* First Team All-ACC Player
Needs in recruiting:
Georgia Tech, currently second in the ACC in rush defense, is giving up a mere 94.6 yards per game on the ground. They doing it with only 7 healthy defensive linemen, only 3 of which are true Defensive Tackles? I'm sure the coaches are happy with what they've been able to do but I doubt that stat will stop them from recruiting defensive linemen for next season. Despite this year's successes to date, defensive linemen will be a top priority for this class. All 4 starters from this season should return for next season. Henderson, Parker and Wilkinson all have another 2 years of eligibility left and Wrotto is just a true freshman. If we can infuse some more talent to this blue-collar group, the future should remain bright for the defensive line. Besides the starters, Omar Billy and Brad Brezina (when healthy) provide good depth. GT also added 3 freshmen to the line last season. Adamm Oliver and LeShawn Newberry appear to be heading for redshirt seasons but Joe Anoai has been quite a surprise for the Jackets. Joe has already contributed at DE, DT and special teams. I believe that Tech has survived with some hard work, great coaching and a little luck with injuries. In the future though, Tech fans will breathe a little easier with more bodies to choose from at these positions.
Defensive line prospects are always tough to come by. So far Tech has sent out offers to several big names but have yet to hook one in just yet. Many blue-chip Defensive Linemen have either committed to other schools or have GT lower than we'd like on their list. For some reason, this seems to be a spot where GT has seldom pulled in a top notch prospect. Tech does however have a history for getting good prospects on the line and tuning them into something special, especially at Defensive End. Recently GT has turned unheralded DEs Tony Hargrove and Eric Henderson into guys with a chance to play on Sundays. It also looks like Tech may have finally found a Defensive Tackle in Mansfield Wrotto with prototypical size that will likely be a career starter. Wrotto was rated as a former 2-star prospect just last year but is proving to be much more than that. So the strategy will be for the coaches to keep evaluating guys that they think can help them win football games even if they are not the highest rated guys around. The good thing about having all of your starters returning for the next 2 seasons is that you can allow some of these prospects time to develop. And who knows, maybe our luck will change and we'll finally land the blue-chip lineman that has been so elusive for us in recent years.
I expect the staff to really go after some numbers at these two positions. Between Tackle and End, I believe we will see 5 players signed in February. I hope to see at least 1 or 2 "true" Tackles; guys that show up on campus already around 270 pounds or more with the bodies to get in the trenches to play early. We did this last season and it worked as you would have expected. One was ready to play and the other needed a season to get adjusted to the speed of the game. I think the other 3 should be Defensive Ends. We have better numbers there currently but with a big frame, some of them could move inside eventually. We've had success this year by occasionally moving Henderson or Anoai inside from the End position.
The only other considerations for next season on the defensive line are both long shots in my eyes. There is a hope that Greg Gathers will be given a "medical redshirt" and allowed to play one more season. First of all, I'm not sure what the chances are of getting that extension. Second, even if he is giving another chance, can he physically handle playing college football again? And if he is allowed to play and gets back into shape, will he be near the same player he was before the health problem? It's just too many questions to count on that happening. Tech fans would certainly welcome Greg back with open arms and would cheer hard for him if he were to attempt a courageous comeback. The only other possibility is the unlikely return of former academic causality Terron Pullen. There is a good chance that we will see some of those players return and Terron has been thought to be one of the guys that the coaches really wanted to get back. But I have a feeling we've seen the last of this promising talent. Tech fans would also welcome him back but I think it is more likely that we'll see him playing elsewhere when/if he returns to play college ball.
Demario Pressley is the nation's #1 Defensive Tackle, according to The Insiders. Early on in his recruitment he listed Tech among his favorites and favored mostly ACC schools. He has since dropped many ACC schools off of his list, including GT, and added some schools from all over but he still looks destined for the ACC. He is believed to be mainly looking at North Carolina and North Carolina State.
David Brown is a blue-chip DT from the state of Alabama. The 6'3", 265-pound talent currently played Defensive End for Madison High. With his size and quickness though, most colleges project him as a big-time DT. He has already scheduled official visits to Notre Dame, Alabama, and Georgia. GT has a shot his last two spots along with LSU (who he has already visited unofficially), Tennessee and Vandy. Tech wouldn't seem to be a favorite here but if we land an official visit and stick in his top 5, who knows what can happen?
Dumaka Atkins, the younger brother of Miami Hurricane Baraka Atkins, is another top rated Defensive Tackle that GT has offered. The 3-star Tackle is from Sarasota, Florida and is being recruited by most schools as an Offensive Linemen over DT, although Tech likes him on the defensive side of the ball. Dumaka currently lists Florida State, Ohio State, and Michigan as his favorites but I'm told that GT is still in it pretty good with him. The one thing that could change that is if Miami decides to finally offer. It is believed that he would likely jump on that offer and go play with his brother.
