The Macon Telegraph has a couple of articles up on how the ’08 recruiting classes are shaping up for the two in state D-1 schools. On the surface, there aren’t any surprises. Georgia, coming off a seven game winning streak, a #2 spot in the final AP poll and high hopes for next year, is doing swimmingly well in recruiting. (Just ask Zebrie Sanders.) Georgia Tech on the other hand, with the hiring of Paul Johnson, is looking at a sea change in offensive philosophy that’s reflected in how its incoming class is shaping up.
Yet there’s something in the Tech article that’s intriguing. Here’s a point that Johnson’s new running backs coach made about Tech’s recruiting:
… Monken said more traditional, straight-ahead rushers likely won’t fit well in Georgia Tech’s new scheme.
“This position is unique because we ask them to do so many different things,” Monken said of his backs. “Running backs in our offense won’t be like your traditional runners. When they’ll have the ball, they’ll mostly be taking it to the outside.”
Because speed is important in getting those backs to the sidelines in the triple option, the players’ size is one variable Georgia Tech’s staff may find less important than at other schools, Monken said.
“With our offense, you don’t require guys to be as big as some other running backs who run in between the tackles,” Monken said. “We may look at a guy who may be undersized but has speed. But, of course, if you’ve got a kid with size who can run fast, you certainly want to do what you can to recruit him.
“But everybody wants those guys, and sometimes there’s just not enough of them to go around.”
That’s sort of a Moneyball approach to talent: figure out what the market is undervaluing, take that and make it work in your system. Given the limitations of the Georgia high school educational system and Georgia Tech’s curriculum, there is some logic in the Jackets avoiding pitched battles with UGA over the recruiting pool available to Tech. And from Johnson’s perspective, this approach doesn’t have much downside. Any way you look at it, the talent pool he has access to now is bigger that what he had either at Navy (easier sell now, believe it or not) or Georgia Southern.
Will it work? That’s the $64,000 question. He’ll get better talent than he’s had – but he’ll be facing much better defenses week in and week out than he’s played, too. I’m really curious to see how this experiment turns out.
Of course, remember that this only applies on the offensive side of the ball. On defense, Johnson will have to fight for the same kids Tech’s always gone after. And he’ll have to do it without Tenuta.