Star defensive tackle Lamont Gaillard is coming to Athens and giving a huge boost to UGA's 2014 recruiting class.
ATHENS — Mark Richt could be well on his way to a new version of the “Dream Team.”
Five-star recruit Lamont Gaillard from Fayetteville, N.C., the nation’s No. 2-rated defensive tackle according to ESPN.com, announced Saturday he had chosen Georgia over Alabama, Clemson and Florida.
Last season, Gaillard — the No. 12 overall prospect in the 2014 ESPN 300, accounted for 100 tackles, 72 of them solo, seven tackles for loss and posted four sacks.
At 6-foot-4 and 300 pounds, Gaillard’s commitment moves the Bulldogs up to No. 5 in the ESPN RecruitingNation 2014 class rankings.
Gaillard’s commitment now gives Georgia 16 commitments to date for its 2014 class.
Five-star prospect Carter leaning to UF over UGA
ATLANTA — A few years ago, Georgia had one of its more successful football recruiting classes by selling the "Dream Team" concept.
The foundation of that idea was to convince the state's top college prospects to stay home and play together for the Bulldogs.
UGA coach Mark Richt is using the same type of sales pitch with this year's recruits. Norcross High defensive end Lorenzo Carter went to last week's Dawg Night camp and had a long conversation with Richt.
“He just let me know how big of a class we have in Georgia, and if I committed, we could have one of the top classes in the nation,” Carter said. “It would be just a great opportunity for the home state.”
Carter, 6-foot-5, 240-pounds, is rated as a five-star and the state's No. 1 overall prospect by the 247Sports composite rankings. While Carter enjoyed his UGA visit, he said Florida still leads the Bulldogs and Alabama for his services.
“I've always loved Florida,” Carter said. “Carlos Dunlap is my favorite player of all-time. Growing up, (watching) Florida, it was just a dream school for me.”
Brotherly love?: Georgia Tech has inside advantage with two of the state's top uncommitted prospects because both have older brothers who play football for the Yellow Jackets.
Norcross High athlete Myles Autry is the sibling of Tech sophomore receiver Anthony Autry. Eagle's Landing Christian defensive end Andrew Williams is the younger brother of Anthony Williams, a junior defensive end for the Jackets.
The 6-4, 247-pound Williams visited Tech's campus this week with his high school team for a 7-on-7 tournament. He's rated as a four-star and the state's No. 18 overall prospect in the 247 composite.
Williams also has offers from UGA, Notre Dame, Clemson, LSU, Ole Miss and Auburn, among others. But that family connection has Tech fans feeling good about their chances of landing the prized prospect.
“It really doesn't affect my decision with my brother being at Georgia Tech because he has been through the recruiting process,” Williams said. “He knows what it's all about. He just wants the best for me. He's not pushing it too hard. That's always good.”
Does having his older brother help Tech's chances?
“Not really, but it helps me in the fact I'm going to get 100-percent truth about Georgia Tech, no matter what, from my brother, without any coaches,” Williams said. “So that kind of helps.”
Georgia also is making a run at Williams, who last visited with the Bulldogs during a 7-on-7 tournament in early June. Williams never really had a relationship with former UGA defensive line coach Rodney Garner but quickly built a connection with his replacement, Chris Wilson.
“Georgia has made a leap with me over the past few months. ... Coach Wilson just made me feel like I'm the kind of player they want,” Williams said.
Williams, who may tour LSU next week, will wait until after taking a few official visits this fall before reaching his college decision. Autry hasn't narrowed his list of schools, but he said that Tech will be among his finalists. He also is considering Florida State and Auburn, among others.
Etc.: One of Auburn's top recruits, St. Pius cornerback Nick Ruffin, said he intends to “keep his promise” to UGA's coaches and take an official visit to Georgia later this year. Ruffin said he has the blessing of the Auburn coaches. “As long as I don't have too much fun, it's OK.: What would it take for UGA to switch his commitment? “That's a good question,” Ruffin said with a laugh. “Probably the whole world because I love Auburn to death. It would take a whole lot for them to flip my decision.” ... Wesleyan sophomore Jordan Mack said he recently got his first college offer and it was from Tech. Mack is a 6-3, 190-pound safety. “It feels great. It has always been a dream school if mine and to have a chance to go there is unbelievable,” Mack said.
