a position-by-position look at the 2012 recruiting class. Today we will look at the wide receivers.
Current Depth Chart:
Current Seniority Chart:
1 senior – Jackson (R)
1 junior – Moore (R)
2 sophomores – Greene, Waller
3 freshmen – Summers, Henry, Aurty
Expected 2013 Class Open Slots: 2
Notes: Georgia Tech may not be thought to heavily focus on the wide receiver position but one glance at the depth and seniority charts and you have to be somewhat concerned. Four have moved on from last year's team, including both starters, leaving but four returning receivers on the team. The projected starters for next year were thinking about who to take to their senior prom just a year ago. The entire third string – if they don't redshirt – are actively seeking prom dates. That makes five underclassmen versus only two upper classmen for this fall. That should make for a lot of questions to be answered beginning in spring. There should be a lot of reps to go around for the top four guys.
Before getting into the returning and incoming players, I want to touch on the guys who have departed. For starters we have Stephen Hill. Some may have wondered why he split early and think he won't be such a loss because he wasn't consistent with his hands. I think that's crazy for the record. He showed the combines recently just what Tech fans will miss – a tall, athletic receiver who has extraordinary speed – tops at the combine with a 4.3 second 40-yard dash. No one at Tech ever doubted his athleticism but many did long for him to reach his potential while on campus. Hill remains an important person for the Tech program though for several reasons. For beginners, Tech went head-to-head with Georgia to win a key in-state recruiting battle. He then made many exciting contributions on the field for Tech. Finally, he has positioned himself as the second WR to come out of Tech's option offense – the other being Demaryius Thomas, of course – to possibly be a first round pick in the NFL. That would be great for Stephen and great publicity for Georgia Tech. Congrats and best of luck Stephen.
Tyler Melton was also a steady force for the Yellow Jackets for years. He complimented Hill's deep plays by making several key catches when Tech needed it. He also built up a great reputation as blocker for the run game. He was really an ideal receiver for Tech, whose contribution in the running game often went unnoticed, but be sure that several big runs wouldn't have made the highlight reel without the contributions of Melton.
Hill and Melton were #1 and #2 in receiving for Tech in 2011. Hill had 28 catches for 820 yards (that's an amazing 29.3 yards PER CATCH) and 5 touchdowns. Melton had 17 catches for 263 but didn't see pay dirt. Daniel McKayhan and Jon Lockhart move on as well but neither were strong contributors on the field. McKayhan played in 13 games last year and Lockhart played in 2 games – neither had a catch.
The experience of Hill and Melton will be missed in 2012. None of the four returning players had a single catch in 2011. It's almost like starting from scratch. Jackson, Greene and Waller played in all or nearly all games in 2011 so they will at least have a feel for the speed of the game – even if most of the experience came on special teams. Moore played in the first three games last year then not again. Spring should be an open competition. The two sophomores will be rewarded for their choice to come to Tech but being able to compete for true playing time in their second season. The really interesting player though could be Chris Jackson – who Tech fans have seemingly rooted for going on six years or so. Jackson went from Tech to Bama and back to Tech then has fought injuries. Will he finally put it all together and give his many fans something to cheer about on the field? He'll certainly have a lot of moral support.
Summers (6-2, 190) is a three-star player ranked as the #85 safety by Scout.com. A year ago Summers ran a 4.48 second 40-yard dash at the Atlanta MVP camp and he's been reported to have even faster times (4.34 seconds) elsewhere. He chose the Yellow Jackets over offers from Duke, Florida, Pittsburgh (as a cornerback), Georgia State, Vanderbilt, South Alabama, South Carolina State and Grambling State. He was also selected for the Georgia North-South All-Star game. All of the offers listed for him happened before his GT offer. Why is that? It's because he was done with recruiting within 24 hours of getting his offer from Paul Johnson. "Coach Johnson told me he was committed to me and I told him that I am committed to him. I am locked in on Georgia Tech and I will not be taking any other visits," Summers told Chad Simmons following his commitment.
Insight: "Summers has the bloodlines with his father playing in the NFL, but he has talent of his own too. He is a fluid athlete that could play wide receiver or safety in college. He has good football instincts, he catches the ball well, and he can go up and get the jump ball or be a ball-hawking safety." – Chad Simmons
Notes: I'm not sure that the next Bebe or Hill is in this class. Summers may be a poor man's version of them. He's slightly shorter and has above-average speed. Physically he looks like a good fit for the Tech offense and he seems to have the build to contribute early if needed and deserving. In terms of rankings he was looked well upon by Scout.com but not as a blue chip prospect. By the summer before his senior year Micheal had a fairly solid offer list. He could have likely garnered even more attention had he played out the process longer.
