Fan talk: Is sixth-best recruiting class in SEC good enough for UGA? (UPDATED)

Landing Lorenzo Carter, the state's top prospect, was big for UGA. (Associated Press)

Landing Lorenzo Carter, the state's top prospect, was big for UGA. (Associated Press)

I’ll be off the next few days, so let’s take an early dip into some Junkyard Mail, starting out with a fan who not surprisingly wants to talk about how national signing day went for UGA. …

Grady Bowers writes: Bill, I know that Mark Richt said he was “excited” about the recruiting class he just signed, and I gather from what I read online that most fans agree with him. I hate to be the yeah-but guy and yet I can’t get past the fact that while Georgia once again landed a consensus Top 10 recruiting class, it was only the sixth best in the Southeastern Conference. Are we really losing ground to the likes of Tennessee? If you can make me feel better about this situation, Bill, I’d be most grateful.

Well first, Grady, as I wrote in Wednesday’s Blawg, I tend to think the ranking of recruiting classes is an artificial and superfluous competition that doesn’t actually win you anything. Yes, I realize the class rankings are (loosely) based on the star ratings various recruiting services assign to the prospects, which are in themselves pretty much a subjective guess at which players are mostly likely to be the best. That said, whether you are thrilled that Georgia overcame a complete replacement of its defensive coaching staff to still land a Top 10 class that included the No. 1 ranked prospect in the state in Lorenzo Carter, or are dismayed that Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M, Auburn and Tennessee’s classes were ranked higher, probably falls into is-the-glass-half-full-or-half-empty territory. Let’s face it, SEC schools are ridiculously good at recruiting and even if you accept the premise that five conference schools got better classes than Georgia, the Dogs still were perceived as having the eighth best class in the country.

To me, the more important question is whether Mark Richt and his staff (including national recruiter of the year Bryan McClendon) got what they needed. I think at running back, the answer is a resounding yes since they brought in two five-star recruits to back up the likes of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. As we’ve learned the hard way, you can never have too many great running backs in the SEC. Said Richt of signees Sony Michel and Nick Chubb: “We will absolutely give those guys a chance to show what they can do, and if they can be productive, we’ll get them in the game.”

Getting a return specialist in Isaiah McKenzie filled a dire need for the Dogs. (Special)

Getting a return specialist in Isaiah McKenzie filled a dire need for the Dogs. (Special)

Georgia also restocked pretty nicely at tight end with Jeb Blazevich and surprise signing Hunter Atkinson. And I was thrilled they added a potential game-breaking kick returner in Isaiah McKenzie. That was a dire need that had to be addressed. “His No. 1 job is going to try to be that kickoff-return, punt-return guy for us,” Mike Bobo said Wednesday of McKenzie. “That could be the difference in a ballgame for us.”

Adding five-star Carter to the pass rush is big, too.

Yeah, I would have liked to see a five-star player signed for the offensive line, a perennial problem area for Richt teams, but the four players they got there are pretty solid three- or four-star choices. I’d also have liked to see a five-star signee in the defensive backfield, but four-star cornerback Malkom Parrish does look likely to be able to help out fairly early.

Overall, it’s a pretty balanced signing class, and keep in mind that the Dogs return an awful lot of starters from last year’s team.

Ted Sellers writes: Bill, I thought your National Signing Day “heartbreak” piece was one of the best summations I’ve ever read of how ridiculous the recruiting game has gotten. And I say that as a reformed recruitnik. I used to get all caught up in following those kids all year long, but when it got to the point where people were anguishing over what some 17-year-old tweeted, well, I decided I needed to step back and just wait until the class is signed before getting all wound up or let down. Thanks for putting that into words for me in a really nice piece of writing.

Glad you enjoyed it, Ted. I love that college football fans are passionate all through the year, and not just during the season, but I’d rather focus more on the players we have than fret about which way some potential future players are leaning.

