RT: Brad Honeycutt, Jacob Lonowski, A.J. Smith, Cordaro Howard
RG: Mansfield Wrotto, Kieran Delaney, Dan Voss
C: Nate McManus, Kevin Tuminello (inj), Travis Kelly, Trey Dunmon
LG: Matthew Rhodes, Eddy Parker, Randall Cox
LT: Andrew Gardner, Salih Besirevic, Will Miller
Georgia Tech gets a lot younger and more inexperienced at offensive line next season with the loss of 5 linemen. The players gone from last year's team are Andy Tidwell-Neal, Kyle Wallace, Leon Robinson, Kenton Johnson, and Brad Brezina. Tidwell-Neal, Wallace, and Robinson were all multi-year starters who will all be tough to replace. Johnson provided some depth at tackle and Brezina may have all but secured another starting spot before a concussion lead to a career-ending injury discovery. Upon examination it was uncovered that Brad had a narrowing of his spine; a condition which would make it too risky for him to ever play football again.
Despite the huge contributors leaving the program, Tech still had enough bodies to make up a 2-deep but with no room for injuries. Not only that, with 3 starters leaving, there is going to be a lot of inexperienced players moving into starting roles. This was such a concern that starting defensive tackle, Mansfield Wrotto, will be moving into a starting guard spot in spring. Additionally, the top 3 tackles from last year were all included in the group of graduating players in Wallace, Robinson & Johnson. To fill that gaping hole at tackle, the only senior returning starter, Brad Honeycutt, is being moved outside from his normal guard spot. One other problem that has arisen is that penciled-in starter Kevin Tuminello has a lingering injury which may keep him out of spring ball, opening up a spot for top challenger Nathan McManus.
So with the uncertainty of what was making up the 2-deep for next year and the 5 players moving on, it was important to re-fill the position with some bodies for the future. A minimum of 3 new OL was an absolute must and really 4 commits would be a preferred number if Tech could find and sign that many quality linemen.
Who GT signed:
Georgia Tech basically went out and signed one OL for every position on the line.
First and most important position-wise was the 2 tackle prospects signed: Cordaro Howard and Will Miller. Cord Howard (6-5 260) is a little light right now for tackle but is expected to grow into his frame. That has been a very typical strategy for the Tech coaches. They don't have a problem with signing an athletic lineman with good footwork and adding weight to them later. And Howard has been described as that type of athlete. In fact, Tech coaches entertained the idea of bringing in Cord as a defensive lineman. Howard had a super senior season because he went from getting little notice in fall to being recruited by Louisville, Auburn, Ole Miss, GT, Kentucky and Vanderbilt, just to name a few. After a December commitment to Louisville, he later visited Atlanta and fell in love with Tech on his official visit. Cord sees himself as a strong pass blocker. "My pass blocking is my biggest strength," said Howard. "I have good footwork and quickness, get good position and use good techniques."
Will Miller (6-5 275) is the other signed player expected to be a tackle in college. Will is a good enough athlete to be a solid-hitting first baseman for his high school in Alabama. Miller didn't garner a ton of offers from big-time programs and decided earlier that he would play for UAB. But when Tech, a team he had been interested in all along, offered in January, he couldn't say no. Miller says, "Well, I have always wanted to go there even early in the recruiting process. To me Georgia Tech is a great school." Miller was named All-State and a finalist for the lineman of the year award in Alabama for Class 3A. Miller was also named a Dandy Dozen recruit by the Gadsden and Anniston Newspapers. According to Scott Kennedy (Scout.com Recruiting Analyst), "(Miller) he's one of those solid 2-star OL's that can be built into a good player."
Next, at guard, Tech landed Randall Cox & Dan Voss. Randall Cox (6-3 287), the first player this year to send in his Letter of Intent, is a player who Coach Gailey said was mean and would gore a defensive player after bringing him down. Cox is built to play any of the interior line positions. Cox says, "I'm most likely going to be a Guard but I could play Center down the road." Cox prefers to play Guard though since he's never played Center before but will play wherever it gets him on the field quicker. Cox ended up being a pretty popular guy on the recruiting trail. He had offers from North Carolina, Louisville, UCF, and Georgia Tech. After his visit to GT he cancelled a pile of visits that he had planned. It's likely that his list of offers would have grown more through December and January but he pulled himself off the market and asked his coach to be clear about it when other schools would call. Randall is one of the guys who won't have to pack on a bunch of weight to be ready for the college game.
