Geoff Collins on the signing class and more

New Georgia Tech coach Geoff Collins spoke with media Friday on a teleconference to address this week’s signings and also the hire of running backs coach Tashard Choice. He spoke about those matters and more, touching on the offseason conditioning program, future recruiting priorities and connecting with former players.

1. Collins said that making his first home visit to tight end Dylan Deveney of Medford, N.J., was a signal.

“I just wanted to make sure that it was clear to Dylan and to everybody associated with the Yellow Jacket football program that this is the type of offense that we’re going to run,” Collins said.

Collins also said that grad transfer Tyler Davis from Connecticut, the other tight end added to the roster, was one of the best players that Temple had faced in the past two years.

2. A number of the signed players had also been recruited by Temple, such as quarterback Demetrius Knight from Strong Rock Christian in Henry County, running back Devin Ellison from Jacksonville, Fla., and wide receiver Kalani Norris from Miami. Collins said that familiarity on both sides helped with keeping the committed players in the fold and ultimately signed.

Of the 15 players who were committed at the time of coach Paul Johnson’s decision to step down, 12 signed on Wednesday. One signed elsewhere (linebacker Ahdarrious Gee from Crisp County) and two more (offensive lineman Larry Dowdy from Belmont, N.C., and lineman Joshua Black from Stephenson High) will sign in February.

“I think building the relationships with the guys that were committed for a long time, connecting them together was huge, but we’ll keep building those relationships over the next month and a half until the next signing period but really excited about the guys that signed with us,” he said.

Collins said he distinctly remembered seeing Norris at a satellite camp at the University of Miami. Collins said his staff went across the country to attend satellite camps and made extensive use of them, something he plans to continue at Tech “so that every single young man that fits our athletic and academic priorities gets evaluated.”

Collins asserted what a number of committed players had said, that scholarship offers were going to be honored, as were the wishes of athletic director Todd Stansbury.

“So we were able to sign these guys, keep the commits and are excited that they’re on the Flats with us and we’ll coach ’em up and plug them into positions that best suit their individual talents and produce a team that can go out there and play at a real high level of football.”

Collins said he didn’t know how many players he’ll sign in the February signing period. Including the players signed and the two grad transfers, Tech is at 84 scholarships for the 2019-20 academic year, leaving one spot for the 85-player limit.

Collins could add more than one with the presumption that there will be attrition, either by transfer or players who have earned degrees with eligibility remaining deciding not to return.

Geoff Collins' first signing class at Georgia Tech includes two who initially committed to other schools. Collins had 15 signees on Wednesday's, Dec. 19, 2018, first day of the early signing period, less than two weeks after being named Georgia Tech's coach. (Phil Skinner photo)

3. Wide receiver Ahmarean Brown (Tampa, Fla.), whom Tech hadn’t been recruiting before Collins’ hire, filled a need for “some elite speed to be able to take the top off the coverage with the offense we’re going to be implementing.”

Defensive end Sylvain Yondjouen (Belgium), who had been committed to Arizona, had been recruited by Temple.

“He’s every bit of 6-foot-4, close to about 250 pounds right now and just a big, physical presence coming off the edge,” Collins said. “We’re transitioning from more of a 3-4 hybrid defense to more of a four-down still with the ability to go with some odd packages (three-man fronts), but we still need that presence of a big, physical defensive end with length.”

Some roster-management questions facing Geoff Collins

Collins returned to that topic in outlining priorities in recruiting in the future.

“The thing that we need to get on the roster is just length and speed, so that’s going to be a huge priority for us moving forward,” he said. “Position flexibility within this transition is going to be huge, but we need to get a lot more length on the roster, especially upfront on the o-line and the d-line, so we need to get longer, taller guys there, so we’re going to continue to do that.”

4. The process of teaching the offense, defense and special teams will begin when players return to campus in January, as will the offseason conditioning program. Collins described the early-morning workout program as “unique and challenging things that we present to create a very close team like we had up in Philadelphia, so it’s going to be an exciting time to get to know these guys and really get to see what they’re about through the offseason conditioning.”

5. Collins said he has been hearing from former players he was around when he was at Tech as a graduate assistant and then tight ends coach (1999-2001) and then as director of player personnel (2006). Collins said that he went to the Falcons game last Sunday with a couple of them and has been added to several group texts that former players share.

Collins said that “there’s guys that have been coming back to the facility that haven’t been back in a long time and I’ve been able to connect with them.”

That was part of the motivation, he said, to hire former Tech star Tashard Choice as running backs coach, to connect former players with current team members “and just get the energy and the enthusiasm that surrounds Georgia Tech football with the great players that made this place so special back around our guys.”

6. Collins said that announcements on coaching staff will not be made until the coaches’ teams are finished with their bowl games. That includes Temple’s appearance in the Independence Bowl on December 27. He said he was doing so out of respect for those teams.

Collins also said that he’ll meet with families of Tech players on the morning of the Quick Lane Bowl. The athletic department has also set up opportunities for fans to meet Collins prior to the game in Detroit. He also has his first staff meeting scheduled – January 4 at 8 a.m.

“Just excited about this new opportunity, this new chapter in Georgia Tech football,” he said.

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