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Friday, May 7, 2010

Two-A-Days: Recruiting

Two-a-Days rolls on with our 17th installment, in which we take a closer look at Georgia's recruiting.

To read previous entries, click HERE.

We've taken a detailed look at the spring practices around the SEC, but of course the other big shorelines of spring involve recruits. Here's a quick look at Georgia's commitments so far:

David Andrews (OL, Norcross), 6-2/275/***
Devin Bowman (CB, Rossville), 6-0/175/***
Chris Conley (WR, Dallas), 6-3/180/****
Amarlo Herrera (LB, College Park), 6-1/224/****
Christian LeMay (QB, Matthews, NC), 6-2/200/****
Corey Moore (DB, Griffin), 6-1/195/****
Chris Sanders (S, Tucker), 6-1/185/****

Of course, while there are seven names on the books now, there are plenty more to go. So for information on how Georgia's recruiting season is unfolding, I talked to Dawg Post's Dean Legge. Here's what he had to say...

David Hale: The 2010 recruiting class was among the worst -- at least in terms of the rankings -- of any during Mark Richt's tenure. How much of that was a one-year blip due to the coaching transition and the underachieving record? Do you get the feeling that recruits are viewing Georgia any differently this year than they have in the past?

Dean Legge: There is certainly momentum for Georgia in recruiting right now. Christian LeMay's commitment to Richt and company on Friday, I think, solidified that thinking. On the other hand, the 2010 class was scattered. Recruiting is about developing relationships over the long haul, and that was the problem, it seemed, with the 2010 class. Too many players were taking close looks at out-of-state schools. It was a difficult process for Georgia to get out from under. They did a great job of recruiting Da' Rick Rogers, but didn't close the deal when it came down to it. I don't think the coaching change hurt or helped either way with the 2010 class, but the lessons of that class have clearly left their mark on Richt and the Bulldogs. You have to have high-level football players to win in the SEC, and that means you need to recruit them hard to get them.

DH: Speaking of the coaching changes, I'm guessing in a short time period, most recruits didn't know quite what to make of Todd Grantham and his 3-4 scheme before signing day. What has been the feedback you've heard from the top defensive recruits this year about Georgia's new defensive staff and scheme?

DL: Most recruits who will play in the front seven of the defense are excited about the defense because they know a couple of things about it. 1.) Todd Grantham is an NFL guy, and he is running it. A lot of the better-known defenses in the NFL teams run it - like the Patriots and Ravens - and prospects want to do what works in the NFL because they want to play there one day. 2.) Alabama got a lot of recognition about running the 3-4 on the way to the national title. 3.) Players want to play in a system where they can make plays and the 3-4 allows for that more of that than a 4-3 does.

DH: Obviously the QB situation has been talked about quite a bit of late. Do you feel that Georgia has failed in recent years to properly time its recruitment of QB prospects, and how do you envision this year's class of QBs to look? Will Christian LeMay be the only signing for 2011 at the position?

DL: Well, you've had great to outstanding starting quarterbacks at Georgia for probably 85% of the snaps during Mark Richt's career, so they have done a good job in recruiting and developing a top signal caller. With that said, quarterback is a difficult position to recruit because only one quarterback plays at a time. It is always best to have two (or more) quarterbacks ready to go, but today kids want to play... now. They don't want to wait. As soon as they see that another player is going to eclipse them at quarterback, they leave. It happens all over college football. Georgia, like nearly every other program in the country, has struggled to keep backup quarterbacks happy. This is a conversation that is really only relevant if the starter is not performing, which has been rare at Georgia, or if the starter has been hurt... even more rare. Coming into the spring Georgia had the deepest quarterback chart in the SEC, but things move fast. Signing a quarterback each season is important, and I don't think we will see another recruiting season where Georgia does not sign a quarterback. The truth is that Matthew Stafford scared a lot of other quarterbacks away from Georgia because they knew he would be the starter. Likewise, Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger did the same thing. If Murray develops the way most people think he will, Georgia might struggle to sign another high-level signal caller because it looks like Murray is about to start for the next four years, and highly-touted Christian LeMay will scare off other quarterbacks in this recruiting year and next year (and maybe the year after that), too.