The other guard, Dan Voss (6-4 290), is perhaps the player who took the most interesting route to get to where he is today. As a high school freshman Dan was a "gangly" wide receiver according to his coach Gil Brooks. "So his sophomore year he was at tight end but he kept growing," said Brooks. "And I said, look, ‘as a kid your size, if you really committed to it, you might be able to make yourself a really good offensive lineman and it might be the best move for you.'" So in his junior season, Voss was finally an offensive lineman and the first OL off the bench on the senior-laden #3 HS team in the country. By the next spring, his coach knew he had his 22nd Division-1 player to come out of his program. Dan didn't disappoint in his senior year and despite a lack of hype from his junior season, he opened a lot of eyes on the recruiting trail. Besides Tech, Vanderbilt, Syracuse, Temple and West Virginia offered Dan. Georgia Tech was finished recruiting OL for the year before learning more on Voss, content with the four players they were planning to sign. But after seeing his film, GT OL coach Joe D'Alessandris made a trip to meet Voss and check out his size and character first hand. The Tech coaches decided that he was just too good to pass on despite already hitting their numbers at the position.
Last, but not least, there is future Tech center Trey Dunmon (6-4 275). Trey is another who, like the other incoming interior linemen, has been described as "nasty". Scott Kennedy says, "I watched Dunmon at Auburn's camp split his nose open doing one on one drills. Not sure he missed a rep; he's just plain mean. I love him." Trey originally committed to Ole Miss but Tech was where he wanted to be in the end. He needed to get a certain score in order to first be accepted to Tech. Dunmon said, "I got my score and I called and told GT. I faxed it to them and they offered me at my practice in Atlanta." Ultimately, distance was a big factor in his decision to attend Tech over Mississippi. "It's closer to home and I like the coaches a lot. My family can come see me and I will still be able to play. My family can't really afford to fly to Ole Miss every Saturday, so this will be good for them," Dunmon said. Trey is also a member of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Top 50 in Georgia and a First-team all-state selection in Class A.
The one who got away:
Tyler was a player who I and others kind of penciled in as likely to sign with GT. Despite offers from Northwestern and Utah, Notre Dame was the school most worried was Tech's biggest competition. ND never offered and Compton was making a visit to GT, where Gailey has a great closing rate on official visitors. Tyler left without committing and eventually pledged with Northwestern, who he had visited 2.5 months prior to the Tech visit.
Tech really didn't seem to get close on any blue-chip type of offensive linemen. Chris Scott (Tennessee) is a player who Tech really wanted but he made it clear early on that he was looking to go out of state. Michael Harness is another who Tech liked early on but he committed Auburn way back in April of 2004 and he never wavered from his pledge. Besides those players Tech had its pick of the remaining talent. GT actually could have had many other good OL but chose to go in another direction. Tech was high on the list for players like Gage Crews (3-star OL who signed with Wake Forrest), Vantrise Studivant (Rutgers), Kevin Haslam (Rutgers), and DeWayne Lanier.
Recruiting Grade: B+
On one hand, I'm tempted to dock Tech's grade for not pursuing more big-name linemen. Besides Scott & Harness there really weren't a lot of other OL high on the star-ranking system that Tech had serious discussions with. Then again they also passed on Crews, who was rated well. From the remaining players Tech looked at for OL they seemed to pick and choose who they wanted. Dunmon and Howard were pulled from Ole Miss and Louisville respectively seemingly with ease. Given that OL ratings from team-to-team may be very and extremely different, it's really hard to say that they did or didn't land highly rated players. Tech coaches certainly seemed content and happy that they restocked the line with athletic players with good character and high probabilities of staying in school. As for OL rankings, Scott Kennedy says, "My theory... OL is easiest to develop so I don't worry so much about the rankings of the OL."
As for the numbers game, Tech did everything they needed to and more. The coaches planned to sign 4, saw more than 4 they liked and ended up with 5. I think this class alleviated a lot of fan concerns about the future of the offensive line. Many wish a class like this was landed in 2002 when the only linemen signed were Brad Brezina (a DE at the time too) and Zeb McHargue (failed out after 1 year at Tech). With a better effort that year, Tech wouldn't be as concerned today about lining up such an inexperienced line. I think that when you look back 3 years from now, this group of linemen will look even better than they do today. I'd be shocked if at least 2-3 solid starters didn't emerge from this group. Had Tech landed a blue-chip player to anchor this class, it would be an A grade. And the sheer numbers and athletic ability of the 5 landed, keeps the grade from going lower. Bottom line: this is a solid group that will bear more fruit later rather than earlier. There may be a need for 1 or 2 to provide early depth but most of the production from this group won't be realized until 2-3 years out. The final point to make here is that DE recruit Jason Hill is another player who could at some point end up at OL. He's a pretty highly thought of athlete as well who some see as a better long term fit at OL versus DL. The future certainly looks brighter at OL with this past Signing Day.