New Editions (2):
Tony Clark & Jahi Word-Daniel
CB: Reuben Houston, Jamal Lewis, Brian Fleuridor, Tony Clark
CB: Kenny Scott, Dennis Davis, Finesse Usher, Sam Williams, Jahi Word-Daniel
Georgia Tech returns a lot of talent at the Corner position for 2005. Last year’s starting duo of senior Reuben Houston and junior Kenny Scott should once again make up the first team. Also former starter Dennis Davis received a medical redshirt for his shoulder injury from last year and will have one more year to play. Davis should once again be a huge contributor unless his shoulder gives him more problems. After the first three experienced player there’s Jamal Lewis. Lewis is on an almost certain path to a future starting role, but for now he’ll have to bide his time for one more season. With 4 players good enough to start, this group should be one of the strengths of the 2005 team.
But wait, there’s more. Brian Fleuridor played special teams as a true freshman but was injured last season and took his redshirt then. He returns to help fill out the depth. With playing time looking like a tough ticket, Brian may have to earn time through special teams as his did his first year. Finesse Usher has also settled into this position after coming in as a walk-on wide receiver. He shows signs of being a good contributor and you could do much worse for a 5th or 6th Corner. Rounding out the group is Sam Williams. Sam has struggled at times to hold his own. This is his junior season now and a chance for him to show he can earn a role in the depth chart. A group already good on numbers has other options at the position too. Avery Roberson is a Safety who could also find himself playing Corner on occasion. The off-season did have one causality at the position. I-Perfection Harris, a promising prospect when he was recruited, never was able to ascend the depth chart, has left the team.
Despite a plethora of players at the Corner position, the top 3 players are rising juniors or seniors. Cornerback can be real hit-or-miss also, so it was once again necessary to sign two players to compete for future playing time. They could probably get away with signing only one but two would be the preferred number.
Who GT signed:
Tony Clark (6-1 180) is a big-time pickup at corner. He’s tall and thin and may remind some physically of Kenny Scott. There was a lot of talk from Tech fans on all of the highly touted Safeties who passed on going to GT. Those players included: Gerrod Sinclair (South Carolina), Corey Hall (Arizona), Ray Herring (Notre Dame), Jahi Word-Daniel’s teammate Cory Reamer (Alabama), and Anthony Scirrotto (Penn State). Scout.com has Clark listed as a Safety and is rated ahead of each of those talents. Tech coaches love tall Corners and love Tony’s coverage skills. He’ll be one to watch to compete for significant playing time once Houston and Davis move on. Additionally, Clark’s speed could be of use returning kicks. To illustrate how good his speed is, Tony will be running 100 & 200 meter events in nationals this spring. Tech will lose perhaps their fastest player when Dennis Davis graduates but Clark should help add some of that speed back to the team. Tony was among the top 50 players in Georgia according to Scout.com’s list. Despite being Tech’s first commit (back in May, 2004), he already had offers from Clemson, East Carolina, and Middle Tennessee State. Clark could have racked up many more offers had he played the process out more but he was ready to secure a spot with the Jackets early on not have to deal with the recruiting circus.
Jahi Word-Daniel (5-11 160) is a smaller Corner than the ones Tech coaches usually target, but don’t tell him that. He plays the position almost like a Safety. Jahi is very physical at Corner and likes to initiate contact. His style and toughness really drew in the Tech coaches. He displayed is toughness last year by playing most of the season with a fracture in his foot. Jahi was a big-time contributor on Hoover High’s State Championship team. He said, “I had seven interceptions and returned two for touchdowns. I blocked two punts.” Word-Daniel also cracked the Top 20 on Scout.com’s Alabama Prep Postseason rankings. So, talent-wise he was in good company. Jahi had offers from Vanderbilt, Duke, and Louisville at the time he committed to Tech. Another thing that drew Jahi out of the state of Alabama and to GT was that he has a lot of family in the Atlanta area. “My brother is going to transfer into Georgia Tech from Morehouse… he’ll have two more years to go at Tech once he gets there,” said Word-Daniel. With Jahi’s commitment back in July, Tech was done with the Cornerback position early.
The one who got away:
We may never know the exact story on why things didn’t work out between Tech and Carlos. Did he really commit then de-commit or did Tech have to drop him because of stringent academic qualifications? It doesn’t really matter now. Whatever the reason, Tech fans really wanted to see Carlos follow his brother, WR Levon Thomas, and wear the white and old gold. Carlos will instead play his college ball for South Carolina. Many Tech fans had trouble moving on from this disappointment but all still wish Carlos well.
Another talented player Tech recruited early on was Ramon McElrathbey. In between commitments to Clemson, Ray flirted with the idea of playing at Tech but ultimately he ended up where he started. Jeremy Ware is another Corner who claimed an early offer from Tech but there was never really much talk on him so it’s hard to tell how much Tech really pursued him.
Recruiting Grade: B+
On Signing Day, Tech coaches seemed especially pleased about what they ended up with at the Corner position. They claimed to have passed on some very good corners after getting solid commitments from Tony and Jahi. Neither signed player are what you’d call blue-chip but they certainly would have received a lot more hype had they not committed to the Yellow Jackets so early in the process. It would be interesting to know just how many offers these two could have racked up but I’m satisfied knowing that GT locked up two solid players early who never wavered. With depth being what it currently is at GT, neither will likely be needed in 2005 so expect both to redshirt unless they are needed on special teams, which is very possible too. This is a rare case of having a position where the present and future both look to be in great shape.