Georgia Tech '10 Recruiting Review – DB

With National Signing Day over and Georgia Tech's recruiting class completed, GoJackets.com is taking a position-by-position look at the 2010 recruiting class. Today, we will look at defensive backs.

Defensive Backs

New Additions (6)
Louis Young, Ryan Ayers, Isaiah Johnson, B.J. Bostic, Fred Holton, Jake Skole

Losses (4)
Morgan Burnett, Martin Frierson, DeRon Jasper, Brandon Leslie

Depth Chart
CB: Jerrard Tarrant, Rashaad Reid, Roderick Sweeting, Ryan Ayers
CB: CB: Mario Butler, Michael Peterson, Jon Lockhart, Carl Miles, Louis Young, B.J. Bostic
SS: Cooper Taylor, Jemea Thomas, Lance Richardson, Fred Holton
FS: Dominique Reese, Mario Edwards, Correy Earls, Isaiah Johnson, Jake Skole

Position Needs
From the 2009 team Georgia Tech loses 101 tackles, 5 interceptions, and a ton of leadership at the defensive back positions. Most all of that contribution came from one player – Morgan Burnett. Burnett is part of the now-dwindling group of former four-star prospects from the vaunted 2007 recruiting class that started off at Georgia Tech. Tech had nine such players that year with sure-thing tags. A third of those players never truly made it like D.J. Donley, Willie White, and Steven Threat. A third have had varying levels of success and remain for their final season at Tech like Josh Nesbitt (truly a great college quarterback), Nick Claytor, and Jason Peters. A third made it big-time and have left early to earn a living playing this game in the NFL like Derrick Morgan, Jonathan Dwyer, and Burnett.

Morgan's 14 interceptions leave him tied for the second most in Georgia Tech history. He led the team in that category for the past three years. As a sign of his leadership, he, along with Derrick Morgan and Josh Nesbitt were team captains for every game in the 2009 season starting with game three. There is no doubting the significance of his loss to the defense. He'll be greatly missed and leaves big shoes to fill.

The other three players to leave the program were not huge contributors in the every down defense. Martin Frierson and DeRon Jasper were steady presences on special teams but provided only deep depth at their respective positions. Brandon Leslie disappointingly leaves after just one season in which he redshirted and didn't apparently make any big impressions on the coaching staff.

It was important for Georgia Tech to begin replenishing the numbers and talent at defensive back. Four leave the program following the 2009 season but four more are rising seniors in the 2010 season and will need to be replaced. It's a good year to have a big class now because coaches don't want to have to replace four seniors, including two starters, with true freshmen in 2011. Losing Burnett for the 2010 season hurts but it's much easier to try and fill that one spot in 2010 with players already in the program. A big defensive back class now and Tech should be able to find enough good talent to fill spots for two more starters to depart after 2010.

Spring Practice Report
Okay, Burnett is gone. We'll miss you buddy and root hard for you, and hope you're not drafted by the Lions or Raiders, but for now it's time to look forward to the spring 2010 version of the Georgia Tech defensive backfield. The defensive scheme changes this year from the 4-3 to the Coach Al Groh 3-4 base defense. This change has a huge affect on the starting front seven but assignments don't really change much for the defensive backs.

If Burnett is the big piece of the defensive back puzzle that is lost from last year, Cooper Taylor is the big piece that will be added back. Taylor, voted by teammates before the season as the team's fastest player more than 2-to-1 over the next name, had his season cut short in 2009 from an uncommon heart ailment. It was a scary situation for the Taylors as Cooper had to leave the Miami game due to an irregularly and increased heartbeat. It was eventually diagnosed as Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome and Taylor's season was over. He missed the final ten games of the season.after starting the first three as wolf/free safety.

Taylor is a ball hawk when healthy. Last season he trailed only Derrick Morgan's 15 tackles through the first two full games with his 14. As a freshman in 2008 he was second on the team in tackles despite starting only three games. His ailments in 2009 were bad for him but bad for the team as well. Coaches had troubles filling his shoes once he left. Rashaad Reid started the next three games totaling only four tackles in that span. Next Dominique Reese started for three games and only made two tackles. With the opposing ground games eating Tech alive, coaches looked for more of a run-stopping alternative and settled on Mario Edwards for the final five games of the season. Edwards totaled 28 tackles over those five games and surely earned himself a good shot at being in the two deep this spring.

