With two of Tech's top three backs -- Choice & Grant -- being seniors in 2007, it wasn't a total necessity to bring in a big running back class this year. Additionally, no other backs who provided depth in 2006 were moving on. But you can never have too many backs so heading into the recruiting season you'd like to sign one back for sure. Clearly though the coaching staff was looking to sign two all along. The fullback position is set with Cox and Bray. In a year with limited scholarships, there isn't a need to add one here. Both are high quality backs with NFL potential.
Looking Toward Spring Practice:
Choice, who will be the starter heading into next season, was actually spelled in the 2007 Gator Bowl by rising sophomore Jamaal Evans and not Grant. That should be some sort of indication of Grant's role for next year. Like the end of last season, Grant should still see the field a good bit but look for him to go out wide or into the slot as much or more than you'll see him behind the quarterback. Evans is a very interesting possibility at RB. I think he'll get a lot of snaps during spring and he's done well with the time he's been given to date. He was already enrolled in school at this time last year and ended up being the star of the spring game just months later. The backs from this year's recruiting class could impede Jamaal's future progression on the depth chart but he'll certainly make them earn it. RB depth as Tech heads into fall after adding two potentially star backs with this class will make for depth like we've never seen on the Flats.
Who GT signed:
Home Town (High School): Marietta, GA (Kell HS)
Other offers included: Auburn, Florida, Florida State and Georgia
Lead GT Recruiting Coach: Curtis Modkins
Scout.com Stars: ****
Scout.com State Ranking: 5
Scout.com Southeastern Ranking: 38
Other Honors: AJC super 11, Parade All-American
Dwyer is one of the jewels of the GT 2007 class, as you could guess from his rankings and honors. The Yellow Jackets battled all of the southern football powers for Jonathan's services and beat the competition straight up. Even though Roddy committed before him, it didn't scare him off on coming to GT. In fact, he looks forward to playing with Jones.
Recruiting Analyst Scott Kennedy says:
"Dwyer is that big back that everyone is looking for. He's over 200 pounds, he's got breakaway speed, and he runs with power. He's just a terrific blend of power and speed and balance. He's the total package in a running back."
Recruiting Analyst Jamie Newberg says:
"Another power back among the national elite running backs among the Class of 2007 is Jonathan Dwyer from Marietta (Ga.) Kell High School. Dwyer, 6-0 and 205 pounds, runs with very good power and he has the ability to move the pile and break tackles. He is a downhill, north-south back that gives great effort on each run. The one thing Dwyer does that's as impressive as anyone is his leg drive, he keeps the legs moving and churning until he's brought down. He possesses good speed and has some shiftiness or wiggle to his game. Dwyer is also a good receiver out of the backfield."
Home Town (High School): Chamblee, GA (Chamblee HS)
Other offers included: Clemson, Duke, Maryland (Florida & Georgia showed strong interest)
Lead GT Recruiting Coach: Brian Jean-Mary
Scout.com Stars: ***
Scout.com State Ranking: 28
Roddy Jones, along with Kyle Jackson, was the recruit fans at practices and games probably saw the most of this past season. Being from the Atlanta area, Roddy was able to make a quick trip to the campus for games and other unofficial visits. There was some concern from fans just before he committed to GT that Clemson could come in and steal him but Tech coaches were able to keep him closer to home. We've had some nice guys commit to Tech before but none are as genuine and friendly as Roddy.
Recruiting Analyst Scott Kennedy says:
"Roddy Jones is a high production guy. He reminds me a little more of Tashard Choice or P. J. Daniels. Not a guy who's necessarily going to blow you away physically, but just gets it done. He's a workhorse running back. He's strong. If he didn't end up the all-time leading rusher in DeKalb [County], he was pretty close. He's a high character kid, which is always important. He can do a lot of things for you."
The one who got away:
Are you serious?
When you land two 4-star athletes (okay Roddy was just bumped to one of the highest 3-star backs from 4) at a position you really don't lament letting anyone else get away. We had other great backs we went after early on but didn't end up with including Caleb King, who ended up with rival UGA as one of their top recruits. Tech got off to a great start with King but it became clear early on that it would be tough getting him into school here. Other backs who received offers this season were: Eric Baker, Broderick Green, Brian Maddox, and Bradley Stephens. But I think Tech coaches and fans are completely satisfied with this haul. Both Roddy and Jonathan are capable of being starters in the ACC. So it figures that this group will pay off for GT for a good long time.
The rich get richer. That seems to happen a lot in college football. The power programs get All-Americans on top of All-Americans it seems in recruiting. But on a smaller level, the same can be true for certain positions for some teams. A team can be well off at a position, as is the case for running back at GT next season, but manage to reign in two of the state's top backs to join the group. It's easily an A+ effort again for the Yellow Jackets in recruiting this position. It will be fun as a fan to watch this group battle for reps next season. Just when we thought it was time for ‘Lil Mal (Jamaal Evans) to breakout onto the scene next year, he now has to battle Dwyer (one of the most sought after backs in the south) and Jones for the honor of just being the backup in 2007. If all positions were similarly stacked, GT would be a pre-season contender for the BCS Championship Game. And look out in 2008 because the staff is already heavily in the mix for several other top backs.
Thanks to Scott Kennedy, Kamden Robb and Rod McKenzie for contributions to this article!