A day after Duke coach David Cutcliffe rhetorically asked why a high-school wide receiver prospect would want to play at Georgia Tech, coach Paul Johnson responded with a question of his own.
“How many receivers have they put in the NFL?” Johnson asked after the Yellow Jackets’ Wednesday practice in preparation for Saturday’s game against Duke. “I can tell you. None. They’ve had one offensive player (drafted by) the NFL in his six years there. … He probably ought to worry about his own business.”
Johnson’s comments followed those made by Cutcliffe at his Tuesday news conference about recruiting challenges that Tech faces because of Johnson’s unorthodox spread-option offense. While praising Tech coaches for finding fits for the Jackets’ offense and for the team’s success, Cutcliffe said that it is more difficult to convince “high-end players” with an eye on the NFL to play at Tech in a system dissimilar to pro offenses. On Wednesday, he said that he meant it as a compliment and a commentary on the mindset of high-school prospects.
“We’re dealing with young people today that think about the NFL, talk about the NFL, and so any of us that are a little different (face that challenge),” Cutcliffe said on the ACC coaches teleconference. “We have the same circumstances here in who we can recruit and do recruit.”
Johnson was not flattered.
“I would think he’s got enough problems of his own,” Johnson said. “He ought to worry about his own problems instead of helping us with ours. We’ve done pretty good against him so far.”
Johnson, who was hired at Tech within days of Cutcliffe in December 2007, is 6-0 against Cutcliffe. Duke quarterback Sean Renfree was drafted in 2013 by the Falcons, one of two Duke players drafted since Cutcliffe’s hire. A handful of undrafted Duke offensive players have reached the NFL in Cutcliffe’s tenure, though some were recruited by former Duke coach Ted Roof, now Tech’s defensive coordinator.
Tech has had five offensive players drafted since Johnson’s hire, three of whom were inherited, and 13 overall. Two wide receivers, Demaryius Thomas and Stephen Hill, were drafted, although Thomas was on the roster when Johnson was hired. An undrafted receiver, Kevin Cone, also reached the NFL.
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