For Georgia Tech football, the 2011 National Signing Day was quite relaxing and free of stress. Everyone that was expected to sign at the start of the day did so. And no one lingered, either; every single letter was signed and faxed to Tech by a little after 10:30 a.m. For the culmination of a stressful few weeks, Wednesday went very much according to plan.
Georgia Tech's 2011 class of new recruits may not include the 5-star guys that get to announce on ESPNU with a live mascot. But it's not too shabby, either. It features the Alabama High School Player of the Year, Georgia's fastest 100-meter runner, the North Carolina Player of the Year, and the son of an eight-year veteran of the NFL. 10 prospects are from Georgia, and a total of seven states are represented. All-in-all, it is the largest class in seven years.
It's time for a little bit of perspective. Since 2002, Georgia Tech has had an average class rank of 38, including eight out of the nine years falling between the ranges of 32-51 (2007 really was a good year). So in reality, the 2011 ranking of 42 isn't below par, isn't disappointing. It is right where Georgia Tech usually is. If you go by the opinion of Rivals.com, this was the best class since 2002 other than 2007.
"Tech Men": This class has a ton of guys that want to be here. Listening to the coaches talk this morning, they repeatedly mentioned how a guy is a Tech guy, has always liked the Jackets, etc. The class is filled with what the fan base would call Tech Men. A handful of the recruits are interested in engineering, the majority have great GPAs, and it seems that everyone has their heads screwed on straight. You'll have to take their word on it because there is no way to quantify it here, but it was definitely a recurring topic from the coaches this morning.
Linebackers: This class is loaded with linebackers. The highest ranked recruit in the class, Jabari Hunt-Days, is a clear playmaker on the defensive side. The class includes prototypical outside linebackers, inside linebackers, and guys that can play both. Ranked as the 11th best linebacking corps by Rivals.com, it is definitely is one of the strongest positions for the 2011 class.
Flexibility: When you read through the bios of all the players below, you will notice a theme: just about everyone played and excelled at many positions. Many guys are coming in without a designated position, and the coaches will get to figure out where to best use them.
Defensive line: The most glaring aspect of the 2011 class was definitely the defensive line. The Jackets had a couple of defensive line prospects de-commit over the last couple of weeks and missed out another today. Not a single player in this class is on the defensive line, already a position of weakness for last year's team. If one to three good linemen had been brought in, it would have upgraded my view on this class from "good, excited to see," to a "great class."
And now for an individual look at each of the recruits.
Some random information: In the interest of simplicity, unless otherwise noted all ranking information comes from Scout.com. A lot of my recollections of this morning's press conference come from Coley Harvey's and Doug Roberson's blogs, so check them out too. For videos of most of the players, head to our recruiting story stream.
Trey Braun - OL - 6'5", 305 - Tallahassee, Fla.
Braun is a beast, coming in as one of the tallest and heaviest players in the class. He is very powerful and knows how to use that strength. In high school, he was a heavyweight wrestling champion in Florida with a 33-2 career record and finished third in a national AAU competition. Braun was the only member of this class to enroll early, so he will have an extra semester of weight room training and all of spring practice to get him ready for college play.
Bryan Chamberlain - OL - 6'4" - 291 - Albany, Ga.
Coach Todd Spencer introduced Chamberlain, and commented on just how long of arms he has. He has a good ceiling, and is projected to play at offensive tackle. When the coaches went to visit him one of the times, Bryan had on a pair of Tech socks. He is definitely a guy that is excited to be a Yellow Jacket.
Chaz Cheeks - LB - 6'4" - 223 - Gainesvile, Ga.
Cheeks is a guy that was a star on both sides of the ball, playing at both running back and linebacker his senior year, and defensive end his junior year. He has experience in a 3-4 defensive as well, playing for two years in the scheme.
Corey Dennis - ATH - 6'0" - 205 - Troy, Ala.
He is listed at both wide receiver and defensive back, and was a quarterback at Charles Henderson High School. The son of Troy University athletic director, he threw for 1,170 yards and rushed for another 1,444 his senior year. Coach Kelly said that he has the ability to play at a number of different positions. Dennis: "I fell in love with the place. They've got great academics, and the engineering program is one of the top programs in the country."
Jamal Golden - ATH - 6'0" - 185 - Wetumpka, Ala.
Golden pretty much swept the awards for the state of Alabama this past season, winning the High School Player of the Year, the Gatorade State Player of the Year, and the Old Spice State Player of the Year. As a dual-thread quarterback, he had 3,477 yards of offense and 37 touchdowns. He is yet another player that excelled on both sides of the ball. Coach Kelly said that he will most likely start at A-Back or receiver at Tech, but could play on either side. A part of the credit for landing Golden goes to baseball coach Danny Hall. Golden, as long as he can keep his academics up, will be a two-sport athlete at Tech.
Jeff Greene - WR - 6'4" - 200 - Peachtree City, Ga.
