Tre “Stonewall” Jackson, the second football player to commit to Georgia Tech, was the second to “sign” with the Yellow Jackets on Wednesday.
The linebacker from Lowndes High School signed a non-binding financial aid agreement with Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets were Jackson's first FBS offer last March, and he committed in less than a week last spring.
"I decided to enroll early because I felt like it was better for me to start learning the defense, and to spend time with my teammates," Jackson told the AJC. "Just being able to have that extra time before next year to connect and bond with them, as well as learn from them and my coaches. It's all about learning, and that's why I felt it would be better for me to get there early to learn everything quickly, and just get rolling with learning game plans and formations. Once I learn base personnel and everything else they can teach me, I can start applying it just like I did in high school with being able to recognize it, line up and play."
The 5-foot-9, 225-pound Jackson followed in the footsteps of Matthew Jordan, the Alabama quarterback who quietly signed the same paperwork with Georgia Tech last weekend. Jordan told the AJC he didn’t do any type of ceremony but will do something with family on February’s signing day.
Georgia Tech will have a third commitment sign papers in the next few days.
KeShun Freeman, an outside linebacker from Callaway High School, told the AJC he will sign during his official visit with the Yellow Jackets this weekend.
The trio of Jackson, Jordan and Freeman all plan to be early enrollees at Georgia Tech and will report to campus on Jan. 5.
UGA had two recruits sign financial aid agreements: Quarterback Jacob Park, who is committed to the Bulldogs, and wide receiver Josh Malone, who is committed to Tennessee.
The financial aid agreement is non-binding, and not the same as a national letter of intent.
What’s the deal? The NCAA recently stated that a prospective student-athlete on track to graduate early from high school could sign a financial aid agreement as long as the participating college establishes that the player is enrolled in all coursework necessary to graduate high school at the midyear point (but they don’t have to graduate early if they choose not to).
Again, the financial aid agreement is not the same as a letter of intent, which binds a recruit to a college. The financial aid agreement commits the university to provide a scholarship, but does not require the prospect to accept it.
So why would a college let a recruit sign a financial aid agreement early when it’s not binding? Why not wait until February’s signing day and make it official with a letter of intent and a financial aid agreement at the same time?
It’s very simple. There’s a big advantage for colleges, especially with high-profile recruits. If a college gets a kid to sign a financial aid agreement early, then the college no longer is restricted by NCAA rules that limit communication with a recruit.
Georgia Tech can have unlimited contact with its three “signees,” while UGA can do the same with its two, including Malone.