Heading into the recruiting season one thing was apparent, the future depth at Safety was about to be a real concern. Starters Dawan Landry and Chris Reis were both in their senior seasons and two of the backups, Gaston and Williams were juniors. Now those two are seniors.
Bazooka Joe Gaston is penciled into the starting spot at strong safety right now but he could have a battle on his hands to keep it. The current backup for Gaston is Tony Clark, converted to safety after spending his freshman year at corner. He could make the competition for starter very interesting.
Junior Djay Jones will be the starting free safety and seems to pretty much have that spot locked up. Senior Sam Williams backs him up and Jake Blackwood is looking for his niche in the depth chart as well.
Even with a convert to safety, the future depth is still a concern. With two rising seniors and a rising junior out of 5 total players on the roster, it was imperative to replenish the program with future safeties. Adding two safeties to the class was the plan.
Who GT signed:
DeRon Jasper (6-2 195) is the #68 player in the state of Georgia, regardless of position, according to Scout.com rankings. He chose the Yellow Jackets over Wake Forest & Kentucky. DeRon also had a strong interest in Stanford, so that gives you an idea of his academic abilities. In fact, that was a big part of his decision-making process. Jasper described speaking to other students while on his official visit to Tech in early December. "At some places we were getting introduced as recruits," Jasper said. "I kind of made it an objective of mine not to be known as a recruit. As if I was just someone regular coming in and asking about the school… so I wouldn't get a biased opinion." As for Jasper on the field, Coach Chan Gailey referred to him as the most "under the radar" guy on the board. According to Jasper's high school coach, James Teter, being stuck behind some talented players as a junior was the reason he wasn't garnering more hype heading into his senior season. "I guess you'd consider him a late bloomer," Teter said. "He played behind a safety last year who went to Arkansas and the other safety went to Western Carolina. So, he was behind those two last year." Coach Teter listed Jasper's senior stats as follows: "44 solos, 18 assists, 1 fumble recovery, 1 interception, and 1 sack." DeRon was a versatile player for Coach Teter. In his senior season, Jasper played the following positions at some point: cornerback, safety, tailback and kick returner. Expect to see him at least play special teams as a true freshman when he arrives on campus. If he plays very well, there's a chance he could even crack the depth chart.
Shane Bowen (6-2 215) graduated last year so until this week he hadn't actually played ball since the season before last. He stayed in shape last season though and remained around the game at his high school. "Over the summer I worked out with the high school team as far as lifting and running. I went through all of their summer programs… I helped out with our football team here this year; coaching a little bit. I've been around the game… been at the high school every day lifting and running a little bit." Though the original plan was for Shane to start out at safety, the coaches already have him as an outside linebacker in the first spring practice. It could be a situation like Chris Reis to where he'll be able to play either position based on need in a given year but right now he looks locked into linebacker. His reputation is that of a smart kid and a good all-around athlete who really loves to make big hits on the field. By enrolling in January he'll be able to make a case in spring for playing time in fall. Certainly he'll be an obvious candidate to play special teams at a minimum in 2006. Though a relatively unknown in national recruiting conversations, Bowen was very well known to coaches in his home state of Ohio where was considered a legitimate division one prospect. An analyst, who won't be named, told me after viewing film on Shane for the first time, "Bowen is a [expletive deleted] beast."
The one who got away:
Actually, you can take your pick from a list here. Mario Edwards and Tim Atchison would also be good choices. With Edwards and Parker it was rumored that their offers were conditional based on gained acceptance to Tech. Neither was approved thereby eliminating GT from consideration. Not getting Parker was particularly disappointing because he reportedly wanted to come to Tech and now goes to conference foe Virginia. Mario Edwards was a similar case and ended up at Virginia Tech though VT may have actually led for him anyway. Tim Atchison had a solid offer from Tech but couldn't really decide what he wanted to do. At one point his high school coach told me that he was committed to two schools at the same time: TCU and Baylor. He obviously wanted to stay closer to his hometown of Copperas Cove, Texas. He ended up at Baylor. Other names associated with having had offers from GT include: Del Howard (Missouri) and Glyndon Bolasky (Arizona).
Recruiting Grade: C-
This is certainly not a knock on DeRon Jasper but landing just one safety and another who is already at linebacker after one spring practice is just not getting it done. You can tell from who Tech missed on that the coaches really wanted another but not to the point to where they'd offer just anyone. In this case the blame for not landing another solid safety like Jasper doesn't fall completely on the coaches. They identified several quality talents in Edwards and Parker but whoever makes decisions on getting acceptance didn't do them any favors plus the kids themselves could have performed better to give themselves a shot at ending up as Yellow Jackets. Throwing out the blame game though, it just was not enough to land one safety. The 2007 class will now have to compensate by landing at least two and preferably three safety prospects.
As for Shane Bowen's affect on the grade, I hedged on the linebacker grade in anticipation of him possibly moving there. Since he was not profiled on that report he is included here.
From the previous Linebacker Report:
"I'm hedging here just a bit. I'd be surprised if Shane Bowen didn't do like Chris Reis and at least play linebacker at some point. On the other hand, my hedging will probably adversely affect the grade for safeties."