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Gregory Winning Recruiting Battles

Friday, November 29, 2013 9:56am
  • Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory (AP Photo/David Goldman)
     Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory (AP Photo/David Goldman)
By: Georgia Tech Insider

ATLANTA – Georgia Tech’s Brian Gregory reputation as a recruiter continues to grow.

Gregory signed arguably Georgia’s top guard prospect as well as a big and intelligent Texan during the November early signing period. Gregory held off a late push by his rival, Georgia’s Mark Fox, to get Tadric Jackson, a 6-2 combo guard who committed to Georgia Tech in the summer.

The Jackson signing kept Gregory’s Georgia recruiting record perfect and again negated the biggest concern raised by critics – that he had no Georgia recruiting ties – at the time of his hire. He has signed one of the state’s top recruits in each of his four recruiting classes on the Flats, including stars Robert Carter Jr. and Marcus Georges-Hunt two years ago.

Signing Jackson was vital for Gregory given that the two players considered the state’s top prizes, forward Jakeenan Gant and swingman Ahmed Hill, both signed with out-of-state programs. Gant, from Effingham County outside Savannah, picked Missouri, while Augusta’s Hill signed with Marquette. Gregory recruited both, but Jackson’s commitment turned off Hill, while Gant reportedly “fell in love” with Missouri during his recruiting visit, committed on the spot and never wavered.

Another in-state target, 7-footer Trayvon Reed, signed with Maryland. Reed attended the same high school, Shiloh, as Georgia Tech’s Carter.

The early signees leave Gregory with at least two scholarships left to give once the spring signing period opens next year. Gregory utilized his spring scholarships this year to bring in transfers Trae Golden and Robert Sampson. Golden is playing this season and will exhaust his eligibility, while Sampson is sitting out and will have one season of eligibility remaining.

Expect Gregory to use his remaining scholarships on big men. Two of the four seniors on this year’s team are post players, and there’s no guarantee the talented Carter will return for a third season. Gregory hotly pursued four post players, including Texan Ben Lammers, who signed with the Yellow Jackets. But the other three – Shiloh’s Reed, Texan Elbert Robinson and Oklahoman Mitchell Solomon – signed elsewhere.

The signing of Lammers, a 6-10, 225-pounder, and Sampson’s presence bolsters Georgia Tech underneath, but Gregory needs to build the kind of depth inside that he has on the perimeter. Lammers is billed as an intelligent, fundamentally sound player who averaged a double-double along with five blocks a game as a junior. Sampson, meanwhile, is a shot-blocker who started 52 games at East Carolina before transferring. He is the son of Virginia great Ralph Sampson.

While Lammers’ signing may be bigger for Georgia Tech from a pragmatic standpoint, Jackson’s letter of intent is the one that has Yellow Jacket fans buzzing. Gregory’s recruitment of Jackson began soon after the coach was hired in 2011. Jackson played on the same AAU team as Carter, and he is the cousin of Georgia Tech guard Chris Bolden. Throw in the fact Jackson grew up idolizing Georgia Tech great Jarrett Jack, and Jackson was a must-sign for Gregory.

Jackson said he wanted to play for Georgia Tech because “I really wanted to play in the best conference in the country – that’s the ACC.”

Football recruits don’t share that sentiment. Georgia Tech’s early season football recruiting momentum has stalled. The only news for the Yellow Jackets since Jacksonville, Fla., defensive end Antonio Simmons committed on Nov. 3 has been bad news – South Carolina tailback Caleb Kinlaw changed his commitment from Georgia Tech to Wisconsin and offensive line prospect Jake Whitley tore two knee ligaments, including his ACL, in a high school game.

Kinlaw’s reneging is potentially embarrassing for Tech. He is the cousin of Yellow Jacket great Joe Hamilton, and Hamilton works for Georgia Tech football coach Paul Johnson as part of his beefed-up recruiting staff.

Kinlaw rushed for 1,057 yards during his senior season of high school and said he is drawn to Wisconsin because of the program’s history of turning out 1,000-yard rushers – strange considering Georgia Tech’s run-first offense should appeal to backs like Kinlaw, too.

Chemistry Issues For Basketball Team

Georgia Tech may be deeper and more talented this season than they have been in years, but success isn’t coming any easier.

The Yellow Jackets headed to the Barclays Center Classic Thanksgiving tournament with a 5-1 record. The offense is humming, averaging 77 points a game, and transfer Trae Golden has brought a veteran scorer’s mentality – picking up when others are struggling – to a still young backcourt.

But Georgia Tech has been careless with the ball, highlighted by a 19-turnover horror show in a loss to Dayton, and the Jackets have at times lacked the intensity Gregory instilled in his first few seasons. The Yellow Jackets trailed North Carolina A&T by double digits midway through the second half before rallying.

Last year’s emerging star, Bolden, is struggling after missing the first three games with a suspension. He went a combined 1-for-16 from the floor in games against Dayton and North Carolina A&T. And this year’s emerging star, Travis Jorgenson, is done for the season after tearing his ACL.

Gregory has voiced his disappointment yet acknowledged the lessons are easier to digest when winning. The schedule stiffens over Thanksgiving, with two tough games in the Barclays Classic followed by the ACC-Big Ten Showdown matchup with Illinois.