“Tech fans should be excited,” said ACC Network analyst Roddy Jones, a member of the 2007 signing class. “Now, it’s going to take a couple more classes like this one to get to the point where coach Collins wants to be, but, hell, you can’t have three top-25 classes without having one.”
Collins’ collection of four-star prospects grew by one Wednesday morning, when quarterback Jeff Sims of Sandalwood High in Jacksonville, Fla., announced at a school signing ceremony that he had selected Tech over Maryland and Florida State, the school from which he had withdrawn his commitment last week. Among other accolades, Sims was a finalist at the Elite 11 quarterback competition this past summer, an annual gathering of the top passing prospects in the country.
Tech coaches had been in communication with Sims and his family this fall while he was committed to FSU, even taking a secretive official visit during the season, and conversations ramped up late following the firing of Seminoles coach Willie Taggart, Collins said.
“He decided to come with us and that’s a huge get for us,” Collins said.
Tech particularly brought help to the offensive and defensive lines, position groups that were thin and in need of help. Collins and general manager Patrick Suddes added six offensive linemen and four defensive linemen. Notably, the offensive linemen fit the pro-style prototype of position coach Brent Key, averaging 6-foot-5 and 297 pounds. Among them is Jordan Williams, a three-star offensive tackle from Gainesville High who is 6-foot-6 and 310 pounds.
“Tremendous size, tremendous length,” Collins said of Williams.
The defensive-line signees include three standing 6-4 or taller, including Jared Ivey, a four-star defensive end from North Gwinnett who stands 6-6. On the 2019 roster, there were a total of five such players on the defensive line, and two of them were recruited by Collins in the 2019 signing class.
“The thing that I’ve talked about since I got here is we have to get longer, taller, rangier athletes on this roster,” Collins said.
The 22 additions do put Tech in a precarious spot. There are 71 players on scholarship with eligibility remaining. The NCAA limit for scholarships is 85. Players leaving the team via transfer or other avenues is practically an inevitability throughout the FBS ranks, but Collins and Suddes will need players to move on from Tech. The number could be greater if Tech adds more players in the regular signing period in February, as expected. One whom Tech will pursue in January is four-star running back Jahmyr Gibbs of Dalton High, who is committed to Tech but has elected to make more visits before making a final decision.
“It’s going to be in flux the whole time,” Collins said. “There’s obviously guys that will make decisions, and it’s happening in real time right now.”
Wednesday, though, was a day to celebrate and take a breath after the non-stop rush to finish out the signing class. Collins took a couple of sly pokes at rival Georgia and its recent attempt to sell recruits on the school’s connection to Atlanta, despite Athens being located 70 miles away by car. On its most recent official-visit weekend, UGA prospects posed in front of a backdrop that read “Welcome to Atlanta” and was decorated with Atlanta images such as the Varsity and State Farm Arena.
As he made his opening remarks, Collins paused for a drink, pulling out a Varsity cup from behind the lectern. Later, in discussing defensive lineman signee Emmanuel Johnson, the son of UGA basketball great Katrina McClain Johnson, Collins said that Johnson’s mother “was a two-time All-American at a school 90 minutes away from Atlanta.”
The challenge of taking on the Bulldogs on the field can wait until November. On this day, Collins thanked and praised the work of his coaches and recruiting staff, continued to sell his vision and set the stage for his second year.
“We’ve got a lot going for us and we’re really proud of the future going forward,” Collins said.
Georgia Tech December signees
Player, Pos., Ht., Wt., Hometown
Avery Boyd WR 6-2 195 Tallahassee, Fla.
Miles Brooks CB 6-2 185 Jacksonville, Fla.
Khatavian Franks LB 6-2 205 Fairburn
Tucker Gleason QB 6-3 215 Tampa, Fla.
Bryce Gowdy WR 6-3 210 Deerfield Beach, Fla.
Wing Green OL 6-7 285 Leesburg
Jalen Huff CB 5-11 180 Buford
Jared Ivey DE 6-6 225 Suwanee
Emmanuel Johnson DL 6-5 260 North Charleston, S.C.
Ryan Johnson OL 6-6 310 Brentwood, Tenn.
Kyle Kennard DE 6-4 220 Atlanta
Ryan King WR 6-3 215 Loganville
Nate McCollum WR 5-11 185 McDonough
Tyson Meiguez LB 6-2 215 Fairburn
Michael Rankins OL 6-5 295 Ruskin, Fla.
Jeff Sims QB 6-3 205 Jacksonville, Fla.
Ryan Spiers OL 6-3 285 Biloxi, Miss.
Akelo Stone DL 6-3 250 Savannah
Paula Vaipulu OL 6-3 305 Channelview, Texas
Billy Ward TE 6-4 245 Locust Grove
Jordan Williams OL 6-6 310 Gainesville
Khaya Wright OLB 6-3 215 Miami