Cooper will now likely move closer to the ball into Burnett's strong safety/rover position where he'll be expected to continue being a tackling machine. He is physically cleared to participate in spring so it will be a nice sight seeing him back in full action.

At free safety, the Reid experiment was short-lived and he returned to his more natural cornerback spot. With Cooper moving over that leaves Reese and Edwards to once again fight it out for the starting spot. Reese, a vocal personality and potential leader on the defense, was fighting through a shoulder injury last year that he suffered in the third game against Miami. The injury caused him to play just one play in games four and five against UNC and Mississippi State respectively. He bounced back well coming off the bench against FSU but didn't look like himself the rest of the year. We expect a healthy Reese, with his physical abilities and leadership, to take back the starting spot from Edwards but that will be one of the more interesting spring matchups to keep an eye on. Those two seniors will be backed up by another senior: former wide out-turned-safety Correy Earls. No change has been announced but Earls could be a wide out-turned-safety-turned-back-to-wide out potentially. So, don't be surprised to see if he doesn't stay as a safety.

Backing up Cooper at strong safety is a couple of promising second year players Jemea Thomas and Lance Richardson. Jemea earned some early playing time as a true freshman while Lance received some good praise for his practice efforts in a redshirt year. Jemea isn't the biggest player you'll ever see but what stands out with him is how physical his is in spite of his size. He appears fearless and plays as if he's much bigger. Thomas is athletic enough to be able to play defense or a-back in Coach Paul Johnson's offense. The defensive coaches won out and were happy with his 2009 performance as Burnett's backup. Thomas recovered a fumble in his first college game and made 10 tackles on the year. He'll go into spring again as a backup but he looks like he has a future as a starter down the road.

Lance Richardson (6'2", 195 pounds) has more of the classic look of a safety. He received some serious looks from the coaches in fall practices but they decided to hold him out a year to sharpen his skills. Physically he's ready to be in the mix. Though there isn't the level of experience on the depth chart at strong safety as there is a free safety, players like Thomas and Richardson have enough physical talents to make fans believe the depth at that position is heading in the right direction.

When asked pointedly on National Signing Day this year which defensive back would coaches want if they had to lock down one guy the answer given was Mario Butler. Butler, a senior, is Tech's most experienced returning player by far. He has started 26 games in a row, ahead of Josh Nesbitt's 20 games and Brad Jefferson's 14 games. Butler, who came to Tech in the 2007 class and played as a true freshman, has also played in the most with 38 games. Mario two picks were the second most for Tech in 2009 and he was 6th on the team in tackles. By now you know what you're getting with Butler, so spring shouldn't provide any revelations. He's a solid, dependable player who doesn't necessarily blanket receivers but does a good job of not getting into many highlights getting burned.

Jerrard Tarrant, the starter opposite Butler, elicits a variety of different opinions on his play. First off though, Tarrant provides more contributions than just his play at cornerback. Jerrard is also Tech punt returner and a very good one at that. He tied a Tech record by returning two punts for touchdowns this year – in the first two games of his career at Tech. He's an electric returner with the capability to take it the distance at any time. He's the kind of explosive returner Tech fans haven't seen much of in past years. His 14.3 yards per return is 3rd best in the ACC and 12th best nationally.

In terms of his ability to tackle, Tarrant is actually the top returning tackler on the team after Brad Jefferson, ahead of Butler. He stood out with nine tackles (five solo) against Miami while the rest of the defense struggled. The game that stands out the most in Tech fan's eyes for Tarrant though is the Orange Bowl against Iowa. If you held a camera on Jerrard alone you would have captured most all of the first quarter highlights of that game – both good and bad. He punched the ball away from Marvin McNutt on the game's third play from scrimmage. The ball was recovered by Tech linebacker Sedric Griffin. Then what happened was not good. Jerrard was beaten clearly by two touchdowns that because of the game's magnitude being a BCS game the plays were shown over and over and were impossible to hide from. First Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi placed a beautiful fade route in the hands of McNutt, the guy Tarrant had just gotten the best of on the fumble. On Iowa's next possession, Stanzi hit Colin Sandeman for a 21-yard score. Jerrard exacted some revenge on Iowa's next possession by taking Stanzi the other way for a 40-yard interception for a touchdown. It was Tech's fourth non-offensive touchdown of the year – all made by Tarrant, who also returned a fumble for a 40-yard score against Mississippi State.

