Georgia Tech recruiting coordinator Andy McCollum sees more than just athletic ability in JaQuez Jackson. He sees leadership potential. That’s another reason the Yellow Jackets were so pleased to nail down the linebacker on Wednesday, the first day of the early football signing period.
“I think he’s a leader,” McCollum said. “He’s been a leader on the football field and the classroom. I look forward to him getting in here and being a leader here one day.”
Jackson is a three-star recruit who is rated as the nation’s No. 25 inside linebacker by Rivals. He had 137 tackles, 28 for loss, in his senior season at Peach County.
Jackson, a 6-foot-1, 220-pounder, made a verbal commitment to play for the Yellow Jackets in June and has not wavered. A physical player who doesn’t shy away from a tackle, Jackson has the skills needed to play inside linebacker.
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“Jaquez loves to play football,” McCollum said. “Some guys love to be recruited and some guys love to play football. This kid loves to play football.”
Jackson was one of 17 football players who were part of Georgia Tech’s early signing period.
The Yellow Jackets came away with seven offensive players and 10 defensive players on signing day. That number could swell to as many as 21 before the early period ends on Friday night.
“I think it went well,” Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said. “I’m a fan of (the early signing period) to this point.”
Offensive signees were: A-back Dontae Smith of Spring Hill, Tennessee; wide receiver Malachi Carter of Lawrenceville; wide receiver Patrick “Peje” Harris of Newnan; A-back Tijai Whatley of Rome; offensive lineman Michael Maye of Hoover, Alabama; offensive lineman Harrison Jump of Statham; and Zakk McKeehan of St. Francisville, Louisiana.
Defensive signees were: T.K. Chimedza of Dacula, defensive back Charlie Thomas of Thomasville; defensive back Jaylon King of LaVergne, Tennessee; defensive lineman Luke Johns of Dalton; defensive lineman Austin Smith of McDonough; defensive back Juanyeh Thomas of Niceville, Florida; defensive back Jaylen Jackson of Brunswick; linebacker Justice Dingle of Bowling Green, Kentucky; and defensive back Zamari Walton of Melbourne, Florida.
“It’s always exciting any time you’re able to welcome new members of the team in,” Johnson said. “Certainly in this early signing period we’ve gotten a large part of our class committed and signed. I think that we’ve fulfilled some needs. We’ve added a lot of outstanding young men and really good players.”
Jackson is one of three players who will enroll in school in January and be able to participate in spring practice. Chimedza, who played at IMG Academy, and Thomas will join Jackson in the early group that will get a head start on the others.
Chimedza, a 300-pound defensive tackle, is expected to compete for playing time right away. Athletic and quick for his size, Chimedza was an early commitment who never visited another school.
“He’s competed at a high level and he knows how to win,” said assistant coach Mike Pelton, who recruited Chimedza.
Thomas is being targeted as a safety, even though he has skills as a receiver. Thomas (6-2, 190) is a three-star player with great genes. His cousin was former NFL All-Pro linebacker Greg Lloyd.
The only loss was an unexpected flip by Julius Weischof of Germany. He committed to Georgia Tech in October, but changed his mind at the last minute and signed with Michigan.