“It’s hard for kids to get in here early,” Johnson said. “I think a lot of it depends on the kids and they all wanted to come early. They were committed long enough in advance where we could help them with what classes they had to take. We could tell them the stuff they had to do to get in early.”
A couple of months ago, the NCAA stated that a recruit or prospective student-athlete (PSA) who was on track to graduate early could sign a financial-aid agreement beginning of Aug. 1 of his senior year of high school. But the participating college had to establish that the PSA was academically qualified to be a mid-year enrollee.
The financial-aid agreement is not the same as a national letter of intent, which binds a recruit to a college after signing it on Feb. 5. However, the financial-aid agreement does bind a college into providing a scholarship for a recruit, who can sign agreements with multiple colleges, although that is rare.
Why do colleges want prospects to sign financial-aid agreements? The big advantage is that it lifts most recruiting restrictions for colleges, allowing for coaches to have “unlimited contact” with recruits and to publicly comment on them.
In November, LSU coach Les Miles was the first coach to take advantage of the rule to comment a recruit who had signed a financial-aid agreement with the Tigers. Last month, Georgia coach Mark Richt was believed to be the first to comment publicly on a recruit who had not committed to his team.
Wide receiver Josh Malone of Gallatin, Tenn., signed a financial-aid agreement with Georgia and three other colleges. After Richt commented on Malone, coaches from the other three predictably did the same. Malone ended up committing to Tennessee but could change his mind before enrolling or signing a national letter of intent.
All four recruits who signed financial-aid agreements with Georgia Tech are committed to the Yellow Jackets.
Latest recruit: Georgia Tech's newest recruit is CJ Leggett, the 3-star running back from North Gwinnett High School who committed to the Yellow Jackets over Pitt and UCLA last week. Leggett needed less than a week to reach a decision after getting an offer.
“I decided to move quickly because once I narrowed it down, Georgia Tech was the school that was the most serious and wanted me the most,” Leggett said. “When everybody is recruiting you, you want to go the school that’s showing you the most love and that was Georgia Tech. I really wasn’t as sure where I stood with the other schools.”
The 5-foot-9, 200-pounder blossomed into one of the state’s top running backs as a senior. After being hampered by a turf-toe injury during the regular season, Leggett finished with 1,743 rushing yards, including 840 in the playoffs.