Theron Altman writes: Bill; what is the latest news on the last hire for the defense? I heard an internet rumor about Freddie Roach from South Alabama??? As you know he is an ex-Bama player and a very good defensive LB. Give me your thoughts! Thanks

We may find out who’s filling that position before the day is out, Theron. Citing an unnamed source, CoachingSearch.com is reporting that the most frequently mentioned name in connection with that vacancy, former Southern Cal linebackers coach Mike Ekeler, is going to get the job. It’s notable that he has some special teams experience, too, though Richt is waiting until the staff is complete before announcing exactly who’ll be doing what.

UPDATE: UGA made it official this morning. This is from the athletic department release:

Mike Ekeler, linebackers coach at Southern Cal in 2013, has been named Inside Linebackers Coach at the University of Georgia according to an announcement Thursday by UGA head coach Mark Richt. Ekeler had previously served as linebackers coach and co-defensive coordinator at Indiana (2011-12).  A native of David City, Neb., he had served as linebackers coach at Nebraska for three seasons (2008-10) under head coach Bo Pelini.  During his three years in Lincoln, the Cornhuskers won or shared the Big 12 Conference North Division title all three seasons. “I was extremely impressed with his knowledge and energy during the interview process,” Richt said.  “He was highly recommended by many coaches and administrators with whom I talked and we’re very excited that he’ll be joining our staff.” The move completes the Georgia defensive staff which includes Jeremy Pruitt (Defensive Coordinator/Secondary), Kevin Sherrer (Sam Linebacker and the Star position or nickel back), and Tracy Rocker (Defensive Line and Will Linebacker).  Special Teams responsibilities among the staff are still to be determined according to Richt.

Hutson Mason's arm strength has been questioned. (AJC file)

Hutson Mason's arm strength has been questioned. (AJC file)

Patrick writes: Bill, Enjoy the read, especially in the off season. It’s a nice combination of scoop, football knowledge and logic. Thoughts on [Hutson] Mason’s arm after watching him in the last two games? His pass reminds me of Pascual Perez’s infamous eephus pitch — it has no velocity and appears to be almost pushed. Let’s hope he knows his way around Atlanta better than the late-Pascual.

From what we’ve seen so far, I think on short to medium passes, Mason throws a very catchable ball, and I like the way he surveys the field before turning it loose. However, I think it’s also obvious he doesn’t have the arm strength of Aaron Murray, so we might not see as many long throws downfield. I’d love for him to prove us wrong on that, though.

TD Dawg writes: I enjoy your columns, and appreciate your hopeful enthusiasm for our beloved Dawgs. I must admit ever since I stepped foot on campus in the Fall of 1982, I have been a loyal supporter of our Dawgs. Got spoiled with Dooley, then had to suffer through Goff and Donnan. Reckon that’s what makes me appreciate Richt so much, although my frustration level has grown greatly over the past few years with not being able to get over the hump of winning the SEC or national championship. However, it does my heart and soul good to travel long distances to see them play and enjoy the fellowship of meeting other Dawg fans who have made the trek, too. For instance, a few years ago at Arizona State. My wife and I left early that week, enjoyed Vegas, then the Grand Canyon where we met up with at least 50 or so Dawg fans. It was interesting to see the looks on other tourist’s faces at all these rabid football fans. So do you think we will get back to having some good road games scheduled in other parts of the country? Or will the long conference schedule make that hard to do?

I think those long trips to other parts of the country are pretty much a thing of the past, TD. Greg McGarity made it clear from the onset that he wasn’t a fan of that sort of trip (hence getting out of the contract with Oregon). And I do remember that the coaches said the long trip back from Arizona might have been a factor in the team not looking very good against Alabama the next week. McGarity has said that with Georgia Tech on the schedule every year, he’s not going to want to add another major nonconference opponent most seasons, though he’s already shown a willingness to agree to a Chick-fil-A Kickoff game. I’d love to see Clemson come back on the schedule for a home-and-home (though preferably not as the opening game of the season, considering our tendency to have starters suspended then). Basically, though, the key factor will be whether the conference goes to a nine-game schedule. If that happens, I think the nonconference schedule is mainly going to be cupcakes.

Go Dogs!

Got something you want to discuss concerning the Dawgs? Or a question you want the Junkyard Blawg to tackle? Email me at  junkyardblawg@gmail.com.

Find me on Facebook.

Follow me on Twitter.

— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

305 comments Add your comment

Real Problem

February 8th, 2014
5:58 pm

TWO years in a row we have finished 7th in the SEC in recruiting…..do you Kool-Aid Richt followers think that all of a sudden he is going to be able to COACH KIDS UP. We are in trouble, we have been in trouble…..our record against ranked teams over the last 3 years is HORRIBLE. But hey, getting 3 of the top 12 in state is just fine with the Kool-Aid crowd. We are going to get what we deserve…..

Bulldawg35

February 8th, 2014
6:11 pm

Real problem

I agree! Flo ri duh….Is king of the kool aiders! One day he will wake up and realize that the best years of Richt are behind him….Richt has peaked as a head coach…..he will not regain his mojo that he had early in his career.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

February 8th, 2014
6:31 pm

Yea when Will Muschamp left Saban he sure didnt know how to coach defense when he went to Auburn and then when Texas hired him away and thats why Florida turned him down for the head coaching position :roll:

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

February 8th, 2014
6:33 pm

Saban coaches every position

he just hires assistants to sit on the sidelines handing out water bottles and making sure every player has their shoes properly tied

Bulldawg35

February 8th, 2014
6:44 pm

Flat tire

Lol!

Bulldawg35

February 8th, 2014
6:53 pm

You folks remember Richt had Kirby smart on our staff as a RB coach in 2005….. We didn’t even try to keep him…..why didn’t Richt see that Kirby smart’s talent was coaching defense!!! We let one of the best coaches on our staff ever just walk away.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

February 8th, 2014
6:55 pm

promoting friends is more important than UGA football

Bulldawg35

February 8th, 2014
7:14 pm

Richt couldn’t even fire Grantham….I’m glad Petrino came along and did his dirty work for him….Richt wouldn’t even fired willie if Evans hadn’t pressured him too…

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

February 8th, 2014
7:28 pm

Continuity is always a good thing ;)

Bulldawg35

February 8th, 2014
7:39 pm

These last 2 years of recruiting is going to hurt us a couple of years down the road. Especially if JHC doesn’t play in 2014.

Bulldawg35

February 8th, 2014
7:41 pm

Flat..

Richt said that again in his recruiting day presser! Lol!

Bulldawg35

February 8th, 2014
7:47 pm

Well I’m going to watch the b ball team take on the aggies at 8! I hope we win…but his first name is mark…and mark stands for doubtful!

eldawg

February 8th, 2014
8:04 pm

I can think of three hundred thousand reason$ Pruitt took the job.

DawginColorado

February 8th, 2014
8:26 pm

Good god you people are pitiful. No one answered the question at all. The answer given was “he just wants to improve his resume”. Are you insane? Coming to Georgia to coach a poor defense into some semblance of a good defense does not top staying at FSU and dominating your conference and getting an almost automatic bid to the 4 team playoff if you want to enhance your resume.

If you can’t see that your supposed answers don’t touch on the principle point of the question then you have major cognitive issues. You can’t admit that you can’t answer the question. You are so dogmatic about your “will never win a championship” decrees that you can’t admit that Pruitt’s decision nuked your core tenants. That is just sad people.

Have fun in your gloomy little world.

Hairy Dawg

February 8th, 2014
8:29 pm

Well I say this about Dawgs recruiting. We fill some need areas that hurt when we got injuries this year. I think we did best at RB and DE. The thing that dropped rankings on class is we should a been signing more than 21. Teams with better rankings signed more players than we did its. And that only happening cause stupid rules school put on pointy heads like Adams and Morehead that dont let Coach Richt roster manage like Bammer.

But I still thrilled with offseason new defense and getting more depth running ball. Good teams prove you win by running ball straight down throat and smash mouths the opponent. That how we won with Gurely and why lose when he injured specially no Marshall. But few more RBs fill in to help Dawgs dominate next year and after Gurely goes to NFL. And with new defense that got experienced this year and a few more D recruits can be ready to playing when they show it on field next in Fall. That give us both good D to go with O that can stomp other teams. Nothing can stop us and looking for good season to restore SEC to Dawgs after we own East.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

February 8th, 2014
8:38 pm

Ok; so Pruitt turning around FSU’s defense

then coming to UGA and turning their decade long abysmal defense would not look as good as staying at FSU who plays 1 decent team on their schedule a year

Got it

how about sharing some of that Cognitive Kool-aid for everyone on this blog

dawgfan

February 8th, 2014
8:43 pm

There’s a difference between not answering a question and giving an answer that the questioner doesn’t agree with.

