4 takeaways from Tech signing day

Georgia Tech signee A.J. Gray of Washington County High received 17 different player of the year awards, including AJC state player of the year. (AJC photo by Phil Skinner)

Georgia Tech signee A.J. Gray of Washington County High received 17 different player of the year awards, including AJC state player of the year. (AJC photo by Phil Skinner)

Four quick observations from Georgia Tech’s signing day

1. Stability helps

Defensive coordinator Ted Roof is going into his third season and has worked Gwinnett County hard, helping pull out three signees out of the county. Offensive assistants Buzz Preston and Mike Sewak, who both secured signatures from multiple prospects, have been with Johnson since 2008. Quarterbacks and B-backs coach Bryan Cook, who plucked quarterback Christian Campbell out of Louisiana, is going into his third season.

“I think anytime you have stability in the coaching staff, it’s certainly going to help you in recruiting, because they’re going to build the relationships,” coach Paul Johnson said. “They’re not built overnight, so that certainly comes into play.”

2. Tech’s season played a role in building the class

Winning the Coastal Division, beating Georgia and winning the Orange Bowl gave prospects little opportunity to second guess their choice.  The extension that Johnson received prior to the ACC title game didn’t hurt, either.

“I think if anything, (the season) probably helped keep the class together, didn’t have all the negativity and and the talking about flipping and all that stuff,” Johnson said. “Anytime there’s a positive environment going on and a positive attitude going around the program, it’s going to help.”

3. Strong linebacker group

Tech was able to persuade Victor Alexander to switch his commitment from UCLA at the last minute. Brant Mitchell signed with Tech over an offer from his hometown school, Tennessee. He was a two-time Mr. Tennessee Football for his classification. Tyler Cooksey, from Greater Atlanta Christian, picked the Jackets over a slew of offers from the SEC, ACC and Big Ten.

Regarding Cooksey, his father played nose guard for the Jackets and has known Roof for about 30 years. Roof praised the younger Cooksey’s aggressiveness and his ability to blitz.

“Some guys have a natural instinct to be able to do that,” Roof said. “He’s certianly got that. Really excited about him and what he does for our defense.”

Alexander, whose decision may or may not have been up in the air in the final hours, was not a worry for Johnson. Alexander had been to Tech a couple times, Johnson said, and A-backs coach Lamar Owens, who recruits the Jacksonville, Fla., area, had stayed in touch and helped set up an official visit on the final weekend.

“We got him in here and I think his family saw what Georgia Tech had to offer, and he informed me on Saturday that he wanted to come to Georgia Tech,” Johnson said. “He got hit from a lot of people and challenged, but he and his family stayed true to their word. They never told me any different.”

4. The Brad Stewart saga reaches its conclusion

Johnson said wide receiver Brad Stewart of Benedictine, whose late recruitment was chronicled quite in-depth by colleague Michael Carvell, caught his eye on tape and a state playoff game and became intrigued. A-backs coach Lamar Owens, a Benedictine alumnus who recruits the Savannah area, did, as well, but Tech was limited with wide receivers already committed and the class full. Johnson said he was surprised that he wasn’t being recruited more and decided to go make a visit anyway.

“When I went to the home and met him and his family I just felt like, Man, this kid would be a great fit for Georgia Tech and we’ve got what he’s looking for,” Johnson said.

Johnson told Stewart and his family that he couldn’t make a concrete offer, but gave them his word that he would put him on scholarship if something could be worked out. Johnson said he grew comfortable enough with the scholarship limit to make him an offer.

“Time will tell, but I think he’ll come in here with a chip on his shoulder,” Johnson said. “Certainly, he’s got great athletic ability and he’s a great student and I think the education here at Georgia Tech appealed to both he and his family.”


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