I have to admit, I hadn't known much about the only primary receiver in this class before today. I had heard of him, knew he was a three-star, but hadn't him seen him on tape. After seeing videos of him, I am very excited to have him at Tech. He is exactly what this offense needs: a possession receiver that is long and can go up and get the jump ball, and has breakaway speed to add yards after the catch. If he can block, he will be perfect.
Anthony Harrell - ILB - 6'2" - 227 -Tampa, Fla.
Harrell was the last minute steal from Wake Forest, having switched between the two schools the night before signing day. He is a coach's son, and the coach was an eight year veteran of the NFL. As a senior at Jesuit last year, he recorded 98 tackles. Harrell is the 35th ranked middle linebacker nationally.
Jabari Hunt-Days - LB - 6'3" - 226 - Marietta, Ga.
The highest ranked recruit in the class and 17th ranked prospect in the state by the AJC, Jabari is the brother of redshirt freshman quarterback Synjyn Days. Coach Bohannon talked about he is the perfect linebacker for the 3-4 system and is exactly what Coach Al Groh wants.
Errin Joe - OL - 6'3" - 285 - Lakeland, Fla.
Coach Joe Speed had one of the quotes of the day when he said that Joe, an all-county lineman, had "more pancakes than IHOP." He will definitely make his presence felt on the offensive line for a few years to come.
Zach Laskey - RB - 6'1" - 185 - Peachtree City, Ga.
The first letter to be announced this morning, Laskey rushed for 1,515 yards and 22 touchdowns last year. He set 11 school records on route to leading Chattahoochee to the Class AAAA state championship game. Laskey, the 39th ranked prospect in the state, was a teammate of wide receiver Jeff Greene.
Vad Lee - QB - 6'1" - 195 - Durham, N.C.
Undoubtedly the guy that Tech fans are most excited about, Vad Lee was the North Carolina Player of the Year in leading his team to a perfect 16-0 season and an MVP performance in the state championship game. The dual-threat quarterback passed for 3,223 yards and rushed for 1,300 more in his senior season.
Tyler Marcordes - LB - 6'4" - 215 - Normal, Ill.
Marcordes developed late, and could be a huge steal in the class. He earned all-conference honors at quarterback and safety, rushed for 1,294 yards, passed for 694, and had 26 total touchdowns. Coach Speed said that he has the chance to grow into a defensive end.
Shaquille Mason - OL - 6'1" - 310 - Columbia, Tenn.
Another one of the quotes of the day came from Coach McCollum concerning Mason, saying that is 310, and "a biscuit away from 315." He was a three sport athlete, and was praised for never being on the ground. He played both left tackle and defensive tackle, and helped lead Columbia Central to a state championship last year.
Tremayne McNair - LB - 6'2" - 225 - Jacksonville, N.C.
Ranked as the 14th-best prospect in North Carolina by SuperPrep, McNair started in the Shrine Bowl and earned all-league honors. Coach McCollum said that he is one of the best linebackers he has seen.
Nick Menocal - LB - 6'3" - 240 - Miami, Fla.
Menocal, a former Miami commit, received rave reviews for his leadership from Coach Preston. As a senior last year, he recorded 61 tackles.
Chris Milton - ATH - 5'11" - 175 - Folkston, Ga.
Milton, the 19th-ranked prospect in Georgia by AJC, played at both quarterback and running back last year, compiling 975 yards. Coach Lamar Owens said that he has the ability to play at multiple positions, and will get a look at A-Back first.
Domonique Noble - DB - 6'2" - 185 - Mount Ulla, N.C.
Ranked as the 15th-best prospect in North Carolina by SuperPrep, Noble helped lead West Rowan High School to 46 straight wins and three state championships. He has expressed interest in engineering.
Demontevious Smith - ATH - 6'0" - 173 - Monroe, Ga.
As quarterback for Monroe Area High School, Smith led his team to an 11-2 record. He ran the option, and rushed for 1,795 yards and 25 touchdowns. Coach McCollum said that they will figure out where he will play later, but his speed will be an asset no matter where he ends up.
Broderick Snoddy - RB - 5'9" -190 - Carrollton, Ga.
Snoddy has all-state speed, and starred in track in the 100- and 200-meters. He will get a look at kick returner, and most likely at A-Back.
Sean Tobin - SN/LB - 6'3" - 220 - Holmdel, N.J.
He is a bit undersized to be a linebacker, but he will be a huge asset on special teams. Coach Sewak talked about the benefits of having two snappers on scholarship and having them push each other to get better.
Kyle Travis - LB - 6'3" -235 - Cumming, Ga.
Travis, from local South Forsyth High School, is a 4.0 student. Coach McCollum called him rugged and said that he brings a lot of character to the team.
Darren Waller - S - 6'5" - 204 - Acworth, Ga.
Waller is a guy that will remind Tech fans a lot of Cooper Taylor. He is very long and lean, and has tremendous speed. He can play wide receiver or defensive back.