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January 19, 2008

Tech to start charging for signing day

ATLANTA -- National football signing day events are just as intense as the games played on Saturdays.

Now, Georgia Tech is trying to capitalize on their fans' insatiable desire to find out who could be the next Calvin Johnson. The Yellow Jackets will charge $10 for an evening signing day event on February 6 separate from their usual morning session where new signees are initially unveiled to the public.

Georgia Tech officials say they want to increase the fanbase to match in-state rival Georgia, which is known for its strong following.

Along with flaunting signees, new head coach Paul Johnson along with his coaching staff with be introduced. The school's dance team and band will provide the entertainment.

``We're in the backyard of Atlanta,'' said Scott McLaren, assistant athletic director of ticketing and events at Tech. ``Many people from different places are in the area, whether they have attended our school or not. That's why we are having it offsite to attract more to our program.''

McLaren said about 200 people have paid to attend the late signing day gathering the last couple of years. The funds acquired through the event will go toward the price of the facility and food.

So with the Yellow Jackets attempting to profit from signing day, will Georgia soon follow?

``We thought about doing a signing party such as that,'' said John Bateman, director of marketing at Georgia. For the Bulldogs' yearly event, which is free, Bateman said nearly 500 people show up periodically throughout the day to see which recruits sign.

``It's enticing,'' Bateman said. ``However, I don't foresee us doing that in the future. Fans would probably pay to attend an event like that. But it's our time to show appreciation toward our fans.''

-- MOVING FORWARD: In the last few years, the Georgia Bulldogs have finished within the top 5 in recruiting. This year doesn't seem to be any different.

After ending the season on a seven-game winning streak, Georgia is ranked third in the nation by both Rivals.com and Scout.com. The Bulldogs have already garnered 24 nonbinding commitments a few weeks before signing day. Last year, they had 16 around this time.

Georgia is also ranked fifth in obtaining five-star players with two verbal commitments, according to Scout.com. Receiver A.J. Green and running back Richard Samuel are a part of the group.

-- MOVING BACKWARD: While Georgia has moved a step forward in the recruiting process, Georgia Tech has seemed to take a few steps back.

Although the Yellow Jackets have acquired 14 nonbinding commitments, they don't have player ranked higher than a three-star. But that's expected with Johnson as the new coach.

Georgia Tech has to make up a lot of ground. Last year, the Yellow Jackets came away with nine four-star players, which included quarterback Josh Nesbitt and freshman sensation Jonathan Dwyer.


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