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Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Rebuilding Project Begins

During the next few weeks, we'll no doubt be parsing a lot of what Todd Grantham said in his opening remarks to the media and sifting through his background to try to get a better understanding of just who it is that Georgia hired to take over its defense.

So far, the reaction from fans has been overwhelmingly positive -- which is certainly no surprise. I'll admit, making a guy who hasn't coached in college football since 1998 the third-highest-paid assistant in the nation might be a bit of a reach in my humble opinion, and we have no idea how the current personnel on the Bulldogs' defense will respond as part of a 3-4 set, but there's definitely a lot more positives to be talking about today than negatives. (And, to be fair, I'd have essentially the same questions about Kirby Smart had he been hired -- limited experience, drastic change in scheme, etc.)

As I noted here last week, I think there's a tremendous amount of upside to this hire, particularly on the recruiting trail. Now, we don't exactly know how Grantham will recruit since it's not something he has done in more than a decade, but if you read any of what he said yesterday, you can probably get an understanding of why players would want to come play for him.

And as I went back through what Grantham said yesterday, there is one thing that jumped out to me. Knowing his stint as DC in Cleveland met with mixed results, I wanted to know his thoughts on how he might handle this job differently. The first thing he discussed was how rebuilding in college football was so much easier because of recruiting. Here's the specific quote:

"The difference between pro football and college football is when you go to a program in pro football, you basically get seven draft picks. So you get seven recruits. That's a major overhaul. In college ball, you can go out and sign as many first-round picks as you need. You just have to do the work."
Music to the ears of any football fan who lives and dies with each new recruiting commitment, right?

You don't know the half of it.

Since Grantham wants to go out and sign a half-dozen future first-round picks, I figured I'd go back and see just how many of them Georgia has had since Mark Richt arrived in Athens in 2001. The results of this small bit of history underscore the recent problems.

2006-2010 First-Round Picks, Defense

LSU (3) -- Tyson Jackson (DE), Glenn Dorsey (DT), LaRon Landry (DB)

Tennessee (6) -- Robert Ayers (DE), Jerod Mayo (LB), Justin Harrell (DT), Jason Allen (DB), Eric Berry* (DB), Dan Williams* (DT)

Florida (6) -- Derrick Harvey (DE), Jarvis Moss (DE), Reggie Nelson (DB), Joe Haden* (DB), Carlos Dunlap* (DE), Brandon Spikes* (LB)

Georgia (0) -- None

(*Projected first-round pick by ESPN's Mel Kiper)

2002-2005 First-Round Picks, Defense

LSU (1) -- Marcus Spears (DE)

Tennessee (2) -- John Henderson (DT), Albert Haynesworth (DT)

Florida (1) -- Lito Shephard (DB)

Georgia (4) -- Thomas Davis (DB), David Pollack (DE), Johnathan Sullivan (DT), Charles Grant (DE)

Since Willie Martinez's first season as defensive coordinator, Georgia has not had a single player taken in the first round of the NFL draft. Florida, Tennessee and LSU meanwhile have combined for 15, including this year's projections.

Turning that tide will begin on the recruiting trail, and Grantham will have his work cut out for him. But at least he's aiming high -- which at $750,000 a year, he should be.


Anonymous said...

David, any word on the DB hiring? I hear that we hired the DB coach at UCONN, but I can't find anyone to confirm it.

The Somnambulist said...

I read his comment regarding first round picks a little differently than you apparently did, David. I read it more as a statement that you aren't limited by a draft-style pecking order in college as to how much top-shelf talent you can stockpile. If you can get the 25 highest ranked prospects on your board to sign with you, then you are not limited by waiting your turn to do so. Just go make it happen.

I am sure that at the very least the underlying sentiment is that you would hope that each of those guys will in fact one day be first round picks- and you know each of those kids thinks they will- but realistically if you can get 2 or 3, along with another handful of draftable prospects, you're probably going to be playing for championships on a regular basis.

David Hale said...

you may be right in the context -- although if you asked him, I'm sure he'd tell you he'd love to sign a half-dozen future first-rounders. Of course, the point still remains, Georgia has lagged well behind UT, LSU and Florida in producing top flight talent the past few years.

Bunch said...

Would only add that the work on the recruiting trail is thwarted when there's a lack of work conducted thereafter on the practice field, in chalkboard sessions and in strength & conditioning activities - collectively, player development. This seems clear given the fact that UGA recruiting (the amount of universally highly-rated prep talent signed) has NOT suffered during the Martinez Era though NFL player "graduation" and defensive production clearly have.

Hunkerin Hokie said...

Uh, using Mel Kiper's "projections' as factual evidence may be a little more than a stretch.

Remember his amazing clairvoyance with 1st picks like Brady Quinn and Matt Leinhart?

I seriously do not understand how he and todd mcshay make a living out of being wrong all the time. I mean, anyone can estimate what round a guy is going to be drafted in, and these guys are usually off by at least 10 picks.

Without his input, the numbers do not look that bad.

And I'm with The Somnambulist (sleep walker?) on this one. I think he is merely underlining his ability to stockpile talent quickly in many areas without as many limitations and having to sacrifice draft picks in one position for another of more weakness.

Keese said...

Hallelujah. T Grantham could not have made a more perfect introduction to the fans and media. He addressed everything lacking on the team...which up until now seemed, DH :), to be in denial.

If you really play out every possible senario the coaching search COULD have played out, the actual way it played out was perfect in all aspects.

No fan, alumni, booster, or media can bitch about really anything at this point or beyond. CMR kept quiet (which is great, despite immense pressure for info). Damon Evans and the AD stepped up on their part finalcially. The "what if" hires like Chavis, Foster, Kirby were tactifully given consideration and response. Hell, at least we know Richt went exploring for the best and he is willing to be mindful of suggestions.

I've been screaming for years that UGA should go to the NFL ranks for position and coordinator choices given where we are in respect to talent/geography and the conference we play in. The perfect person I envisioned finally had a name, Todd Grantham.

His NFL networking contacts are tremendous, he will command respect from his players, and we may wind up having the best recruiting personnel in the SEC. Not to mention we may fill in the other position coaches with NFL guys that come down with the money we're willing to contribute. The intangibles of this hire are tremendous.

I am curious to see how the R Garner/T Granham relationship develops. Garner is going to need to be a "coachable coach" in this defensive scheme and with Granthams D line background.

This Alumni and Booster could not be happier.

David try moving from Hawaii to GA, I feel your pain this past week. GO DAWGS

AwesomeDawg said...

I have heard this said several times over the past few years, and I would always argue the point. However, the trend of defensive
1st rounders NOT taken from UGA makes it seem possible. CMR won with Donnan's players. Every 1st rounder from UGA was a Donnan recruit. Maybe the problem is not the staff or it's collective parts, but rather CRM himself? I hope I am way off base with that statement. GATA 2010 Dawgs!

PatinDC said...

Awesome Dawg,

What exactly is the point you are trying to make with comments like that? Does it mean you want Donnan back?; Do you want CMR, the winningest coach in UGA history, to be fired?

I remeber people saying Donnan only won with Goff's players.

IMHO the talent has always come to UGA but it was not coached properly. CWM just wasn't the right person to get it done. Change made. It has been 9 years since Donnan left. 90 wins later I am happy with the results. You don't seem to feel the same.