Frank Morton is a local prospect from Southwest Dekalb High. He picks up more and more offers as the recruiting process plays out. The 2-star prospect is believed to be favoring Ohio State but still has a long list of schools he's looking at. GT doesn't seem to be one of his top targets but if he decides to stay closer to home, we could move up on his list.
Dwayne Hendricks is the nation's #4 rated Defensive End. Georgia Tech was on the New Jersey native's list of schools when it was at 10. He has since paired his list down to only a handful of teams and GT is no longer being mentioned. He currently seems to favor Miami, UCLA, and Nebraska.
Darrell Robertson & Doug Slavonic are the final two prospects on this list of defensive linemen with offers from GT. Both Defensive Ends however are committed to other schools: Florida State and West Virginia respectively. Robertson is still keeping his options open, so his commitment to FSU is considered to be "soft." The Jonesboro High star isn't likely to change his mind and attend GT as his other favorite schools included Stanford, Maryland and Virginia.
Other Defensive Tackles you will see associated with GT recruiting include: Elris Anyaibe, Neil Brown, Nick Butler and Malachi McGee. Other Defensive Ends to look out for include: Justin Treece, Kevin Mims, and A.J. Smith.
Elris Anyaibe is a 2-star prospect out of Desoto, Texas. The 6'3", 275-pound Tackle has only an offer from Army at this time but many schools, including GT, continue to talk with him. Elris is an interesting prospect because he has good speed and quickness for his size. This is a kid that has flown under the radar early in the recruiting process but teams are now starting to take notice. This is one I'd really like to see GT get more involved with. Even though he projects as a defensive player, he can play on the Offensive Line as well.
Neil Brown is smallish Defensive Tackle prospect from Buford High in Georgia. The 6'2", 248-pound Tackle is another one that may become of more interest to Tech fans in the coming weeks. With the addition of his teammate QB Kyle Manley to GT's commitment list, his chances of ending up at Tech likely increased. He currently does not have an offer from Tech but if we decide to offer I'd imagine that we would look pretty good to him. Neil currently has offers from the likes of Arkansas, Louisville, Duke, Wake Forest, and Vanderbilt. Scott Kennedy lists Mr. Brown as the #39 prospect in the state of Georgia. Tech has been racking up players on this list and Brown could be another good target for GT as the recruiting season heats up.
Nick Butler is another 2-star Tackle prospect from the state of Georgia. Nick is 6'2", 260 pounds and has a good frame to grow into a super Tackle prospect. The star from Warner Robbins has his first offer now and it's from Louisville. Other schools he plans on visiting include Auburn, GT and UGA. The Insider's #61 prospect in Georgia is one to keep a very close eye on. If he gets his scores up I am told that he will get an offer from GT and is a near lock to be a Yellow Jacket! Butler is currently the most likely target on this list.
Malachi McGee is a Tackle prospect from Mississippi that is looking for his first offer. He is no longer listing GT but currently likes schools like Florida, Mississippi State, Colorado and Texas. McGee, an excellent student in the classroom, is likely to stay in state if offered by one of those schools, especially Mississippi State.
Justin Treece is a HS Linebacker from Jacksonville, Florida that projects as a Defensive End in college. The 6'2", 245 pound prospect is without a major offer right now but is having a great senior season and could turn some heads. He currently has 102 tackles, with 22 for loss and 7.5 sacks. Tech could probably land Justin if we come to him with an offer.
Kevin Mims is a tall and rangy DE prospect from Texas that has been flying under the radar. The 6'4", 250-pound End currently has offers from Duke, Tulane, Kansas, Utah, Arizona, Baylor, SMU, Louisiana-Lafayette, Texas Tech, and Northwestern. Although Tech hasn't offered yet, we show up on his top 5 of Northwestern, Michigan State, Texas Tech, and Texas A&M. With our good connections in Texas, Kevin could be one to really keep an eye on, especially if GT offers the rising prospect. He is supposed to be lightning quick and has a tall frame to build on. This is another prospect I would love to see GT become more involved with.
A.J. Smith is a tall Defensive End prospect out of Jesuit High in Tampa, Florida. He is from the same high school as George Godsey and Will Glover, so we have good inroads at that school. Not much is known about AJ at this time except that one of his defense plays was the difference in the game this past weekend. He sacked the QB for Tampa Bay Tech on the second play of the game. It turns out that was the only score of the game and Jesuit won the game 2-0. I'm sure we'll hear more of AJ as we move forward.