Welcome to our signing day live blog, where we'll be updating you all day on the newest group of Bulldogs.
It's 7:50 and we already have three names inked for UGA -- defensive end Brandon Burrows, linebacker Demetre Baker and wide receiver Michael Bennett. All are three-star guys who have been committed for a while now.
I'm heading over to Butts-Mehre in a few, but space is limited there with the construction and the wireless is always a bit spotty, so we'll see how this goes.
You can also keep up with all the latest in the following places...
-- The AJC has recruiting updates all day coutesy of Chip Towers... and it's free
-- GeorgiaDogs.com has its signing list being updated automatically plus other updates
Mark Richt and Georgia's other coaches will be speaking this afternoon (starting around 1:30) and I'm hoping to have plenty of other updates as well.
The plan, tentatively, is to keep this blog going all the way through tonight's UGA-Arkansas basketball... but we'll see how much coffee I'm able to consume.Back with more shortly.
8:02 AM-- In addition to the signing day stuff and tonight's hoops game, UGA's athletics association also has a quarterly meeting today in which discussions will be had to expand Sanford Stadium and revamp Stegeman. Nothing like making sure a busy day gets even busier.
8:05 AM -- Tech gets LOI from running back Tony Zenon. He's an interesting story. He was from New Orleans and was evacuated after Katrina, landing in my former stomping grounds of Albany, Ga. I can clearly remember his coach at Deerfield-Windsor telling me before Zenon had ever played a game that he would become a star.
-- TJ Stripling is also the latest name in for Georgia. It'll be interesting to see how he's deployed in Todd Grantham's system. He's a four-star defensive end/linebacker who, at 6-6, 215 has some potential to fill out and be awfully good.
8:24 AM -- A good note, Kenarious Gates' LOI is now in. Bad news -- Georgia will be missing out on Jordan Akins.
Akins, a 6-3 wide receiver out of Union Grove, had a lot of buzz surround him late, but he has chosen Central Florida over UGA. That one hurts.
Combined with Da'Rick Rogers likely decision to head to Tennessee and Christian Green's late decision to head to Florida State over Georgia, and that wide receiver corps in Athens isn't going to be anywhere near as dangerous as it might have been.
And in a time when good news was much needed at UGA, having a Georgia kid choose to go to UCF instead of UGA hardly qualifies.
8:45 -- Over at Butts-Mehre and just finished listening in on Todd Grantham's interview with GeorgiaDogs.com. I wouldn't exactly call it riveting dialogue -- he wasn't asked any questions about specific signees -- but he did talk a little about T.J. Stripling's body type.
Grantham said his goal was to recruit five or six players per year that are similar to Stripling -- i.e. 6-6 range and around 215 or 220. "If you get four or five of those guys, two or three will become outside linebackers and two or three may gain some weight and get their hand in the dirt (as a D end)." Basically the idea is to recruit the frame and then see which ones fill out.
BTW, we're expecting a letter from Ogletree in the near future.
9:00 AM -- After a brief stint without Internet access, things seem to be rolling again thanks to the fine work of the UGA SID staff.
Had a reader ask about the crowd at Butts-Mehre...
I'd say there are probably about 30 people here, which is definitely down a bit from last year.
On the downside, there's really not much to do. Grantham was out talking to GeorgiaDogs.com, but the fans really couldn't hear him, and they didn't set up speakers to broadcast the interview.
On the upside, there's free coffee. So that's nice.
9:05 AM -- Another name to the list of signatures on the bottom line... defensive back Marc Deas has officially turned in his LOI.
9:06 AM -- And add quarterback Hutson Mason to the list of official signees, too. No surprise there. Hutson has done his best to try to hold this class together... which apparently was no easy task.
9:11 AM -- Here's a photo of the "crowd"...
9:30 AM -- Fun times with no Internet... I just left Butts-Mehre and headed back home so I could post some stuff. My guess is I'll be doing this all day.
