Georgia Tech signees reveal their thoughts on recruiting process

Westlake High offensive lineman and Georgia Tech signee Jakiah Leftwich at his signing day at Westlake Dec. 16, 2020. (Courtesy Jakiah Leftwich)

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Westlake High offensive lineman and Georgia Tech signee Jakiah Leftwich at his signing day at Westlake Dec. 16, 2020. (Courtesy Jakiah Leftwich)

As their recruitment came to an official end Wednesday, eight Georgia Tech signees were able to look back upon the process and share their insight into coach Geoff Collins, the Yellow Jackets assistant coaches who recruited them, the concerns they had about Tech and how they arrived at their decisions to commit to and sign with the school.

Defensive tackle Zeek Biggers, wide receiver James BlackStrain, safety Sirad Bryant, defensive lineman Grey Carroll, safety Kaleb Edwards, offensive tackle Jakiah Leftwich, quarterback Chayden Peery and linebacker Trenilyas Tatum all spoke with the AJC.

1. Which coach did you talk to the most in your recruitment and what is he like?

Zeek Biggers (defensive line coach Larry Knight): “Cool dude. Funny. Good coach.”

Kaleb Edwards (safeties coach Nathan Burton): “He’s a good dude. You can tell he’s a family dude. He enjoys football, and he enjoys getting to know you. I think that comes from coach Collins being that way. You know how coach Collins rubs off on his assistants. He’s just a real personable dude. He’s family oriented. He can talk.”

James BlackStrain (wide receivers coach Kerry Dixon): “He’s pumped up about everything. I was on FaceTime talking to him. I talk to him every day to try to keep up with each other.”

Grey Carroll (Knight): “Very high-energy guy. He’s a real dude, too. He’ll tell you how it is.”

Sirad Bryant (Burton): “He’s a very fun guy. He always tells me how they’re going to use me in the defensive scheme. … He calls me, makes sure I’m alright, things like that.”

Jakiah Leftwich (offensive line coach Brent Key): “Hard worker, knows what he’s talking about, knows how to put O-linemen in the NFL.”

Chayden Peery (spoke to offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude, general manager Patrick Suddes and coach Geoff Collins equally) On Patenaude: “He’s cool. He’s really chill and just a guy that’s easy to talk to. They all kind of are. I really like my relationship with them. Talking to them, I felt like it was like talking to an uncle or a family member. It was really cool.”

Trenilyas Tatum (defensive coordinator Andrew Thacker): “Coach Thacker, he’s cool. He’s real chill. He’s energetic. I love energetic people.”

2. What is Geoff Collins like?

Zeek Biggers: “He’s a cool dude.”

James BlackStrain: “He’s upbeat. He’s ready to show off his new culture.”

Sirad Bryant: “I talked with him (Tuesday). He was like, I’m ready to see you up here. He was amped about me being a Yellow Jacket. He’s a great guy.”

Grey Carroll: “I wouldn’t necessarily call him old school because he likes that new method. He’s all about swag. But when I say he’s an old-style guy, he just enjoys the fun part of football, if that makes sense. That’s what I like about him, too.”

Kaleb Edwards: “I’ve never met him in person, but just from the phone and how he reacts to things, you can tell he’s just a cool, calm, collected guy. He’s going to fight for his guys. Once you say you’re committed, he’s 100% for you.”

Jakiah Leftwich: “Energetic, fun, fun to be around.”

Chayden Peery: “I feel like he’s a very real and honest coach.”

Trenilyas Tatum: “I think what coach Collins is doing is going to be epic. I can see the program turning around.”

3. Which competing school was hardest to turn down?

Zeek Biggers (N.C. State): “It’s closer to home. Family can get there a lot easier, but Georgia’s not that far away from North Carolina. It’s only 3-4 hours, but still, it’d be a lot easier for people to get up there.”

