ATLANTA (Feb. 2) – Two talented quarterbacks, an outstanding corps of linebackers and skilled athletes on both sides of the ball highlight Georgia Tech’s most highly-regarded football recruiting class in recent memory as 22 prospective student-athletes, including nine from in state, signed letters of intent on national signing day.
In addition to three outstanding linebackers, led by Parade Magazine all-America Hobie Holiday (Warner Robins, Ga.), and all-America quarterbacks Brandon Sumner (Daytona Beach, Fla.), and Mark Logan (Greenwood, S.C.), head coach George O’Leary and his staff bolstered the offensive and defensive fronts with six linemen and filled a need with two tight ends and two fullback/H-backs while adding skill players on both sides, including three defensive backs, three wide receiver/athletes and standout running back Jimmy Dixon of Arlington, Texas.
“We’re very pleased with the class that we brought in because it’s a class that will help us in all areas on the football field,” said O’Leary, who just completed his fifth full season at the helm of the Tech program. “The last few classes we’ve signed have been good classes, but this class is special because of the strength of the players at every position. All positions were helped with impact-type players.”
The class includes five USA Today all-Americas as well as four members of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Super Southern 100. Eight of the nine Georgia signees were named to the AJC’s Top 75 in Georgia. In addition to nine Georgians, the class features five players from Florida, while eight other states are represented with one signee, including Alabama, South Carolina, Louisiana, Texas, Maryland, Delaware, New York and Illinois.
“We’re going to continue to spend a lot of time and effort in the state of Georgia because there are a lot of good football players and it’s important that we get our share of talent from in state,” said O’Leary, whose Yellow Jackets posted an 8-4 record in 1999 while earning the school’s third straight bowl berth. “And then we’re pretty much going to go wherever we can to find good players specific to a position who can help us win.”
Holiday, 6-4, 230, one of the preseason Super 11 in Georgia by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, leads a group of linebackers that also includes Daryl Smith, 6-3, 225, of Albany’s Dougherty County High and Keyaron Fox, 6-4, 220, of Westlake High in Atlanta.
“I do think we filled some voids with the defensive front people and defensive backs that we signed, but most impressive is the group of linebackers, all from in state,” said O’Leary, whose squad graduated only two starters on defense. “In my coaching days, that’s probably the most talented group of linebackers I’ve seen coming in. We’ve brought in some very talented youngsters to help us on defense, but as I said, I think we’ve helped all the positions.”
A USA Today honorable mention all-America, Holiday played in just seven games as a senior at Houston County High before suffering a broken ankle but collected 72 tackles and six sacks. Smith, who recorded 120 tackles and three sacks, was rated the No. 6 linebacker in the nation by Tom Lemming and was named to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Top 75 in Georgia as well as the Consensus Super Southern 75 by Florida Bluechips Report. Fox, also a Top 75 in Georgia, made 139 tackles, six interceptions, seven sacks, five caused fumbles and five fumble recoveries.
Both quarterbacks were named honorable mention all-Americas by USA Today and both were tabbed to the AJC’s Super Southern 100. Sumner, 6-3, 200, was rated the nation’s No. 10 quarterback by Tom Lemming and the No. 13 quarterback by both RivalNet and SuperPrep. As a senior at Mainland High, he passed for 1,666 yards and 19 touchdowns while rushing for 752 yards and 14 more scores.
Logan, 6-0, 185, was named the South Carolina Player of the Year by USA Today and Mr. Football by the South Carolina Athletic Coaches Association. He passed for 2,184 yards and rushed for 545 yards and accounted for 45 touchdowns (27 passing, 18 rushing) in leading Greenwood High to the AAAA, Division II state title.
With the graduation of all-America quarterback Joe Hamilton, both signal callers could compete for playing time next season, along with junior George Godsey and redshirt freshmen Andy Hall and Brian Camp.
“Both quarterbacks are outstanding,” said O’Leary, “Both can do the things that we need a quarterback to do; they are mobile and can throw the ball.
“We have three quarterbacks on campus and we’d like to leave the spring with a number one. But if we’re not happy leaving the spring, both quarterbacks coming in will have an opportunity to show what they can do in the preseason.”
