Georgia’s “Dream Team” recruiting approach is getting mixed reviews from the state’s top uncommitted football prospects.
The “Dream Team” is the phrase borrowed by Georgia coach Mark Richt for his in-state recruiting efforts. It will be another strong year for talent among the state’s top rising high school seniors, with more than 200 expected to sign major-college scholarships in February.
Richt and his assistant have been using the “Dream Team” sales pitch since early spring, telling the state’s elite that if they join together and sign with Georgia next February, the Bulldogs will contend for future SEC and national championships.
“Georgia has a dream in recruiting, but it may not be my dream, too,” said Thomas County Central defensive tackle Ray Drew, who is considering the Bulldogs among his 27 scholarship offers.
“I’m not saying that for people to read too much into it, either way. It’s just that the dream of [Carver-Columbus tailback] Isaiah Crowell may be different than Georgia’s dream, or the same thing with Valdosta [tight end] Jay Rome.
“What I’m saying is that, in the end, I have to do what’s best for me and my family, like every recruit. If I sign with Georgia, it would be because it was the best fit for me … and not to be part of the ‘Dream Team.’”
Georgia has 11 early commitments for its 2011 recruiting class, including 10 from the state. East Hall defensive end Sterling Bailey, North Clayton linebacker Amarlo Herrera and Mitchell County wide receiver Justin Scott-Wesley are considered among the state’s best prospects at their respective positions.
Bailey said he is using the “Dream Team” approach with several uncommitted prospects, including Crowell and Dalton offensive lineman Watts Dantzler, who will announce between Georgia and Auburn on Sunday.
“When I talked to other guys, I am like come on and hop aboard the ‘Dream Team’ — we’re going to make this the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation,” Bailey said. “This is going to be the class that gets Georgia back up to the top where it needs to be.”
When Bailey was asked if the “Dream Team” idea lured him to the Bulldogs, he said, “I committed to Georgia because it was best for me. It was close to home, and then Coach Richt and [defensive coordinator Todd Grantham] said some things that made everything very clear to me.
“I like the ‘Dream Team’ thing, though. It’s a cool name. Besides, who wouldn’t want to be part of a ‘Dream Team?’”
The “Dream Team” concept is nothing new in recruiting, where every school tries to develop an innovative sales pitch. Drew has heard most of them during his travels.
“Auburn talks about family, that’s what they use to try to get their players,” he said. “With Florida, they have a pretty good record at home. They talked about ‘Protect this house, protect this house.’ Everybody has their own little slogan that they try to sell you on.”
Dantzler said he first learned about the “Dream Team” when Georgia’s coaches visited his school in the spring. They pulled out big piece of paper that had the map of Georgia on it, with around 10 stars denoting the team’s top targets. Monroe Area defensive end Stephon Tuitt, who lists Georgia Tech and Miami as his favorites, said Georgia coaches “showed me around 10 or 12 guys on iPad.”
However, neither Dantzler nor Truitt, along with Bailey and Drew, could remember all the prospects on the “Dream Team.” NCAA rules prevent Georgia from commenting on prospective-student athletes.
The Bulldogs could land two more in-state prospects this week who said they were told they were on Georgia’s “Dream Team” — Dantzler and Tucker linebacker James Vaughters. Vaughters will choose between Georgia and Georgia Tech, among three others, at 11 a.m. Thursday.
“James likes what he has heard about it the ‘Dream Team’ and I think it positively affects his decision,” said his father, Jonathan Vaughters. “But I don’t know if it is the sole criteria he uses when evaluating his top five schools and, ultimately, his final one.”
UPDATE: Dantzler committed to UGA, while Vaughters selected Stanford