ATLANTA -- Georgia Tech is unlikely to rank among the top 10 football recruiting classes in the country. But the Yellow Jackets appear to once again filled their needs and perhaps come away with a few surprises.
Georgia Tech’s list of 16 signees from Wednesday isn’t filled with four-star players; in fact, their most acclaimed recruit has only played the sport for one year. That means head coach Paul Johnson and his staff will be asked to “coach them up” and elevate the talent enough to compete in the ACC.
“We needed some defensive linemen in this class, and we were able to get four,” Johnson said. “I think we addressed the needs.”
One of the most exciting offensive signees is Justin Thomas, a quarterback from Alabama who switched his commitment from Alabama last month. Thomas, a consensus four-star recruit, has been timed at 4.2 in the 40 and has exceptional ball-handling skills. He ran for 896 yards and seven touchdowns, threw for 1,652 yards and 13 touchdowns and took his team to the state championship.
Another quarterback signee, Dennis Andrews of Tallahassee, already has graduated from high school and enrolled at Georgia Tech. He will participate in spring drills.
The other four-star signee is Francis Kallon of Central Gwinnett, a 6-foot-5, 260-pound player who had not played his first organized football game when he was offered by Georgia Tech. Other schools soon got wind of the English transplant and made offers, but he remained true to his original commitment.
In other offensive signees, Georgia Tech may have signed its next B-back in Marcus Allen, who was recruited by a lot of schools to play linebacker but opted for Georgia Tech so he could play offense. A relative of Champ and Boss Bailey, he rushed for 812 yards, averaging 7.06 yards per carry, and scored seven touchdowns.
The offensive line signees include guard Freddie Burden (6-3, 290) from Statesboro and Chase Roberts (6-3, 265) from Greater Atlanta Christian in Norcross. Roberts’ father graduated from Georgia Tech; Roberts could end up any place on the line.
Travin Henry was a last-minute addition. The receiver from Cook was recruited by Georgia Tech as a sophomore and largely ignored since. Two weeks ago, he got a call from the Yellow Jackets and wound up picking Georgia Tech ahead of Vanderbilt, Middle Tennessee State, Kentucky and Memphis. He has the size (6-3, 225) to possibly help replace Stephen Hill as an outside threat.
Georgia Tech also signed receiver Micheal Summers, who played a lot of halfback in the Statesboro Blue Devils’ wishbone offense and could get a look at A-back. He has been timed at 4.39 and chose Georgia Tech over offers from Florida and Vandy.
The defense also signed end Roderick Chungong from Maryland, Pat Gamble of Carrollton and Australian project Adam Gotsis. Chungong, who hails from the same school as Georgia Tech’s Louis Young, had nine sacks as a senior.
Georgia Tech had another last-minute switch go in its favor when Beau Hankins of Birmingham, Ala., chose the Yellow Jackets over Arkansas, Wake Forest and Stanford. Hankins, an inside linebacker, is a 4.0 student who ranks No. 1 academically in his class. The Yellow Jackets also signed inside linebacker Tyler Stargel, who was raised in Jasper before his family moved to Alabama after his ninth-grade year.
D.J. White was one of the best defensive back prospects from metro Atlanta. He may get a look at cornerback as a freshman and could help in kick returns, a sore spot for the Yellow Jackets last year. Lynn Griffin originally picked Southern Miss, but changed his mind after the school had a coaching change; he’s expected to play safety. Anthony Autry (6-3, 185) could play defensive back or wide receiver, depending on need.
Georgia Tech didn’t sign a place-kicker but did land punter Ryan Rodwell from Florida. He averaged 43.6 yards per punt and had a 4.0-second hang time as a senior and signed with Tech shortly after his visit in January.