10 fast facts from Georgia Tech’s roster

Georgia Tech running back Jordan Mason (27) eludes a tackle by North Carolina State linebacker Payton Wilson (11) at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Thursday, November 21, 2019.  (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
Georgia Tech running back Jordan Mason (27) eludes a tackle by North Carolina State linebacker Payton Wilson (11) at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Thursday, November 21, 2019. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

As Georgia Tech prepares to open the season Saturday at Florida State, a look at the roster offers indications of how the team is changing in coach Geoff Collins' second season. Among other things, it’s heavier, more talented and has a lot of single-digit players.

Here are 10 observations from the roster.

1. State-by-state breakdown

Of the team’s 84 scholarship players, 45 are from Georgia. After Georgia comes Florida (15), Tennessee (6), Alabama and South Carolina (4), Louisiana (3) and six states and one country with one each – Hawaii, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Jersey, Texas, Virginia and Belgium.

2. Breakdown by class

How the 84 scholarship players break down by year: 14 seniors, 13 juniors, 22 sophomores, 12 redshirt freshmen and 23 freshmen.

The senior member of the roster is linebacker David Curry, the lone remaining player from the 2015 signing class. Curry received a sixth season to complete his eligibility last year after missing the 2017 season with foot and ankle injuries. With the NCAA granting fall-sports athletes an extra season of eligibility, Curry actually could return to Tech for a second senior season in his seventh year on campus. He said Wednesday that he did not plan to take advantage of the offer, “but, of course, I never close any doors.”

3. Where players come from in Georgia

Among the 45 scholarship players from Georgia, Gwinnett County has produced the most, with seven. After Gwinnett, seven counties (determined by the location of the players' high schools) have sent multiple players to Tech – Fulton (6), Henry (5), Cobb (4), Chatham (3) and Floyd, Forsyth and Gordon (2).

Fourteen other counties have one scholarship player on the roster – Bartow, Ben Hill, Coweta, DeKalb, Dooly, Hall, Houston, Lee, Long, Morgan, Peach, Thomas, Washington and Whitfield. As the third most populous county in the state and one close to Tech’s campus, DeKalb stands out with only one player (offensive tackle Charlie Clark from the Marist School).

4. Putting on the pounds

After the 2019 season, coach Geoff Collins set a goal for the team to gain an average of 10 pounds per player to better hold up against the Jackets' heftier competition. The 54 players on the first “Above the Line” chart who were on the roster last season gained an average of 6.9 pounds, measuring them by their weights in the 2019 media guide and the updated weights on the team website.

The big gainers include tight end Dylan Leonard (215 to 245), defensive ends Curtis Ryans (240 to 265), Chico Bennett (228 to 250) and Jordan Domineck (225 to 247), defensive tackle Mike Lockhart (282 to 302), offensive tackle Zach Quinney (295 to 315) and wide receiver Ahmarean Brown (155 to 170).

The 10-pound goal was thwarted by long snapper Jack Coco, who shed 36 pounds (276 to 240) in an attempt to play tight end. Without Coco, the average jumps to 7.7 pounds.

5. Breaking down the roster by position

How the Jackets' 84 scholarship players fit by position group – four quarterbacks, seven running backs, 11 wide receivers, three tight ends, 14 offensive linemen, 19 defensive linemen, eight linebackers, eight cornerbacks, nine safeties and one specialist.

6. When they were high-school recruits

Of the 84 scholarship players, 12 were four-star recruits in high school (247Sports Composite), 66 were three-star prospects, three were two-star prospects and three did not have recruiting profiles.

Of the 12 players who were rated four-star recruits coming out of high school, Collins recruited nine of them, including four in the 2020 signing class – cornerback Miles Brooks, running back Jahmyr Gibbs, defensive lineman Jared Ivey and quarterback Jeff Sims. One was in the 2019 signing class – running back Jamious Griffin.

The other four came to Tech as transfers before the 2019 season – safety Derrik Allen (Notre Dame), defensive end Antonneous Clayton (Florida), wide receiver Marquez Ezzard (Miami) and cornerback Myles Sims (Michigan).

The three recruited by former coach Paul Johnson are quarterback James Graham, safety Jaylon King and running back Bruce Jordan-Swilling.

7. Underrated recruits

The three players who were not rated by 247Sports or other recruiting outlets are defensive tackle Djimon Brooks, tight end Dylan Leonard and defensive end Curtis Ryans. Brooks and Leonard came to Tech as walk-ons while Ryans was a late signee in the 2018 class.

Three players were two-star prospects – wide receivers Adonicas Sanders and Jalen Camp and defensive tackle Jahaziel Lee. The three players have combined to start 38 games.

8. From low 3-star to All-ACC

Perhaps the player who has outperformed his recruiting ranking the most is running back Jordan Mason. Coming out of Gallatin, Tenn., Mason was a low three-star prospect, ranked the 95th running back in the country in the 2017 class. After redshirting in 2017, he has played in all of Tech’s 25 games, starting 17.

Last season, he finished sixth in the ACC in rushing yards per game and earned All-ACC status.

9. A big zero

Brooks will be the first Tech player to wear jersey No. 0 after the NCAA’s rule change that permits players to wear that number. In July, Collins awarded him the single-digit jersey on the same day that he put him on scholarship, with the jersey number signifying his no-star status as a recruit. After playing one game in his first two seasons, Brooks played in all 12 games last season, starting four. His 27 tackles were second among defensive linemen.

10. Single-digit jerseys

Collins awards single-digit jerseys to the players whom he deems the best teammates and leaders, a process that normally involves them writing a letter to Collins explaining why they want the honor. Because of the rule that permits teams to have two players wear the same number as long as they don’t play the same position or are on the field at the same time, there are 11 single-digit players.

They are defensive tackle Djimon Brooks (0), safety Juanyeh Thomas and wide receiver Jalen Camp (1), safety Tariq Carpenter and wide receiver Ahmarean Brown (2), cornerback Tre Swilling (3), defensive back Jaytlin Askew and quarterback James Graham (4), linebacker Jerry Howard (5), linebacker David Curry (6) and cornerback Tobias Oliver (8). The Nos. 7 and 9 jerseys are not being worn. On the roster, the former belongs to the late Bryce Gowdy, the 2020 signee who took his life days before he was to arrive at Tech in January.