New Edition (1):
Georgia Tech is losing senior starting tight end Darius Williams to graduation. The Jackets would be in a big bind depth-wise at the position if not for Louisville transfer Wayne Riles. Riles is expected to challenge the two juniors who are already on campus, George Cooper and Michael Matthews, for the starting role. Gavin Tarquinio is also on the depth chart but not expect to push for a starting role. With Matthews, Cooper & Tarquinio all being juniors or seniors, it was time to inject some new talent at the position. Riles is a talented player who'll have 3 years left to play starting in fall. It was still necessary though to add another TE or two to the group in order to provide good future depth.
Who GT signed:
Given Georgia Tech's needs at the TE position, it is tough to do much better than they did in recruiting. Before even touching on highly touted TE Colin Peek, GT also signed Scout.com's #7 TE in the country, Michael Johnson. Johnson may end up playing TE at some point but during Signing Day events it was learned that the Tech coaches plan on using Johnson as a defensive end to start out. So for the purposes of grading this position, I will cover Johnson in more detail when I discuss the defensive line recruiting.
Colin Peek was described by a GT coach as "one of the best blocking TE's" he has ever seen. That includes tight ends on all levels of football. Given Tech's penchant for having a controlled offense under Chan Gailey and a preference for power football, Peek would seem the perfect fit. But don't think that the powerful 6'5", 250-pound talent will just be a glorified offensive lineman while at Tech. The coaches have sworn to use the TE's more in the future passing game. Colin finished his senior season with 36 catches for 405 yards and seven touchdowns, so he more than capable of being that kind of option. Peek missed much of his junior season with an injury, so he flew under the radar early on in the recruiting process his senior season. But Georgia Tech knew about him early and that relationship that started early helped later on when other schools learned of him and did their best to win him over. On a visit to Bolles, Scout.com's Scott Kennedy had a chance to learn first hand of Peek's potential. "Seeing him warm up, the thought was, ‘There's a good looking kid. He certainly has the frame to play for someone'," said Kennedy. "By the end of the 1st half, that thought process changed to ‘Forget someone, he can play for ANYONE'." The teams that offered Peek included Alabama, Duke and Vanderbilt. In the end Tech won over Colin in a close call over Alabama, where his grandfather, Richard Collins, played football. The early relationship formed with GT was instrumental in the end.
The one who got away:
At a couple positions each year, Tech lands exactly what they wanted and fans don't have to lament one who escaped them. In this case, it's all's well that ends well. GT offered some other TE's early on in the process but ended up doing as good as or better than all of them. Some of the early names on the list included Charles Hoke (Alabama), Tripp Chandler (Georgia), Paul Muse (Clemson) and Garrett Graham (Wisconsin). Coach Gailey wouldn't trade Peek for any of them. Alabama won the first battle against Tech this year at TE when they landed Hoke but later lost out on Peek and may have underestimated the talents of perhaps the top TE talent in their home state, Michael Johnson. The Alabama/Georgia Tech tight end wars were a big highlight of the recruiting season.
Recruiting Grade: A
You could probably tell from the last section that GT was going to get a favorable grade from me for recruiting this position. If Michael Johnson were included in the group, it would have gotten the top grade, an A+. The A grade for this position though will still represent the best grade Tech gets this season. In the past 2 recruiting seasons, I've only give an A+ once and that was last season's WR class that included Calvin Johnson along with James Johnson & Pat Clark. As for Tech's tight ends, they should be set up to be pretty picky next season to look for 1 very talented player to fill the spot. With Riles, Peek and maybe Johnson in the mix, there is no longer a question of talent at the position.