The Georgetown football program welcomed 14 new players to its program on National Signing Day on Wednesday, Feb. 5. The newcomers join another 14 committed players from the early signing period in December, rounding out the Blue and Gray’s new class of 28 players to fill positions left vacant by a 16-person senior class.
At Georgetown, offensive line coach and recruiting coordinator Alex Kolt helps oversee the recruiting process for the Hoyas, identifying holes in the team’s roster and conducting a nationwide search for young talent. This year, Knox identified the team’s need for more defensive players and spoke to the importance of putting together a well-rounded recruiting class.
“Any time you’re building a class, you’re building a football team, it starts on the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball,” said Kolt in an interview with Georgetown Athletics. “We have a pretty sizable senior class on defense in the secondary so that was a big point of emphasis.”
This year’s newly recruited players, hailing from the Washington, D.C. area to Hawaii, will officially join the team this July when summer practices begin, but by signing their National Letters of Intent they have officially agreed to come to Georgetown next fall. The players headed to the Hilltop bring with them a number of high school accolades and have received praise from their coaches as they look toward their collegiate careers.
Graham Hill, a 6-foot-5-inch tight end recruit from Plano, Texas, will come to the Hilltop from Prestonwood Christian Academy. His high school honors include a profile in the USA Today High School Sports section as the top recruit of the week and recognition on the All-District First Team for his 128 tackles, two interceptions, and six forced fumbles in 2019. Overall, Hill has a wide range of experiences in various positions and will be a flexible player for the Hoyas, according to Chris Cunningham, his high school coach.
“As a junior, Graham started out as a receiver and defensive back, but in his senior season we moved him to linebacker, and he ended up being all-state,” Cunningham said in a phone interview with The Hoya. “He is ready to do whatever a team needs him to do, and with his size and abilities, he is one of the most versatile players I have ever coached.”
Cunningham also noted that Hill’s versatility can largely be attributed to his work ethic.
“He’s a grinder and a workhorse, he’s always in the weight room, he gets in early and leaves late,” Cunningham said. “He’s going to buy in wholeheartedly into whatever it takes to prepare him for the position and the role that it takes at Georgetown.”
Defensive lineman Noah Gick will join the Hoyas from Tuscarora High School in Leesburg, Va., just 40 miles west of Georgetown’s campus. Head Coach Rob Sgarlata offered him a roster spot at Georgetown on Nov. 2, 2019, and he committed to play for the Hoyas on Jan. 26, 2020. Gick, a three-year starter and senior captain, carries with him a number of accomplishments which include unanimous First Team 4A All-State Offensive Lineman his senior season as well as recognition on the All-Region First Team.
Gick’s other offers ranged from the University of Pennsylvania and the College of William to in-conference rivals Lehigh University and Lafayette University. Much like Hill, his high school coach Brandon Wheelbarger praised Gick for his adaptability.
“Noah is a selfless player. To benefit the entire team, Noah changed positions,” Wheelbarger wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Even though he was previously an All-State tight end, he moved to tackle. He could have said no. Instead, he led by example and it paved the way to a state championship appearance.”
Three-star recruit Brian Balestra is also featured in the incoming freshman class, hailing from Jesuit High School of New Orleans, La., as an incoming offensive lineman. He received competing offers from Yale University, Dartmouth College, Cornell University, and the Air Force Academy. Balestra first received a recruitment offer from the Blue and Gray on May 21, 2019 and announced his commitment on Jan. 24, 2020 after his official visit to campus. Balestra’s high school coach Mark Songy touched upon how Balestra was capable of filling multiple positions throughout his high school career, a skill that translates well on the collegiate stage.
“He understands the game well, from an offensive standpoint, played multiple positions upfront…really each spot. He was very versatile and we were able to move him around on both sides of the line whenever we had injuries,” Songy wrote in an email to The Hoya. “He played center as a junior, but we moved him to right tackle as a senior because that was his most effective spot. From there, he was able to set the edge for our zone plays and he was a dominant player there.”
Balestra’s road to Georgetown was not traditional — Balestra originally committed to play for the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., before changing his mind and deciding to come to Georgetown.
“I liked the Air Force Academy a lot, but as time went on I wasn’t really feeling it,” Balestra said in an interview with VSN Louisiana via Twitter. “So then I weighed on all my options, and when I went up to Georgetown I really just fell in love with everything about it. The campus, football, everything, it just fit me.”
Hill, Gick and Balestra represent just a snapshot of the 28-player freshman class that carries with it a number of high school honors and state and district championships. Coming off a difficult 2019 season that saw a losing record of 5-6, the football program looks to this new recruitment class and the upcoming 2020 season as opportunity for improvement.