Even with the memorable mistakes in the Iowa game, it was a very good season for Tarrant. After all, it was his first live football action since 2006 amazingly. Jerrard redshirted as a freshman in 2007. He was suspended for the entire 2008 season with legal issues before playing his first game as a Yellow Jacket in 2009. He was a promising recruit and one of those guys you always heard good reports on from practice. Tarrant made good on those reports for the most part and there's no reason to think he won't continue to improve. He's such an explosive player capable of turning games in a number of ways – punt returns, fumbles or interceptions, if he can remove the bad moments like in the Orange Bowl, the sky is the limit for him. Then he might be the guy coaches would choose instead to be on that island if they had to pick only one. One thing is sure – it will be a surprise to see either Tarrant or Butler unseated as starters at corner in 2010, much less in spring.

The contenders are many for the two deep at corner. Four of the five received playing time in 2009. Reid, as mentioned, started three games at safety, but also started three games at corner. He's versatile and will be put where ever he's needed in the secondary. Reid, a true junior, first made a name for himself as a true freshman in 2008 by recovering the fumble that helped defeat Florida State. His speed is a real asset and he will see the field a lot in spring and in 2010. Peterson & Sweeting had 8 tackles a piece in 2009 and will be working to earn more time this spring. Peterson has been a solid fill in so far in his career but Sweeting may have more long-term upside. Roderick played as a true freshman last year and could use a good spring to propel him into a bigger role in 2010.

Jon Lockhart provided some deeper depth in 2009 as a redshirt freshman and contributed five tackles. Carl Miles redshirted last season in his first year on campus. Not a lot was heard on Miles following the closed practices this past season so we really don't know what we're going to see with him. From the looks of it, he came into school needing to build up a good bit physically. I spotted him at Tech on Signing Day and he looks to have built himself up some since arriving. Lockhart and Miles will have their work cut out this spring trying to stay out of the bottom of the rotation. But both are young and are in the years where improvements can be significant from year-to-year. It would serve them well to have good springs since the current four are all rising juniors or seniors.

Georgia Tech Signed

Louis Young

Height: 5-10
Weight: 178
Home Town (High School): Olney, MD (Our Lady Good Counsel HS)
Other offers included: Boston College, Connecticut, Iowa, Maryland, Stanford, Virginia, Virginia Tech, West Virginia
Lead GT Recruiting Coach: Al Groh
Scout.com Stars: ****
Scout.com State Ranking (Regardless of Position): 03
Scout.com National Ranking by Position: 11 (CB)
Scout.com National Ranking (Regardless of Position): 144
Scout.com East Ranking (Regardless of Position): 30

Al Groh's presence at Georgia Tech paid off instantly and in a big way. He quickly turned a guy who was not looking at Tech into the Yellow Jackets' highest rated player in the entire class. The story is well known by now but Young was committed to Stanford. He was having doubts about his commitment while the stringent admissions process at Stanford were not showing good signs for him being able to even go there. Andy Drukarev of TheBootleg.com wrote last December, "For the third time, elite cornerback Louis Young has made a verbal commitment to Stanford. After earlier pledging to the Cardinal in October of his junior year and then again in May, Young announced his decision just moments ago during the Maryland Crab Bowl all-star game." But, now we know, that wasn't the end of it.

Not wanting to draw any attention to the situation, Tech coaches brought in Louis for an official visit on the last week possible before Signing Day but didn't want the news to spread for obvious reasons. Following the visit, Young's Stanford application was officially rejected for this term but it was already a done deal for Tech. Just a week earlier, Tech fans hadn't even heard of him, now he was the jewel of the class.

Young described his situation to Dale McDuffie following his commitment, "Yes sir I have (opened up recruiting) because Stanford was asking me to stay committed to them but come in on the next signing period, like a grey shirt would do. I wasn't too happy with that and I talked it over with my parents and we decided that it might be best to open it back up and look for a better fit. I have a lot of schools that I was looking at. Schools like Virginia, Miami, Notre Dame, Maryland, Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech, and Boston College. But I have decided on another school and have committed to them, Georgia Tech."

