New Editions (3):
This is annually the toughest part of the depth chart to guess before spring practice. I usually stick incoming freshmen at the end of the charts but I made an exception with Calvin, as I did last year putting Kenny Scott into the 2-deep after he was signed. Calvin will start in fall; I'd be willing to bet most anything on that. Until then, look for Logan and McGuire to try and secure themselves into the starting role at Split End. Bilbo may not even end up at WR. There is talk that he could be a TE or even a LB, which is where I'd personally like to see him. His build is very similar to Keyaron Fox and he has the mentality of a defender and the hitting ability to go along with it.
The one that got away:
With the guys Georgia Tech ended up signing, the loss of Sudderth to Navy ended up not being as bad as it seemed at the time. It sure would have been nice to have had an athlete like Greg though, who could have added more height to our group of receivers. He also could have been moved to Safety. Either way, he's one we really wanted but it's tough to argue about losing someone to the service academies. We also made good early runs at high profile players such as Brandon Barrett (West Virginia), Carl Grimes (Michigan State) and Johnny Peyton (South Florida). As it turns out though, two of them may have ended up being more of a headache than they were worth. Grimes and Peyton both turned from early commitments they had made to Florida State and Pittsburgh respectively. Aaron Kelly is another prospect that we put some kind of effort into. It appears though that we probably weren't as high on him as many fans would have thought we would be. We basically let him sign with Clemson without much of a fight, so we'll see if that comes back to haunt us in the future.
Recruiting the wide receiver position for GT was a high priority this year in both quantity and quality. First off, we were losing our top (and only) playmaker at the position, Jonathan Smith. Adding Calvin Johnson eases concerns about losing "Freddie" and having a guy that other teams need to focus on and, at times, double team. Numbers at the position were becoming a concern as well. This upcoming season will be the last for three receivers: Curry, Logan, and Thomas. In addition to an upcoming decrease in our numbers at WR, there is also a "need for speed." I believe that we satisfied the need for numbers, talent and speed with James Johnson and Patrick Clark. Because of a lack of proven ability on the current team, all 3 players will have the chance to make an impact as freshmen, if they're up to it.
Who GT signed:
Calvin Johnson is the jewel of this class. It is rare that GT gets commitments from 5-star players. Calvin could have played at any school in the country but it came down to the two big in-state programs for his services. UGA was beaten out head-to-head for Georgia's top receiver, much to the dismay of their staff and fans. Calvin is the type of player you can go ahead and pencil into the 2-deep chart. In fact, I think it would be a bit of a surprise if he was not starting in the Samford game on September 4th. He will attract a lot of attention from Defensive Coordinators next season and should make the going easier for whoever plays opposite him. And that I think will be the instant value he will bring to the team. It probably isn't fair to put these kinds of expectations on an 18-year old but such is the life of recruits that come in so highly touted. But Calvin isn't the only one that could help out next season.
James Johnson committed to GT in mid-December and closely watched the recruitment of Calvin Johnson, who committed 1 month later. Why, was James worried about diminishing opportunities if Calvin joined in? No, he was overjoyed because he knew playing with Calvin for 4 years would mean the focus on the field would be off of him and he could make a name for himself at times in single coverage. After watching film on James though, Calvin may be the one that's happy because of the other guy that signed. James is blazing fast and a north-south runner that can take it to the endzone on any given play. No frills to his game, he just catches the ball, turns up field and runs as fast as he knows how. I've seen him run back kick offs and punts for touchdowns as well. James just appears to be a playmaker. It's possible he could end up at a defensive back but I'd really like to see his speed used on the offense. He was such a versatile and valuable athlete to his team that an injury to the starting RB caused their coach to move James there for most of the season. This may explain why we didn't have to fight off many other good schools, besides Nebraska & South Carolina, for his services. Scouts have told our coaches that he was the best player in the Orlando area this year.
The third receiver in the class may end up being the most exciting to watch. Patrick Clark is probably the flashiest player of the bunch. He has super speed and reaches top speed very fast. Also he has some wiggle in his hips that will remind many of Peter Warrick. Patrick is a bit undersized but combine that with his speed and great moves and he's probably a tough receiver to catch and tackle. If he has good hands to go along with the rest of the package, he could be another outstanding future playmaker. GT signed Clark over offers from Mississippi, Michigan State, Vanderbilt, and North Carolina. Scouts have suggested that Patrick is the best player on his team, despite the presence of highly rated recruit Tony Carter, who signed with Florida State. Clark is also a player that could help on defense or returns if needed.
Recruiting Grade: A
It was a no-brainer to give WR an A for this year's class. We needed numbers and talent and got a great combination of both. We landed one of the top receivers in the country and 2 others that trusted scouts were very high on. Viewing short films on the 2 lesser known commits seems to confirm what our coaches were told about them. With James Johnson, Patrick Clark and Chris Dunlap all being good receivers that can also play defense, I would bet that 1 of them will eventually move to the defensive side of the ball. But for now, we have a great group of receivers with a lack of experience. It will be up to them to determine who will see the field next year. If the veterans don't establish themselves this spring, there are three players that will try to steal away their playing time later this summer. Usually freshmen have to adjust to the speed of the game in college but these kids are the speed of the game. That's why it is much more common to see early contributions from the WR position.