9:35 AM -- Make sure you're following me on Twitter, too. I'll be updating there during what will no doubt be frequent bouts without Internet. But at least no one had to shell out money for me to use a wireless card to do my job. So that's a relief.
-- Both Ogletree brothers are official, and we're awaiting word from Mike Thornton any minute.
9:37 AM -- Jalen Fields, who was the first commitment of the 2010 class, is now official. That brings Georgia's list to 12 so far. Here are the names: Fields, Alec Ogletree, Zander Ogletree, Hutson Mason, Marc Deas, Kenarious Gates, TJ Stripling, Demetre Baker, Brandon Burrows and Michael Bennett today along with early enrollees Jakar Hamilton and Kolton Houston.
9:39 AM -- Brett Favre's nephew officially signs with Mississippi State. Wonder if Dan Mullen will get a few more games on ESPN now.
9:42 AM -- Add one more for UGA... running back Ken Malcolme. I think he'll be an interesting guy to watch this fall. If he ends up being the only RB Georgia signs -- and it sure looks that way -- what do you think that means for Richard Samuel? That's info we might be getting from Richt today.
9:45 AM -- Just an FYI... I haven't had a single cup of coffee today. We're out at home (and I have no idea how that happened!) and I didn't have time to get any over at Butts-Mehre. There's a decent chance that I'll simply pass out from exhaustion by noon.
9:47 AM -- Obviously a lot will be made of Da'Rick Rogers defection and Akins turning the Dawgs down. I've heard plenty on both sides now, from the "What the heck is going on at UGA! We're doomed!" folks to the "Eh, it's no big deal. We still have a good stable of receivers" folks.
I'm not saying losing out on either is the end of the world, but the Rogers defection is a big deal. The kid isn't guaranteed to be a stud, but he is a 5-star receiver who could have stepped in nicely should A.J. Green depart after his junior season. Plus, you lose him to a rival SEC East school with a brand new head coach and no real idea who its QB is going to be in 2010. It's bad on the field and it's bad in terms of PR.
But... it isn't the end of the world either.
9:50 AM -- Finally some good news for UGA fans. Mike Thornton has chosen Georgia. The big defensive tackle from Stephenson was pretty much a must-have at this point to solidify the Dawgs' class. He has a chance to fill that nose tackle role quite well down the line.
9:57 AM -- It's official... Da'Rick Rogers is headed to Tennessee.
9:59 AM -- Derek Owens, the 5-9 defensive back out of Jacksonville, has turned in his LOI, giving Georgia 14 official signees.
10:02 AM -- By my count, we're waiting on LOI's to make things official for Thornton, Brent Benedict, Dexter Morant and Garrison Smith. No reason to worry on any of them though.
10:04 AM -- Good point from reader named Pete: "we got by with only 5 scholarship WR this year, and that was with AJ being hurt the last 1/3 of the season."
10:05 AM -- And a good note from our pal T Kyle King: "would like to make it clear that today is National Signing Day, not National Singing Day. If you're a high school senior, please sign your letter of intent declaring where you will play your college football. If you're not, stop singing."
But what about those perky kids from "Glee"?
10:07 AM -- ESPN had Georgia ranked fourth overall for 2010 signing classes, but with Rogers, et all departing, the Dawgs have dropped to ninth.
10:09 AM -- Well, I guess we know how Bacarri Rambo feels about Da'Rick Rogers' departure, courtesy of Facebook: "Bacarri Rambo thinks is messed up how all of UGA high school commitments back out on us but I'm telling you now when I catch you on the field I'm going to knock fire from you."
10:11 AM -- I'm going to attempt to head back over to Butts-Mehre in a few. Hopefully the Internet is working again. We shall see. Either way, Richt will likely be talking with GeorgiaDogs.com and perhaps addressing the crowd some time before noon.
10:21 AM -- Rodney Garner talking about the recruiting process this year...
"People are not going to give up till the clock goes 0:00. We have to make sure we're doing a good job of building those relationships, cultivating relationships and making sure they know they're doing the right thing."
