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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.


Anonymous said...

From the surface so far, it appears UGA may have a good shot at landing 7 of the states top 10. In state recruits really need to flock together and realize they can make a huge impact together and do something significant.

Anonymous said...

I think this year's on-field performance will have a huge impact on UGA being able to close the deal on the elite recruits in the state.

These kids want to play in big games and we have to show them that they can do it here. We don't have to win it all but I think its critical that we at least show that we are relevant in the SEC championship race.

JasonC said...

Dean highlighted 4 guys UGA should try to get. Is it possible to get his take on where UGA stands with those 4 guys and how likely it is for them to actually sign?

AppleDawg said...

It is about time Richt started going over and getting 2-3 extra kids as we ALWAYS are under the total limit due to arrests, grades, or whatever.

Anonymous said...

The Dawgs need to get Charone Peake. He is the real deal. Game breaker.