Facing potential depth issues at quarterback following the impending departure of senior starter TaQuon Marshall, Georgia Tech has added a pair of dual-threat signal-callers in the 2019 class. In-state products Demetrius Knight of Locust Grove and Jordan Yates of Alpharetta committed within a week of each other in June.
The 6-2 Knight and 5-11 Yates are similar in terms of recruiting prestige to Marshall, who signed with the Yellow Jackets in the 2015 class. All three are Georgia natives and 3-star prospects.
While Yates is currently the No. 93 prospect in the Peach State among rising seniors in the 247Sports Composite, Marshall was ranked No. 92 four years ago. Yates is slightly higher from a national perspective – Yates is currently No. 893 nationally in the 247Sports Composite, while Marshall finished at No. 939.
Knight is unranked nationally, but listed as No. 111 in the state of Georgia, not far behind Yates and Marshall. Knight compares very similarly to a pair of current Yellow Jacket backup quarterbacks – Tobias Oliver and Lucas Johnson.
Nine of Georgia Tech’s last 11 quarterback commitments and signees – including Yates and Knight – were 3-stars. The two exceptions were Justin Thomas – the highest-rated quarterback signee for the Yellow Jackets this decade – and 2018 signee James Graham.
The 6-1 Graham, who will introduce himself to the Yellow Jackets later this summer, is the highest-rated quarterback recruit for Georgia Tech since Thomas signed in 2012. The Fitzgerald, Georgia native will be in prime position to challenge for Marshall’s starting job in 2019.
Next in line
Graham’s stiffest competition to replace Marshall next season – 2017 signee Oliver and 2016 signee Johnson – are much more comparably rated to Marshall, Yates, and Knight. Like GT’s pair of 2019 commits, Oliver and Johnson were consensus 3-stars. And like Knight, both Oliver and Johnson were unranked nationally.
Whereas Knight is the No. 111 prospect in Georgia in the 2019 247Sports Composite, Oliver was ranked No. 108 on the same list two cycles ago. Johnson was listed as the No. 165 prospect in the state of California.
A pair of Alabama quarterbacks who wound up signing with Georgia Tech and eventually moving on – 2016 signee Jay Jones and 2014 pledge Matthew Jordan – were ranked No. 30 and No. 28, respectively, in the Alabama state rankings. By comparison, Justin Thomas was ranked No. 8 in Alabama, and No. 143 nationally, in the 2012 class.
Thomas was the lone GT quarterback signee under Paul Johnson to be ranked in the top 150 nationally. And the results of his college career indicated that the recruiting analysts got it right.
Thomas piled up more than 2,400 career rushing yards and over 4,700 career passing yards with just 18 interceptions in 523 attempts. He also led Tech to an 11-3 season and Orange Bowl victory over Mississippi State in 2014, and a 9-4 season and Gator Bowl triumph over Kentucky in 2016.
Those just so happen to be Georgia Tech’s last two bowl appearances.
Going back to Marshall in the 2015 class, five of GT’s last seven quarterback pledges have been from the state of Georgia. Eight of the last nine have hailed from either Georgia or Alabama. The lone exception is Johnson, a San Diego, California native.
Among Georgia Tech’s last 11 quarterback commitments, there are two others who hail from North Carolina – Vad Lee in the 2011 class, and Jaylend Ratliffe in the 2015 class.
Lee wound up transferring after Thomas asserted himself as Georgia Tech’s quarterback of the future, while Ratliffe suffered a series of severe injuries in an ATV accident that forced him to stop playing football.
In terms of recruiting rankings, Lee was the second-highest ranked quarterback this decade for the Yellow Jackets (No. 305 nationally). Experts were mixed as to whether Lee was a 3 or 4-star prospect. The 247Sports Composite had him a 3-star, just missing the range of the 4-stars.
Ratliffe cracked the top 700 nationally (No. 668), making him the fourth-highest rated among GT’s last 11 quarterback additions. The Yellow Jackets will never know if Ratliffe could have potentially challenged Marshall for the starting job these last few seasons.