Garner on the Ogletrees…
"They're both tremendous young men… both going to have a very positive impact on our program and our future."
"I think the Dawg Nation is going to be proud of both of those young men."
On their similarities...
"Those two look like they got swapped around at the hospital."
On Zander Ogletree…
"He's hungry. He wants to prove his worth."
Garner on overall recruiting class...
"We're excited about this class. It takes two years to really know, but the one thing I can say is we didn't go to a B list. These were guys we targeted, guys we wanted all along, so we're excited about it."
10:40 AM -- OK, back and Butts-Mehre, coffee in hand, crowd filling out... perhaps things are coming together. The news that Lowndes star Telvin Smith may be reconsidering Florida State and thinking Georgia instead.
10:48 AM -- I think the reason signing day is so big for fans is that it's really the only day in college sports that resembles fantasy football. Think about it... in pro sports you have the drafts, the offseason moves, hot stove in MLB... it's just like fantasy sports. There are trades and changes and free agent signings and stuff for fans to get excited about. Well, in college sports you can't deal your quarterback for a top linebacker, but you do get one day a year to celebrate a big haul of new recruits.
10:52 AM -- The flip side of that: Yes, Georgia will be adding 15 or 16 names to the roster (at least) today, but looking back at last year's class (which was a very good one), here are the total number of players who made a major impact:
Washaun Ealey (717 rush yards, 3 TDs in nine games)
Orson Charles (23 catches, 374 yards, 3 TDs)
Branden Smith (14 tackles, 279 return yards, 208 rush yards, 2 TDs)
Rantavious Wooten (10 catches, 197 yards, 2 TDs)
Abry Jones (eight tackles, one sack)
Montez Robinson (five tackles, two sacks)
So, summing up...
Last year Georgia signed 20 players. I'd say four of them made major contributions in year one. Two more made minor contributions. Four more made very small or special teams contributions. Ten were redshirted.
So what we're seeing today may be an influx of talent for the future, but don't expect more than about 3 or 4 to really turn into serious factors in 2010.
10:57 AM -- Comment from Charles Armentrout: "On a different subject, any word on who the last remaining defensive coach might be. It would be really cool if he is currently on the New Orleans Saints staff right now. Do you think being understaffed hurt UGA on the recruiting trail this season?"
Can't tell you too much about the new hire, as that's been pretty quiet. It is curious as to why Georgia has been so content to wait on announcing someone, so that only adds some fuel to the Travis Jones fire. That said, there was really no major rush to get someone in. It didn't leave them shorthanded on the recruiting trail (they're only allowed seven on the road at once anyway) and there was a coach for each position, so no players were left wondering who they'd work with.
That said, I'll remind everyone who is calling today a failure for Georgia of what I wrote numerous times during the season: If you wanted changes on the coaching staff, you had to be prepared to accept some short-term setbacks.
That's just how it works. These kids build relationships with coaches, and I promise you, they weren't judging Willie Martinez the same way fans were. When the changes were made, it was bound to put a few doubts in the heads of recruits. And when it took six weeks to find replacements, there was a cost to that, too.
And now that Grantham and Lakatos are in place, there is a cost to that, too. In some ways, Mark Richt simply saying, "Trust me, you know I'll do the right thing" was better than saying, "Hey, meet Todd Grantham. He's our new DC."
These kids had already gotten used to Jancek, Fabris and Willie. Grantham and Lakatos have extremely different personalities. (And, in truth, I'm not sure anyone else has Jon Fabris' personality. He's one of a kind.) So when there were no coaches, it was easy enough to tell players that they'd be bringing in guys who would mesh personality-wise. Now that Grantham and Lakatos are here, there's certainly a possibility that wasn't the case with everyone.
So... there were always going to be short-term costs to making those changes. The verdict on whether it was worthwhile or not won't be seen for another year or two.
11:03 AM -- Things slowing down a tad... I'd figure fans will hear from Richt shortly. We're scheduled to meet with him at 1:30, along with assistants. I'm going for coffee No. 2. And yes, I know many of you are expecting some discussion of "Lost" today... I'll get to it. I concerned about spoilers though.
