Tuesday Tech Review: Paul Johnson’s recruiting thoughts

Associated Press photo

Former Georgia Tech All-American Shaquille Mason was a player who wasn’t highly recruited out of high school, but Tech coaches liked what they saw enough to offer him a scholarship. (Associated Press)

At his Monday news conference, coach Paul Johnson was asked about recruiting players to fit his offense, which caught his attention and directed the session towards his thoughts on recruiting. It is one of his favorite topics.

Over the last few years, I’ve heard several times how the same teams are at the top of the recruiting rankings every year and how it’s funny that a player’s ranking will change shortly after he’s offered by Alabama or a like school. He said a couple things Monday, though, that I’m not sure I’ve heard before, one being that he declared himself guilty (if that’s the word) of trusting his eyes.

“I’m really bad, if I see a guy who’s a good player on tape, then I think he’s a good player,” Johnson said. “I don’t care if he didn’t run but 4.8 at the combine or didn’t get a high Nike Sparq score or whatever. Sometimes you hit on guys like that, and sometimes you don’t.”

The funny part was hearing him use the phrase “Nike Sparq score.”

On 2009 class

Johnson, in giving his thoughts on judging signing classes, made a novel (to me, at least) observation of the heralded 2007 signing class that included the linchpins of the 2009 ACC championship – Derrick Morgan, Morgan Burnett, Jonathan Dwyer, Joshua Nesbitt and Roddy Jones. Johnson said that the class had some great players, “but that thing was top heavy as all get out,” he said. “There were some really bad players, too.”

Out of the 20 signees, there were perhaps seven who made little to no on-field impact for the Jackets. I don’t know that that’s too far from the norm, although Johnson was perhaps making a differentiation between players getting stuck behind better teammates on the depth chart and those who simply were not able to play at a competitive level at all.

“I think what we’ve done has kind of been a little more balanced in that the back end is not, ‘Oh, God, they’re never going to play,’ or ‘They don’t fit,’ or whatever,” Johnson said.

Green Bay Packers safety and former Georgia Tech star Morgan Burnett was one of the brightest lights in the 2007 signing class. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Green Bay Packers safety and former Georgia Tech star Morgan Burnett was one of the brightest lights in the 2007 signing class. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Shaquille Mason, bulldozer

He was also asked, on the topic of recruitment, about All-American guard Shaquille Mason. You may have heard the story before, but it’s worth repeating. Mason fits the profile of a player whose measurables didn’t stand out, but coaches liked what they saw.

“He’s a guy who, we had him in camp and he was bulldozing people in camp, and we knew he was a good player and we offered him,” he said. “He worked his tail off. He didn’t come in and just go, ‘O.K., I’ve got a scholarship.’ I think he played with a chip on his shoulder and wanted to show everybody he was a good player.”

Mason was rated a three-star prospect by Rivals, and his recruiting page lists Tech as his only offer. His height (6-foot-1) and short frame likely scared off others. The rest of the story is that Mason became an All-American, a pillar of Tech’s Orange Bowl championship team and a fourth-round pick of the New England Patriots.

Shaking down the mystique

Johnson did his best to tamp down the aura of Notre Dame Stadium. He noted the team and stadium’s tradition and history and also made the observation that the grass seemed to be cut high when Navy played there.

“We never made a big deal out of going there to play,” he said of his time at Navy. “It’s just like going to Clemson to play, or going to somewhere else. You’ll be playing against good players.”

This is borrowing from a tweet from ESPN’s David Hale, who was at the news conference – I’m not sure which fan base should be more offended, Clemson’s or Notre Dame’s.

Put your money down

Odds for Georgia Tech to win the College Football Playoff have dropped from 66/1 to 50/1 after its 2-0 start to the season. The Jackets are between Oregon (40/1) and Oklahoma State (66/1). Ohio State has the shortest odds, at 7/4.

Odds were set by online betting website Bovada.

Joiner wins first tournament

Sophomore Jacob Joiner won his first collegiate championship Sunday with a 4-under 212 at the Carpet Capital Collegiate in Rocky Face, Ga. It was his sixth college event. The Jackets as a team finished fifth out of 15 teams at 21-over, 17 strokes behind champion Auburn. As the first event of the year, it was coach Bruce Heppler’s first time without powerhouses Ollie Schniederjans and/or Anders Albertson in the lineup in four years. A year ago, Tech finished the same event 15-under, although every team in the field finished over par this past weekend.

Volleyball winning streak ends

The Tech volleyball team ran its winning streak to eight consecutive matches last week before falling to No. 5 Nebraska Saturday in the Cornhuskers’ own tournament. The eight-match winning streak was Tech’s longest since 2006. The Jackets’ next match will be at Kennesaw State Friday. ACC play begins the following Friday, at Clemson.


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