Return of in-person recruiting units off hectic June at Georgia Tech

“Saw meeting rooms, facilities, the field, all that,” Mitchell said. “Got to talk with coach Collins, coach (Brent) Key and meet some of the players and things like that. So it was a really good experience (Tuesday).”

Mitchell said he wanted to show his love for Yellow Jackets coaches, as they were among the first to make a scholarship when he was still in eighth grade in the spring of 2019.

From Tuesday through June 27, Tech coaches and staff will be operating at breakneck pace in trying to handle several different objectives at the same time – host two official-visit weekends for high-priority recruits in the 2022 class, receive dozens of prospects daily who are rising seniors, juniors, sophomores and even freshmen for unofficial visits, conduct camps to evaluate prospects and also put recruits through one-on-one workouts. The last is a new wrinkle approved by the NCAA in April to help teams make up for the prohibition of camps and in-person evaluations (such as at high-school games) since March 2020.

“They were really excited to have me there,” Mitchell said.

Likewise, high-school prospects who have been unable to make visits to colleges since March 2020 (or have done so without actually getting to talk to coaches) are getting ready for a sprint. From Tech, Mitchell was to go to Florida, then Miami, followed by visits to Clemson and Georgia, accompanied by his 7-on-7 coach, Byron De’Vinner.

Others making visits included Malik Bryant, a five-star edge rusher in the 2023 class from Orlando, Fla.; Payton Kirkland, a four-star rising-junior offensive tackle, also from Orlando; and a pair of rising-senior offensive linemen from Milton High, Maurice Clipper and Brandon Best.

Hundreds more will follow them to Tech in coming days and weeks, such as Walton High offensive tackle Will Fitzpatrick, a rising junior. He’s not nearly as decorated a prospect as Mitchell, but he said that Key has been communicating with him frequently this spring after he recorded 17 pancake blocks in Walton’s spring game. When Tech holds a camp June 7, Fitzpatrick will be there.

“Pretty excited,” he said by phone. “I finally get to have an actual recruiting process.”

Fitzpatrick does not hold any scholarship offers yet, but he was hopeful that his performances at several camps in June, including stops at Auburn, South Carolina, Florida State and Alabama, will shake some from the tree, including Tech. The opportunity to perform in front of coaches at camps is one of the benefits of in-person recruiting that has been missing for more than a year.

“I feel like now that we’re able to go, we can get a new experience in front of coaches instead of just sending in my film,” he said.

Tomiwa Durojaiye, a three-star defensive lineman from Middletown High in Delaware, can relate. A rising senior, he had only one campus visit before the coronavirus, to a camp at Temple between his freshman and sophomore years. He’ll be one of several rising seniors to attend Tech’s first official-visit weekend, June 11-13. Collins will conduct another the following weekend.

“It’s definitely exciting,” Durojaiye said. “Me personally, I never got to do a visit, so it’s really something I’m looking forward to. I’m just really anxious to get on campus, get a feel for the schools, get a feel for the coaching staffs, get a feel for the universities both on and off the field.”

Since Tech made a scholarship offer in February, coaches have been communicating with him “if not every day, at least every other day, really,” Durojaiye said.

He’s also going to have a busy June, with other official visits to Arkansas, Northwestern and South Carolina. He also has plans for multiple unofficial visits.

“It can get stressful, but I enjoy the process,” he said. “I’m thankful for it. I’m social, so it’s not like I don’t feel like talking.”

A June unlike any other in college football history has begun.

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