11:20 AM -- Dexter Morant and Brent Benedict have both sent in their LOIs.On the other hand, Telvin Smith decided to stick with Florida State, according to War Chant.
11:29 AM -- Richt talking with the crowd now. Says he's still expecting "one or two more" faxes to come in.
11:36 AM -- Richt says Richard Samuel will move to linebacker. Says he was "anxious to make that move."
11:38 AM -- Mike Thornton's LOI is officially in.
11:40 AM -- Alec Ogletree is "Tree" while Alexander Ogletree is "Zander" Richt says. Also says Alec will be at safety and coaches expect big impact. Richt also said that his son, Jon, is engaged. Once he's married, Richt says he expects The Watergirl to return to the sidelines at UGA games regularly.
11:44 AM -- Richt answered a handful of questions from fans, but outside of the Samuel announcement, not much substantial. He's talking with Dowdle now.
Compared to last year when Richt had a good idea he'd be landing Marlon Brown late, he seemed a good bit more reserved this year. But he made sure to get in all the requisite quotes about being excited about the class, etc.
11:46 AM -- Garrison Smith's LOI is in. That's all the ones we were waiting on. Outside of a late decision, we're wrapped up with 18 total commits -- 16 today.
Richt says Smith told him privately he was planning to come to UGA before anyone else in the class.
11:48 AM -- Well if you were interested in learning about the recruitment of Tim Jennings, you loved today's GeorgiaDogs.com coverage. I believe it was discussed at length with both Garner and Richt far more than any of the current signees.
11:49 AM -- There was a fan sound asleep in a folding chair in the atrium at Butts-Mehre. I'm jealous.
11:51 AM -- Sorry about the bad link on the Telvin Smith story... but War Chant (FSU site) is reporting it, too.
11:57 AM -- Sorry about the previous broken link on Telvin Smith... here's the right one.OK, we're heading over to the Coliseum now for free food. Be back shortly.
Oh, and one other thing... I'll be on with Bill Shanks in Macon at 4 p.m. if you're in radio distance.
12:42 PM -- Georgia checks in at 9th in ESPN's rankings right now (5th among SEC schools), Rivals has Georgia 15th nationally (6th in the SEC) and Scout has the Bulldogs 19th overall (7th in the SEC).
If that tells me anything, it tells me that the SEC knows how to recruit. This wasn't a horrific day for UGA -- it just wasn't a great one. Problem is, there are a lot of SEC schools that can say the same thing.
12:49 PM -- No LOI yet, but word is Georgia will also land wide receiver Lonnie Outlaw from Wilcox County. He's a two-star guy.
1:18 PM -- Richt is meeting with media in about 15 minutes. I'll have updates then.
1:37 PM -- Richt and Garner at the podium now.
1:40 PM -- Kolton Houston is at Buford today to celebrate with his HS teammates.
1:41 PM -- Garner: "We could have gone out and signed other guys if we wanted to meet that number and fill a quota." Instead wanted players that would fit Grantham's scheme.
1:42 PM -- Richt on Grantham & Lakatos: "They really understand what they want and what they're looking for, and they're great evaluators."
1:44 PM -- Richt: "Timing of the hire, taking as long as it did, it did put a strain on these guys who had committed."
1:46 PM -- Richt said he would be for an early signing date assuming there was a stipulation that recruits would not take official visits until after they sign.
1:47 PM -- Richt says UGA's policy is that if a kid isn't 100 percent certain they'll continue to recruit him, even if he is committed elsewhere. "I think everybody does that," he said.
2:00 PM -- OK, prolly easier to just post my Twitter updates here:
Richt: "anything a school can use to create some doubt in a kid's mind, thats what they'll do. So that's what we were dealing with."
Richt on 3-4: "I really believe a lot of NFL teams and college teams are moving toward this trend, so we're really @ the front end of it."
Richt says he's concerned about WR depth, but very excited about what he has at tight end.
