ATLANTA -- Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson said he likes his latest recruiting class, even though it might not seem to have the star appeal for national services. Johnson has never put much stock in recruiting ratings, anyway.
If you look at the last six years, there are four teams in the ACC who have won more games than all the others, Johnson said, listing Clemson, Florida State, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech. And thats my view of the star system.
Recruiting analysts might not be knocked over by Georgia Techs list of recruits, which includes only one four-star player, defensive back Step Durham. But the list of players otherwise looks very solid.
If our recruiting is so bad and that (rating) is so accurate, then we must be great coaches, Johnson said. And from what I read from (reporters), I dont believe that. Weve won more games in the ACC at a higher percentage than any coach thats been here. Thats the number Id be concerned about.
Georgia Tech had 21 signees, including running back Travis Custis of Lovejoy, who signed last year but was flagged by the NCAA clearinghouse.
Four of the recruits already have graduated from high school, enrolled at Georgia Tech and will participate in spring practice. Durham, defensive end KeShun Freeman, linebacker Tre Jackson and quarterback Matthew Jordan are already on campus and getting acclimated to college life and the academic rigors that come along with being at Georgia Tech.
It helps a great deal, Johnson said. When you start fall camp, theyre not lost. Those guys are acclimated, the coaches have gotten to evaluate them, they get more reps, and theyve learned the system.
Durham is considered a four-star athlete by Rivals and is ranked as the No. 23 defensive back in Florida. The Jacksonville product is is considered to be good enough to challenge for playing time and potentially start as a true freshman.
The other defensive backs include twins Lance and Lawrence Austin and Qua Searcy of Lamar County and Jalen Johnson of Oneonta, Ala. The Austin brothers likely will stay at cornerback, while Johnson, who is recovering from a knee injury that cost him his senior season, is pegged as a safety, along with Searcy.
The offensive line group includes Michael Preddy of Charleston, S.C., Trey Klock of Hummelstown, Pa., Andrew Marshall of West Forsyth, Gary Brown of Tampa, Jake Whitley of North Augusta and Jake Stickler of Bradenton, Fla.
Were excited about our offensive line as a group, Johnson said. Weve got some very athletic guys in the group.
The three defensive ends signed were Freeman of Callaway, Tyler Merriweather of Dermopolis, Ala., and Kenderius Whitehead, who played at Georgia Military College and will have three years of eligibility. Georgia Tech needed additional ends because some of their previous signees, like Francis Kallon, have been moved inside as theyve gotten bigger.
Youve got to have guys who can rush off the edge, Johnson said.
Georgia Techs class at a glance
Lance Austin DB 5-10/170 Barnesville (Lamar County)
Austin led the Trojans to the state championship game after accounting for 1,924 yards and 31 total touchdowns on offense.
Lawrence Austin DB 5-9/170 Barnesville (Lamar County)
Austin rushed for 1,348 yards and 19 touchdowns and earned all-state honors on defense.
Myles Autry ATH 5-11/170 Norcross
Autry joins older brother Anthony Autry at Tech. He led Norcross to two consecutive state titles and picked the Jackets on signing day over Florida State and Oregon.
Gary Brown OL 6-3/285 Tampa, Fla.
Brown played both ways for Alonso and recorded 72 pancake blocks over his final two seasons.
Step Durham DB 5-11/175 Jacksonville, Fla.
He was the first freshman in his schools history to start and was a three-year captain.
KeShun Freeman DL 6-4/230 Hogansville (Callaway)
Freeman was the Region 4-AAA Player of the Year in 2012 and led Callaway to consecutive region titles.
Tre Jackson LB 5-10/235 Valdosta (Lowndes)
Jackson was named Region 1-AAAAAA Defensive Player of the Year as a senior.
Jalen Johnson DB 6-3/190 Oneonta, Ala.
Johnson missed his senior year after tearing his ACL. He caught 57 passes for 900 yards as a junior.
Matthew Jordan QB 6-2/205 Jackson, Ala.
Jordan led his team to back-to-back region championships and a state championship in 2012.
Trey Klock DL 6-4/260 Hummelstown, Pa.
Klock played all over for Lower Dauphin, but made a big impact on defense where he had 21 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks.
C.J. Leggett RB 5-10/210 Suwanee (North Gwinnett)
Leggett helped lead the Bulldogs to the Class AAAAAA state championship game, rushing for 1,784 yards and 23 touchdowns.
Terrell Lewis LB 6-2/215 Ocoee, Fla.
Lewis had 90 tackles, 19 tackles for loss and 11 sacks as a senior.
Clinton Lynch WR 6-0/185 Norcross
Lynch caught 47 passes for 912 yards and four touchdowns as a senior.
Andrew Marshall OL 6-4/264 Cumming (West Forsyth)
Marshall made the all-state team as a senior and helped West Forsyth win consecutive region titles.
Tyler Merriweather DL 6-3/220 Demopolis, Ala.
He had 41 tackles and 20 tackles for loss to earn honorable mention all-state honors.
Michael Preddy DL 6-3/270 Charleston, S.C.
Preddy was a two-time all-region football player and a two-time all-state basketball player.
Qua Searcy ATH 5-11/180:Barnesville (Lamar County)
Searcy had 88 tackles, six pass breakups and five interceptions as a senior.
Antonio Simmons LB 6-3/190 Jacksonville, Fla.
Simmons finished his senior season with 50 tackles, a ridiculous 29 sacks and 19 tackles for loss.
Jake Stickler OL 6-5/265 Bradenton, Fla.
He helped lead Manatee to the Class 7A state championship in 2011, and blocked for an offense that rushed for 47 touchdowns in 2013.
Kenderius Whitehead DL 6-5/220 Georgia Military College
Whitehead was the rare JUCO signee for the Jackets. He signed with N.C. State out of M.L. King High.
Jake Whitley OL 6-4/295 North Augusta, S.C.
Whitley helped North Augusta go 56-11 during his four years in school.
Starters lost: 6 on offense, 6 on defense
Top needs: OL, DL, DB
Signees by state: Georgia 10, Florida 5, Alabama 3, South Carolina 2, Pennsylvania 1
247sports star rankings: 18 three-star 3 two-star.
Local impact: The Yellow Jackets lose two prominent Middle Georgians to graduation linebacker Brandon Watts (Washington County) and defensive back Jemea Thomas (Fitzgerald) but signed three local players this year. Lamar Countys talented trio Qua Searcy, Lance Austin and Lawrence Austin led the Trojans to a state semifinals appearance in 2012 and the first state championship appearance in school history in 2013.
Gem of the class: The Yellow Jackets didnt sign four-star recruits, according to 247Sports composite rankings. Step Durham is already enrolled and could play early for a secondary that needs help. C.J. Leggett is one of the top in-state running back signings for the Yellow Jackets in the past few years. Matthew Jordan could see reps in the spring at quarterback after Vad Lee transferred. Myles Autry is another guy who was highly sought after.
Surprise: The Yellow Jackets had a busy last few days. Kenderius Whitehead committed to Tech a few days before signing day and could be an impact pass rusher. Tech hasnt fared well on National Signing Day televised decisions, but they landed Autry on Wednesday. He will bring along receiver Clinton Lynch, who was committed to Georgia State.