New Additions (1):
Tight End is an aging position for Georgia Tech and that also means that there is a lot experience as they head into the 2006 season. The top two returning tight ends, Matthews & Cooper, have been in the program a combined 8 years and another, Riles, is a redshirt junior transfer. There is only one who was technically a tight end, Gavin Tarquinio, graduating from the program. By his last season though, Gavin had basically converted to only being the long snapper.
Just because the guys with the most experience in the program are getting up in age, it doesn't mean a drop-off is expected after Matthews & Cooper finish their last season. In fact, perhaps the most talented tight end to show up on the Tech campus in years is waiting in the wings. Colin Peek didn't get to see much time at the position as a true freshman but was a valuable piece on special teams. This coming season offers a tough question for Tech coaches to answer… Do they play the talented Peek and get him into the rotation at the position or not? With two redshirt seniors on their last tour and Riles hopefully finally getting healthy enough to contribute it may not be a must to play Peek. The coaches would sure love to have him around for three seasons staring in 2007. For Colin's sake too, he'd have a great chance at starting all 3 years. Though he's clearly the best pass catcher of the group, his time will be limited in 2006 because of the experience of the guys ahead of him and their ability to essentially become the 6th offensive lineman because of their ability to block.
With 3 of 4 tight ends being upper classmen, it is obvious that the team needed to land at least one for the 2006 class. Two would be a better number but not a necessity. If the coaches could land one good one it would give them 3 TEs for 2007. Then it would probably make sense to land 1 or 2 in the 2007 to re-stock the position for numbers.
Who GT signed:
Austin Barrick (6-3 240) is three stars and the #30 player from the state of Alabama, regardless of position, according to Scout.com rankings. In the recruiting process, several schools came in late on Austin but he told schools all along that he had made his decision and was firm. "I had early offers from Georgia Tech, Colorado, Duke, Vanderbilt, and UAB," Barrick said. "I also talked on the phone with Clemson, Ole Miss, and Virginia Tech." Austin also talked about what he liked about Tech before making his decision. "When I looked at Tech I saw a school that had great academics, great athletics also, and a campus I liked that was only and hour and forty-five minutes away from home," Barrick said. "It was just an overall perfect fit for me and my family."
Barrick has been favorably compared to another former Yellow Jacket, J.P. Foschi, who started 5 games for the Oakland Raiders last season. Like J.P., Barrick has the ability to move around in offensive formations. He can be a tight end, h-back or even full back. For a kid his size, he's supposed to be able to burn up 40-yard dashes around 4.6 seconds. Austin shows receiver-like abilities in the passing game. So much so that his high school used him as a wide out to start last season just to get him in motion and in the open field. That should give Tech two good options, counting Peek, for more tight end use in the passing game in the future.
The one who got away:
Georgia Tech got the man they wanted in Barrick. There were several other tight ends of interest along the way, but Austin was as good an option as the Tech coaches were looking for. Other names associated with Tech as having offers include A.J. Edds (Iowa) and Vince Jacobs (North Carolina). Chris Goode (Kentucky), from Dunwoody High and teammates with Tech commit DeRon Jasper, was under consideration but never received an offer.
Recruiting Grade: B+
Tech got pretty much what they wanted from the tight end position. With Austin they get another versatile TE with strong abilities in the passing game. He doesn't come in with the same hype and accolades as Colin Peek did the year before but he has a good reputation, unusual speed for a TE and the Tech coach feel very comfortable in his talents. He will not be needed at TE in 2006 because of the aforementioned depth of experienced players. I could see him being redshirted this season unless the coaches feel they must have his contributions in special teams.