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Gailey Announces First Recruiting Class

Feb. 6, 2002

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The first recruiting class for new Georgia Tech head football coach Chan Gailey consists of 15 highly-regarded student-athletes who signed national letters of intent, including five players from the state of Georgia.

“There’s not a lot of quantity in this signing class, but there certainly is a lot of quality,” said Gailey, who was named Tech’s 11th head coach on Dec. 29.

“This was a small senior class this past year, so we didn’t have a large number of scholarships to give, but we wanted to make sure we got some good quality to improve the depth of our football team, and I think we did that. Even though we don’t have the quantity, we really like the players and the positions that we were able to get.

“I wrote two words on the board when I got here that first weekend: run and hit. That’s what we based things, can they run and can they hit?”

The group of signees includes four linemen, four defensive backs, three running backs, two receivers, one tight end and one placekicker.

“We thought that the defensive line and the secondary were two spots where we needed to have an impact this year,” said Gailey. “We feel like we got three quality defensive linemen and a couple of defensive backs who are really exciting players. It will be interesting to see how quickly they can get on the field.”

In addition to the five Georgians, six other states are represented as Tech inked three players from Texas, two from Ohio, two from Florida, one from Louisiana, one from Mississippi and one from New York.

“We’re going to recruit this state,” Gailey emphasized. “This state has great football, and we’re definitely going to work hard in Georgia.”

The three defensive linemen signed by Tech are 6-3, 260-pound Terron Pullen of Wrightsville, Ga., and Johnson County High, 6-3, 265-pound Brad Brezina of Greensboro, Ga., and Athens Academy, and 6-4, 245-pound Michael Matthews of Sycamore High in Cincinnati. Pullen was named the state Defensive Player of the Year in Class A by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and both he and Brezina–the son of former Atlanta Falcons linebacker Greg Brezina–were tabbed to the AJC’s Top 50 in Georgia list. Matthews was a two-way standout at defensive end and tight end.

In the secondary, Tech added Chris Reis of Roswell (Ga.) High, I-Perfection Harris of Staten Island, N.Y., who attended Poly Prep in Brooklyn, Kingi McNair of Pelahatchie, Miss., and Venice Gilliam of Rickards High in Tallahassee, Fla.

One of the state’s top prospects, the 6-1, 190-pound Reis was tabbed to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Super Southern 100 and Top 50 in Georgia and was also a first-team all-state selection in Class AAAAA, the state’s largest classification.

Harris, a 5-11, 180-pound speedster who also excels in track, was tabbed the No. 6 prospect in the state of New York and one of the top 25 skilled athletes in the nation by SuperPrep.

McNair, who has excellent size at 6-3 and 218 pounds, was rated the No. 25 prospect in Mississippi by SuperPrep and the No. 67 athlete in the nation by Rivals.com. Gilliam , 5-10, 185, was nominated for the Wendy’s High School Heisman in Florida.

On the offensive side, the Jackets signed five highly-regarded skill players in receivers Xavier McGuire and Lakeldrick Bridges, both from Dallas, Texas, and running backs Michael Sampson, also from Dallas, Ajenavi Eziemefe of New Orleans, La., and Eddie Lee Ivery, Jr., of Tampa, Fla. All three Texans were rated among the Top 112 prospects in the state by SuperPrep.

Tech returns several talented, experienced wide receivers, but Gailey and his staff emphasized adding size to a group whose tallest scholarship returnee is 6-0. They filled that need with McGuire, a 6-4, 210-pounder from Carter High, and Bridges, a 6-2, 175-pounder from Hillcrest High.

“The two guys we signed are 6-4 and 6-2, so they will obviously stand out on our practice field,” said Gailey.

Eziemefe, a 6-2, 225-pounder from Edna Karr High in New Orleans, was rated the No. 16 prospect in Louisiana by SuperPrep and earned selection to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Super Southern 100.

“He is a big running back,” said Gailey of Eziemefe, who is nicknamed Ace. “He’s not like anyone that we’ve had here, in talking to [offensive coordinator] Bill O’Brien. He is a bigger, quick back.”

