Published Wednesday, February 06, 2013
BY CHARLES ODUM
AP SPORTS WRITER
ATLANTA (AP) – Paul Johnson shrugged when told Georgia Tech's signing class didn't excite the national experts.
Then he found a positive spin.
"If we win games, then you'll think we're good coaches, right?" Johnson asked with a smile.
Georgia Tech didn't have room to sign a big class on Wednesday, so Johnson said he focused on filling needs with his 14 signees.
The coach made it clear he didn't agree with the experts who found no stars in the class. Rivals.com ranked Georgia Tech's class only No. 85 in the nation, and on its scale of one to five stars said the class included no five- or four-star players.
The class includes running back Travis Custis of Lovejoy High School, offensive linemen Shamire DeVine of Atlanta's Tri-Cities High School and Chris Griffin of Panacea, Fla., and kicker Harrison Butker of Atlanta's Westminster School.
Custis (6-0, 215), who was the first player in the class to commit to Georgia Tech, rushed for 2,118 yards with 35 touchdowns in 2012 and led Lovejoy to the Class AAA state championship.
"I think he was one of the best running backs in the state," Johnson said.
Johnson said Devine (6-7, 355) and Griffin (6-6, 272) are big, strong offensive linemen. Johnson said Devine won over his coaching staff when he participated in a Georgia Tech camp as a junior.
"To me, ability wise, he's as good as any high school junior I've seen in camp," Johnson said. "He crushed people.
"If I had to pick any offensive lineman I saw in the state, and they said take the one you want, he's it. We'll see. I think he's got a chance to be a good player."
David Scully, Chris Tanner and Justin Moore combined to make only 11 of 18 field goals with three missed extra points. Butker was ranked the nation's No. 3 high school kicker by ESPN.
"I think kicker is unquestionably an area we needed help and he was one of the best in the country," Johnson said.
Ty Griffin, who was a dual-threat quarterback at McEachern and North Cobb in the Atlanta area, was signed to run Johnson's spread-option offense.
Georgia Tech signed six defensive players, including two - defensive lineman/linebacker Kevin Robbins and defensive lineman Darius Commissiong - from Bishop McNamara High School in Forestville, Md.
Johnson said the "Georgia Tech brand plays very well nationally," including in "the Catholic schools in D.C., where the education is more important to people."
A late addition to the class was linebacker Paul Davis of Cairo, who had committed to Temple.
Johnson said Wednesday he may sign one or two more players. Cornelius Elder, a running back from Nashville, Tenn., is still considering offers from Georgia Tech, Ohio State, Auburn and UCLA. He also has an offer to play basketball at Purdue.
Four players pulled back on commitments to Georgia Tech late in the recruiting process.
Georgia Tech lost wide receiver Jumichael Ramos, who played with Custis at Lovejoy. Ramos signed with North Carolina State. The Yellow Jackets also lost running back Brendan Douglas of Aquinas, who signed with Georgia. Also, Hillgrove High defensive back Tolando Cleveland signed with Mississippi State and Cedar Creek High quarterback Damon Mitchell signed with Arkansas.
Johnson said the players pulled back their commitments when their options expanded.
"Most of them didn't have another BCS offer when they committed (to Georgia Tech)," Johnson said. "So did they really want to come to school here or were they just kind of taking something to hang onto?"
Johnson said he is always looking for ways to improve his recruiting. He said he won't be motivated by rankings compiled by others.
He said he has had 13 all-Atlantic Coast Conference players in five years at Georgia Tech. Of those 13, he said five were regarded as two-star players, three had three-star rankings and five were considered four-star recruits.
"So what's your conclusion?" Johnson asked. "My conclusion is they were all good players, all all-conference and they came in different ways.
Johnson said he'll continue to rate players "off our camps and off our tape and how good players they are."
"We don't care where they are ranked or what their star system is or whatever," he said. "If we feel like they're good players, then we offer them."
GEORGIA TECH FOOTBALL SIGNEES
Justin Akins, dl, 6-4, 240, Jackson HS, Jenkinsburg, Ga.
Harrison Butker, k, 6-3, 190, Westminster, Decatur, Ga.
Darius Commissiong, dl, 6-3, 305, Bishop McNamara HS, Forestville, Md.
Travis Custis, rb, 6-0, 215, Lovejoy HS, Hampton, Ga.
Paul Davis, lb, 5-11, 215, Cairo (Ga.) HS
Shamire DeVine, ol, 6-7, 355, Tri-Cities HS, Atlanta
Chris Griffin, ol, 6-6, 272, Wakulla HS, Panacea, Fla.
Corey Griffin, db, 6-2, 195, Sandy Creek HS, Tyrone, Ga.
Ty Griffin, qb, 6-0, 185, McEachern HS, Atlanta
Ricky Jeune, wr, 6-3, 205, Saint Joseph Regional HS, Spring Valley, N.Y.
John Marvin, db, 6-1, 190, Ft. Walton Beach (Fla.) HS
Antonio Messick, wr, 6-3, 193, Fayette County HS, Fayetteville, Ga.
Kevin Robbins, db/lb, 6-4, 230, Bishop McNamara HS, Forestville, Md.
Donovan Wilson, rb, 6-0, 210, Jerome HS, Dublin, Ohio
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