“Bruce’s smile on his face was bigger than his beard was,” Swilling said.
Collins met with families of team members prior to the Quick Lane Bowl Wednesday in Detroit. For Swilling, also the father of cornerback Tre Swilling, Collins’ willingness to have Jordan-Swilling play on both sides of the ball was only one reason why he was excited for what the new coach might bring.
“We both had a smile on our face,” Swilling said “He was glad to see me and I was very glad to see him, just for what he’s going to bring to us – NFL-style offense, NFL-style defense. Just by saying that, with our academics, with what he’s going to bring, downtown Atlanta, Atlanta, Ga., job market, all that. Any kid that wouldn’t want to play at Georgia Tech would be crazy now. You can get it all.”
Other parents liked what they heard, as well.
“We’re just looking forward to what talents and abilities he’s going to bring to the program to help make our student-athletes better, to make the school better,” said Terrence Lee, father of offensive lineman Jahaziel Lee. “And whatever support we can share in that, be it financial or just in our presence, I think from a collective group of us, talking (Wednesday), we’re willing to give.”
Lee said he came away from the presentation believing that Collins is determined to raise Tech’s bar.
“I like his word-is-bond mentality,” he said.
Lee said that Collins also spoke of his family orientation. Lee appreciated that Collins gave family member his cell phone number.
Also, “I like his little swag with no socks on and tight jeans That works for him,” Lee said.
As for the shift from an option scheme to a pro-style offense, Terrence Lee already had plans for Jahaziel once he returned home to Louisiana after the bowl game.
“We’re going to be working on pass-blocking skills, because for you to go into spring, you need to have an edge,” Lee said he told his son. “So to be able to have an edge, you’ve got to get ahead. And so to get ahead, you’ve got to work now.”
Justice Dingle Sr., father of defensive end Justice Dingle Jr., said that Collins shared about his background and family. The Dingles were able to learn a little more about him prior to the Detroit visit through mutual acquaintances.
“First impressions, from what I’ve seen, he seems to be a players coach, very personable,” Dingle Sr. said.
Dingle Sr. said he has told his son to ride through the uncertainty of the transition.
“Anytime there’s change, there’s always the unknowing about what’s going to take place, so what we’ve always shared with him is that, as long as you go out and perform and do your best, your talent and ability should shine through,” he said. “You’re going to be fine either way.”
Not one to miss a recruiting opportunity, Collins took the time to size up Justice Dingle Jr.’s little brother, Jordan, who just finished his sophomore season at Bowling Green (Ky.) High and is already receiving recruiting attention as a tight end.
Swilling predicted that Tech’s recruiting will improve with the change in schemes and Collins’ reputed recruiting ability.
“And that’s what you need at Georgia Tech,” he said “You need a guy that can sit (at a prospect’s) house, drink some iced tea and close a kid out and bring him to Georgia Tech.”
Swilling had praise for former coach Paul Johnson, who stepped down from his position at Tech after 11 seasons.
“Don’t get me wrong,” he said. “We love coach Johnson for what he brought, what he did at Georgia Tech. It was just time for a change.”
To that end, Swilling had a challenge for the Tech fan base.
Swilling said that he “challenges our base and challenges the Georgia Tech family – on the first game, come back to us. We need you back in that stadium.”
Swilling put out the challenge after his dismay with the attendance at Bobby Dodd Stadium this past season, which declined for the third consecutive season. Tech averaged 43,087 in six home games, the lowest average since 2001, which was prior to the expansion to its current capacity of 55,000.
“I challenge them to show up and get back to being the people who are Georgia Tech,” Swilling said. “Our family. Because it’s been missing. It’s not there right now.”