Ivery, Jr., who rushed for more than 1,000 yards for state runnerup Chamberlain High in Tampa, is the son of one of the top players in Georgia Tech history. Eddie Lee Ivery, Sr., starred at running back for the Yellow Jackets from 1975-78, and then went on to play 10 years for the Green Bay Packers. He still ranks third on Tech’s career rushing list with 3,517 yards, including a then-NCAA record 356 yards versus Air Force in 1978. The elder Ivery is now on staff at Georgia Tech as an assistant strength and conditioning coach.

Sampson, from Lewisville High, stands 6-1 and 190 pounds and was rated among the Top 100 prospects in Texas by the Dallas Morning News.

Also on offense, Tech added all-state offensive lineman Zeb McHargue, a 6-5, 300-pounder from Jones County High in Gray, Ga., another member of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Top 50 in Georgia, and talented tight end George Cooper, 6-5, 255, from Westerville North High in Westerville, Ohio.

Tech also signed all-state placekicker David Jordan of Brookstone High in Columbus, Ga., who booted a 52-yard field goal as a junior.

2002 GEORGIA TECH FOOTBALL SIGNEES

Name Pos. Ht, Wt Hometown (High School)
Brad Brezina DL 6-3, 265 Greensboro, Ga. (Athens Academy)
Lekeldrick Bridges WR 6-2, 175 Dallas, Texas (Hillcrest)
George Cooper TE 6-5, 255 Westerville, Ohio (Westerville North)
Ajenavi Eziemefe RB 6-2, 225 New Orleans, La. (Edna Karr)
Venice Gilliam DB 5-10, 185 Tallahassee, Fla. (Rickards)
I-Perfection Harris DB 5-11, 180 Staten Island, N.Y. (Poly Prep)
Eddie Lee Ivery, Jr. RB 5-10, 175 Tampa, Fla. (Chamberlain)
David Jordan PK 6-4, 195 Columbus, Ga. (Brookstone)
Michael Matthews TE/DE 6-4, 245 Cincinnati, Ohio (Sycamore)
Xavier McGuire WR 6-4, 210 Dallas, Texas (Carter)
Zeb McHargue OL 6-5, 300 Gray, Ga. (Jones County)
Kingi McNair DB 6-3, 217 Pelahatchie, Miss. (Pelahatchie)
Terron Pullen DL 6-3, 260 Wrightsville, Ga. (Johnson County)
Chris Reis DB 6-1, 200 Roswell, Ga. (Roswell)
Michael Sampson RB 6-1, 190 Lewisville, Texas (Lewisville)

BRAD BREZINA

Defensive Lineman * 6-3, 265 Greensboro, Ga. * Athens Academy

Defensive line prospect who is one of the Top 50 prospects in Georgia, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution . . . Class A first-team all-state honoree by the AJC . . . Named to the “Georgia 60” by SuperPrep . . . Selected to play in the Georgia-Florida all-star game at the Georgia Dome . . . Coached by Michael Gunn at Athens Academy . . . Full name is Bradford Paul Brezina (pronounced bruh-ZEE-nuh) . . . Father, Greg Brezina, played linebacker for the Atlanta Falcons for more than a decade (1968-69, 1971-79).

LEKELDRICK BRIDGES

Wide Receiver * 6-2, 175 Dallas, Texas * Hillcrest H.S.

Rated among the Top 100 prospects in Texas by the Dallas Morning News . . . Caught 37 passes for 677 yards and 13 touchdowns as a senior at Hillcrest High School . . . Had 13 catches for 285 yards and three scores as a junior, including an 85-yard kickoff return . . . Tabbed to SuperPrep’s Texas 112 . . . Named to the 4-A All-District 11 team.

GEORGE COOPER

Tight End * 6-5, 255 Westerville, Ohio * Westerville North H.S.

Ranked the No. 46 prospect on SuperPrep’s Midwest 142 . . . Rated the No. 11 tight end in the nation in SuperPrep’s preseason edition . . . Ranked the No. 16 tight end prospect in the nation by Student Sports Magazine . . . Coached by Bob Cavin at Westerville North High School.

AJENAVI EZIEMEFE

Running Back * 6-2, 225 New Orleans, La. * Edna Karr H.S.

