Yellow Jackets Recruiting Takes a Severe Blow

Zachary OstermanCorrespondent IJanuary 26, 2010

TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 28: Running back Jonathan Dwyer #21 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets rushes upfield against the Clemson Tigers in the 2009 ACC Football Championship Game December 5, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

(Jonathan Dwyer is one of scores of players who passed through Georgia Tech thanks to Giff Smith.)

There were no pictures of Giff Smith in the image bank, which is probably the way it should be for a defensive line coach, even at an ACC school.

But the problems for Georgia Tech are twofold:

  1. He was also Tech's recruiting coordinator.
  2. He's not Tech's recruiting coordinator anymore. Chan Gailey just hired him away

Remember that puff piece I just wrote on Al Groh coming in and making an immediate impact on Georgia Tech's recruiting efforts? Forget it.

All that talk about solidifying a solid class in 2010? Unimportant now.

Giff Smith was with the Jackets for six years, and he earned for himself a solid reputation as a recruiter. He was raised in Mableton and played at Pebblebrook High School. He's worked for Tech, Georgia Southern, and UGA, a man of his home state through and through.

In charge of recruiting since 2006, Smith was responsible for classes that brought players like Dwyer, Josh Nesbitt, Demaryius Thomas, and Derrick Morgan to the Flats. His crowning jewel was the heralded 2007 class, but he's quietly kept solid recruiting momentum over Paul Johnson's first two years, and as the AJC's Mark Bradley points out, Georgia Tech was setting up for a really pretty haul in 2011.

Now that's up in smoke and Gailey has again found a way to haunt the Yellow Jacket faithful.

Like it or not, recruits commit to people much moreso now than they commit to schools. Personal relationships and a necessary comfort level rule the recruiting scene in a time when a player's every action is magnified to unprecedented levels.

Losing Smith, no matter the reason, burns those bridges. Perhaps not beyond the point of repair, but now it's on Johnson and his staff to simultaneously strengthen those relationships and find someone who can successfully carry on what Smith built in Atlanta.

The departures of Dwyer, Morgan, Thomas, and Morgan Burnett were blows, but expected.

And replacing Dave Wommack with Al Groh is an obvious upgrade from any angle.

But recruiting is so important in college football, and now Johnson is faced with yet another challenge to meet. How he answers this one could decide the course of his program for the next four or five years—or beyond.