It must have been quite a moment for the coaching staff as well to have things go down like it did. Young described his commitment moment to Dale, "The visit was so good that on Sunday morning after breakfast my parents and I went to sit with the coaches and talk. I asked Coach Johnson what was the next step. He said that if I wanted to commit to Georgia Tech just to tell him and that would be it until signing day and I sign my letter of intent. I reached into my bag and put on a Georgia Tech hat and told all the coaches that I was committing and we all shook hands and hugged."

Scouting Report:
John Wallpher – Scout.com Recruiting Analyst:

Young is a physcial corner with good speed and toughness. He is good in run support and can be used to blitz off the edge. He anticipates well which helps him to be in good position consistently. He isn't a burner but reads and reacts well. He has big play ability and is a threat to return any interception for a touchdown. He has good hands as he was a standout at receiver as well.

Ryan Ayers

Height: 5-10
Weight: 178
Home Town (High School): Douglasville, GA (South Paulding HS)
Other offers included: Indiana, Kansas State, Louisville, North Carolina State, Oklahoma State, Toledo
Lead GT Recruiting Coach: Brian Bohannon
Scout.com Stars: ****
Scout.com State Ranking (Regardless of Position): 12
Scout.com National Ranking by Position: 16 (CB)
Scout.com National Ranking (Regardless of Position): 165
Scout.com Southeast Ranking (Regardless of Position): 59

Ryan Ayers could have gone just about anywhere he wanted but Tech won out in the end. Ayers was a constant presence at Tech practices, camps and combines. At Tech's Elite Camp shortly before he committed he told me, ""Right now it's Georgia Tech, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, and Auburn." So it was basically Tech versus the SEC when it comes down to it. Those kinds of recruiting wins are the kind Tech fans most relish.

Ayers was by far the top recruit in the class in terms of ratings from the day he committed until the day before Signing Day when Louis Young committed. Needless to write, the future at this position for Tech appears to be in good hands. Rarely do you see the top two players recruited in the class come from the same position. Young and Ayers could be future fixtures at corner.

When you speak with him Ayers is a pretty quiet guy and keeps a low profile. When we met at the Elite Camp at the first part of the day he was there just observing his younger brother perform in drills. I asked if he planned to participate, he didn't think he would. But after a break in the middle of the day camp moved over to the Stadium, and Ryan appeared to be dressed to take part and he was stretching.

This was going to be a treat as Holton, Bostic and other big-time players were all going to be out there to compare against. The thing that stuck out to me was that his personality really flipped once he hit the field. He certainly had his game face on (not the kind Bobby Knight would make) and seemed focused. A tall, unknown kid playing receiver must have known who he was going up against in one drill. When he timed the jump just right down the field over Ryan, he kind of let him know he won that one. Ayers moved right up into the kid's chest and said something to the effect of he wouldn't have the same results next go round. It was actually nice to see in this case to see him turn on the intensity and competitiveness that isn't revealed when he speaks off the field. That play seemed to really fire him up as he blanketed many receivers for the remainder of the drills.

Scouting Report:
South Paulding High School head football coach Tim Glanton (Excerpts from Mark Murphy article):

"He is a great leader and he has a lot of intangible skills that you can't coach," Glanton says of the rising senior. "He is very humble. Through all of the success he is having, and all of the attention he is getting, he has managed to really stay focused on what is important."

"The other thing about him is that he has overcome a lot of adversity, even as a young kid with his father not really in his life," Glanton notes. "He doesn't let that affect him. He is really a great kid, who has great character and a great personality."

"He is a wide receiver for us," Glanton says. "He returns punts and returns kicks. He is a big guy for us on field goal blocks and PAT blocks. He plays a lot of roles. He could play linebacker for us if we needed him to do that. He is a really physical player, which sets him apart from most defensive backs I have coached."