Sirad Bryant: “I would say Nebraska because they kept in touch with me just as much as Georgia Tech did, but I just liked Georgia Tech. It was a better scheme defensively that I would like to play, and I just felt better in Georgia instead of being there.”

Grey Carroll: “To be honest, it wasn’t necessarily that hard, but I’d say if I had to pick one, probably Louisville because I knew a lot of the coaching staff (from when they were at Appalachian State).”

Kaleb Edwards: “Notre Dame was hard to turn down because it’s Notre Dame. The brand, the big-time stage. That was hard to turn down.”

Jakiah Leftwich: “I would say Mississippi State.”

Chayden Peery: “I’d say Nevada was hard to turn down. They were my first offer. They’d been with me the longest. Boise State was pretty hard to turn down.”

4. What concerns did you have about Tech that you needed to have addressed before committing?

Zeek Biggers: “Not really. I didn’t have any concerns.”

James BlackStrain: “I didn’t have any concerns about Tech because I already knew what I was getting into. I already knew what the culture was going to be like and the standard that was set for me ahead of time, and I’m just ready to come in and be the standard.”

Sirad Bryant: “I’d say, like being in Atlanta. I’m from a small city moving to a big city. I know how to drive, but my mom was like, you’re going to have to learn to drive up there because it’s more chaotic. They were like, it’s nothing too much. You just get from point A to point B. They were like, your teammates are going to be a big part of learning the ropes up here.”

Grey Carroll: “To be honest, I didn’t have very many worries about anything. I guess you could always say coaching, you’re just worried about what if so-and-so leaves. (But) that’s just a part of it, I guess, because coaches move quite a bit.”

Kaleb Edwards: “I would say being in the city because I’m not a city boy. I’ve been raised in the country. They were like, the city is the city. It’s always going to be the city, but there’s a lot of support down here that’ll help you. They’ll take care of you. And just being in the city, your networking will be tremendous when you get to college.”

Jakiah Leftwich: “How I fit in the system, stuff like that. … They said I would fit in perfectly and I’d have a chance to go in there and compete.”

Chayden Peery: “No real concerns. It was just every coach, or a lot of programs kind of preach that they have their culture and their culture is different, but I really felt it at Georgia Tech and really like what they said, and a lot of the values that they hold in the football program are values I’ve been raised with. It was a good match.”

Trenilyas Tatum: “Nah, not really. With that being the first school to offer me, I already did all my research on it.”

5. What was the most meaningful or convincing aspect of Tech’s recruitment?

Zeek Biggers: “Just when they were talking to me and explaining to me how they would use me in their defense, how bad they wanted me to come to their school, how they would make me a better player and man.”

James BlackStrain: “It was more about the fit for me and my family. I just felt like it was a perfect fit with location and where everything was set up, how I can come in and just get to work and show all of my abilities and talents at my highest level.”

Sirad Bryant: “I’d say how much they check on me. They ask me from day to day. Usually, most other coaches, they don’t check on you every day. They check on me all the time. They make sure I’m alright, ask me different things. … That makes me feel great.”

Grey Carroll: “I’d say the first time I felt that way was probably after a practice (attended during an unofficial visit). I enjoyed the intensity that they brought. They played the music, they brought the energy, they were intense. They got after it in the right way. The players took it serious, the coaches were taking it seriously. I definitely felt like, after that day I visited, that that was definitely where I wanted to be because that’s how I am. I like to have fun, but I like to take it seriously and work.”

Kaleb Edwards: “They were just really respectful of my time. They never took up too much time with me in all the Zoom calls. They were just really respectful. They weren’t showing me a lot of flash, which I liked, because I’m not that type that cares about that.”

Jakiah Leftwich: “How they were treating my parents – talking to them when I wasn’t around, texting them.”

Trenilyas Tatum: “Once in a while, all the coaches would text me and tell me they need me here, like 20 coaches at one time. I’m like, OK, I’m hearing from all the coaches. They really want me. (When they did that), that made me feel special.”