Johnson, Georgia Tech bringing large contingent to ACC Media Days
ATLANTA — Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson, guard Will Jackson and defensive end Jeremiah Attaochu will go under the media microscope at the ACC Media Days event that begins today in Greensboro, N.C., an annual two-day gathering that signals the end of summer workouts and that preseason camp is near.
Jackson, Attaochu and players from each of the ACC's schools will meet with print, radio and TV media today, followed by Johnson and the conference's head coaches Monday. About 410 media members have been credentialed.
Among likely topics of Yellow Jackets conversation: the changes in Tech's defense with the hire of defensive coordinator Ted Roof, first-year starting quarterback Vad Lee and, as always, Johnson's spread-option offense.
Conference-wide, the annual discussion of what it will take for ACC teams to hold their own against teams from other BCS conferences will get play, as will the addition of Pittsburgh and Syracuse and recent comments from South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney that Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd is scared of him.
The preseason favorite to win the ACC almost certainly will be either Clemson or Florida State. The Seminoles have been picked 16 times since joining the league in 1992, ultimately winning or sharing the title 13 of those seasons, including 2012. Clemson has been picked once since 1990, in 2008. That year, coach Tommy Bowden was fired midway through the season, leading to Dabo Swinney becoming the interim and then full-time head coach.
Newcomer impresses: DeAndre Smelter, who joined the football team as a wide receiver after playing baseball at Tech for three years, has caught Lee's notice. Smelter, who was a hotly recruited football player in high school, has worked with Lee and other teammates in weekly seven-on-seven passing sessions and Lee said that he felt that Smelter is "going to do big things."
"He looked pretty good," Lee said. "If that was rusty, then I'm looking forward to seeing what else he's got."
Lee also gave praise to A-back Dennis Andrews, wide receiver Darren Waller and B-back Broderick Snoddy for their work in the seven-on-seven workouts.
"Broderick, he just runs past everybody," Lee said of Snoddy, who ran for the indoor track team and lowered the school record in the 60-meter dash three times in the winter. "He's like our special guy. We put him in, and we know it's going to be a touchdown if he catches the ball."
Coming back: Safety Isaiah Johnson, returning from a knee injury suffered during bowl practice in December, said he's "still in the process (of rehabilitation), but so far it's good."
Johnson missed the Jackets' Sun Bowl victory over USC and sat out of spring practice, as well. He told ESPN that he'll have to talk with doctors to see if he can be on the field for the start of preseason camp Aug. 1.
Johnson, going into his third season as a starter, will compete at the safety spots with Chris Milton, Fred Holton, Lynn Griffin, Jamal Golden and Demond Smith.
Bulking up: Defensive end Jeremiah Attaochu said that his power-clean lift — in which the lifter pulls the barbell from the floor to the shoulders, under the chin — improved from 260 pounds in the spring to 310 this summer.
"That (improvement) is across the board with everybody, so we'll see how it goes," Attaochu said.
Attaochu, who is making the transition from linebacker, said he is trying to keep the speed and fitness of a linebacker with the strength of a lineman. He is up to 242 pounds after playing at 235 in spring practice.
"I feel comfortable," Attaochu said. "As long as I can run, that's all (that matters)."
Honored Jackets: Tech players named to various award watch lists are Attaochu (Bednarik Award and Nagurski Trophy, top defensive player; Lombardi Award, top lineman/linebacker; Butkus Award, top linebacker), center Jay Finch (Rimington Trophy, top center), defensive back Jamal Golden (Hornung Award, most versatile player), B-back David Sims (Doak Walker Award, top running back), cornerback Jemea Thomas (Bednarik Award) and linebacker Brandon Watts (Butkus Award).
Going to the car wash: Johnson will be one of 50 coaches to get the "car wash" treatment at ESPN headquarters. Johnson will go to Bristol, Conn., on July 29 with six other ACC coaches for a five-hour visit in which they'll appear on multiple ESPN shows and platforms. From Monday through Aug. 1, coaches from the SEC, Pac-12, ACC and Big Ten will participate in the battery of interviews, dubbed the "car wash."