After Georgia Tech’s recruiting success, optimism blooms

MIAMI, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 19:  Head coach Geoff Collins of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets reacts after a field goal against the Miami Hurricanes during overtime at Hard Rock Stadium on October 19, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
caption arrowCaption
MIAMI, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 19: Head coach Geoff Collins of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets reacts after a field goal against the Miami Hurricanes during overtime at Hard Rock Stadium on October 19, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Credit: Michael Reaves

Credit: Michael Reaves

As a major donor to the athletic department and a longtime Georgia Tech fan, Gregg Garrett has some perspective on signing days. Wednesday’s events, he said, took him back.

“It was invigorating,” Garrett said Thursday. “It was nostalgic from the standpoint when George (O’Leary) was here in the ’90s, him and that staff put together a lot of really good classes and it translated to a lot of success on the field.”

Notably, the 1998 season, when the Yellow Jackets shared the ACC title and finished ninth in the country.

Tech’s signing class, ranked 24th nationally (247Sports Composite), is the team’s highest rating since 2007. To Garrett, it was evidence that Tech can land high-level prospects, a message that coach Geoff Collins has repeated since his hire last December.

“You wanted to believe it, and you knew it had happened before not that long ago,” Garrett said. “It sounds good. You hope as a fan, but seeing it (happen), it’s a great feeling.”

“I am not surprised one bit,” said ACC Network analyst and former Tech captain Roddy Jones, who was part of the 2007 recruiting class that Collins helped assemble. “I’ve kind of seen behind the scenes how they’re working and things they’re doing, so I’m not surprised that they’re in the top 25, I’m really not.”

Garrett has appreciated Collins’ determination and no-excuses approach.

“Geoff came in and right off the bat said, ‘This is an elite football program. This is as good a power-five program as any in the country, and we’ve got to start building it like that,’’ Garrett said.

Someone else with a long-term perspective on Tech’s recruiting as well as on Collins had a similar view of Tech’s success in this recruiting cycle with Collins, his staff and general manager Patrick Suddes. A longtime high-school coach in Georgia, Butch Brooks was hired by O’Leary in 1998 to be director of high-school relations. Brooks was hired in no small part to help Tech in South Georgia.

“You get a guy from New York (like O’Leary) coming in talking like they talk, they kind of back off a little bit and look at you cross-eyed,” Brooks said.

Collins arrived to Tech as a graduate assistant in 1999 and was promoted to tight-ends coach in 2001. Brooks was still there in 2006, then working as director of football operations, when Collins returned as recruiting coordinator for then-coach Chan Gailey.

“He could recruit,” Brooks said. “Because I taught him how. That’s a joke. Tell him I said that.”

Joking aside, Brooks did recognize Collins’ recruiting chops and was not surprised at Tech’s success in Collins’ first full recruiting cycle. He pointed to the fact that, after arriving last December, he was able to land running back Jamious Griffin, wide receiver Ahmarean Brown, defensive end Sylvain Yondjouen and tight end Dylan Deveney.

“He’s just a good recruiter, and he knows how to talk to kids,” Brooks said. “This day and time, you’ve got to be a little wacky or they aren’t going to talk to you. Not that Geoff’s wacky. You know what I’m saying. You’ve got to be able to talk to them in their language.”

Brooks, too, recognized the recruiting struggles inherent at Tech, notably the academic rigor. Brooks called the challenge “unreal.” But, given time, “I think he’ll do an outstanding job,” Brooks said.

Garrett felt similarly. He predicts that as the team’s record improves and Tech coaches can reap the rewards of relationships established with younger players, the recruiting will get even better.

“I don’t think we’ve hit our ceiling yet in any shape or form,” he said.

About the Author

Editors' Picks