August 4, 2017 Atlanta - Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson watches over the first the first day of Georgia Tech football practice at Rose Bowl Field in Georgia Tech campus on Friday, August 4, 2017. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Paul Johnson calls early signing period ‘win-win’

Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson was in support of the early signing period in December, and his approval was reiterated again Wednesday. This year’s recruiting cycle was the first in which recruits had an opportunity to sign before February, having been granted a three-day window Dec. 20-22.

“I think it’s been great,” Johnson said. “I think it’s a win-win for everybody. Certainly there was a lot less drama, at least for us. It enables you to hit your number of 85 (scholarships) much easier. It lets you know where you’re at.”

Tech has allocated all 85 scholarships for the 2018-19 academic year, a rarity for the Yellow Jackets. Often, Tech has had committed players poached by other teams as the February signing day approached, leaving coaches scrambling to try to find replacements. Tech coaches have likewise done similarly, trying to nab prospects who had committed elsewhere.

But with the ability to lock up committed players about a month and a half earlier, much of that gamesmanship has been eliminated. Tech had two committed players who withdrew their commitments and signed elsewhere, Pike County High running back C’Bo Flemister (Notre Dame) and defensive lineman Julius Welschof (Michigan) of Germany.

With 18 players signed in the early signing period and only three scholarships available, Tech coaches spent January working on the 2019 class. 

Previously, “as a head coach, you’re trying to babysit (committed prospects) and finish off and make sure you’ve got everybody signed, and with the early signing period, it enables you to go out and just see some schools that maybe you haven’t been to in a while,” Johnson said.

“I know, for instance, for myself, last week I got to go to all the private schools here in Atlanta whether they had a prospect there or not, just to say ‘Hey’ to the coaches and get into the schools. You’re able to get out and see some of the juniors. With the rules, you can’t contact them or talk to them, but at least they know you’re in the school.”

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