Georgia Tech’s 2021 recruiting class already taking form

Georgia Tech head coach Geoff Collins celebrates the victory over North Carolina State at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Thursday, November 21, 2019. Georgia Tech won 28-26. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

caption arrowCaption
Georgia Tech head coach Geoff Collins celebrates the victory over North Carolina State at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Thursday, November 21, 2019. Georgia Tech won 28-26. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

A year ago, Georgia Tech general manager Patrick Suddes was a few weeks into his job overseeing recruiting for coach Geoff Collins. At that frenzied time, Collins, Suddes and the Tech staff primarily were focused on finishing the 2019 signing class and were just starting on the 2020 class.

Twelve months later, Suddes’s recruiting operations are well underway for the 2021 class, with two commitments secured and relationships developed with a multitude of prospects, not to mention groundwork being laid with younger recruits.

“Now, we’re actually to the point where we’ve been recruiting a lot of these 2021 kids for a while,” Suddes told the AJC. “They’ve been on campus a bunch of times. Some of these guys that come on campus have already been here multiple times.”

Tech largely will conclude its recruitment of the 2020 class Wednesday with the start of the regular signing period, which lasts until April 1. But the progress made already with the 2021 class and beyond would seem to augur well for Tech to improve upon the success of the 2020 class, which as of Thursday was ranked 26th nationally (247Sports Composite), the highest since the famed 2007 class.

On Saturday, Tech coaches opened the doors and held junior day, inviting prospects (including sophomores and freshmen) to campus to meet with the staff and players and tour the facilities.

After a year of playing catch-up, “we’re in good shape, good position with a lot of guys, especially in Georgia, to start getting some (commitments),” Suddes said. “We’re continuing to build those relationships and kind of go from there.”

Among Tech’s prized in-state targets are Crisp County High safety Sirad Bryant, North Gwinnett linebacker Barrett Carter, Hapeville Charter linebacker Zavier Carter, South Paulding tight end Miles Campbell, Hebron Christian Academy quarterback Colten Gauthier and Hapeville Charter wide receiver Jaquez Smith.

“I think it’s pretty well-rounded this year in the state for this class,” Suddes said. “And I think even the 2022 class is really, really good.”

Tech has two commitments at this point, athlete Jamal Haynes of Grayson High and wide receiver Malik Rutherford of Hialeah, Fla. Tech’s first commitments for the 2020 class were made last March.

As of Thursday evening, Tech had made 241 scholarship offers to prospects in the 2021 class, according to 247Sports. It was second most in the ACC, following Louisville at 243. Among the rest of the Coastal Division, North Carolina had the fewest at 98 and the rest ranged between 176 to 219. Suddes said that, despite the volume, a scholarship comes at the end of a “a very detailed process” of ability, character and fit.

“You’re just honing in on those guys that have shown interest in you, especially the guys that have been on your campus and the guys you’re trying to get on your campus, and kind of go from there,” Suddes said.

The geographical spread is wide. Collins has sent out offers to prospects in 25 states, mostly in the Southeast but in the Northeast, Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and West. The three states with the most offers are Florida (57), Georgia (56) and Texas (37).

“We’re blessed to have unbelievable high-school football coaches and players in our own backyard, so obviously the priority is Georgia,” Suddes said.

Multiple coaches have connections to Florida, including Collins himself, who was defensive coordinator at Florida 2015-16 and at Central Florida and Florida International for a total of three years previous to that.

Tech is relying on assistant coaches Tashard Choice and Kerry Dixon in Texas.

“We like to take care of our own backyard,” Suddes said. “We know Texas plays good football, as well. Anywhere there’s good football players that have an interest in Georgia Tech, we’ll go after them.”

By position group, offensive and defensive lines are priorities, as prospects at those spots are more difficult to find. For instance, Tech has offers to nine defensive tackles from seven states. Two out-of-state linemen who have shown interest in Tech are offensive tackle Eli Sutton from Brentwood, Tenn., and defensive end Grey Carroll from Alcoa, Tenn.

Collins will hope to finish the 2020 class well next week. This coming weekend, Tech will have its final two official visitors before the signing period – Dalton High running back Jahmyr Gibbs and McEachern High wide receiver Javon Baker, who committed to Alabama. Both are four-star prospects. Gibbs has been the subject of much fan angst as he has been committed to Tech since May, but has been pursued more recently by Florida and Alabama, among others.

Four-star defensive tackle Jayson Jones of Calera, Ala., who committed to Alabama but has Tech in his final four, and three-star defensive end T.J. Davis of Metter High, whose recruitment has heated up recently, are two more possibilities to add to the players who joined in December.

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