Although Tech signed just one running back, Dixon of Martin High in Arlington, Texas, is one of the nation’s best. A USA Today honorable mention all-America and the 5A Offensive Player of the Year in Texas, Dixon was rated the No. 2 running back in the nation by Max Emfinger and No. 5 by RivalNet. He led the state in rushing with 2,529 yards on 298 carries with 28 touchdowns.
In the defensive backfield, Tech signed USA Today honorable mention all-America Jonathan Cox of Chicago, Ill., Super Southern 100 pick Tony Hollings of Jeffersonville, Ga., and Sterling Green of Hyattsville, Md.
Cox, 5-11, 185, the No. 65 prospect in the Midwest by SuperPrep, recorded 140 tackles as a senior at De La Salle High with four interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown. Hollings, 6-0, 200, was tabbed the No. 54 prospect in Dixie by SuperPrep. A two-way athlete at Twiggs County High, he rushed for 1,360 yards and 10 touchdowns and passed for 672 yards and seven touchdowns as a quarterback, while on defense, he had 25 tackles, one interception and one punt return for a touchdown. An all-state selection at Northwestern High, Green, 6-3, 195, was named all-East Elite by Eastern Football Journal and was rated SuperPrep’ No. 19 prospect in Maryland.
On the offensive side, Tech added three speedy athletes who are likely to play wide receiver in Jonathan Smith of Argyle, Ga., Nate Curry of Miami, Fla., and Brian Lumar of Edgard, La.
Smith, 5-11, 180, played quarterback, wide receiver and defensive back at Clinch County High, where he had 710 yards rushing, 386 yards passing and 12 touchdowns, along with 49 tackles and 10 interceptions on defense. Regarded as one of the fastest players in Florida, Curry, 5-10, 180, was rated the No. 39 prospect in the state by SuperPrep. He played running back at Monsignor Pace High and rushed for 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns as a senior. Lumar, 6-0, 190, was an all-state honoree at E.D. White High, where he caught 66 passes for 1,009 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Tech signed three defensive linemen in Reggie Koon of Miramar, Fla., Alfred Malone of Frisco City, Ala., and Chirod Williams of Jacksonville, Fla., and three offensive linemen in Jeremy Phillips of Watkinsville, Ga., Leon Robinson of Garden City, Ga., and Matt Graviet of Lewes, Del.
Koon, 6-4, 275, was a two-way standout at Miramar High who was ranked the No. 37 prospect in Florida by SuperPrep. He was a Class 5A first-team all-state selection by the Florida Sports Writers Association and had 18 sacks as a senior. Malone, is a 6-4, 240-pound defensive end who was SuperPrep’ No. 25 player in Alabama after recording 82 tackles, six sacks, six caused fumbles and two fumble recoveries as a senior at Frisco City High. Williams, 6-4, 235, also plays defensive end and was rated the No. 50 prospect in Florida by Florida BlueChips after leading Trinity Christian High to a berth in the 2A state championship game.
Phillips, a 6-7, 295-pounder from Oconee County High, and Robinson, 6-4, 275-pounder from Groves High, are both members of the AJC’s Top 75 in Georgia with SuperPrep rating Phillips the No. 36 prospect in Georgia and Robinson No. 37. Graviet, 6-2, 265, was the Delaware Lineman of the Year at Cape Henlopen High in 1998 and then attended Navy Prep in Newport, R.I., last fall. He is enrolled at Tech for the current semester and will participate in spring practice.
The Jackets filled a need by adding tight ends Darius Williams of Avondale High in Clarkston, Ga., and J.P. Foschi of Old Brookville, N.Y. and Chaminade High, and H-back/fullbacks Derrick Mincey of Lyons, Ga., and Toombs County High, and Johnathan Jackson of Jacksonville’s Bolles School.
Williams, 6-6, 230, was rated the No. 19 tight end and No. 128 prospect in the nation by Tom Lemming. A Top 75 in Georgia, he caught 16 passes for 170 yards in nine games as a senior. Foschi, 6-5, 245, was ranked the No. 14 tight end in the nation and No. 4 prospect in New York by SuperPrep. As a senior he had 18 receptions for 250 yards and two touchdowns.
Another Top 75 in Georgia honoree is Mincey, a 6-1, 275-pound fullback who rushed for 803 yards and 14 touchdowns. Jackson, 6-2, 230, was rated the No. 51 prospect in Florida by SuperPrep and among the Top 75 in Florida by Florida Prep Football.