2018 Wide Receiver Recruit Shedrick Jackson

Just like his uncle Bo, Shedrick Jackson could very well be a household name when its all said and done. The 6-foot-2, 198-pound wide receiver put up some impressive numbers during his "The Opening" evaluations: a 4.55-second 40-yard dash, a 4.21-second 20-yard shuttle, a 33.5-foot power throw, and a 38.5-inch vertical jump, good for a SPARQ rating of 109.23, which is third among all receivers at the Atlanta regional and only behind standouts Kearis Jackson & Alontae Taylor. A 4.55-second 40-yard dash time puts him among the upper echelon of athletes, but the rising senior claims he's even faster than that.

“As a wide receiver, I’m definitely explosive,” Jackson told Gridiron Now. “People see me and think, ‘He’s a big guy, so he might not be able to run too fast.’ But when I’m on the field I’m faster than anybody out there. I have speed and I play physical. I would definitely say that I am versatile as a wide receiver.”

That versatility will serve him well in an offense like Georgia Tech's which thrives on individual matchups. "With that option, it creates a lot of one-on-one (matchups) on the outside," Jackson told AL.com. "That's how you make plays."

But beyond that, Jackson really has taken significant interest in Georgia Tech's history of producing terrific NFL-caliber receivers. When prompted about Georgia Tech and his interest in them, Shedrick told GTSwarm.com, "I have interest in them because of the way they work and because they have a history of great receivers. Some of my favorite receivers played there. Calvin Johnson is my favorite wide receiver of all-time and I think he has been the best for a while. As of right now I feel like Julio Jones is the best in the NFL, but Demaryius Thomas is another of my favorite wide receivers."

Jackson caught 43 passes for 661 yards and three touchdowns last season and had four receptions for Hoover High School in the AHSAA Class 7A state championship win over McGill-Toolen in December. Regarded as one of the top 20 overall prospects in Alabama for 2018, Jackson recently narrowed down his list to 5: Georgia Tech, Auburn, Mississippi State, Missouri, and Memphis. Out of those schools, the only one he hasn't visited is Missouri, and has made it out several times to the others, including Tech.

"I've been on campus 2 times, and I plan to come for some games this season and possible visits this summer." Jackson attended 1 spring practice in April where he earned an offer and came back out to the Flats for the spring game. "The fans there are incredible. I went to the scrimmage and they talked to me in the stands telling me how it's a great place to be and encouraging me to come there."

He hasn't had 'best visit' up to this point, and has had a great time at each school he's visited. There also isn't much separation in his mind as to any school recruiting harder than others: "they are all recruiting me pretty hard at this point and I have at least one coach from each school that keeps up with me, about 2 or 3 days each week." For Georgia Tech, that means texting and talking with wide receivers Coach Buzz Preston on a regular basis. He also didn't think that there was any one pitch that Georgia Tech coaches were selling him on most, rather that he knows they have a history for producing receivers and the way that they are committed to work on and off the field, which he finds interesting.

Shedrick likes to get into different subjects, and if he couldn't play football, he'd probably be somewhere trying to start a business of his own or traveling the world to see different things. As far as business and academics goes, he's not too worried. "All the schools I'm looking at now have a great business school, so I'm not so much worried about that or location. It'll just come down to whichever one I feel I can go and max out my potential at." He also told AL.com about what else he is looking for in a school, mainly about the chemistry the program has. "Trying to build a chemistry, the way their coaches and players (conduct themselves) and if it's a family atmosphere because here at Hoover, that's what we have," Jackson said. "It's a lot of love. I know all these guys and love them."

As far as a decision, it will come at some point further down the road. When asked about it, Shedrick said "no specific date; it'll just happen whenever I feel it is right." However, he does plan to be an early enrollee and graduate from high school in December, which means his decision could come sometime later in the summer. If he turns out to be as anywhere close to as dominant as his uncle once was for Auburn, then he'll be one of the better grabs for whoever ends up landing his commitment.

Multiple staff members contributed to this article.

2018 Defensive Back Recruit Kenneth Dicks III

When talking about recruits flying under the radar, defensive back Kenneth Dicks III out of Lambert High School (Suwanee, Georgia) is a prototypical example. Despite posting 38 tackles, 9 pass-breakups, and 5 interceptions in 11 games last year, the rising senior didn't start getting notable recognition until after his appearance at Nike's "The Opening" regional in Charlotte, where he posted the highest SPARQ rating (a scoring system designed to measure sport-specific athleticism) at the event and the second-highest SPARQ rating in the entire country. Since then, the 6-foot 200-pound athletic phenom has received 5 offers in less than 4 days, including ones from ACC competitors Wake Forest and Louisville.

Another school Dicks has been receiving a lot of attention from is Georgia Tech. He receives a good amount of mail from the staff, and visited the campus to watch them scrimmage during the spring. By all accounts, he enjoyed the visit. "My visit was great. I loved the energy in the scrimmage and how the coaches don't just focus on the football side but also help with academics as well. They makes sure the athlete gets the best chance to become a productive citizen outside of football."

That last part is a notable sentiment from Dicks, who gets his business done on and off the field, posting a 3.5 GPA with an 1150 on the SAT, with plans to get it over 1200. While Dicks is still keeping his options open and feeling out what major factors will influence his decision (such as location or program prestige), one thing is certain: he'll be looking for a school with good academics in addition to good football. "My recruiting process really just started for me, so right now I'm discussing my options with my parents and they would like me to keep all my options open. But academics is extremely important to me and attending a college with a strong academic program is very high on my list."

