BRADENTON -- Following a two-week tour that spanned four states, Jake Stickler had plenty of time to weigh his options.
In the end, the scales tipped toward Georgia Tech.
A rising senior and an offensive tackle at Manatee, Stickler chose the Yellow Jackets after attending their camp in late July.
Trips to LSU, Florida State and Missouri followed. But the impression Georgia Tech made on Stickler was indelible.
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"They gave us a grand tour of the facilities, the workout rooms; they gave us a look at the dorm rooms," said Stickler, adding he liked what he heard from Yellow Jackets offensive line coach Mike Sewak. "I just got a really good feeling from him and the school, and the next day at camp everything just clicked. I enjoyed working with (Sewak) and the other coaches."
Listed at 6-foot-5, 281 pounds, Stickler said another Georgia Tech perk is
its proximity to home.
"I have a very tight-knit family down here," he said. "Parents are divorced, but they're both remarried and everyone works together, and we're all together for Christmas and Thanksgiving. ... I also wanted to go somewhere where I could succeed academically as well as athletically."
Stickler could have even stayed closer to home. USF was one of the nearly 10 other schools who made him an offer.
"I did give USF a thought. They were my third choice," said Stickler, adding his final decision came down to Georgia Tech and Missouri. "But it was one of those things where I could be far enough away that I could be my own person, but not too far away where it is a 22-hour trip."
Marshall, UConn, Florida International, Baylor and N.C. State also clamored for Sticker's services.
Stickler's commitment makes four for the Hurricanes. Offensive lineman Michael Gulati (USF), receiver Brodrick Yancy (Temple) and defensive lineman Demarcus Christmas (FSU) are the others.
And it is no accident Stickler, a member of Manatee's 2011 state championship team, committed weeks before the start of the season.
"That was one of my goals," he said, "so I could focus 100 percent on winning a state championship."