New Editions (2):
QB: Reggie Ball, Patrick Carter, Taylor Bennett/Kyle Manley
The one that got away:
We took a shot at some highly rated guys early on, like Cornelius Ingram & John Parker Wilson, but the one we really wanted and were close on was Glennon. He ended up choosing Virginia Tech over us, so we'll get to see plenty of him over the next 4/5 years. It didn't really seem like we ever had much of a shot at Ingram (Florida) or Wilson (Alabama). There were a couple of other highly rated players though that we looked closely at but never offered. It was surprising to see that we never tried too hard for either Calvin Booker (Auburn) or Cullen Harper (Clemson), but that should tell you about how our coach's evaluations are different from that of the recruiting services. It may also say a little something about the ones we did bring in.
Early in the recruiting process it was believed that GT should definitely bring in one QB and maybe two. We knew that A.J. Suggs and Brian Camp were graduating and at least one QB would be needed for numbers alone. With a lack of a true embedded starter, we could really be in the market for a highly rated type of player. Before the season started, Damarius Bilbo was surprisingly moved from QB to WR, which left us with only 2 QBs that would be around after the season: Reggie Ball and Pat Carter. Now it would become necessary to sign two QBs. Once Ball's amazing takeover of the starting role happened, it became apparent that finding a highly rated high school QB may have become tougher to do as well.
Who we signed:
The first to commit was one of the top QBs from the state of Georgia, Kyle Manley. He chose GT over interest from California, Stanford and Duke among others. Based on Kyle's accomplishment, it was amazing that he wasn't receiving more interest on the recruiting trail. In three years of HS ball, he never lost a game and led Buford to 3 state titles. Ignore rankings here, you cannot find that kind of leadership or list of accomplishment just anywhere. The knock on Kyle was that Buford depended heavily on star RB Darius Walker and that he just handed the ball off a lot. Well, it's true that you have to watch a lot of film to put together a reasonable highlight film of a QB in Buford's system but when Kyle does throw the ball, the results are good. He is very accurate and almost always hits his target. Our coaches saw enough of Kyle in camp to know that he does have the tools to be a QB at the highest levels of Division One.
Not long after Manley committed, we landed our second and final QB of the class, Taylor Bennett. Bennett was largely unknown by the recruiting gurus prior to his interest in GT. He didn't start until his senior season and was only noticed because of his outstanding play in college camps across the country. Taylor is a tall and lanky lefthander with a slingshot arm and good mobility. He signed early and enrolled back in January. He even suited up and traveled with the team to the Humanitarian Bowl in Boise. Speaking of Boise, Taylor was torn throughout the recruiting process on picking GT over Boise State. Before GT showed interest, he had developed a close relationship with the coaching staff at Boise State. When it came time to make his final decision though, he said that he had to choose what he thought was the better school and football program with the higher potential. Taylor has already spent hours in the film room and hopes to get a leg up on Manley by participating in spring practice, starting in March. But don't think Kyle's going to let him get too much of a jump. Manley plans on attending most of the spring secession as well in order to get a feel for practice and the verbiage of the offense.
Recruiting Grade: B
GT really hit on its need to land two QBs in this class. We might have made a run at some higher rated players at the position but having a true freshman as a rising star on the team never helps. What we needed was a couple of QBs with great tools and leadership qualities, which we got. We are not depending on either to come in and take over the team like we ended up doing last year. That is good because even with Kyle's and Taylor's potential, both need to get some experience before seeing the 2-deep right now. Taylor needs reps because he started his football career so late and Kyle has to prove that he's a guy that can get it done through the air. I'd like to see Ball and Carter as the top two QBs in the system next year so that we can redshirt both freshmen. In 2005, I see either Ball or Carter moving to another position and one of the two QBs in this class taking over as the backup and eventually pushing for the starting job themselves. Based on our current situation and future needs at this position, I feel that Tech did what it needed to for continued long-term success at Quarterback.