Ranked as the #10 safety in GA according to Recruit Georgia, and consistently ranked in the top 100 players in North Georgia, Dicks felt that he had a good outing at "The Opening", and overall thought highly of the event. "Excellent experience, I had a great time. There were many great athletes there, lots of talent and I just wish them all the best in their recruiting process." When asked about upcoming camps and college visits, Kenneth noted that it was still in the works. "I'm going to discuss the camp options with my parents in the next few weeks."

Dicks is also a versatile defensive back, able to play any of the defensive back positions, from safety to nickleback to cornerback. "Some schools like me at corner, some schools at safety. And some want me to play both." Although he's now fielding interest from several different schools, don't look for a decision anytime soon. Dicks didn't feel like there was a clear leader for his recruitment yet, but did tell Recruit Georgia before his "The Opening" showcase that he while he's interested in everyone at this time, he would like to hear from more ACC and SEC schools, and that Air Force and Georgia Southern have been recruiting him hardest to this point.

Multiple staff members contributed to this article.

[Editor's note: In the time since this interview was first conducted, Dicks has received several more offers, including one from Georgia Tech after attending their football day camp the weekend of June 3rd & 4th.]

Redshirt Senior Brady Swilling (#4) celebrates after scoring the game winning touchdown

Photo credit to ramblinwreck.com

ATLANTA, GA – It was a perfect night for Georgia Tech football. For once, the weather cooperated for a Friday night under the lights at Bobby Dodd Stadium. On the field, Gold beat White, 21-16.

So what did we learn?

Let’s start with the quarterbacks. With redshirt junior Matthew Jordan sidelined with a foot injury, the last week of spring offered increased opportunities for repetitions at the quarterback spot. Tonight’s spring game was no different.

Redshirt freshman Lucas Johnson delivered the game’s first highlight on the Gold team’s opening possession. On just his second snap from under center, Johnson kept the ball on a belly option around the left end and found the end zone on a 70-yard sprint down the East sideline. He finished the game 7 of 13 passing for 69 yards, with 1 touchdown through the air and 1 interception for the Gold team.

Redshirt freshman Jay Jones was perhaps the most dynamic runner on the day, for better and for worse. He ran 13 times for 81 yards, many of those coming with defenders left reaching for his ankles as he ran by. Ball security was an issue however, and the ball hit the ground on options and scrambles too often for Head Coach Paul Johnson’s liking.

While mostly complimentary of Jones’ ability, Johnson offered that Jones is “going to make something happen one way or the other. He had done a better job [this spring] executing with ball security than tonight.”

TaQuon Marshall, the only other quarterback returning with game experience, got the start with the first team offense. Overall he showed off his speed and elusiveness while managing the game throughout for the White team.

Finally, there is redshirt junior Chase Martenson, who delivered the clutch play of the game. With less than 2 minutes remaining and the Gold team down 16-14, Martenson hit B-Back Brady Swilling in stride down the home sideline for a 61-yard game winning touchdown pass. A walk-on who does not receive the same attention as the four quarterbacks previously mentioned delivered the highlight of the night.

Defensively, a number of guys stood out on the field and in the box score. Junior linebacker Brant Mitchell is one who made his presence felt. He finished with a game high 7 tackles, including 2.5 for a loss.

“I think as our [defensive] line is concerned we got a lot of guys rushing the ball, and that helps with freeing me up too,” said Mitchell. “So I think it’s all around. It takes everybody.”

Speaking of the defensive line, senior defensive end Antonio Simmons continues to be a guy who just makes plays. Simmons tallied 6 solo tackles, including 2 sacks and 3 total tackles for a loss. It seemed whenever the White team quarterbacks left the pocket, they could not shake Simmons closing speed in the open field. The Jackets have long been desperate for a pass rush and reliable open field tackling. How Simmons’ game matures from tonight to next fall will be something to watch.

The Jackets’ biggest hole going into this season is possibly on neither the offensive nor defensive side of the ball. The void left by graduated kicker Harrison Butker is pronounced. His reliability from kickoffs to field goals to executing in end of game situations was noteworthy, to say the least.

In tonight’s spring game, redshirt sophomore Shaun Davis did everything asked of him as a possible replacement for Butker. Davis connected on all three of his field goal attempts, ranging from 33 to 38 yards out.

“It felt good to get back in a game atmosphere,” said Davis. “I haven’t done that much in the last couple years. I felt like this spring I had something to capitalize [on], pretty much being here by myself. So throughout the spring, just trying to show the coaches I can be the guy. And then tonight I felt like it was a good game, so I was happy with how everything went.”

An intra-squad scrimmage ending with a 21-16 final score can be tough to decipher. How does that project to the fall? What will be the team strengths?

There will be experience coming back from minor spring injuries. Guys like Ricky Jeune, Clinton Lynch, Matthew Jordan and Jalen Johnson have contributed in the past, among others. Come summer, there will be an influx of eager talent from the 2017 signing class.

How it all comes together remains to be seen. If nothing else, we learned tonight there are plenty of capable contributors. And that’s about as good a starting point as any as the Yellow Jackets attack the long offseason ahead.