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#MeetThePress: @GTPaulJohnson Talks #SigningDay

Feb. 4, 2015

Press Conference Audio | Signing Day Central

Opening Statement
“Well like I said this morning, I’m really proud of our coaching staff and the young men that we signed this morning, kind of went off without a hitch. We were through for the most part really done by nine. It was kind of a dream way to do it with no drama and not much going on. I felt like we got a really good class, the biggest class since I’ve been here as the head coach. We had more openings this year, more slots than we’ve ever had and I think we were able to hit a lot of key positions and get our numbers balanced to the point that I feel good about it at each position. We’ve got close to the right number of people there to have some depth and some things moving forward. A lot of Players of the Year in this class, we have Players of the Year in three or four states: Tennessee, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia. So at least four states, we’ve got a player of the year in the classifications of those states. Really excited about that and looking forward to getting the rest of the class in here in June. We had four early enrollees and they are all doing well getting into the flow of things. Couldn’t be happier about how it went.”

The influence of stability in the coaching staff
“Well I think anytime you have stability in the coaching staff, it’s certainly going to you help in the recruiting because you’ve built relationships. They aren’t built overnight, so that certainly comes into play. Certainly some coaches are in better areas than others and some of the guys that we signed, the coach that’s actually in the area that looks like they recruited them certainly got a lot of help from other people. It was a group effort. I think the whole staff did a good job and like I said anytime you have continuity, I think it’s a good thing especially in recruitment. “

Versatility of the signing class
“(We’ve got) a lot of athleticism. We’ve got some real speed guys, which is something that we’ve tried to point to especially at the offensive skill positions. Little bigger guys in the defensive backfield at corner, little longer and little taller guys. We’ve got a couple of guys that we think could be good pass rushers and I think just overall we addressed a lot of needs. We wanted to hit wide receiver. This class was imperative and we got some guys there. You’ve got Harland (Howell) who is already in school who is a big, tall guy. Christian Philpott was the 2A Player of the Year in the state of Florida. Brad Stewart was the Player of the Year in the state of Georgia so there is a lot of a guys that bring some credentials in at wide receiver that we think can help us and there is actually a couple other guys in the signing class that could end up at wide receiver. So I think there is some flexibility within the class, but overall just some good athleticism.”

This past season’s influence on recruiting
“Well, most of the kids committed before the season. I think if anything it probably helped keep the class together. We didn’t have all the negativity talking about flipping and all that stuff. Anytime there is a positive environment going on and a positive attitude around the program, it’s going to help. Winning the in-state game helps when you go out to recruit. We haven’t won that game a lot and it helped. I mean it’s the reception you receive and I think it enables a lot of the fans. Maybe the people on the bubble come out a little more than they usually would. We have a really good reception going out. We were able to secure a lot of in-state kids. Each year we are going to try to make sure we do a good job in-state and we like to have in-state kids. It won’t keep us from going out of state, but there are a lot of good players in the state of Georgia, really good high school football. “

In-state vs. out-of-state recruiting
“We got a lot of in-state kids committed early and I think it was a good year in-state for players. Our need this year, we were heavy skill wise in running backs and A-backs, and there are a lot of guys like that in-state. We were able to get four defensive linemen in-state which helps. A lot of times there are so many factors like grades and everything involved so this happened to be a good year in-state. Our coaches did a good job having built relationships and knowing the guys we are recruiting early.

On this class’ linebackers
Brant was Mr. Football Tennessee two years in a row, Brant Mitchell. I think he is more of a Mike box linebacker inside. I think Victor Alexander can play any of the linebacker spots. He is explosive, really good athlete. You’ve got to watch him on tape for thirty seconds to realize that he is a really good football player. He is explosive, runs through people. Tyler Cooksey, he’s got some length. He is a good blitzer, I think he could be Sam linebacker, possibly a Box linebacker. (David) Curry from Buford, is kind of a hybrid, maybe a space linebacker or a strong safety, a drop down guy who is a really good football player and a good tackler. I think it gives the defense a lot of bodies that they can work with to try and utilize.

On Jaylend Ratliffe
“We just stayed in touch. Coach Cook recruited him. Jaylend, once he was out and was in rehab, he would call me once and a while and we would talk. There was never an issue with Jaylend. He knew right from the start that he was coming to Georgia Tech one way or the other. That’s what I told him. With the rehab, it is still ongoing. Who knows what is going to happen. If you look at what he has been through or what he has done, I think it’s amazing. I’m not counting him out from being able to come in here in January and start playing. It’s like I told him, he is going to work his rehab as hard as he can. We are going to plan on doing that. If he doesn’t, he is going to be our assistant quarterback coach. Either way, he is going to have a good future.”

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