Georgia Tech's Paul Johnson fires back at Duke's David Cutcliffe for recruiting comment

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Georgia Tech's Paul Johnson fires back at Duke's David Cutcliffe for recruiting comment
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A day after Duke head coach David Cutcliffe said it was difficult for Georgia Tech to recruit “high-end players,” particularly wide receivers, Yellow Jackets head coach Paul Johnson fired back.

“How many receivers have they put in the NFL?” Johnson asked Wednesday, per the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “I can tell you. None. They’ve had one offensive player (drafted by) the NFL in his six years there. He probably ought to worry about his own business.”

Johnson’s retort was in response to Cutcliffe’s comments from his Tuesday press conference. Cutcliffe, in his seventh season at Duke, was asked about the disadvantages of using the spread-option offense.

Per the News & Observer, here’s what Cutcliffe said that got Johnson all riled up:

“It’s a little more difficult to recruit high-end players. Because, if you’re a defensive player on that team, you’re really not excited about spring practice. You’re not seeing what you’re going to see in pro ball, if you think you’re a pro-type of player. If I’m a receiver, why? If I’m a big-time back, still, you’re not doing anything like what you hope you do in the National Football League. Offensive line, I mean. So, hat’s off to them, they’ve done a great job getting players that fit their system and are coaching them very, very well and being very successful."

Georgia Tech, of course, has produced two of the best receivers in the NFL – Detroit’s Calvin Johnson and Denver’s Demaryius Thomas. Neither was recruited by Johnson, but Thomas stayed with the program after Johnson came over to Tech from Navy in 2008. Cutcliffe, when asked about the two NFL Pro Bowlers and how Tech’s current receivers compare, said they’re “not anything like” Johnson and Thomas.

“None of them would have gone to Georgia Tech in that offense,” Cutcliffe said per the AJC. “End of story.”

Cutcliffe softened his stance a bit on Wednesday, saying his comments were more of a reflection on the pro aspirations of high school prospects going through the recruiting process.

“We’re dealing with young people today that think about the NFL, talk about the NFL, and so any of us that are a little different (face that challenge),” Cutcliffe said on the ACC coaches teleconference. “We have the same circumstances here in who we can recruit and do recruit.”

Johnson, who is 6-0 against Cutcliffe in his time with the Yellow Jackets, wasn’t having it.

“I would think he’s got enough problems of his own,” Johnson said. “He ought to worry about his own problems instead of helping us with ours. We’ve done pretty good against him so far.”

Quietly, the 5-0 Yellow Jackets snuck into the Top 25 this week, landing at No. 22 after a 28-17 win over Miami. Duke, 4-1, are coming off a bye after it lost to Miami 22-10 two weekends ago.

The game will kick off at 12:30 p.m. ET at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta. After the two coaches traded barbs throughout the week, there might be a bit more tension in the air at kickoff.

For more Georgia Tech news, visit JacketsOnline.com.

For more Duke news, visit DevilsIllustrated.com.

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Sam Cooper is a contributor for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!