Spring Outlook: Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech returns a wealth of talent on both sides of the ball, but lost a couple of assistant coaches. Spring practice will be key for the Yellow Jackets, who also welcome back the league's top player: Calvin Johnson.

School: Georgia Tech
Enrollment: 15,000
Stadium: Bobby Dodd Stadium
Capacity: 55,000
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
2006 Scout.com Recruiting Ranking: 49 (ACC: 10th)
Spring practice starts: March 29
Spring Game: April 22

SIGNING DAY UPDATE: NCAA-imposed scholarship limitations kept Georgia Tech's recruiting class small -- only 15 signees. The Yellow Jackets had openings for 17 newcomers to fill out their roster to the 79-scholarship limit, but two players, T Heath Batchelor from Haleyville, Ala., and DT Ricardo Matthews from Jacksonville, Fla., signed elsewhere, leaving the Jackets without an offensive lineman in the class.

"Our offensive line is pretty young, and we recruited five last year along with moving a defensive lineman to offense," coach Chan Gailey said. "We didn't feel like it was imperative to recruit that position, but we'll probably make a push for one or two next year."

Gailey said he singled out two positions as areas of concentration for this class: linebacker and receiver.

"We felt like we did very well in both those areas," he said. "You can never have enough good defensive backs, and I feel like we were able to go out and get some good ones at both positions this year."

The wide receivers are Correy Earls from Macon, Ga.; Dominique Reese from Auburn, Ala.; and Demaryius Thomas from Dublin, Ga. Rival Georgia was looking at Thomas (6-4, 215) as a tight end, but he preferred wideout.

The only linebacker signed was Osahon Tongo from Naperville, Ill., though defensive end Robert Hall from Hawkinsville, Ga., could be moved.

TOP RECRUITS: * CB Laurence Marius, Key West, Fla. -- The only question will be if this "Conch" out of Key West High will be able to learn all the ins and outs of the position to gain playing time in the secondary. Marius (5-11, 175) likely will see a lot of time on special teams this fall.

* RB Jamaal Evans, Irving, Texas -- He's a short (5-8), stocky (191 pounds) type who will give the Jackets a punishing runner inside. He doesn't have great speed but is a solid, all-purpose back who ran for more than 6,000 yards in his high school career.

* QB Byron Ingram, Stone Mountain, Ga. -- Tech has made a living with scatback quarterbacks such as Reggie Ball, who will be a senior in 2006, and Joey Hamilton. At 6-4, 172, Ingram, breaks that mold. He threw for more than 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns his last two seasons.

GLANCE AT 2006: With 14 starters returning, the Yellow Jackets have every reason to look forward to next fall. But if they are to contend for the division and conference titles, they are going to have to have a consistent season out of QB Reggie Ball and make better use of WR Calvin Johnson, who was somewhat neutralized near the end of the 2005 season.

ROSTER REPORT: WR Pat Clark, who caught 15 passes as a sophomore in 2005, will move to the secondary in the spring. He will get a look at cornerback along with returning starter Kenny Scott and untested Jamal Lewis and Jahi Word-Daniels. LB Shane Bowen and RB Jamaal Evans, two of Tech's 15 signees, are on campus and will take part in spring drills.

* Tech lost two assistant coaches in January when special teams coach David Wilson, who also served as recruiting coordinator, and tight ends coach Tommie Robinson resigned. Both had been on staff for four seasons. Johnson "Jeep" Hunter, formerly running backs coach at the University of Memphis, was named Georgia Tech's tight ends coach. Charles Kelly, formerly the defensive coordinator at Nicholls State University, was named Georgia Tech's special teams coordinator

* Some schools like to play a "soft" opponent to open the season, even bringing in a Division I-AA team to work out the kinks. Apparently the Yellow Jackets don't follow that philosophy. After opening with Auburn in 2005, they will open the 2006 season against Notre Dame. The Irish will come to Atlanta on Sept. 2. The Jackets beat the Tigers at Auburn to open last season.

SPRING QUESTIONS: Will this be the year Reggie Ball emerges as a true star in the ACC and also becomes more consistent in the passing game? Will the defense continue to be dominant in 2006? Chan Gailey has proven to be a great gameday coach, but has he recruited enough talent to Georgia Tech to continue to be successful in coming seasons?

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think it hurts you in numbers, but I don't think it hurts you otherwise. The fact that we're still on TV, can still play for an ACC championship and can still go to bowls didn't hurt us. We got questions about it, and we were straight with them every time." -- Coach Chan Gailey, on the effect of NCAA sanctions on this year's recruiting.

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