ATLANTA (AP) — It's not every year that Georgia Tech signs six incoming freshmen who played quarterback in high school.
But coach Paul Johnson didn't shy from such a high number Wednesday as the Yellow Jackets announced the 22 high school players who signed national letters of intent.
Just two of the six, Vad Lee of Durham, N.C., and Demontevious Smith of Monroe, Ga., are projected to play quarterback for Georgia Tech.
The rest, including Chris Milton of Folkston, Ga., Jamal Golden of Wetumpka, Ala., and Tyler Marcordes of Normal, Ill., will likely settle in at other positions.
"Usually those guys are great athletes, and we're looking forward to seeing what those guys do at different spots," Johnson said. "I think just think as general rule, it's been my experience through the years that most high school teams put their best player at quarterback.
Johnson isn't concerned that only 10 signees are from the state of Georgia.
"There were some really good players in the state this year, but there's a niche that has to fit your program your program and have to fit you school," he said. "Certainly academics come into play a great deal in this state, and that doesn't preclude us from everyone because we have a few exceptions, too, but unless education is a big deal or there's something that draws you — if you want to find a place with a bigger stadium, you can."
The 2011 class includes eight linebackers, four offensive linemen and three running backs who hope to help the Yellow Jackets improve on last year's 6-7 record.
Georgia Tech signed three players from North Carolina — Lee, linebacker Tremayne McNair and defensive back Domonique Noble. Three players are from Florida, two from Alabama and one each from Tennessee, Illinois and New Jersey.
"I think we addressed our needs and signed a very balanced, talented group," Johnson said. "We are excited about this class and feel like we have a number of players who are not only quality players, but quality young men as well."
Golden is from the same hometown as Georgia Tech's projected starting quarterback, junior Tevin Washington. Golden, a highly touted baseball player, will begin his college football career at cornerback.
"You can work those guys into just about any skill position you have," Johnson said. "He's probably not big enough to be a B-back, but everywhere else he would fit. He could be in the secondary. He could be a wide receiver, he could be a slot, he could play a lot of places."
Of the eight linebackers, Johnson believes a couple of them could develop into defensive ends. The Jackets needed more linebackers, though, to add depth one year after defensive coordinator Al Groh installed a 3-4 scheme.
"While we didn't take a guy that's a set defensive lineman right now, we have three defensive line positions and we had 11 on scholarship," Johnson said. "That's about as many as you want. Now it would be imperative that next year we'll lose a couple and try to fill some in, and we were fortunate in that we redshirted three guys last year that were defensive linemen."
Corey Dennis, a wide receiver-defensive back from Troy, is the second signee from Alabama.
The class includes wide receiver Jeff Greene and running back Zach Laskey from Starr's Mill High in Peachtree City, near Atlanta.
Linebacker Jabari Hunt-Days of Hillgrove High in Marietta is the younger brother of redshirt freshman quarterback Synjyn Days.
Offensive lineman Trey Braun of Tallahassee, Fla., is the only signee already enrolled at Georgia Tech. The other 21 are expected to enroll in August.
Johnson believes Marcordes' proverbial ceiling is very high.
"He's 6-3, 235 and certainly right now he can play outside linebacker," Johnson said. "He may be a defensive end before it's all said and done. You just don't know how those guys are going to grow, but you know they're good athletes."
Milton, who was recruited as a running back, is another versatile option.
"He was a really good quarterback at Charlton County and one of the best players in that area for two or three years," Johnson said. "He could be an A-back, he could be a safety, he could be a receiver. He could be a lot of things."