New Editions (4):
RT: Kyle Wallace, Kieran Delaney, Andrew Gardner
Four big changes to the depth chart:
1) Nat Dorsey is no longer here. He applied for early entry into the NFL where he's expected to be one of the top 3 Offensive Tackles taken in the April draft.
2) Hugh Reilly is no longer here. He too is now preparing for a possible future in the NFL but he's going the traditional way after graduating and spending 5 years at GT. Both Hugh and Nat both spent time on the All-ACC first team list during their career, so their production will be missed.
3) Tidwell-Neal moves to Center. This move does two things for the team. One, we replace an important senior loss with one of our best linemen. And two, clears up the logjam at Guard from last year. Now all of our 3 best Guards from a year ago will see the starting lineup.
4) Brad Brezina move to OL from DT to help fill in some of the depth issues now remaining at the Guard spot.
The one that got away:
Ciulla is one we really wanted and really came close to getting as well. After committing to Michigan early in the process, Jeremy had some second thoughts about his decision and contacted our coaches about coming by to visit and attend some games. But in the end he stood by his original commitment and got about as far away from home as possible. Georgia Tech also made early runs at highly sought after linemen Seth Watts (Georgia) and Dave Weber (Pittsburgh). We never really seemed to have a very realistic shot at either however. Others we pursued but came up short on were Wyatt Hicks (North Carolina) and Edwin Rollman (Arizona). Apparently we likely preferred Hicks as a Defensive End instead of an OL though. Others we considered offering but never did (or the offer expired before they decided) included Cameron Mayo (Tennessee), Justin Decker (Youngstown State), and Fred Roland (Duke) among others.
Numbers at all Offensive Line positions were starting to get down right scary. We needed at least 3 originally but when Dorsey went pro, it became necessary to get at least 1 more. Despite being in a bind for numbers, our coaches still remained very picky about who they extended offers to. I really like knowing that they have a plan for the position and know exactly what they are looking for. It surprised and frustrated many when we didn't offer Roland when he appeared to want to come to GT but I guess there was a reason they didn't feel he'd contribute to our goal of winning championships. With the new starting lineup being all upper classmen, it was time to give our younger guys some future competition for their positions. I think we hit on our needs pretty well too.
Who GT signed:
Kieran Delaney appears to be a great fit for our program both athletically and academically. First off he's a huge 6'5", 310 pound monster that is accustomed to pancaking high school defenders. Kieran already bench presses 345 pounds and squats 515 pounds. He turned down some other good offers from schools like Iowa State, Maryland and Northwestern. Also he's a capable student, scoring a 1290 on his SAT to go along with a 3.0 GPA. Delaney looks like a guy that would fit in well as a Tackle but I'm told he could also play Guard. Either way, he looks like a good pickup that will contribute heavily down the line. In fact he probably has the best body and strength of this group to contribute early if needed.
Andrew Gardner is a good football player as well as a pretty solid player in basketball. A football lineman that can play hoops just shows that he's a very good athlete on top of everything else. However he is a risky signee because of his current weight. He's a towering 6'6" prospect but weighs in the area of 250 pounds. If the staff and trainers can get Andrew as closer to 300 pounds, then I think he becomes a great steal for GT. Had Gardner been heavier as a senior, he likely could have had offers from just about every school in the southeast. Even as a light lineman he still had offers from the likes of Wake Forest, Duke and Navy to turn down. I certainly think his potential alone makes him one to keep an eye on for the future. Look for him to almost definitely be redshirted in 2004. It should also be mentioned that Andrew is close friends with Calvin Johnson, so that should help both feel more comfortable in their transition from high school to college.
Jacob Lonowski is another big 6'5" OL that is nearing 300 pounds as well. He chose GT early on so he had not landed many other offers at the time. But he was getting some early interest from schools like Nebraska and Iowa State. Being from Elkhorn, Nebraska, it was kind of surprising that he was much more interested in GT over the home state school. In fact, he and his family approached Tech a couple of years ago because of their high interest in Tech's academics. When the Yellow Jackets offered him the chance to matriculate and play football in Atlanta, they jumped on it without concern over what else might come along. Jacob needs to work on his strength once he gets on campus but he's a big, smart kid and those are two important ingredients for successful Offensive Linemen.
Nate McManus was the last lineman that we garnered a commitment from this recruiting season. He's a big, wide lineman from Mountain Brook, Alabama. Nate took a long look at going to Auburn but they waited around and were hesitant to offer him. So he committed to GT and we are hoping that the Tigers regret that decision in the future. McManus is a big, immovable guy that already has the body for the college game. I look for him to get into the mix at Guard in the near future. From watching his film, he's a guy that never gives up on a play and that kind of work ethic should serve him well in the long run.
Another realistic possibility at OL is Elris Anyaibe. He is currently listed at Defensive Tackle but it has been suggested that he could move to OL once we're able to take better inventory of exactly what we have on both sides of the line. If it's decided that he's needed more on offense then he could be the best of the bunch that we signed. His film is very impressive and he is one of the more fleet of foot linemen that you're likely going to see. With his ability to pull block, he's a good candidate to be a Guard or Center.
Recruiting Grade: B
We have assembled a promising group of Offensive Lineman with this year's class. You would like to have seen them with some more interest from other schools to know that they are highly sought after guys but that's not always as important with this position. Delaney is the one with the most impressive list of offers. Other bigger schools sniffed around the others we signed at OL but many never bit. Sometimes though it's better that we get to them first and have the confidence in our scouting abilities to land them. When looking at who offered and who didn't, also consider that GT did not offer at some more highly rated players that went on to sign with football factory type schools. What's important is that we replenish the program with 4 or 5 big bodied linemen that are smart and have been singled out as players our coaches feel can help us win championships in the future.