The No. 16 prospect on SuperPrep’s Louisiana 45 list . . . Named to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Super Southern 100 . . . Rushed for 756 yards and 13 touchdowns as a senior . . . Coached by Don Wattigny at Edna Karr High School, which also produced current Tech freshman defensive end Eric Henderson . . . Named pronounced ah-ja-NAH-vee eh-ZEM-eh-fay . . . Nicknamed “Ace” . . . Born June 26, 1984.

VENICE GILLIAM

Defensive Back * 5-10, 185 Tallahassee, Fla. * Rickards H.S.

Secondary prospect who was named to Florida’s All-Big Bend team . . . Collected 104 tackles, including 70 solo hits, as a senior, along with five interceptions, 14 pass breakups, fur caused fumbles and two fumble recoveries . . . Added 137 tackles, 10 pass breakups and two quarterback sacks as a junior . . . Wendy’s High School Heisman nominee . . . Defensive captain at Rickard’s High . . . Full name is Venice Thomas Gilliam . . . Born November 30, 1983 . . . Parents are Roslyn Thomas and Melvin Gilliam.

I-PERFECTION HARRIS

Defensive Back * 5-11, 180 Staten Island, N.Y. * Poly Prep

Rated the No. 6 prospect in New York state by SuperPrep . . . Ranked among the nation’s top 25 skilled athletes in SuperPrep preseason magazine . . . As a senior, he rushed for 1,150 yards and 10 touchdowns for a team that went undefeated and was ranked No. 10 in the nation in USA Today’s final poll . . . Also caught nine passes for 145 yards and three more scores and had 36 tackles and four interceptions on defense . . . Coached by Dino Mangiero at Poly Prep Country Day School in Brooklyn, N.Y. . . . Track standout with personal bests of 24-feet, 8-inches in the long jump and 48-feet, 6-inches in the triple jump . . . Won the state title in the long jump as a sophomore and the prestigious Penn Relays as a junior . . . Born March 23, 1984 . . . Son of Karen Harris of Staten Island and Michael Vassell of Lawrenceville, Ga.

EDDIE LEE IVERY, JR.

Running Back * 5-10, 175 Tampa, Fla. * Chamberlain H.S.

Rushed for more than 1,000 yards as a senior as he helped lead Chamberlain High to the Class 5A state championship game . . . Received the Guy Toph Award, Hillsborough County’s version of the high school Heisman Trophy and the county’s oldest athletic award . . . Coached by Billy Turner . . . The son of Eddie Lee Ivery, one of the top players in Georgia Tech history . . . Ivery, Sr., starred at running back for the Jackets from 1975-78, gaining 3,517 yards, and then played 10 years for the Green Bay Packers, he is now on staff at Georgia Tech as an assistant strength and conditioning coach.

DAVID JORDAN

Placekicker * 6-4, 195 Columbus, Ga. * Brookstone H.S.

Class A first-team all-state selection by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution . . . Member of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer’s Dandy Dozen . . . Tabbed to Prepstar’s Top 100 Dream Team . . . Made six of 10 field goals with a long of 47 yards as a senior, but two misses were beyond 50 yards . . . Career long field goal was a 52-yarder as a junior . . . Hit 24 of 25 PATs as a senior and 28 of 29 as a junior . . . Coached by Steve Sparks at Brookstone High School . . . Lettered four times in football and three times in soccer . . . Born October 28, 1983 . . . Parents are David and Judy Jordan.

MICHAEL MATTHEWS

Tight End / Defensive End * 6-4, 245 Cincinnati, Ohio * Sycamore H.S.

Two-way standout who is expected to play defensive end . . . First-team all-conference and all-city and second-team all-district selection . . . Rated the No. 22 tight end in the nation by Tom Lemming on ESPN.com . . . Caught 22 passes for 300 yards as a senior . . . Played on 40 snaps on defense but had 10 tackles and two sacks . . . Three-time letterman for coach Tom Adams at Sycamore High . . . Also lettered in basketball and baseball . . . Born October 9, 1983 . . . Parents are Michael and Anna Matthews.

XAVIER McGUIRE

Wide Receiver * 6-4, 210 Dallas, Texas * Carter H.S.

