Georgia Tech recruits remain committed

Jackets' top recruiter Giff Smith departing for NFL

Smith, who has been with Tech for six seasons, accepted a job as outside linebackers coach with the Buffalo Bills. He will reunite with Chan Gailey, who recently was hired to be the Bills' head coach a little more than two years after he was fired as the Yellow Jackets' coach. A call to the Buffalo Bills wasn't returned. A text message and a call to Smith weren't returned.

National Signing Day is Feb. 3, and Tech's class is ranked No. 44 by Rivals.com and No. 45 by Scout.com.

Northview defensive tackle Denzel McCoy said he was mad when he heard that Smith was leaving, but calmed down after talking on the phone with him.

"We were pretty tight," McCoy said. "Smith called to tell me about the news. He said he was looking forward to watching me the next four years and hopefully would get to coach me at the next level [NFL]."

McCoy said Tech coach Paul Johnson called him Tuesday. "[Johnson] said not to worry about it, that they were going to bring someone in highly capable to do the job," McCoy said.

McCoy said Arkansas has been trying to sway him, but that he remains committed to Tech.

McCoy's reaction is similar to that of other recruits, all of whom said they stand by their commitments.

Union Grove defensive end Anthony Williams said he will stick with his decision because of the relationships he has made with the rest of Tech's coaches, as well as with the other commitments.

Phenix City (Ala.) Central High running back Deon Hill said he's fine because "of the program and the education I'll get."

Blessed Trinity defensive back Jake Skole said Smith "was a good dude and a good coach. I was disappointed to hear about it, but I picked Georgia Tech for a lot of reasons, and I know [Johnson] knows what he's going and will hire a good replacement. We'll be all right."

Synjyn Days' father, Calvin, said his son is committed to "coach Johnson and coach [Brian] Bohannon, the Institute and the things that are happening there."

The Jackets have 16 players committed, with two scholarships remaining. Offers have been made to two players: Stephenson defensive tackle Mike Thornton and Roswell wide receiver Chris Boyd, who previously committed to Vanderbilt.

Commitments are non-binding until the players sign their letters of intent next week.

A native of Mableton, Smith is a graduate of Pebblebrook High School and Georgia Southern (1991). He was paid $189,000 at Tech.

During Smith's tenure as recruiting coordinator, the Jackets signed several highly ranked players, including Jonathan Dwyer, Derrick Morgan, Demaryius Thomas and Morgan Burnett, all of whom are expected to go in the first four rounds of the NFL Draft in April.

Gailey hired Smith to coach Tech's defensive line in 2004 after Smith had spent five seasons at Tulane, where he coached the line and was recruiting coordinator. Smith was retained by Johnson when he was hired in December 2007.

Smith began his career in 1991 as a graduate assistant at Arkansas and moved to Georgia in a similar role three years later. He was hired at his alma mater in 1996 to coach wide receivers. Johnson moved him to the secondary in 1997 when he coached the Eagles.

During Smith's time at Tech, the Jackets have had several defensive linemen go to the NFL, including Michael Johnson, Vance Walker and Darryl Richard. Morgan is expected to be a top-five pick in this year's draft.

Staff writer Michael Carvell and correspondent Matt Winkeljohn contributed to this article.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.