DH: While Georgia's 2011 class is starting to come together, by early summer last year, the Dawgs had the vast majority of their commitments already accounted for. Has the pace of commitments been slower this year on purpose, and is there an advantage to that? And of the players who have committed already, who stands out to you as the one or two guys most likely to have an immediate impact?

DL: Two things are a little different this season. 1.) The State of Georgia is very talented at the top of the list, and those players are taking recruiting very, very slow. 2.) The snowball effect took over last year... kids started seeing spots taken up, and they didn't want to be left out, so they jumped on board. That same thing could happen in the coming weeks.

As far as a player who could have immediate impact is concerned... the problem for the 2011 class as far as that is concerned is the 2009 class. Young players like Orson Charles, Aaron Murray, Branden Smith, Washaun Ealey and Rantavious Wooten helped fill the cracks at Georgia and will be starters over the next two to four years. That leaves a smaller area for players in this class to have an impact on the program. However, and this is a big however, Georgia needs a killer receiver. A.J. Green will likely not return for his senior season, and someone (it would have been Da'Rick Rogers) needs to be the top talent at wide receiver. That is a spot were Georgia needs to convert in the 2011 class.

DH: Given the current roster and the list of commitments already accounted for, where do Georgia's biggest needs still rest? Who should fans keep an eye on at those positions as the Bulldogs' top targets?

DL: Wide receiver is the biggest area of need at Georgia now. They needed to sign an elite quarterback, and that will happen with LeMay. But he will need a top playmaking receiver to get the ball to. As far as who to spotlight and recruit hardest, it is clear that with LeMay's decision to come to Georgia, that Spartanburg's Cheron Peake is the top talent Georgia needs to sign. If Georgia can sign Peake and Columbus running back Isaiah Crowell along with either or both Thomasville's Ray Drew or Monroe's Stephon Tuitt they will have the pieces to make a serious run at the national title during those players' careers in Athens. Georgia needs to sign seven of the top ten players in Georgia... they are doing well so far this season, but need to continue to recruit with passion and close the door on other programs.

DH: And one bonus question: Having seen most of the 2010 class in action, who would you predict to be the breakout stars -- both this season and in the longterm?

DL: Newnan's Alec Ogletree is going to play in the NFL. He's the best overall player Georgia just signed, and considering the depth at safety he will be able to work his way into playing time rather than being thrown in. In terms of long term potential, Jacksonville's Brent Bennedict could be an All-SEC performer two or three years from now, if he stays healthy. Southwest DeKalb's T.J. Stripling could be the player with the most potential of the class, however. He will add size over time, but has already shown playmaking abilities which are a good indication of future production potential.

Many thanks to Dean for the insight. If you've got a few extra coins jangling around in your pockets, his Dawg Post site is the go-to place for recruiting information on Georgia, and well worth the investment.

So, while everyone is still basking in the afterglow of LeMay's commitment, what areas are you still most concerned about? Which recruits have caught your eye that you're hoping Georgia can reel in by signing day 2011?

NEXT UP: Our UGA wrap-up.


RC said...

Dave- great write-up as usual. A couple of questions, though- what's up with the use of the term "shoreline" where you'd expect to see "storyline"? I saw that in your write-up with Chis Low as well. Is it a term in vogue among you crazy journalists, or is it a case of spell check run amok? And speaking of spell check- I trust you ran it on Dean's e-mailed answers to you and double-checked it yourself, because while he's a veritable font of recruiting information, the dude can't spell to save his life.

And I the only one not convinced that LeMay ultimately signs with us? I just think that if Murray has the kind of year a lot of us expect him to have and that he is certainly capable of having, judging from LeMay's earlier comments about playing time and not sitting for three years being important to him, he's certainly provided himself some wiggle room in his "commitment."

Anonymous said...

