“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.