Two Georgia Tech commits and two signees began classes Monday, the start of the school’s spring semester. In so doing, high-school commits Dedrick Mills (B-back from Ware County High) and Emanuel Bridges (linebacker from Newnan High) and signees Jaylend Ratliffe (from Laurinburg, N.C., position uncertain) and junior-college transfer Desmond Branch (defensive end from Trinity Valley Community College) cemented their ties to the school by attending their first classes.
For the high-school signees, enrolling early provides a considerable head start on the other members of their signing class, as they’ll be able to acclimate themselves to college, take part in the team’s offseason strength and conditioning program and spring practice.
This past season, offensive tackle Will Bryan started six games after enrolling early, the first first-year freshman offensive lineman to start more than one game in coach Paul Johnson’s tenure. B-back Quaide Weimerskirch also likely would have played had he not suffered a foot injury at the end of spring practice.
In 2014, defensive end KeShun Freeman and cornerback Step Durham played (Freeman started) as first-year freshmen after enrolling early. According to recruiting services, Mills, a B-back, chose Tech over Florida State, Auburn and South Carolina, while Bridges, a linebacker, had offers from Alabama, Michigan State and Penn State. Ratliffe will enroll after suffering a brain injury in July 2014 from an ATV accident. He had already signed with Tech last February but delayed his enrollment to concentrate on his rehabilitation. Recruited as a quarterback, Ratliffe said that, if cleared, he’ll likely have to switch positions due to a loss of fine-motor skills in his left (throwing) hand.
While Ratliffe said that he has been cleared to play by his neurosurgeon, Tech’s doctors will have to give their clearance in order for him to practice and play. In an interview last week, Johnson was not hopeful, saying that “I can’t imagine he’ll be cleared. We’ll see if he’s cleared for spring football.”
Johnson has promised Ratliffe that he can stay on medical scholarship if he is not cleared.
Branch will enroll with three years of eligibility remaining after redshirting at New Mexico in 2014 and then transferring to Trinity Valley, in Athens, Texas, a year ago.