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

Joey

February 10th, 2014
7:16 am

“Ethical ” and “classy” is nice and all, but I’d rather have a trophy case with a few Crystal Footballs in it . . .

dawgfan

February 10th, 2014
7:27 am

The Kool Aiders created that myth as a crutch for their boy. You can be ethical, classy AND win trophies. It’s absolutely embarassing and disgraceful how they pretend like you can’t.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

February 10th, 2014
8:37 am

Can you be ethical classy and a Christian and win Championships?

Here is a few that did

Tom Landry 3 Super bowls
Joe Gibbs 3 Super bowls
John Wooden 10 National Titles
Tony Dungy 1 Super Bowl
Bill Walsh 3 Super Bowls
Gene Stallings 1 National Title

Of course there are more

jonk

February 10th, 2014
8:57 am

I am so please that Uga signed of what it needs to be done….regardless we are behind Tennesseeor anybody. it is good to have our 2014 recruits…now we have to wait and see who is going to win Sec championship and NC yes we can….Go Dawgs!!!

dawgfan

February 10th, 2014
9:09 am

I personally think Saban and Spurrier are pretty good guys too. They just like to win and hate to lose. Oh the horror. This makes them evil and corrupt to the Kool Aiders.

If Richt had half of their competitiveness we’d have won the big one by now.

Flo-Ri-Duh

February 10th, 2014
10:39 am

dawgpoop you didn’t have to admit that you are a TROLL but for your own peace of mind it was probably good that you finally “came out”.. does that feel better now?

Flat Tire (8:37 am) is an example of how one can agree to disagree without being an arse hole about it aka dawgpoop, etc. Sometimes we agree and some time we don’t but we are both pro Dawg unlike you TROLLS aka dawgpoop.

GHWB

February 10th, 2014
11:09 am

Rather be a troll than an idiot.

dawgfan

February 10th, 2014
11:12 am

You’re the one that starts hurling insults and calling names whenever someone dares to criticize your dreamboat Mark Richt, but mmmkay. I’m the arsehole. Whatever man.

Mobile Dawg

February 10th, 2014
12:26 pm

As the UGA HC I could care less whether CMR is a Christian or not. When I evaluate him and our program all the information I need to formulate my opinion is the record. IMO, he has done less with more than his peers. That’s because again IMO he doesn’t demand the best from his coaches and players and accepts less. My “perception” is that championships are not as important to him as they are to the fans. My “perception” is that he doesn’t work as hard a his peers. My perception is that he’s stubborn and does things his way, regardless of the result. I think a lot of supporters and fans feel the same way.

Utaw Dawg

February 10th, 2014
1:01 pm

Johnny Football was a middle of the road 3 star. The vast majority of all SEC guys were 3 star. How in the heck do you compare a guy playing 2A competition in MS vs. a guy playing 5 A in Miami? It’s about the coaches being able to evaluate during camps and film study that some geek that never played the game assigning a star rating to some kid. Then it’s about coaching them up.

Skokie Dog

February 10th, 2014
1:10 pm

@Mobile at 12:26 p.m.: Amen.

Bulldawg35

February 10th, 2014
1:41 pm

Instead of out recruiting…….Richt is doing some crazy Star Wars video.

Star video

High diving

Georgia aquarium

Skipping practice’s

Gee I wonder why we lost 5 games last year…..and please don’t give the injury excuse.

UGA Insider

February 10th, 2014
3:01 pm

Homers like DawginColorado and Floriduh will say a 5 loss season if just fine as long as CMR is at the helm.

They blame our horrible ST’s play on “not enough chances”.

That is a classic Kool Aid statement.

Bulldawg35

February 10th, 2014
4:09 pm

Insider

That’s right….they couldn’t care less if we lose 5 games every year….just as long as brother is our head coach!

corkymillerlovesbeer

February 10th, 2014
5:19 pm

how much money will we need to save up for the sec championship, semifinal, and championship game for next year.

Vampire Bill

February 10th, 2014
5:42 pm

Dawgs do not have the depth on the OL to run the ball 40 times a game. Few college teams do. The big linemen are just not in that great of shape to handle that amount of physical effort. You have to be able to rotate fresh bodies in with little or no drop off in playing ability, especially in the 4th quarter..

CMR’s teams just DO NOT put enough emphasis on linemen.

GHWB

February 10th, 2014
7:12 pm

corkymillerlovesbeer

February 10th, 2014
5:19 pm

how much money will we need to save up for the sec championship, semifinal, and championship game for next year.

^^^^^^^^^^^^

That’s the bright side. The money that you save! ;)

Flo-Ri-Duh

February 11th, 2014
12:33 am

You TROLLS drinkin’ the PooP-Aid. Richt is still there nah nah nah nah nah nah!

I bleed Red & Black – you bleed PooP-Aid.

You are an idiot and a TROLL… were you born that way or did you get that way over time?

dawgfan

February 11th, 2014
7:40 am

You bleed Richt blood. If you bled red and black you wouldn’t constantly make excuses for him and you’d expect him to do his job.

I’m tired of you Richt lovers claiming to be better fans. You’re posers and phonies. Take your joke coach elsewhere so the rest of us can move on.

GHWB

February 11th, 2014
8:39 am

Ever notice the vitriol, anger and hatred that emanates from these “fans” who are so enamored of Coach Richt’s “Christian Values”?