Chad Simmons - South Recruiting Analyst:

Ayers has high hips, he can turn and run with the best of them, and he is about as smart as they come. He plays safety in high school because of his awareness, his intelligence, and his ability to make plays across the field. That will help him at corner on the next level. He is extremely quick when he changes direction and he is much more physical than his size would lead people to believe (5-10/170).

Isaiah Johnson

Height: 6-2
Weight: 180
Home Town (High School): Tyrone, GA (Sandy Creek HS)
Other offers included: Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina State, Oklahoma State, Stanford, Vanderbilt
Lead GT Recruiting Coach: "Buzz" Preston
Scout.com Stars: ***
Scout.com State Ranking (Regardless of Position): 29
Scout.com National Ranking by Position: 43 (S)
Scout.com National Ranking (Regardless of Position): NR
Scout.com Southeast Ranking (Regardless of Position): 132

The story with Isaiah Johnson is luckily very boring. He never made any drama about his recruitment. He committed early on in the process; at the same Elite Camp I just described watching Ayers perform. Coaches coming and going later on had no affect as well. Johnson enrolled in January along with two others and will actually get to participate in spring practice. For such a quiet recruiting process he's a really highly though of player in the southeast, could have gone to a number of other school and might actually make an early impact on the field for Tech.

A refreshing perspective to read, here's how Johnson described his decision to jump on the Tech offer to Dale McDuffie after he announced. "Well this is what I have wanted all along," said Johnson. "I didn't want to miss my opportunity and decided to go ahead and make it official. I love Georgia Tech as it has everything that I want in a school and it's where I want to be. I just decided to step up and do it and let everyone know what I have known all along."

It's hard to imagine coaches letting him play in 2010 over two or three seniors at free safety, but then again he could force his way up the chart with a good spring and fall camp. A spring move of Earls to wide out could mean a better chance Johnson sees the field in 2010. Another thought is that maybe you don't want to redshirt a guy in his first year when he could be a viable candidate to start in his second year. The experience in limited time could be good for him in 2010. To me Isaiah is one of the more important pieces to this year's class based on his talents and early opportunities. Isaiah has a classic build to grow into a bigger player. He's tall and long and will surely bulk up some more and could be an imposing figure down the road.

The last Johnson from Sandy Creek High did well for Tech too keep in mind, but Isaiah did something Calvin didn't do in high school. Isaiah had a big game in the semifinals to propel his team to the class AAAA state finals against Clarke Central including eight tackles and a 95-yard interception return for a touchdown, his sixth pick of the season. He and Sandy Creek then, in a little way, helped avenged the Tech loss to Georgia weeks before and ended Clarke Central's (Athens, Ga.) season. The 29-15 win for the AAAA state championship was the first state title for Sandy Creek, adding to the accomplishments Calvin laid out for them when he helped put the school on the map. Hopefully Isaiah can also help bring Tech to levels Calvin helped build the way for but didn't accomplish.

Scouting Report:
Chad Simmons - South Recruiting Analyst:
Johnson is a sound safety against the run and the pass. He does a good job of reading the quarterback to put him into position to make plays against the pass. He is a solid tackler against the run, but he needs to work on taking better angles and getting into the right lanes. Overall, Johnson is one of the best in Ga. at his position and he will be a good one for Tech. Speed is good, not great, but instincts, coverage skills, and intelligence are strong points.

B.J. Bostic

Height: 5-11
Weight: 175
Home Town (High School): Louisville, GA (Jefferson County)
Other offers included: Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt
Lead GT Recruiting Coach: Charles Kelly
Scout.com Stars: ***
Scout.com State Ranking (Regardless of Position): 46
Scout.com National Ranking by Position: 91 (CB)
Scout.com National Ranking (Regardless of Position): NR

Bostic and Isaiah Johnson appear to be attached at the hip. They both committed to Tech at the same time, they both worked on other future commits, like Ryan Ayers, they have both already enrolled at Tech, and they plan on being roommates together. Bostic is a versatile player and could possibly become separated from Johnson by being moved to the offensive side of the ball. Right now the plan is to start him out at cornerback but you have to think that the coaches will at least give serious thought of letting him play offense after signing two nationally ranked corners in Ayers and Young.