People with at least a 4th grade education understand this.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

February 8th, 2014
8:45 pm

Why has Saban been the most desired coach??

Oh yea he turned 2 programs around winning National titles at both places

It looks good on a resume when you can do it a 2 different places

Bulldawg35

February 8th, 2014
10:24 pm

Alabama already has 7 commits for the 2015 class…..gawd damn! Fire Richt!

Real Problem

February 8th, 2014
10:34 pm

Thank God we do have some people that post that are not mental midgets. Colorado has been into too much weed and FRDuh is terminal stupid. Just read where Evans father gave the credit to Smart for keeping Alabama in the game…..ONCE AGAIN THIS IS A GEORGIA EX FOOTBALL PLAYER WAITING FOR HIS CHANCE.

Real Problem

February 8th, 2014
10:39 pm

3 of our best 12 in next years class have already committed. NOT ONE TO GEORGIA…..are we seeing a pattern. Bama has 2 and Clemson 1.

Hairy Dawg

February 8th, 2014
10:41 pm

Saban just already figuring out who he cut next year if they dont expose the talents on field. He make them work to keep schollies or else get kicked out for roster managements. And dont you tell me Coach Richt can when you know pointy head rules from Adams then Morehead choking recruiting to outlaw casting out the ones that turns out stinkys each year.

Real Problem

February 8th, 2014
10:48 pm

Love it….just love it. It is Saban’s fault that Richt can not coach. Whatever, we need to worry about us and forget what Alabama is doing.

ShowMeYurTD's

February 8th, 2014
11:34 pm

Looks like a 6-6 season……fingers crossed. GO DAWGS

Schedule 2014
Date Opponent Result / Time
8/30 vs. 8 Clemson TBA
9/13 at 4 South Carolina TBA
9/20 vs. Troy TBA
9/27 vs. Tennessee TBA
10/4 vs. 24 Vanderbilt TBA
10/11 at 5 Missouri TBA
10/18 at Arkansas TBA
11/1 vs. Florida TBA
11/8 at Kentucky TBA
11/15 vs. 2 Auburn TBA
11/22 vs. Charleston Southern TBA
11/29 vs. Georgia Tech

7576DAWG

February 9th, 2014
1:42 am

Bulldawg35
Georgia has 4 high ranked and maybe we will add one this next week in? Aren’t Junior’s coming to Athens Friday ? Pruitt will make a huge difference this year.
Georgia has everything in place to win the SEC if they can find a leader, Quarterback.

Real Problem

February 9th, 2014
3:08 am

7576DAWG…”Georgia has everything in place to wine the SEC.” Really? Let me refresh your short memory. OUR DEFENSE SUCKED….NO, REALLY SUCKED.
Now if you were to say, our defense can not get any worse…..then I would agree with you. We should improve. Okay that takes care of the defense.
Now the offense…..great, no SUPER GREAT RB’s and excellent wide receivers. STOP-STOP
Offensive line is at BEST questionable and the QB falls into the same questionable status.
Coaching….Richt = solid F
Pruitt = maybe an A…..time will tell.
Bobo= who knows….sometimes A, sometimes F
We should beat the cupcakes…(watch out for Troy) and finish about like last year. NO CHANCE TO WIN THE SEC.

Hairy Dawg

February 9th, 2014
9:44 am

We has better O line this year with no flopping round like Kentarious Gates. And then we get back healthy to. Now with more depths we have ability to survive injuries and keep winning. That what you need for champoinships.

Bulldawg35

February 9th, 2014
11:40 am

Hairy

Nobody can even understand what you’re talking about! Please just STOP!!

