While Mark Richt has perhaps been the most up-front about his interest in picking up some of the Penn State players who are free to leave the NCAA-hammered program and play immediately elsewhere, Georgia certainly isn’t the only SEC school looking at that possibility.
In terms of players currently on the Nittany Lions roster, this is likely to play out rather quickly, as most schools will be starting preseason camp soon — UGA on Aug. 2 — and in order to have a realistic shot at anything close to immediate playing time a transfer would need to be on campus by then.
It’s not surprising that Richt is interested, but what did widen a few eyes among college football observers was how he wasn’t at all coy about it when addressing the subject at Monday night’s UGA Day fan gathering. In fact, he volunteered the news that as soon as they heard about the NCAA sanctions against PSU, the Georgia coaching staff went over Penn State’s two-deep roster to identify players the Bulldogs might be interested in.
The fact that Richt offered that tidbit up in public is an indication that, yes, Georgia is really interested. And why not, the Dogs have a depleted roster that numbers less than Southern Cal, which is on probation!
Penn State players apparently would be welcomed by the UGA team as well. All-American Jarvis Jones tweeted: “Penn State players feel free to b a Part of BullDogs Nation!!!”
While you can bet Nick Saban and other SEC coaches are moving just as quickly as Richt, if more quietly, Georgia does have what appears to be a couple of built-in advantages: Georgia has plenty of room on its roster and also has on staff John Thomas, who until recently was Penn State’s strength and conditioning coordinator for 20 years.
As for which players Georgia might talk with, early speculation has centered on defensive end Deion Barnes and linebacker Khairi Fortt, both of whom considered Georgia out of high school and reportedly took recruiting visits to Athens. And UGA has at least somewhat of a relationship with two Penn State commitments — defensive end Garrett Sickels and tight end Adam Breneman — since both were offered scholarships by Georgia.
Beyond that, the most obvious need the Dogs have is experienced offensive linemen, so I imagine that’s where the Georgia coaches looked hardest when they examined the PSU roster at their retreat Monday. But the Dogs also are in need of additional depth in the defensive secondary.
Of course, we don’t know that Penn State players will bail on the program en masse, though it certainly would be understandable if they did, and Georgia may wind up not picking up any of the school’s current players.
It’s quite likely, however, that Pennsylvania — which proved very fruitful territory for the Bulldogs in past generations with names like Sinkwich, Trippi and Rissmiller — is likely to get increased recruiting attention in the future from a lot of schools, including Georgia. And in addition to Thomas, secondary coach Scott Lakatos is very familiar with the area.
Aunt Pittypat might have been aghast at more Yankees in Georgia, but this is one case where they’re entirely welcome!
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg