Staff Photo: Jason Braverman Surrounded by friends and family, Greater Atlanta Christian's Chase Roberts signs a national letter of intent to play football next season at Georgia Tech during a ceremony on Wednesday.
ATLANTA -- Francis Kallon says Georgia Tech was the 12th school to offer him a scholarship.
Even so, the offer came before Kallon even played in a game.
Kallon (6-6, 255) showed great potential as a pass-rushing defensive end in his only season of football at Central Gwinnett High School after moving from England. He flashed so much promise in his first spring practice he says he received 12 offers, including the one from Georgia Tech, before even playing a game.
"It's still overwhelming," Kallon said Wednesday following his signing day ceremony with seven other Central Gwinnett players.
"It was like a dream, just the fact I was going to college for free without actually even stepping on a high school playing field. It was overwhelming in itself."
Discovering Kallon was also like a dream for Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson and his staff. Johnson said it was an easy decision to make the quick offer to the unpolished defensive end. Johnson knew he couldn't wait.
"Our coaches knew about him," Johnson said. "We saw him in school. From watching him run around in spring practice, we knew he was going to blow up."
Johnson was correct. Kallon "blew up" with such schools as Notre Dame, Auburn and Southern Cal trying to coax the big end into making visits. But after making his early commitment to sign with Georgia Tech, Kallon wouldn't budge. He made an official visit to only one other school, Auburn.
"His parents and Francis both were rock strong," Johnson said. "His mom and dad were like 'We're not looking. Georgia Tech has everything we want.' We're fortunate."
Fortunate? Johnson said Kallon "probably had as much traffic and as much recruitment as any kid in the state of Georgia."
Kallon said he's up to 265 pounds "and still growing."
"Those kinds of guys, there aren't a lot of them out there," Johnson said.
Even so, Johnson cautioned against heavy expectations being placed on Kallon.
"I think he's got tons of potential," Johnson said. "I don't want to put expectations on him that all of a sudden he's got to come in and be Bubba Smith. He's got to come in and learn how to play. He's played one year."
Kallon says Georgia Tech "took a risk" since he had no experience. But after his big senior season, he was perhaps Georgia Tech's most illustrious signee on Wednesday. He had 18 tackles for losses, including eight sacks, as a senior.
Johnson signed 17 players, including Adam Gotsis, a defensive lineman from Australia. Johnson said Gotsis (6-5, 300) wouldn't impress the recruiting experts "but I will match him up against almost anybody. He's 6-foot-5, 300 and can run."
Georgia Tech also signed another four-star recruit, receiver Justin Thomas of Prattville, Ala.
The class includes four defensive linemen and two quarterbacks, Justin Thomas, also from Prattville, and Dennis Andrews, from Tallahassee, Fla.
"We picked up some guys in areas we felt like we needed to shore up certain positions," Johnson said.
"We wanted to make sure we got some defensive linemen because we missed and didn't get a bunch in last year's class."
Johnson said he wasn't worried that his class isn't highly ranked by the experts.
"I really don't pay much attention to that," he said. "I find it ironic that all the guys that are doing that are guys that were not successful. I mean if they were they'd be signing their own class instead of ranking somebody else's."
Johnson said his recruiting efforts were not affected by Wednesday's announcement that co-offensive line coach Todd Spencer resigned after the school discovered Spencer broke NCAA rules during recruiting.
Spencer was suspended and placed on administrative leave while school officials completed their inquiry, which showed the coach sent impermissible text messages to recruits.
Radakovich says the violation was inexcusable so soon after the NCAA put Georgia Tech on four years' probation last year and took away its 2009 ACC championship.
When it announced the probation, the NCAA said the school should have declared receiver Demaryius Thomas ineligible after he accepted gifts from a former player who was working for an agent.
"I find it inexplicable that an employee would violate these rules with regard to text messaging after our ongoing focus to educate our personnel on NCAA rules and regulations," Radakovich said in a statement. "Actions of this type simply are not acceptable in our programs and will not be tolerated."
Johnson said Spencer's status "was never an issue" with recruits.
"He was on administrative leave," Johnson said. "The kids knew that. We didn't cover anything up."