Tall, lanky receiver who caught 48 passes for 860 yards as a senior . . . The No. 47 prospect in Texas according to SuperPrep . . . Named to the Dallas Morning News’ Top 100 prospects in the Dallas-Fort Worth area . . . Tabbed to PrepStar’s all-America team . . . Three-time all-district selection . . . Coached by Freddie James at Carter High School . . . Full name is Xavier Rashad McGuire . . . Born March 3, 1984 . . . Parents are Lawrence and Bessie McGuire.

ZEB McHARGUE

Offensive Lineman * 6-5, 300 Gray, Ga. * Jones County H.S.

Offensive line prospect who was named one of the Top 50 prospects in Georgia by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution . . . Also tabbed to the AJC’s Class AAAA all-state first team and the all-Middle Georgia team by the Macon Telegraph . . . Rated the No. 48 prospect in Georgia by SuperPrep . . . The No. 23-ranked offensive lineman in the nation by Max Emfinger . . . Three-year starter and letterwinner for coach Jeff Lee at Jones County High . . . Full name is Zebulon Edward McHargue (pronounced muh-HARG) . . . Born August 11, 1984 . . . Parents are John and Daphne McHargue.

KINGI McNAIR

Defensive Back * 6-3, 217 Pelahatchie, Miss. * Pelahatchie H.S.

Rated the No. 25 prospect in Mississippi by SuperPrep and the No. 20 prospect in the state by the Biloxi Sun-Herald . . . The nation’s No. 67 athlete according to Rivals.com . . . Tabbed to PrepStar’s all-region team . . . Second-team all-state selection by the Clarion Ledger . . . Selected to play in the 2001 Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game . . . Prep quarterback who passes for 1,200 yards and 13 touchdowns while rushing for 700 yards and eight scores . . . Full name is Kingi Jahmad McNair . . . First name pronounced KIN-gee . . . Born Oct. 23, 1982.

TERRON PULLEN

Defensive Lineman * 6-3, 260 Wrightsville, Ga. * Johnson County H.S.

Class A Defensive Player of the Year by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which also tabbed him to the Class A all-state first team . . . Selected Heart of Georgia Defensive Player of the Year . . . Named to the “Georgia 60” by SuperPrep . . . Made 68 tackles as a senior with six sacks and six pass deflections . . . Added 58 tackles and five sacks as a junior . . . Coached by Bill Bonds at Johnson County High . . . Lettered four times in football, three times in basketball and twice in track . . . Born February 17, 1984 . . . First name pronounced tuh-RON . . . Parents are Willie and Linda Greene.

CHRIS REIS

Defensive Back * 6-1, 200 Roswell, Ga. * Roswell H.S.

Talented defensive back who is a member of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Super Southern 100 and Top 50 in Georgia . . . First-team AAAAA all-state selection by the AJC . . . Career totals of 226 tackles and 10 interceptions . . . Also played wide receiver and caught 183 passes for 2,595 yards in his career . . . Added 342 rushing yards and 823 return yards . . . Named to the “Georgia 60” by SuperPrep . . . PrepStar all-America . . . Rated the No. 22 safety prospect in the nation by Student Sports Magazine . . . Earned Player-of-the-Week awards from the Atlanta Touchdown Club and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution . . . Two-time all-North Fulton County and three-time all-region selection . . . Team captain who started a school-record 44 consecutive varsity games for coach Tim McFarlin at Roswell High . . . Three-time team MVP who also earned the team’s Scholar Athlete Award . . . Earned four letters in football, four in track and three in basketball . . . Full name is Christopher Evan Reis (pronounced REESE) . . . Born September 19, 1983 . . . Parents are Stephanie Reis and Mike Reis.

MICHAEL SAMPSON

Running Back * 6-1, 190 Lewisville, Texas * Lewisville H.S.

Rated among the No. 68 prospect in Texas and the No. 30 prospect in the Dallas-Fort Worth area by the Dallas Morning News . . . Tabbed to SuperPrep’s “Texas 112” . . . Named to the 5-A All-District 6 team . . . Limited to just five games as a senior but rushed for 608 yards and scored 12 touchdowns . . . Born April 25, 1984.

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