Richt on getting another WR today: "I don't know that. But anything's possible." Think he said similar about Marlon Brown last year.
Richt says not certain, but last he has heard is that Logan Gray will start spring at QB. Chance he could try "a couple" of positions.
2:46 PM -- I'll be posting a lot more stuff in a bit but I've got to work on some stories for the paper. But a few things to point out...
1.) A big congrats to our pal Dan, who helped us out with our picks columns during the season. He and his wife had their first kid today, and I fully expect Virginia Tech to be sending out a press release shortly saying that they have just signed a 5-star beer-pong recruit for the class of 2028.
2.) Here's the deal on Lonnie Outlaw -- He won't be here next year, and likely not until 2012. He is technically a Georgia signee, but he will be attending GMC.
3.) Don't forget, Christian Green announcement is coming at 3:30.
4.) Best quotes of the press conference came from Jakar Hamilton.
First, on his thoughts on Da'Rick Rogers and others de-committing late: "It's disappointing to have a high school player be committed for so long and come up at the last minute because it hurts. It hurts the football team tremendously and the recruiting class. In that case, another player could have had that spot or had a chance to come here and play. I'm not going to call it selfish because they're high school players. Most of them do it for the hype or to have their name out there. But it just shows you what kind of player that person is. Me, Coach Martinez left before I even got here. I could have easily said I don't want to go here anymore, I'll go to Alabama. But I gave Coach Mark Richt my word, and I told him I was committed here. That's what kind of person I am, and that's what I want people to see. I kept my word."
Second, on Bacarri Rambo's promise of a big hit in Rogers' future: "It's going to happen. Especially if he's going to play right off the bat. I just hope he's ready for it, because there's going to be a lot of people on the hit for him on this team."
And when reminded that Georgia swiped a late commit from Kentucky: "It happens a lot. But your in the SEC. You're going to get hit regardless."
2:55 PM -- Answering a question from NRBQ: "Do you have a list of the red-shirts from last year handy?"
Yup... Chris Burnette (OL), Kwame Geathers (DL), Dallas Lee (OL), Austin Long (OL), Derrick Lott (DL), Jordan Love (DB), Zach Mettenberger (QB), Aaron Murray (QB) and Chase Vasser (LB). (And I'm dumb when I said 10 RS earlier... accidentally counted Brandon Bogotay... you might understand why.)
3:35 PM -- Florida just nabs its 16th ESPN top-150 commit in Chaz Green. Christian Green up soon.
3:40 PM -- Those last-ditch hope for Christian Green don't pan out -- he's sticking with Florida State. He did say he couldn't sleep at night worrying about his decision, but still, I think this probably was leaning in FSU's direction all along. And hey, maybe the kid will torch Florida's secondary for the next few years to at least give UGA some benefit to the whole deal.
3:55 PM -- Mentioned this on Twitter, but spring practice is scheduled to open on March 4. The Dawgs won't hold their second practice until March 16 though -- then one practice every two days or so until G-Day on April 10.
OK, I'm working on transcribing quotes for a bit... will have some signing day wrap-up stuff later and then off to the Georgia-Arkansas game where the live blogging will continue.
4:33 PM -- Just finished up on Bill Shanks' show on FOX Sports 1670 in Macon. Hope you got to catch some of it. The Telegraph's Jonathan Heeter is also on talking recruiting.
4:35 PM -- I'll be adding a few quotes as we go here, but this is one I thought summed things up pretty well from Mark Richt: “Guys that are committed to us, there’s some we feel are very solid and you have peace about that because you know they’ve done their homework. Some kids are a little bit more mature than others and they know what they want and they do believe that their word means something. But these kids are 17, 18, 19 years old and coaches that are anywhere between 25 and 65 are trying to convince them why one school is better than another. So it can be confusing at times. It can be very difficult at times. That’s why our policy has been to be very straightforward from the beginning, Don’t say something that won’t come true in the end. Trust is really the only thing we have to hold us together, I think.”