Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports
College football recruiting is not only crucial to a major program like Georgia Tech, it’s also a highly scrutinized and regulated process. Sometimes so much regulated that it’s frustrating for coaches and recruits alike. But the NCAA has introduced some new ‘early signee’ rules, and Yellow Jackets head coach Paul Johnson intends to make the most of them.
In the past, colleges and their coaching staffs were not allowed to have unlimited contact or to comment on prospective student-athletes until they had fully committed to that school, but these new rules relax those restrictions to a point.
When a recruit signs a national letter-of-intent, they are bound to enroll at that school, and the school is in turn bound to provide a scholarship for that student, pending academic clearance. The new early signee rules allow prospective recruits to sign a financial-aid agreement with multiple schools, and allows the coaches to comment publicly and have unlimited contact with the player.
These rules are for students who are on track to graduate high school early, and who can show that they are academically eligible for a mid-term enrollment.
Michael Carvell of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Georgia Tech has four such possible early signees, and head coach Paul Johnson commented on them all for Carvell:
- Keshun Freeman, a 3-star defensive end from Callaway High School: “He is going to enroll here in January,” Johnson said. “He’s going to have spring ball and we’re excited. He was heavily recruited and had a bunch of offers. We’re hopeful that he can come in and fill a void rushing the passer off the edge at defensive end.”
- Tre Jackson, a 3-star linebacker from Lowndes High School: “I just think Tre is a good football player,” Johnson said. “I think he was the defensive player of the year down in that region, where there are a lot of good players. I know he loves to play the game. He’s real physical. And he has been committed for a pretty good while now.”
- Matthew Jordan, a 3-star quarterback from Jackson, Ala.: “He’s had a great career there in high school, and he’s accomplished a lot,” Johnson said. “He’s a guy who has made a lot of plays. He can do everything we want to do with the offense. He can run, and he can throw. We’re only going to take one quarterback in this class, and he’s it.”
- Step Durham, a 3-star defensive back from Jacksonville: “He’s another guy that was real highly recruited,” Johnson said. “He’s a cover corner. He’s a guy that’s going to come and hopefully have the chance to compete early. Spring practice ought to help him a bunch because it puts him ahead of the curve.”
Johnson also commented that making all four of these signees happen can be tricky.
“It’s hard for kids to get in here early,” Johnson told Carvell. “I think a lot of it depends on the kids, and they all wanted to come early. They were committed long enough in advance where we could help them with what classes they had to take. We could tell them the stuff they had to do to get in early.”
Tech’s recruiting class for 2014 currently stands at 19 commits, and these early signees could provide a huge bolster to that class rank, as well as solidifying some positions of need for next season.
Johnson has taken a lot of heat recently for Tech’s failures in recruiting, but this would be the largest early signee class since Johnson arrived on the Flats in 2007. His assertion that Jordan is to be the only quarterback taken in this year’s class shows his confidence in both starter Vad Lee and backup, Justin Thomas.