Even before anyone knew about Louis Young, Bostic was contemplating a shot at offense. "Coach Johnson and I had a long talk," B.J. told Dale McDuffie in early January. "He is saying it is a very good possibility I can play quarterback or A-Back when I come in. I'm still looking at it as one of I don't care as long as I can help the team and get out on the field and help make a difference."

You get the sense that Bostic is a team player and will go where ever he's asked to go. Some like him as a corner, others as a quarterback, running back or receiver. Given his lack of good size yet and his elusiveness I personally think he'd project best as a corner or a-back in Tech's offense. Truth be told, I thought he looked as good as Ayers as a corner at Tech's Elite Camp.

The good part about enrolling early is that coaches will get to see him in spring and can put him on the best path early on. He can try one position in spring, possibly move to another in fall and not lose any development time compared to the rest of the incoming freshmen.

Scouting Report:
Chad Simmons - South Recruiting Analyst:
Bostic is an athlete that lines up at quarterback in high school, but projects as a wide receiver or cornerback on the next level. He may excel the most on the offensive side of the ball because he is so elusive with the ball in his hands. He changes direction well in the open field and he is a weapon from anywhere on the field.

Fred Holton

Height: 6-1
Weight: 180
Home Town (High School): Thomasville, GA (Thomasville HS)
Other offers included: Kansas State, Mississippi, Central Florida
Lead GT Recruiting Coach: Todd Spencer
Scout.com Stars: ***
Scout.com State Ranking (Regardless of Position): 65
Scout.com National Ranking by Position: 72 (S)
Scout.com National Ranking (Regardless of Position): NR

Not as much is known about Fred Holton as he didn't have as much early hype as some others. One thing is for sure, he passes the "look test." We first saw him at Tech's first 2009 spring practice in Flowery Branch. He is well put together and has a very serious demeanor. In all of the practices and camps we saw him, he laughed exactly one time. Not surprisingly it was Denzel McCoy whispering something to him that caused Fred to break his stoic glare.

Fred was the second commit in the class after Charles Perkins. Upon committing, Holton spoke to Dale McDuffie. "They were real excited and extremely happy that I made my decision," said Holton last March. "They said I would be playing the same position Morgan Burnett plays and they really like the way I play and feel I can come in learn from him and be a big asset to the team. If Morgan goes pro early I will have a leg up on playing the position." Clearly he's a strong safety and his suspicions on Burnett were correct. Holton will compete long-term for the strong safety position against other young guys like Jemea Thomas and Lance Richardson.

Scouting Report:
Chad Simmons - South Recruiting Analyst:
Holton is one of the possible big sleepers in this class. He is from South Georgia and they do not always get the proper media attention, so he is someone that could sneak up on some people. He is a hard hitter, he is a very physical player, and he is a prospect that should fit right in at strong safety. He closes on the ball well and has above average ball skills also. He has not faced a lot of passing offenses in high school, so pass coverage is an area he will need to work on. Overall, Holton is a physical safety that will bring a quiet attitude with him to the GT secondary.

Jake Skole

Height: 6-1
Weight: 188
Home Town (High School): Roswell, GA (Blessed Trinity HS)
Other offers included: Florida State, Georgia, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech
Lead GT Recruiting Coach: Dave Wommack
Scout.com Stars: ***
Scout.com State Ranking (Regardless of Position): 72
Scout.com National Ranking by Position: 94 (S)
Scout.com National Ranking (Regardless of Position): NR

Cutting to the chase, even though Skole signed to play both football and baseball, it would not surprise some if he mainly became a baseball player. Jake's brother Mike Skole is a third baseman currently on the Beesball team. His potential to contribute to the football team would be icing on the cake for this class. It's such a talented and deep class, taking a chance on an athlete like Jake is understandable. Even if he does play football, there's a good chance it won't even be on defense. At this site we suspect he'll end up on offense, the plan according to coaches at Signing Day though was to still have him start out at safety.

When coming down to decision day, Jake picked Tech over a couple of schools Tech fans don't like to lose anything to. "Georgia Tech, Georgia, Florida State, Vanderbilt and South Carolina are the five schools," said Skole to Dale McDuffie before narrowing his list. "I am still looking at all of them. But, I will say that Georgia Tech, Georgia, and Florida State have pretty much pulled away from Vanderbilt and South Carolina and have become a top three for me."

