The Year of Recruiting Dangerously

Solid recruiting classes are now expected from Coach O'Leary and his staff. They've established a pattern of attracting excellent athletes who also have no trouble getting into school. But this next class, which will be smaller than in recent years, could be the most important yet for these Tech coaches. The recruiting landscape is changing in Georgia and the South, and the Jackets have to prove all over again that they are still a program on the rise to players who now have more choices.

The group of future Tech footballers that sign with the Jackets next February will not be large in number. After all, the Jackets will probably sign about 15 players, maybe less. The football program only has 12 seniors on its roster.

But it will be a critical class. The landscape of big-time college football is changing. Here are three reasons why this Jacket class will speak volumes about the balance of power in the ACC and the state of Georgia.

Mark Richt

Georgia's new head coach is already proving on the field that he's the real deal. But he's threatening to make a huge statement by recruiting a top five class as well. The fact is, he has to recruit a top five class if he wants to succeed at Georgia in the long haul. Jim Donnnan was fired for losing too much to all the Bulldogs' key rivals, including Tech. Richt must recruit at absolutely the same level as Tennessee and Florida if he hope's to live long and prosper in Athens. His first class was rated twelfth in the nation before seven became non-qualifiers. But the bad news for Georgia was that six SEC schools still had higher rated classes. Richt can afford to be more careful this year about the academics of  his recruits. And the early indications are that Richt's staff is putting together a great class. Georgia and the Jackets are butting heads over many key players. The Jackets must hold their own in those battles. Mark Richt is going to be tougher to recruit against than Jim Donnan.

Successful New Coaches Give Prospects More Choices

It's bad enough that the Jackets are surrounded by larger schools with big-time head coaches like Steve Spurrier, Bobby Bowden, Phil Fulmer, Lou Holtz, Tommy Bowden, Tommy Tuberville, and Richt. But all four new coaches in the ACC (Bunting, Friedgen, Groh and Grobe) are keepers, as is Dennis Franchione at Alabama. This means they will recruit better players to their schools. Increased competition means players have more choices. Some schools are going to see their recruiting bases compromised by all the new competition. The trick for the Jackets will be to hold their own despite having fewer scholarships available.

The Jackets Can Move To An Even Higher Level

The Jackets will never have the overabundance of athletic talent that FSU has year in and year out. But it's been gratifying to see them come so much closer in the O'Leary era. Tech, in fact, now boasts outstanding depth at many positions. But with this next class, the Jackets can address luxuries, because many needs have already been met. The Jackets can try and sign the type of prospects only elite schools seem to be able to sign with any regularity: speedy receivers who are also tall, taller DBs, elite defensive tackles, and top-ten prospects at all positions.

It will be interesting to follow the recruiting wars to see how it all shakes out. We promise to do our part at to keep you informed. Top Stories