RC - you're making too much of LeMay's comments. He'll be a Dawg.

Mr LeMay had some add'l comments on the AJC the other day:

Christian LeMay’s father, The Rev. Stacy LeMay, says his son’s pledge to Georgia last week has pretty much quelled the recruiting onslaught that had gotten so overwhelming the last month or so. For teams that refuse to give up, Mr. LeMay said they have a stock reply: “We thank them all for honoring Christian with a scholarship offer to their school and tell them, ‘as you may have heard, Christian plans to attend UGA.’ We have wished them well in finding the best quarterback that fits their program.” To be clear, Mr. LeMay added: “Christian has all intentions and plans of signing a letter-of-intent with Georgia and being a Bulldog. We love the situation at Georgia.” As for Christian’s comment that he might have second thoughts about UGA if current quarterback Aaron Murray were to win the Heisman Trophy, Mr. LeMay said people need to “let it rest. It was a hypothetical statement that should not be given any more attention than it has already been given.” . . . Meanwhile, Josh Bean, a columnist for the Mobile Press-Register, writes that LeMay’s use of the word “leader” rather than “commitment” reflects honesty and could start a trend in recruiting.

Justin said...

The commitment of Christian LeMay could lead to UGA doing something special in recruiting for 2011. I'd like to see us sign the 4receivers that were targeting; Christian Conley (commit), Charon Peake (likes the idea of playing with LeMay), Justin Scott(elite speed), and Zach Witchett. Isaiah Crowell is the best running back I've seen on film since Adrian Peterson -sign him up! Jay Rome is going to be the Antonio Gates of college football - and he's got game in the trenches. Watts Dantzler(RT) and Xzavier Ward(LT) are probably our top targets at tackle. Sterling Bailey and Ray Drew at Sam and Will in the future would be insane!--SEC offensive tackles worst nightmares. Gabe Wright is a player at DT and depending on how he fills out he could end up at Nose or End - either way he's an impact guy on the line. James Vaughters is a force inside at MLB and he would be a great get however it doesn't seem like he's as high on Georgia as some others, but he's too good to leave off the 'wish list'. Stephon Tuitt will add weight and strength in college because Monroe's strength training program is a joke... and they've lost like 25 games in a row. The point of all that is to say he's going to fill out and be a beast on the line and a perfect 3-4 End. Damian Swann is a must get cornerback out of Atlanta. Commit Devin Bowman is listed as an athlete but he'll likely wind up as a cornerback. Signing 3-4 cornerbacks is almost a must because Boykin is a top 5 cornerback who is likely to go pro after this season and Cuff is graduating. We've got the best tandem of safeties committed for next year in SS Corey Moore(playmaker) and FS Chris Sanders(great closing speed and ball skills). If by some miracle we get most of the guys on this list, Georgia will make a run through college football similar to that of Southern Cal a few years back.

Anonymous said...

Monroe was 7-4 last year. Not exactly an elite high school program, but not even close to a 25 game losing streak.

Richard said...

We need shut down corners

Dr. Merkwurdigliebe said...

DL: "I don't think the coaching change hurt or helped either way with the 2010 class, but the lessons of that class have clearly left their mark on Richt and the Bulldogs."

I disagree, I think the long process did in fact hurt the program, because it didn't give recruits a long enough time to evaluate the new coach and determine if he would install the type of defense that would best suit their talents. I remember several recruits saying that they backed off their commitment, because of the coaching issue.

DL: "It happens all over college football. Georgia, like nearly every other program in the country, has struggled to keep backup quarterbacks happy."

Struggled? DJ put his career on hold for 3 years behind Greene, when everyone was telling him to transfer and Cox did the same thing behind Stafford. Richt and Bobo have done an OUTSTANDING job of keeping their back-up QB's in the fold.

Anonymous said...

Some anonymous person doesn't realize that there is more than one monroe school in georgia. the one tuitt is on is terrible. they play like a A - AA school but they're in a AAAA region. trust me they have won a game in over two years.