After adding four signees and a transfer to his roster Wednesday, Georgia Tech coach Geoff Collins finally was able to take a breath. Collins gave an abbreviated news conference before rushing off to the airport.
He was to fly to Philadelphia to reunite with his wife, Jennifer, and 2 1/2-year-old daughter Astrid. Collins said he hadn’t seen Astrid in person in a month. They were to fly back Thursday to Atlanta for good.
“We’re so excited to be back home in Atlanta,” Collins said.
He was affording himself a small break, but the business of re-shaping the Yellow Jackets’ roster will not be left untended long. Obtaining his desired balance of players – by position groups and class – is a priority for him. Collins is guided by a structure imparted to him from Alabama coach Nick Saban when Collins worked for him in 2007. As such, Tech isn’t likely finished with finding more players for the 2019 roster.
Roster management is important, he said Wednesday, “because we’re building this thing to be an elite program for a long time.”
At this point, the most likely way that Tech will add players is through transfers, either grad transfers or the standard variety. But Collins said that whom his staff pursues will depend on position changes made over the next few months. Coaches will use the offseason workouts and then spring practice to evaluate players’ ability to fit in the positions in the new offensive and defensive schemes.
“There’ll be guys on our roster that are going to play tight end, and there are guys on our roster that are going to play slot receiver for us,” Collins said. “Right now, we don’t know the full breadth and scope of that, so we want to go through the spring, see what places we need to add guys or add positions.”
For instance, Collins has 12 scholarship wide receivers on the roster (seven returning) and two tight ends (a grad transfer and a freshman signee). At Temple, the Owls’ 2018 roster had 13 wide receivers and five scholarship tight ends.
There are nine returning running backs (A-backs or B-backs in the Paul Johnson offense) and three incoming freshman running backs. Last year, Collins’ roster at Temple had five running backs and a fullback on scholarship.
Tech players don’t need to be told that winds of change are blowing. Collins said that, when he first met players upon his hire, some introduced themselves to him as tight ends or slot receivers, positions that hadn’t existed in Johnson’s offense.
“Georgia Tech student-athletes are highly intelligent,” he said. “They’re going to find a way to put themselves in position so they can have success.”
Offensive line is a position group where Tech could probably use more numbers. No offensive linemen were signed – two linemen who had committed to Tech while Johnson was coach did not hear from the new staff and chose to sign elsewhere – and the team has lost All-ACC guard Parker Braun as a grad transfer. That leaves 15 scholarship linemen, and five are going into their senior seasons.
Collins also needs for at least three players to leave the team. With the signing-day additions, Tech now has 88 players in position to be on scholarship in the 2019-20 academic year, three more than the maximum permitted by NCAA rules. Collins did not offer any indication that he has concerns about getting down to 85. Players leaving teams for a variety of reasons – transfers, medical disqualifications, dismissals or departures because of graduation – is routine. In the past five offseasons, at least 44 players with eligibility remaining did not return for the following season, and there were no fewer than five between any two seasons.
“I think there’s naturally going to be attrition,” Collins said. “And every offseason, every program I’ve ever been a part of, and across the college football landscape, there’s a level of attrition. The big thing with me is, anybody that’s ever been associated with this program, we want nothing but the best for them.”
And as that serves to provide Collins more flexibility to re-fashion the roster, it may not bother him too much.
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