I-DOG

February 9th, 2014
1:45 pm

Bulldawg 35:

Sure, Pruitt could leave in 3 years or even sooner. Lets hope that he leaves in 2 or 3 years because he has turned the mediocre (at best) Georgia D into a turnover causing, getting off the field on 3rd down, hard to score 20 points against kind of defense and helped UGA win the elusive national title.

After doing so, if he gets an offer to be the head coach at a great program… I would surely miss him, but would wish him well. Wouldn’t that scenario be great.

I-DOG

February 9th, 2014
1:54 pm

I don’t think this year’s recruiting is anything to get down in the dumps about. I would say that it doesn’t appear to be one of Richt’s best classes, but (depending on who develops, stays, gets injured, kicked out of school etc… as posted above)… this class has plenty of guys who can help Georgia beat anyone on their schedule.

There appears to be a TON of talent in state for next year’s recruiting class and if we can get many of them signed… that will inject even more talent into the program. Given that the Dawgs had 5 losses this season (those are Goff type numbers) and we turned over our defensive staff a couple of weeks before signing day, I’d say this was a solid class.

I-DOG

February 9th, 2014
2:14 pm

We have highly recruited players at just about every position. Some of them need to step up and become playmakers.

In the front 7 on defense… we have 5 star Ray Drew (fourth year), 5 star Jordan Jenkins (3rd year), 4 star Josh Dawson (3rd year), 4 star J. Taylor (3rd year), 4 star Leonard Floyd (2nd year), 4 star David Belamy (2nd year), 4 star L Gaillard (1st year), 5 star L. Carter (1st year).

I would imagine that Pruitt looked at this and saw that the cupboard isn’t exactly bare and that this along with the money and the fact that our defense has underachieved the last two years are all reasons why Pruitt is now in Athens.

Hairy Dawg

February 9th, 2014
2:14 pm

Back-to-back East and 5 Easts with 2 SEC and 3 Sugar Bowls not Ray Goff numbers. Nobody coaching in league won more Easts than Coach Richt who does Christian Coaching. We has one year that injures build up and every one blaming Coach Richt for depths problem. But he can’t have depth when it choked by bad rules from Adams then Morehead. Having depth comes from cleaning roster each year of deadwood stinkys players to sign more that try to expose talents on field. But that type roster managements need be allowed by school and Coach Richt not getting that supports.

I-DOG

February 9th, 2014
2:29 pm

I do agree with the criticism of the offensive line recruiting. I’d like to see us sign more quality and quantity at this position. Even on OL, there is plenty of talent that just needs to play better whether that is coaching, S&T, or the players not making a commitment to be excellent, I don’t know.

We have two incoming freshman that are rated 4 stars and are expected to play OT, and OG respectively.

Kolton Houston was rated 4 stars and the 6th best OG in the country and has been in the program since the Johnson administration, Dabell and Dantzler are fourth year players that were both rated 4 stars at OT and OG respectively. Neither as done much yet in their career.

John Theus is a 3rd year player that was rated 5 stars and the 2nd best OT in the country. Perhaps this is the year that he steps up and plays like a 5 star OL.

Kublanow is a 2nd year player that was a 4 star recruit and the 11th best OG.

That is 5 highly recruited OL that return next year along with two highly ranked recruits that are new to the program.

It seems with that along with experienced David Andrews at Center and several 3 star recruits who have been in the program for a few years, we could put together an above average SEC line this year.

bulldawg35

February 9th, 2014
3:02 pm

I-dog
No….the best case would be if pruitt turned the defense around and in 3 years replaced richt as head coach.

Flo-Ri-Duh

February 9th, 2014
3:18 pm

Kalvaraz Bessent (CB) from Kingsland, Georgia charged with a felony – drug possession out on $5,000 bail today. To bad he didn’t sign with Dawgs so you TROLLS would have something to be gleeful about and blame Mark Richt for. To bad.

Flo-Ri-Duh

February 9th, 2014
3:26 pm

BS35 (aka Milk Dud) in Delusionville (10:24 pm 2/8/14) – I find your comments very offensive – not to mention stupid. We need a censor on here please.

I knew you were intelligence challenged and now you have confirmed it.

