Alcoa (Tenn.) High defensive end Grey Carroll earned all-state recognition as a sophomore and junior. (Photo courtesy Grey Carroll)

Defensive line recruit Carroll feeling drawn to Georgia Tech

As it turned out, defensive lineman Grey Carroll’s most recent unofficial visit to Georgia Tech took place on one of the final days before COVID-19 made such an appointment a temporary impossibility.

It appears the timing could work out well for Tech. The visit served only to increase the enthusiasm that Carroll, a three-star defensive lineman from Alcoa, Tenn., holds for Tech, coach Geoff Collins and his staff.

“Every time I go there, I really get good vibes from the culture and coach Collins,” Carroll told the AJC. “I truly think he’s going to do something great. He’s going to turn that program around and he’s doing it the right way.”

Tech offered Carroll last fall, midway through his junior season, and Carroll has made three or four unofficial visits since, he said.

“Every time I go, I feel like that’s the type of place I could bring my granny with me and she’d enjoy it as much as I would,” Carroll said. “It’s just good vibes. It’s a good place. That’s why they’re so high up for me.”

Tech has pursued Carroll diligently, led by defensive-line coach Larry Knight. While only three other power-conference schools have offered Carroll – Louisville, Wake Forest and Boston College – Carroll’s high-school coach gave indication that Tech’s rivals may be missing out.

“I’ve done this for a long time and I’ve been around a lot of good players,” Alcoa High coach Gary Rankin said. “He’s probably as sure a bet to make it as anybody we’ve had in a long time.”

For Rankin to say that he has been around a lot of good players is not prattle. His teams have won 15 state championships, and he has won 439 games, both state records in Tennessee. Carroll has helped contribute to the past three in each of his first three seasons at Alcoa, part of a run of five in a row for the Tornadoes.

Rankin described Carroll as a highly driven defensive lineman who is quick off the ball. Rankin said that Carroll is powered by a motor that’s one of the best that he has coached in the past 20-25 years. All of those traits are evident on his highlight video, a compilation of plays in which he repeatedly beat offensive tackles at the snap, blew up blocks in the interior and chased down run plays going away from his side.

“Just a great worker, enjoys football,” Rankin said. “I don’t know how many kids enjoy football, but he really enjoys it, enjoys practice, enjoys offseason work.”

Georgia Tech recruit Grey Carroll poses in Bobby Dodd Stadium with coach Geoff Collins (left) and defensive line coach Larry Knight (right) on a visit to Tech's campus. (Photo courtesy Grey Carroll)

Carroll is 6-foot-2 (“pushing 6-3,” Rankin said) and about 255 pounds. He runs the 100- and 200-meter dashes for the school track team and ran the 100 meters in 11.8 seconds in his first meet of the spring, Carroll said.

“That’s not a blazing time, but for a 250-pound guy, I’m running against some of the fastest dudes in the county and they’re not just absolutely blazing me,” said Carroll, whose hometown of Alcoa is located about 12 miles south of Knoxville and the University of Tennessee.

Carroll is a two-time all-state selection and was also named his region’s player of the year last season. By measure of 247Sports Composite, he is the No. 44 strong-side defensive end in the 2021 class.

He handles himself in the classroom, as well. He is taking three Advanced Placement classes this year, and Princeton, Harvard and Yale are among the roughly 20 schools to have offered him.

Had they not already, Tech and Knight made their interest in Carroll clear when he visited on March 7 when the Yellow Jackets had their third session of spring practice. Afterwards, he and his father sat with Knight in a team meeting room as Knight showed them video clips of players he had coached previously, as well as Carroll’s own highlights.

Knight explained, Carroll said, how he would want to use him if he were to come to Tech. The meeting lasted about an hour.

“That was new,” Carroll said. “I’d never done that on a college visit before.”

Carroll’s recruitment plans are a bit on hold with the NCAA having instituted a “dead period,” meaning no in-person recruiting contact, including on campus, until at least April 15. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the dead period were extended, which would keep recruits from making campus visits, crucial in the recruitment process. It is Carroll’s hope to visit more schools, including Wake Forest, but those plans are less defined than they were a week ago. Carroll said he may go ahead and make a commitment decision sooner than later.

“I definitely feel good about Georgia Tech, what they’ve offered me and what they’ve shown me and, every time I’m up there, what I feel,” he said. “I’m definitely being drawn toward them, so we’ll see how it goes with the virus.”

For the times, it would seem a judicious approach.

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