New Additions (0):
RT: Mansfield Wrotto, A.J. Smith, Jason Hill
RG: Nate McManus, Leshawn Newberry, Randall Cox
C: Kevin Tuminello, Trey Dunmon, Travis Kelly, Eddy Parker (inj)
LG: Matthew Rhodes, Jacob Lonowski, Dan Voss
LT: Andrew Gardner, Cordaro Howard, Will Miller
Georgia Tech loses two key members of the offensive line to graduation. Both seniors were key players at the tackle positions. Although both Brad Honeycutt and Salih Besirevic spent time in their careers as both guard and tackles, they were instrumental players on the outside at the end of their careers.
Help is on the way big-time though. Not only are some of Tech's most promising youngsters coming through the pipeline at tackle, but they also are moving over an NFL-quality tackle from the defensive line. Mansfield Wrotto is finally free to move to his more natural position on the offensive line with the return of Tech's top defensive tackle Darryl Richard. Wrotto put some time in at tackle last spring as well but Richard's knee injury meant that he was going to be needed more on the defensive side of the ball. Look for Tech coaches to try and bring Mansfield up to speed in quickly. Last spring Wrotto was given many first and second team reps in practice just to get him up to speed at a position he was a little rusty at; having not played there since high school. Expect to see more of that this spring.
The other starting tackle is Andrew Gardner, who has been one of the best surprises along the offensive line. He started last season as a redshirt freshman, debuting with an inspiring performance against Auburn. As for the backups, look for OL coach Joe D'Alessandris to cross-train the second team players A.J. Smith and Cordaro Howard. Coach D loves to get his players to learn multiple positions because he wants to be able to mix and match lines, get the 5 best players on the field and to be able to overcome any injuries. Smith has been playing at left tackle but I wouldn't be surprised to see him work out some behind Wrotto on the other side. Howard, who is now around 300 pounds, will push AJ to see who becomes the #3 tackle this spring. Two other tackles on the depth chart are Jason Hill and Will Miller. Hill started off at Tech as a defensive end but is now up to around 285 and is coming along as an offensive player. Miller continues to bulk up as well, over 290, and will provide depth too in his redshirt freshman season.
The interior starters are becoming a veteran group of three battle-tested juniors. Nate McManus and Matthew Rhodes will be the guards while Kevin Tuminello, aka the "Tuminator", anchors the line at center. The backup center is redshirt freshman Trey Dunmon. There are some really high hopes for Dunmon to be quite a player. It will be interesting to see if he is given any looks at guard since he'll otherwise have to likely wait behind Tuminello at center for 2 more seasons. At worst the Yellow Jackets have a great insurance policy at the center position. Walk-on Travis Kelly will also provide depth while Eddy Parker's career continues to be plagued by injury, likely keeping him out of spring practice and maybe more.
The battles on the 2-deep are as good at guard as it will be for the tackles. Junior Leshawn Newberry is the elder of the group trying to push Rhodes and McManus. Redshirt Sophomore Jacob Lonowski and RS freshman Dan Voss will also battle hard to crack the lineup. Dan is now up to 290 pounds. Randall Cox rounds out the group.
With all of the young depth along the offensive line, recruiting for the position was set to take a back seat to other positions of need. If fact, the coaches essentially wanted no more than one offensive lineman in this class and would be fine going without one all together.
Who GT signed:
Georgia Tech had a commitment from one player they had targeted for the 2006 class in Heath Batchelor. But eventually it was Heath's lack of commitment that caused him to lose his chance at ending up at GT. Reports suggest that Batchelor's wavering and decision to visit other schools after committing to Tech caused the GT coaches to make the decision easier for him. He was no longer given the chance to attend Tech. The coaches decided that adding a lineman was not a must and did not offer any of the possible backup plans for the position. They opted instead to hold the scholarship for another position or for next season.
The one who got away:
No one, really
You could actually make a case that Rob Drum (Duke) was the one who slipped away from the Jackets. At the time though coaches favored Batchelor over Drum, but Rob may have been a better selection since he stuck to his guns. There were others who Tech offered early on but no others really were close calls. Players who were listed as having early Tech offers included: Justin Anderson (Georgia), Dimitri Lott (Texas Tech), Kevin Young (South Carolina) and John Miller (Georgia).
Recruiting Grade: no rating
To the Tech coaches, getting an offensive lineman in this class would have been a luxury. Given the probation decision from the NCAA, coaches were fine not going after another lineman after Batchelor jumped ship.