Feb. 4, 2009
ATLANTA — Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson’s second recruiting class, announced today and consisting of 21 signees, includes 14 student-athletes from the state of Georgia.
The recruiting class hits every area of need, in particular the offensive and defensive lines, where the Yellow Jackets lose a combined five starters to graduation. Five of the 21 signees were recruited to Georgia Tech as defensive linemen and four as offensive linemen.
“I am very pleased with this group,” Johnson said. “I think we addressed some needs on the line and added a number of skill players who will be solid contributors. This is a talented group of young men who were well-coached on the high school level.”
The class includes players from seven states, but the clear focus was on in-state prospects. Fourteen of the signees are from the state of Georgia — the most in-state signees at Tech in at least 15 years. The 21 total signees equals Tech’s largest recruiting class since 2004.
The Yellow Jackets, who must replace three senior starters on the defensive line, signed five defensive line prospects from Georgia to help replace All-ACC performers Michael Johnson, Darryl Richard and Vance Walker. Christopher Crenshaw (DE, Louisville, Ga.), Izaan Cross (DE, Flowery Branch, Ga.), Euclid Cummings (DE, Atlanta), Emmanuel Dieke (DE, Riverdale, Ga.) and J.C. Lanier (DT, Stillmore, Ga.) are all in-state prospects penciled in to play on the defensive line.
Dieke, a defensive end from North Clayton High School, enrolled in Georgia Tech in January and will participate in spring practice. Cross and Daniel Drummond (B-back) will both be reunited with former Flowery Branch High School teammate, sophomore quarterback Jaybo Shaw.
The four offensive line prospects include three in-state products — Ray Beno (Newnan, Ga.), Jay Finch (Acworth, Ga.) and Antonio Foster (Valdosta, Ga.). The Yellow Jackets also garnered a prospect from the state of Tennessee — Will Jackson (Knoxville, Tenn.) — for the first time since 1998. Those four players will help offset the loss of both starting tackles, All-ACC performer Andrew Gardner and David Brown.
Tech signed two A-backs (slot backs), including Orwin Smith (Phenix City, Ala.) and Jemea Thomas (Fitzgerald, Ga.). Smith comes from the same high school (Central HS) that produced rising Yellow Jacket senior offensive lineman Cord Howard. The Jackets also inked a pair of wide receivers, Stephen Hill (Lithonia, Ga.) and Jeremy Moore (Austin, Texas). Moore is the 17th player from Texas to sign with Georgia Tech over the last 10 years. Hill is considered one of the top wide receiver prospects in the nation.
Two linebacker prospects will provide some depth at that position, which loses part-time starter Tony Clark to graduation and junior Shane Bowen, whose career was cut short because of an injury. Julian Burnett (Macon, Ga.) and Brandon Watts (Tennille, Ga.) both come to Tech after outstanding prep careers.
The Yellow Jackets also signed prospects in the defensive secondary, helping to offset the loss of three-year starting cornerback Jahi Word-Daniels. Carl Miles (Miramar, Fla.), Lance Richardson (Ware Shoals, S.C.) and Rod Sweeting (Locust Grove, Ga.) were all heavily recruited. The signing of Richardson marks Tech’s first recruit from the Palmetto State since 2005.
Georgia Tech, 9-4 overall in 2008, begins spring practice March 23. The T-Day (spring) Game is set for April 18.