Today is February 1st, the day that college football fans around the country know as National Signing Day. On National Signing Day, recruits can sign their binding National Letter of Intent, which finally ends the long and grueling recruiting progress. While some players literally wait until the last minute to make their decision on where they are going to college, others quietly make their choice. One such player is Tyler Stargel, an inside linebacker from Gulf Shores High School who committed to Georgia Tech eight months ago. I caught up with Tyler, a three-star player according to Scout.com and the 29th best player out of Alabama according to Rivals.com, as he prepares to play with the best the Atlantic Coastal Conference has to offer.You lived in Pickens County until the summer following your freshman season at Pickens High School. What was the hardest part of the move from Pickens to Gulf Shores?
“I guess the hardest part of the move was adapting to new things. You know a new environment, a new school, new people, but I feel like it was a blessing in my life because I got to experience a lot of cool things that I otherwise would definitely not have gotten to experience.”
When you arrived in Gulf Shores and started getting a feel for the football program that you had joined, what was the toughest transition that it forced you to make?
“Well when I moved little did I know that I moved into one of the toughest regions of 5-A football in Alabama, so everything was different: coaching, practice, preparation, talent, speed of the game, you name it, it was on another level. But I [was able to] fit right in and adapted quickly.”
What would you consider to be the highlight of your high school football career at Pickens or Gulf Shores?
“Being offered by Georgia Tech was the culmination of all my hard work and effort that I have put in since I was young.”
Which coaches in your time playing football were the most influential in your life, both on and off the field?
“Coach Larry Williamson (at Jasper Middle School) was by far the coach that impacted me the most. Between 6th-8th grade I learned more about the game of football and about life and how each applies to the other than I have with anyone else. I have the utmost respect for him as a person and as a coach and I owe a lot of my success to Coach Williamson.”
You committed to Georgia Tech in June. What made you decide to commit at a time that some would consider to be early in the recruiting process?
“Because it was so early in the process I was just starting to get offers. I had a list of small schools that had offered me and when I visited Georgia Tech I really fell in love with the place and I felt like I didn’t need to wait around for any other schools and that if Georgia Tech was willing to offer me then that I should commit then so that’s what I did.”
The Georgia Tech campus and Bobby Dodd Stadium is about a hour away from Jasper. How important was this in your decision to commit to the school?
“I wouldn’t say it was a huge factor. I still have family there I can go see and can go to the games, but I just love Atlanta. It’s a great city with a lot to do.”
I know you have tried to get to know some of the other players that have committed to play for the Yellow Jackets. How do you feel about the recruiting class as a whole so far?
“I feel very good about this class, especially defensively. The coaching staff did a great job of getting some big time defensive lineman in this class and some great athletes in the secondary. Offensively, I think Coach Johnson hit the jackpot with quarterback Justin Thomas from Prattville, Alabama, who will make the spread option look more explosive than it ever has with his 4.3 speed.”
Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson is often seen as the type of coach that doesn’t show a whole lot of emotion out on the sidelines. What’s the feeling you get from being around him so far?
“I love Coach Johnson. He is always telling funny stories and cracking jokes and is very personable. I think the way people see him on the sidelines is his gameday face; just like when you see players focused and serious and ready to go, that’s how Coach Johnson is on gameday.”
What are your expectations on your future at Georgia Tech?
“Well to reach your personal goals you have to come in expecting great things of yourself, so I’m taking the next five months to prepare for the next level. I hope to be a contributor on special teams as a freshman and work my way up from there.”
Four wins over Georgia, right?
“Just like I said, expect great things.”