Needs in recruiting:
Georgia Tech's vaunted linebacker group will take a big hit next off-season when all three starters graduate. The coaching staff added three promising freshmen to the team last year and look to do the same again this recruiting season. It will be important that we not only add numbers to this position but we'll need some serious talent as well. Fox, Smith and Brown are some huge shoes to fill. Behind those three, Anyansi will be a senior. He is finally showing the ability we were told about when he was recruited. He should be ready to fill in the starters role next season at either outside or middle linebacker. With Nick Moore being groomed in the middle, I'd guess Tabugbo's spot will be on the outside. Hall & Wheeler both look like good players and will likely be on the field a lot next season, regardless of who starts. There is another possible starter that could be added to this group but I'll touch on that in the next section.
One thing that is sticking out to me for next season is the lack of height we'll have at this position. The three that are graduating are all around the 6'3" area. The four we will have left are between 6'1' and 6'2". Not a huge difference but as a group, we will be smaller and lighter. The weight difference probably won't be much of an issue though because I suspect these guys will grow a bunch between now and next season. They almost always do.
Tech has sent out offers to many top linebackers so far. We seem to be focusing on the same type of players that we keep talking about: guys with reputations for hitting hard and running hard. It appears that we have landed one such player already. Gary Guyton. He fits the profile perfectly for what I hoped to see. He's tall (6'4"), fast (4.4 40 time) and talented. From talking to coaches, they seem to think bringing in 4 new LBs would be overkill, so it looks like we are aiming to sign 3. With Guyton's commitment, I look for us to bring in two more. I do not count Justin Guadagni in this group even though he could at some point be a linebacker. I understand that he is being looked at as a Fullback initially.
One of the reasons we may only sign three is the possible return of promising linebacking star Kingi McNair, who was a part of the academic casualties from this past off-season. There is a hope within the program that he will be able to return to the team next season, which would be a huge boost for this position and the team. After spring practice, he was positioned to be a starter this season. I will feel good about our linebacking group if we can get Kingi back, sign Guyton and land two other talented players. So let's talk about who those other 2 guys might be.
Brandon Miller is one of the top LBs in the entire country. Insiders lists him as the #3 LB in the country. Scott Kennedy lists him as the #2 player in the talent-rich state of Georgia. The 6'4", 218-pound star from Miller County High had 106 tackles at linebacker and 27 catches for 500+ yards at split end last season. He is keeping his favorites close to the vest right now but does Georgia Tech have a chance? Well, it certainly looks that way. Many feel that Georgia or Florida State may be the ones to beat but Auburn, GT, and Florida all seem to be right there in the mix as well. He is getting pressured from all sides in his small home town of Colquitt, GA to go to one of the neighboring state schools, so that is probably not in Tech's favor. To his credit though, he appears to be keeping them all in check and not letting on who he really favors. I would say that the young man seems to be taking the mature approach to this process. It is probably a bit of a long shot for GT but as talented as he is, it is a story that Tech fans will have to continue to follow.
Brandon Siler is another one of the country's best linebackers. He is a 6'2", 215-pound star from Orlando, FL. His intentions do not seem nearly as cloudy as Miller's. Siler has made it pretty clear over the past few weeks that Southern California is the team to beat for his services. With the year they are having and the super coaching of Pete Carroll, it is easy to see the attraction. What if Siler wants to stay away from the West Coast though? Well then it would appear that Miami, Florida, Ohio State or Notre Dame would be the most likely destinations. I would put GT's chances extremely low for landing this Brandon.
Jae Thaxton is the Insider's # 17 linebacker and is from here in Georgia. It is still unclear whether or not the Hart County High star has an offer from GT. Some say he does others say no. Either way, our chances for seeing him in the White & Gold do not seem to be very good. The 6'2", 220-pound appears to favor FSU or UGA but watch out for LSU, Miami and Notre Dame.
Travis Chambers is the one on this list that seems to currently have the most mutual interest between him and Georgia Tech. At 5'11", 211, 4.60, he's built a little like Anyansi was when he first got on campus. The standout from nearby Chamblee High is listed as the country's #58 LB. The 3-star athlete currently favors Georgia Tech and Louisiana State. I think in the end this is one we get. Keep a close eye on Travis.
Maurice Crum, Jr. is another one to keep close tabs on. The Tampa native is the son of former Miami Hurricane standout Maurice Crum, Sr. Rated right next to Chamber's on the Insider's LB list, the 3-star athlete is currently sitting with several offers. GT was one of the early schools to offer so that is in our favor. He also has offers from Notre Dame, Auburn, Pittsburgh and West Virginia. Michigan State & Florida are also heavy in the mix. If we finished with Guyton, Chambers & Crum Jr., I'd be a happy camper.
Gary Guyton is a super pickup for the Yellow Jackets. After Godsey and Gathers, maybe we have found our next beloved "GG". With his great frame, he may eventually project as a DE if he can put a lot of weight on like Hargrove did. But for now we have ourselves a super fast, tall and lanky LB. The future Electrical Engineer, won our coaches over big-time at camp this summer. His HS, The Bradwell Institute, has been a great pipeline for Tech. The last player we had from there was last season's starting Right Guard Ray Blake. It is great to see the tradition continue into a different coaching staff.
Finally, Abdel Banda is a linebacker flying under the radar currently but has found himself with an offer from GT. He is also being sought by several schools in the Big 10. The New Jersey native is an interesting one to follow and I'll let you know more about him as I find out.
Octavious Balkcom is The Insiders' #31 linebacker and plays ball at Early County High, the same high school as Recardo Wimbush. He has no offers to date and has recently updated his top five. They are Auburn, Florida State, Florida, Georgia, and LSU. Since GT is not mentioned, I would guess that there is no mutual interest here any longer.
Tyler Hearin is a linebacker from Alabama. He broke his leg as a junior after looking like a promising prospect as a sophomore. Due in large part to the injury, Tyler is still looking for his first offer. I don't think there is much chance he leaves the state if one of those schools were to offer. But after Auburn & Alabama, he does seem to be most interested in Georgia Tech. The 6'2", 200, 4.56, 2-star athlete is an interesting case to follow. If we decide to go after the speedy backer before the schools from his home state offer, then we might be able to land him.
Narada Williams is another guy to keep a very close eye on. He really wants to be a Yellow Jacket. He is a tall and lanky 6'4", 190-pound recruit from Douglas County High that wants to stay close to home. He has a great frame and could project as a Defensive End but would have to add a lot of weight first. He can also play receiver. Narada already has offers from Cincinnati, Vanderbilt, Arkansas, and Alabama but wants GT to come through with one. I would guess that we are holding off on offering this 2-star athlete in order to find out what some of the previously mentioned linebackers will do. If Williams is on the second tier of players we are looking at for this position then I'd say we are waiting on some pretty good players. Williams certainly looks like a guy worth a shot.
D.J. Grant is a player under the radar that has some interest in Tech. He's a big 6'2.5", 240-pound player from Virginia but played football in Texas as a junior. He has interest in GT, Michigan State, Northwestern, Virginia, and Virginia Tech but is still looking for his first offer.