Needs in recruiting:
Former Georgia Tech Head Coach George O'Leary once said words to the effect of, "you can never have enough running backs." Well, this season we will definitely feel the effects of what the former "Big Bee" meant. Top returning back Tony Hollings has the opportunity to play in the NFL next season and is entering the NFL's supplemental draft. Although he was returning from injury, many were counting on huge contributions from Tony this season. In addition to Tony not returning, we graduated seniors Sidney Ford and Gordon Clinkscale and have lost promising redshirt freshman Michael Sampson to academic troubles. We are left with only 4 true tailbacks now. Two are still slowly returning from injuries, one is a former walk-on and one is a promising but untested true freshman. Hatch is a senior, leaving us with only 3 running backs in 2004. If you are looking to our current fullbacks for possible help, you're probably not going to find much. Matthews & Johnson are more pure fullbacks. Dixon has had and injury plagued career and on top of that, has really outgrown the tailback position. Jackson is recovering from a terrible injury and isn't a good option at tailback in the first place. Needless to say, Running back should be a real priority in recruiting this season. I would think that we could safely sign 3 backs in this class but we will absolutely need to sign no fewer than 2.
We could have avoided some of this trouble by signing more than just the one from the last class. I was not a big fan of the strategy we took of offering several top backs, taking the first one to commit and telling the rest to run along. After several weeks, our coaches realized that was a mistake and went back after the likes of Tashard Choice but the damage was done and we lost him to Oklahoma. Coach Gailey has shown himself to be a guy that has learned from past mistakes in recruiting and I suspect this will be no different. I think we will have many offers out there and bring in several quality backs. But it will certainly be interesting to see what transpires after we get our first commit at this position. Coach Gailey is not a stubborn man, is willing to learn more and more each season about college ball and is getting better at this recruiting game. This will be a position that we cannot afford to make a mistake at this year and I'm comfortable that Gailey will restock just fine.
So, what type of backs do we seem to favor this season? Quality backs, regardless of size, period. It appears that Coach Gailey isn't afraid to take in a 5'8" or 5'9" back or the prototype taller backs. In fact, we have already offered guys ranging from 5'8" to 6'1" and from 175 to 215 pounds. I would like to see us bring in a couple of different types of backs personally. Sure everyone wants the highly rated 6'1", 215 pound type of back, but in college there are many successful backs that are smaller in stature or even short but stout. I think we need to bring in guys that know how to run the ball and not get as caught up in rankings and size this year. We landed our stud, highly rated guy last year in Grant. I think it will be just fine to bring in complimentary runners in this class and to fill up the position with able bodies. If we're able to bring in another highly touted guy as a part of that group, then that's even better, but I want to see numbers and a diverse group of backs.
Fisher, from Texas, is one of the top backs from that state. He rushed for 1,646 yards on 246 carries with 16 touchdowns as a junior. He's 5'11", 204, 4.40, and has been ranked as a 3-star back by the Insider. Parrish has offers from just about everyone in the Midwest so it will probably be difficult to pull him over to Atlanta.
Lamar Lewis is from Florida, a recent hot spot for GT recruiting. At 5'8", 175, 4.40 Lamar is tiny but lightning fast. Lewis rushed for more than 1,800 yards and 27 TDs as a junior, but he is being recruited to play corner by many schools. Insiders lists Lamar as the #19 corner in the country right now. At this time I am listing him at RB because that's where I believe we are recruiting him currently. That could change though. Not only does Lewis have an offer from GT but he also lists GT has his number 1 team right now! He has a reputation as a very fast and elusive runner. Whatever position he ends up at, GT would do good to land this talented, versatile player.
Thompson is another back from Florida. He's 6'1", 180, 4.40 and had near 2,300 total offensive yards and scoring 19 touchdowns as a junior. He has a contingent offer from GT but I'd say we're probably a long shot to land him. He currently has offers from offers from Iowa State, Kansas, Louisville and UConn but would jump at the chance to play for Miami.
Norris Smith, also from Florida, is a shorter but powerful running back. At 5'9", 205, 4.70, he's still under the radar but for how much longer? He currently has offers from his favorites GT, Virginia Tech and Pitt as well as a host of other top schools. He'd jump at the chance to play at FSU but if they do not offer, GT will be right in the thick of it with him. VT will probably be the next toughest competitor for his services.
Finally Anthony Heard, from, you guessed it, Florida, also has a contingent offer from GT. He is built more like your prototype RB at 6'1", 215, 4.55. Heard's name has not been thrown around much in the recruiting game just yet but he's starting to get more and more attention as the offers roll in. Syracuse is also known to be courting Anthony.
Darius Walker is Insiders #26 running back and he plays in GT's backyard at Buford High. I have seen Darius and his parents at practice in the past so he's given us a look, it just doesn't appear that we're very high on his list. His last list didn't even include us in his top 10. I'm not sure why there does not seem to be more mutual interest between us and Darius. He's a super talent and a nice kid. He rushed for 1,986 yards and 26 touchdowns for the State Champion Buford Wolves last season. Hopefully things will turn around with Walker. We could really use him. Right now he has his pick of all the best football teams in the country.
Brad Lester is another interesting case and a guy that I hope we end up with. Lester is from nearby Parkview High School but his connection to Tech is much closer. His brother, Greg Lester, played for GT on the 1990 National Championship team. It would appear that we have a big advantage with Greg, however we have yet to offer him at this time. Lester, 5'11", 183, 4.40, currently has offers from Auburn, Duke & Virginia. On a stacked Parkview team last season Brad rushed for 1,621 yards and 16 touchdowns. This year he won't have Sean Dawkins stealing carries from him and he should have an even bigger year. Insiders currently lists Brad as a 3-star back. This will be a prospect I will follow throughout this recruiting season. He could be ours for the taking if we decide he's a fit.
Antonio Miner is a RB from Mississippi and I suspect he'll stay and play college ball in that state as well. The two-star back has made the first-team All-District team for the past two seasons and has already qualified.
Anthony Edwards, from nearby Banneker High, currently has no offers but plans on camping at GT this summer. Johnson ran for 1,044 yards on 162 carries as a junior.
Greg Harris is a back from Virginia that has some interest in GT. Harris, 5'9", 175, 4.40, currently favors VT, UVA, and Maryland in addition to GT.
Jasmond Walker, from Maryland, is another possible D-1 prospect with interest in Georgia Tech. He is another slight running back at 5'7", 170, 4.50 that currently has no offers.
Cedric Hodges is a kid from Warner Robins that has some but not a lot of interest in the Jackets. Hodges, 6'0", 185, 4.50, could end up as one of the better backs in Georgia but is still fairly low on the radar at this time. He's a big fan of UGA and FSU. GT is much lower on his list and he doesn't have an offer at this time. I'd say the odds on him and GT matching up are longer than some of the others on this list.