Skole spoke to Jared Kimmel in December after Jake's official visit. The position question wasn't any closer to being decided. "They still aren't sure where they'll start me out at yet," said Skole. "With this weekend, when we met with position groups, I met with the safeties with Coach (Dave) Wommack the first time. Then I met with Coach ("Buzz") Preston and the A-backs. I prefer defense, it is just more natural for me. If the numbers are right, they said I may just get to pick where I start out at."

Scouting Report:
Chad Simmons - South Recruiting Analyst:
Skole is a smart athlete that does a lot of things well. What makes him a top prospect at safety is his anticipation, his ability to read the quarterback, and his ball skills. He seems to put himself in the right place to make plays and if the ball is catchable he will bring it in. He is a solid tackler as well. He needs to work on his coverage skills and his closing speed.

Skole is an intelligent football player that is a natural athlete. He is one of those kids that can do everything well. He will play both football and baseball at Georgia Tech and he should contribute in both down the road. What will help him early in football is his intelligence, his understanding, his ability to take direction, and the way he picks up on things. He is not going to wow anyone with his speed, size, or power, but he is a headsy player with very good ball skills and great anticipation.

For the full analysis from Chad see his story from August 27, 2009:
Scout's Take: Jake Skole

The one who got away
Darius Robinson (Clemson)

In a class like the one Tech just pulled in, there really isn't much room to have many regrets on players missed. Darius Robinson though was an interesting case with the way that it played out. Right around the New Year, Tech had 13 commits. Coaches were being very selective about giving offers out with only one commit since late August. With room to take maybe another one or two players, coaches were holding out for some of the top names out there. They also were not particularly in a hurry to add a sixth defensive back to a small class, leaving too many other positions unaddressed.

Heading into the Orange Bowl, I was told that Robinson, at the time already committed to Clemson, was the most likely of all the names on the board to come Tech's way. The only problem was he didn't have an offer. One was likely to come but I think the coaches wanted to keep their interest off the radar until they could get Darius to come in for an official visit.

When Clemson received word that Darius might visit Tech or Auburn, they predictably put the screws to him. "Coach Swinney just let me know that a commitment is a commitment," Robinson told Hale McGranahan of CUTigers.com on January 18th. "If I was going to look elsewhere, then they would do the same," Robinson said. "He said he really wanted me in the class. He said I was a leader in the class, therefore I should be setting an example, rather than trying to visit other schools."

Three days before Robinson's change of heart on visiting elsewhere, Al Groh was named Defensive Coordinator for the Yellow Jackets. The rest of the staff was told about Louis Young, a kid who would have an offer no matter who was already committed at the position. By then Tech coaches internally weren't too worried about what Robinson was going to do. They felt Young would be the sixth defensive back and they were plenty satisfied with that class.

Aside from Robinson, Tech took shots at some blue-chip type defensive backs along the way, but none that were very close to coming to fruition. Latwan Anderson (West Virginia) and Alec Ogletree (Georgia) were given looks early on. Really the only other player Tech looked at was a guy who is actually coming to Tech, but not for football. DeAndre Smelter signed with Tech baseball in November, spurning offers from Georgia, Auburn, LSU, and South Carolina among others. "To be honest, there were really only two schools I was considering: Georgia Tech and Georgia," Smelter told Dale McDuffie in November. "Once I gave up football, those were the only schools I was considering for baseball. Throughout the recruiting process they have been pretty much even." DeAndre could have made a heck of a football player but Tech fans will still get to root him.

Final Analysis
I don't think Tech fans could realistically ask for much more out of recruiting for a particular position. This is one of the better positional catches we have seen Tech pull in for some time. Two nationally ranked corners and a third who would be a true gem on his own most years. Tech also landed a local safety with an extremely high upside, a sleeper physically ready for college ball already and, as icing, a two-sport athlete who could play a number of positions in a number of sports. With eight defensive backs leaving the program over the next two seasons, it was important to start looking ahead to fill those future gaps. The combination of this class and last year's and the program is in great shape in the defensive secondary for the foreseeable future. If coaches can keep up the recruiting here, Tech will be a team that will reload in the secondary like great teams should. If the rest of the positions looked the same, Tech would be a perennial power.


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