Flo-Ri-Duh

February 9th, 2014
3:39 pm

Flat Tire drinks the PooP-Aid – You are one bitter little TROLL… same For BS35 (aka Milk Dud) from Delusionville. You are on here 24/7 – some day Obama’s going to cut off your check and then you will have to get a real job. You are pitiful.

Bulldawg35

February 9th, 2014
4:03 pm

Flo ri duh

No wonder you find my comments offensive….that’s because they unravel your Disney persona! That’s the dang truth too bud!

Flo-Ri-Duh

February 9th, 2014
4:19 pm

AJ Johnson (LB) Tenn Vowels – DUI and resisting arrest released on bond today….. Guess it’s Richt’s fault? Drinkin’ the PooP-Aid.

Flo-Ri-Duh

February 9th, 2014
4:21 pm

BS35 (aka Milk Dud) resides in Delusionville…. you are a PUNK.

dawgfan

February 9th, 2014
4:33 pm

Floriduh’s in full meltdown mode. If only losses and not winning anything got these Kool Aiders this riled up.

Then we’d be making progress.

Bulldawg35

February 9th, 2014
4:52 pm

Yep ole flo ri duh is having his PMS early this month. Lmao! It’s alright duh….maybe one day Richt will win the sec again…..maybe when I’m old and in a nursing home! Smh!

DawgVoiceofReason

February 9th, 2014
5:40 pm

What gets people riled up is the incessant drum-beat of negativity, when the sport you are complaining about is not even in season (just one of many reasons your negativity serves no purpose). As far as recruiting, yes that just completed, but until we see the product on the field, anything you might say is mostly pure speculation. You guys are the biggest sad sacks and have nothing of any value to contribute here. You are not winning any converts to whatever it is you are trying to get anyone to admit to or agree to. Even when someone does agree with you about some point, for example, the fact that we need to improve in turn-over margin, you don’t acknowledge it. You continue to hurl insults. You don’t even know what or who you are arguing about or with.

Last night, Bulldawg35 signed off, with his typical negativity,about the basketball game last night. Guess what?! We won the game. Will he admit he doesn’t know what he is talking about? Of course not; none of you sad sacks will.

Bulldawg35

February 9th, 2014
6:34 pm

Voice

I’m glad we won and I’m glad I was wrong. But we can only win at home and we gawd awful on the road. We won’t make the nit or any invitational tournament out there! So what is their to Bragg about???

BULLDAWG BILL

February 9th, 2014
8:06 pm

We have enough quality players on defense to show great improvement with the new coaches. I am more worried about our offense now that I have seen Mason in 2 games. I heard all these great things about him and couldn’t understand why he wasn’t out starter—now I know why. I hope we have a better QB waiting to prove himself in the spring.

DawgVoiceofReason

February 9th, 2014
9:12 pm

Bulldawg35,

Thanks for at least admitting you were wrong about the A&M game. I didn’t say there was anything to brag about and am not asking you to. I like to enjoy the successes when they happen though.

dawgfan

February 9th, 2014
10:01 pm

I’m just sharing my opinion same as you. I see nothing to be positive about. Richt is our coach so that means there’s a 92.3% chance we lose 2 or more games in 2014. I’m sorry but that just doesn’t get me excited.

If you don’t like my posts feel free to not read them. Good luck with that.

Flo-Ri-Duh

February 10th, 2014
1:50 am

dawgpoop – If you had bothered reading the comment I was referring to concerning BS35 (aka Milk Dud) you would know that it had nothing to do with football. He / she / it said GD and I personally find that offensive and stupid. I’m not melting down over your illiterate, air head comments on football.

BS35 (aka Milk Dud) – You have no class, no intelligence, and stupid is something I have short patience with. As of now you are no longer relevant and will be ignored. Stupid is as stupid does.

Flo-Ri-Duh

February 10th, 2014
1:52 am

dawgpoop – You are a TROLL and a sock puppet, plain and simple, and you are on here for one reason only – you enjoy getting under anyone UGA’s skin. Two can play at that game.

dawgfan

February 10th, 2014
6:07 am

I enjoy getting under the skin of Richt worshipers because you are ruining our football program and I don’t appreciate it.

If that makes me a troll then I’m a troll.