Sunday, March 13, 2011

Re-ranking Georgia Tech's 2007 Recruiting Class

Georgia Tech's 2007 class looked very good on Signing Day and for the most part its members delivered on that promise. This group was the core of teams that won 20 games in 2008 and 2009 and an ACC title.

The class had numerous four and three star players as well as a few two stars according to How did these players actually turn out though?

I attempted to re-rank the players in this class using two components: 1) how much of an immediate impact did a player make? 2) how much of a contributor were they throughout their career.

Most of this class has moved, but a handful of fifth year seniors will make up the roster in 2011. The players who will be taking the field this season will have their re-ranking based on their career to this point.

Morgan Burnett - DB - 4 star
Ended up starting as a CB during his freshman season making the biggest immediate impact of anyone in this class. Burnett went on to earn All-ACC honors and All-American honors in 2008. He left following his Junior season of 2009 for the NFL selected by the Packers in the 3rd round earning a starting job before a knee injury sidelined him for most of the season. Burnett made the biggest immediate impact in this class.
Re-ranking = 5 star

Derrick Morgan - DL - 4 star
Morgan played as a backup his freshman year, but did see significant action. The Pennsylvania native was Tech's most surprising get of the class considering the competition for his services (Ohio State, Penn State, Miami). Morgan eventually grew into the top defensive player in the ACC and was a 1st round selection by the Tennessee Titans this past season.
Re-ranking = 5 star

Jonathan Dwyer - RB - 4 star
Dwyer was a backup to future NFL back Tashard Choice but played in games one through four, but as the season progressed Dwyer's time was limited lessening his overall impact in year one. As a sophomore the running back from Marietta won ACC Offensive Player of the Year. As a junior he again gained over 1,000 yards and again garnered All-ACC honors. Dwyer left early for the NFL and was selected by Pittsburgh in the 6th round.
Re-ranking = 5 star

Joshua Nesbitt - QB - 4 star
The Greensboro, Ga. native came to Tech to play in a pro style offense but in his second season found himself starting as an option QB. Nesbitt had some impact his freshman season as a "change of pace QB" (I still don't know what that term really means) but was not a significant contributor. However, he piloted Tech to nine wins in sophomore season and 11 in his junior year including earning 1st Team All-ACC honors. His senior season was cut short by an arm injury, but he still finished with the ACC's all time rushing record by a QB. Nesbitt's inability to fully develop the passing game is the only thing holding him from a fifth star re-rank.
Re-ranking = 4 star

DJ Donley - WR - 4 star
Many wanted Donley as a DB, but he wanted to play WR and therefore Tech won his services. Yes, he played as a freshman but he didn't contribute very much and left after one season not wanting to play in Johnson's offense.
Re-ranking = 2 star

Willie White - WR - 4 star
Redshirted his freshman season. As a redshirt freshman played in three games, but never caught a pass. Transferred out after 2008.
Re-ranking = 2 star

Nick Claytor - OL - 4 star
Claytor's production was hampered by injuries for most of his time, but when he did play he was a very serviceable lineman. However, he was never lived up to his potential out of high school and left Tech following his redshirt junior year for the NFL where he will likely be a free agent.
Re-ranking = 3 star

Mario Butler - DB - 3 star
Played on special teams and as a backup CB his true freshman year. Turned into a three year starter at cornerback, but lacked many plays of significance to move his ranking up.
Re-ranking = 3 star

Jerrard Tarrant - DB - 3 star
Redshirted his first year and sat out his second due to disciplinary issues. The Carrollton native played one seasons at CB before switching to Safety in 2010 all while returning punts. Tarrant was probably Tech's best play maker on defense this past season.
Re-ranking = 4 star

Brad Jefferson - LB - 3 star
Played as a backup in his freshman season. Injuries kept from starting most of 2008, but nailed down a full time job the last two seasons. Jefferson was a solid, but hardly ever spectacular player.
Re-ranking = 3 star

Kyle Jackson - LB - 3 star
Jackson was a 5 star recruiter for Tech earning the nickname "The Ambassador" for his efforts. Redshirted his first season, but played and started some his second year. Never really fully recovered from a foot injury suffered before his RS Sophomore season.
Re-ranking = 3 star

Steven Threett - QB - 4 star
Enrolled early but transferred to Michigan during fall practice before ever playing a down for Tech.
Re-ranking = N/A

Logan Walls - DL - 2 star
Redshirted his first season. Played as a backup mostly in 2008 and 2009, but turned into a starter in 2010 and will battle with T.J. Barnes and Shawn Green again for the 2011 job. Normally I would rank starters at least a 3 star, but the lack of production and performance at the NT position is casting down owning a starting position here.
Re-ranking = 2 star

Joseph Gilbert - OL - 2 star
Redshirted his first year, but started 12 games in 2008 and was a full time starter again in 2009. After graduating in three years, transferred to Georgia State to pursue and MBA due to Tech's MBA program requiring work experience for admittance. His absence was definitely felt this season.
Re-ranking = 4 star

Jason Peters - DL - 4 star
Peters redshirted his first year and played as backup mostly in 2008 and 2009. In 2010, the Louisiana native started at DE. Heading into this final season Peters will be the starter again, but has lacked significant play making ability expected thus far.
Re-ranking = 3 star

Michael Peterson - DB - 3 star
Peterson has played as backup CB his entire career starting a handful of games. The Tampa native graduated in December and it is not known yet whether he will come back for a fifth year or not.
Re-ranking = 2 star

Albert Rocker - LB - 3 star
Rocker came to Tech as a linebacker but also played some on the defensive line due to injuries. Never became a starter at either position though.
Re-ranking = 2 star

Clyde Yandell - OL - 3 star
Yandell had NFL OL size as a freshman, but when Johnson arrived in 2008 he struggled to grasp the new blocking techniques. Mostly a backup his entire career he, like Gilbert, transferred to Georgia State for this last season after earning his undergraduate degree.
Re-ranking = 2 star

Tyler Melton - WR - 2 star
Melton signed in 2007, but an injury forced him to gray shirt and enroll in 2008. He earned a part time starting role at WR in 2008 as a true freshman and started most of 2009. Melton's role as a starter was diminished in 2010, but he figures to be back in the mix for next season.
Re-ranking = 3 star

Roddy Jones - RB - 3 star
Jones redshirted his first season, but has been a starter the next three. The A-back's best moments so far came in 2008 (UGA game), but as a three starter he has been a player Johnson can almost always count on.
Re-ranking = 4 star

Original Rankings:
5 stars (0)
4 stars (8)
3 stars (10)
2 stars (2)

Post Rankings:
5 stars (3)
4 stars (4)
3 stars (6)
2 stars (6)
N/A (1)

My re-ranking actually moves more four star players down to the three and two star level than remaining the same or moving up to five stars. I think this helps make the point that to have as successful seasons as Georgia Tech did in 2008 and 2009 you need top level talents like Burnett, Morgan, Dwyer, and Nesbitt.

Since the 2007 class, Georgia Tech has fallen short in recruiting this kind of top level talent and that bare cupboard was one reason why Tech's record fell to 6-7 this past season.

This is part three of a five part series chronicling Georgia Tech's recent recruiting classes. Part I focused on the 2006 class and Part II touched on how the 2007 class came together.

This article originally appeared at

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