New Edition (1):
QB: Reggie Ball, Taylor Bennett, Kyle Manley, Jonathan Garner
Georgia Tech didn’t lose any “pure” quarterbacks after this past season. Gone now, however, are Mark Logan and Patrick Carter. Logan was basically an emergency fill-in at the QB spot, but he also spent time at WR. Carter was a QB initially as well but was moved to WR and punt returner during the season. Carter has since left the Tech football team. So with three quarterbacks remaining on campus, all recruited in just the last two years, it was really necessary to just add one more to the group. If the Yellow Jackets need an emergency QB next season, Damarius Bilbo is always another option to use in that role. With Bennett & Manley coming off of redshirt seasons though, that situation is less likely to surface in the 2005 season.
Who GT signed:
Jonathan Garner was the highly sought after quarterback who eventually picked Georgia Tech over Louisville. Early on in the recruiting process though, it would have seemed highly unlikely that his recruitment would have ended that way. Garner originally committed to Florida and then-Head Coach Ron Zook. After Zook was fired and new coach Urban Meyer got to campus, Garner and Meyer agreed to part ways. Meyer was going to honor the commitment but when the two spoke about the actual style of QB he preferred, it was determined that it may be in Jonathan’s best interests to find a better fit. Among the new suitors for Garner were Georgia Tech, Ole Miss, Louisville, and South Carolina. But all’s well that ends well and Georgia Tech is happy with the end result. As for Jonathan’s take on the situation he says, “My dream growing up was to play for Florida, but I’m happy things worked out the way it did.”
Jonathan later had the honor of being selected to the CA/FL All-Star game. He finished the season passing 122-for-220 and 1,940 yards and threw 25 touchdowns to only 4 interceptions. Jonathan carries a 4.2 GPA / 1120 SAT.
The one who got away:
Todd Walker is a great athlete who Georgia Tech really wanted, and for a time actually had committed. Most schools liked Todd as a wide receiver or defensive back, but early on his dream was to play quarterback. Tech was one of the few schools willing to give him that opportunity. Once he decided that QB was not the position he wanted to play, he felt like it would be better to find a place to play closer to home. So Todd signed with Texas Tech instead. His game will probably translate better as a WR but it would have been very interesting to see what he could have done at QB with his Michael Vick like speed and moves. Georgia Tech fans were really excited about his potential regardless of what position he would have ended up at but he changed his mind and the Yellow Jackets moved on too.
Recruiting Grade: B+
Although losing out on Walker really hurt, the crazy game of recruiting may cause things to work out better in the long run for GT at the QB position. Tech was fortunate to have a nice backup plan in Garner for when Walker de-committed. And that wouldn’t have been possible without the coaching change in Florida. Walker may have turned out like other “athletic” quarterbacks for GT in the recent past, like Logan, Carter and Bilbo, who all ended up at other positions.
With Garner, you know you have a guy who’s going to be at the QB position his entire career for Tech. Jonathan is also a kid who expects to compete for a spot right away. Reggie Ball is the returning starter at QB, and will be tough to unseat next season, but Garner is a little like Reggie in that he’s not short on confidence in his abilities. He feels like he can get in the mix with Bennett & Manley and become the QB of the future for Tech. Despite not having a reputation for having a cannon arm, Garner is an accurate passer with a tall build and good pocket presence. Garner describes himself this way, “I drop back well and read the play as it goes. I'm a drop back, play action passer. I throw good intermediate routes and have a good three-step fade.” He could be a perfect fit for Georgia Tech’s controlled offense which likes to pound the ball on the ground and mix in a lot of that intermediate passing that Garner is good at. And defenders cannot sleep on the deep routes either. A look at Garner’s film clips shows that he’s capable of keeping defenders honest with the occasional bomb downfield.