In terms of offensive fit, he would seem to fill more of the downfield threat role. If his hands are solid, he could be a very nice pickup. In terms of demeanor, he also seems like a good fit. This quote to Sean Breslin following his commitment is revealing of his buy-in to this offense and willingness to be a team player, "I'm physical and I bring a lot of blocking to the table, so I look forward to playing receiver," Summers said. "Hopefully someday, I can elevate my skills to the level of Demaryius Thomas or the other big- name Tech receivers." Ideally, you'd like to match up a solid get like Summers in a class with a blue chip prospect but he'll have to serve as the headliner to the receivers in this class.
Autry (6-1, 168) is a three-star player ranked as the #171 wide receiver by Scout.com. Autry was an under-the-radar player who did not have other offers at the time of his December commitment to Tech. Chad Simmons noted a solid performance from Anthony at a Walton-Norcross August scrimmage: "Autry may have been the most impressive performer in this scrimmage," wrote Simmons. "He took an interception back over 50 yards for a touchdown. He read the quarterback well at safety, he showed good instincts, and he covered receivers well." Though he stood out on defense there, he'll be another wide out for Coach Johnson.
Insight: "Autry is a prospect that knows how to put himself into position to make plays. He is a long and rangy athlete with good hands and sneaky speed. You have to like his versatility and raw ability." – Chad Simmons
Notes: Autry won't go down as the most lauded pick up on the class. He did get a three-star ranking which is solid but being the #171 receiver probably means he was on the low end of the scale. No offers by December and coming from such a visible school as Norcross makes you raise an eyebrow and ask if perhaps Tech could have held out for a preferred walk-on offer. Size is another big concern for me and probably a reason other teams didn't offer him. If 6'1" and 168 pounds is true then that's very lanky. I'd be concerned about the ability to put on enough weight to be a contributor in an offense where he'll be asked to crack down some sizable safeties at times. I was similarly concerned about Jeremy Moore when I first saw him on campus and he was listed at 6'3", 180 pounds. If he can put on the muscle and show the good hands the Simmons witnessed then he could be a nice surprise.
Henry (6-3, 210) is a two-star player unranked as an OLB by Scout.com. Like Summers, he was selected to the Georgia North-South All-Star game. He had offers from Georgia State, Memphis, and Middle Tennessee and was a last minute commitment for the Jackets. WR may not be his final destination at Tech but that's where he'll start according to his January interview with Dale McDuffie: Henry is a versatile athlete and the coaches have a decision to make when it comes to finding a position for him. "I will start off at wide receiver but I was told that if needed I could be moved to outside linebacker. I'm cool with either position even though I love playing wide receiver."
Insight: "Travin Henry is an athlete who played both sides of the ball in high school. He has the size and athleticism to be a big wide receiver in Georgia Tech's offense or line up at outside linebacker in their defensive scheme. His physical style of play will help him at either position and his speed is solid. He has great length too and that can help at receiver or linebacker. He has a lot of raw talent and could be a steal for the Yellow Jackets." – Chad Simmons
Notes: I agree with Chad here in that Travin could be a steal. If you're going to reach on a player (and he is a reach), why not go after someone with good measurables and upside. His ranking and offer sheet won't wow anyone but he seems to be athletic and versatile enough to be a Division One player on either side of the ball. I would think this is the kind of player famous Tech fan and Hiver WaCoJacket would like to see Tech take a chance on rather than hold the scholarship over for another season. Another quote to Dale McDuffie reveals some passion he has for football and a hint of confidence and nastiness: "I love to block and will lay one into the defensive player. On defense I am a sure tackler," said Henry.
The one who got away:
Chris Harper (California)
There really wasn't a great choice here but I went with Harper since Tech made a big swing by identifying him early and being one of the first two to offer him. He didn't come close to leaving his home state to come to Tech but at least Tech caught his attention early on.
Here are the others who were listed as having GT offers include: Bryce Treggs (California) and Shaq Roland (South Carolina). Mark Irick (Virginia Tech) and A.J. Liddell (uncommitted?) were listed as having offers but that appears to not be the case.