Also from GA, I hadn't heard of lacrosse until my senior year of HS when a buddy got me playing. That carried over to GT, where I certainly wasn't anything spectacular, but got my playing time in after my freshman year. Just in response to taking that next step- I think GT is still a ways away, mainly because of recruiting. About half the lacrosse team was out of state, and half in, whereas the football team is mostly in-state. The point I'm making here is, until GA starts producing top-notch talent from which GT could pull, we'll be pulling the out of state guys that are pretty good and mixing them with GA guys that are still developing. Only a handful of the guys on the GT team could really play at a D-I level starting, so until a majority of the team is at that level, so will GT. It's hard to pull D-I level talent to a club team when there are so many good ACC D-I lax teams, so it will take time.
As an aside, FSU tried to go D-I with their lax program 2 years ago and was denied. I don't have the full details, but at least some schools in the SELC are headed that direction.