I-DOG

February 11th, 2014
9:19 am

Vampire Bill,

I disagree completely that there isn’t enough depth on the OL to run the ball 40 times a game. There is plenty of depth on the OL to do just that. In fact, controlling the ball, attacking the front 7 with the run game, and running more plays makes the defense tired and NOT the offense.

There are five players that were 4 or 5 star recruits returning to the OL. Add to that two freshman that are rated 4 stars, a returning starter for two years at Center, Beard if he does indeed stay, and a handful of 3 star recruits and we are 2 deep at every position and that is PLENTY of depth to run the ball as much as we want to.

I don’t expect to be a dominant line next year… but we should be above average and with Gurley, Michaels, Marshall, and Chubb running the ball… we ought to be able to open the holes necessary for this kind of talent to run through.

Bulldawg35

February 11th, 2014
11:03 am

I bet Richt is glad of the snow because he will get to sit around the house and be lazy and not have to go out and recruit.

Flo-Ri-Duh

February 11th, 2014
11:26 am

YOU being lazy – on here 24/7…. wasting your life away. Become a productive citizen, get a life, get a job!

Bulldawg35

February 11th, 2014
11:35 am

UGA only got 3 out of the top 15 in the state of georgia! SC got 4 of the top 15 in the state of georgia! How sad! How pathetic! How gross! How cheap and lazy! It’s time to fire Richt when we let the poultry come in and steal 4 guys like that!

Bulldawg35

February 11th, 2014
11:48 am

I want a coach that can lock down the state! And Richt isn’t the guy! We even let mizzou take the best WR and tavon ross! Step it up fellers!

dawgfan

February 11th, 2014
12:01 pm

I think it’s Richt that needs to get a job, a REAL job. He doesn’t have one. In real jobs they actually expect results commensurate with the resources available and do not tolerate excuses in any shape, form or fashion. That’s the real world.

Richt and his followers do not live in the real world. They live in a fairy tale land far far away.

DRex

February 11th, 2014
12:16 pm

Sounds like the NFL is about to get an infusion of FA-BU-LOUS

Skokie Dog

February 11th, 2014
3:57 pm

@DRex: Peter King, over on Monday Morning Quarterback at CNNSIcom referred to it as “a touchy subject.” I don’t know exactly what he was thinking there.

UGA recruits neighboring states TOO!!

February 11th, 2014
8:39 pm

Georgia has for years recruited NC and SC and Florida for special players. Gurley and Marshall are two state of NC PRIME examples. The Receiver AJ Green, the 2012 HS player of the year in SC, Terry? And the new QB Parks, all come from coastal SC. Florida sends several kids to UGA.

The argument that quality kids leave UGA for other schools is accurate but so what?? ? UGA signs kids that those states covet.

Case closed on this BOGUS issue as just another attempt to flog CMR by tech wanna bees that stay in momma’s basement.

dawgfan

February 11th, 2014
9:16 pm

Yeah, who cares if kids from Georgia don’t want to go to the University of GEORGIA? What’s the big deal? It’s not like other schools are taking all of our great players and winning championships with them or anything while we settle for Outback Bowls. That’s not happening at all. No sirree.

Please say hello to the tooth fairy for me.

mtdawg

February 11th, 2014
10:47 pm

Evans could have gone to UGA and started next yr. Some of my AU. friends said they could have lived with that. Now it looks like his family is going to have to move. You have to wonder what the kid was thinking? Guess they will put him in the witness protection program along with Foster.

Hairy Dawg

February 11th, 2014
10:53 pm

Yes Oline is better this year than last year. We have more depths and no more Kentarious Gates flopping round on grass. Plus with Gurely healthy all year that makes the line look better to. All they got to do this year is form pocket for Hutson not like the way Arron was dancing in backfield. That help improve blocking and plenty rest to keep fresh o-line in game to pound ball straight in defense. We could sign more OL for more depth to if not the recruiting limits of Morehead that came from Adams. And without restrictions we could sign more that would improve class rankings. But real key this year will be experiences and talent of real men o-line that smash mouths other teams.

Go Dawgs!

Play action for UGA in 2014

February 11th, 2014
11:42 pm

UGA ought to adopt a shorter range passing attack. The play fake with our running backs will dimly be devastating, given our running back situation. I am assuming Keith Marshall will take avred shirt year to heal up his knee. UGA is load with blue chip 5 star or ALL SEC caliber running backs.

We can also throw the all to all of them that will do some damage. Used correctly, QB Hutson Mason can manage a short to intermediate passing attack. The FBs can block AND catch the short all.

Hairy Dawg

February 12th, 2014
6:09 am

Play actions and screen pass should be big plays this year. Screen get Gurely ball after d-linemen rush past out a play. Then Gurely set loose on smaller LBS and DBs with O-line escorting. And then we make play action more deadly cause D dont know what coming and start thinking and playing slow and on heels. Then we start straight smash mouhts and blowing big holes in D lines. And that is how Dawgs O totally destroy defensive this year.

Columbus Dawg

February 12th, 2014
7:51 am

Hairy, you are a hoot man! I like your strategy, though. From watching Chubb’s highlight reel, it looks like he has the power and the will to fight through the line of scrimmage, and won’t be denied just like Gurley II. Michel looks good as well. I don’t want to sound down on two great young men in J.J. and Douglas, but UGA needs a big time threat at the tailback position when Gurley is not in the game. There are rumors of a redshirt for Marshall, but who knows. Michel has more passes out of the backfield on his reel than Chubb, so there is a threat there as well. I agree somewhat about Hutson Mason, but like it or not, the vertical passing game has ALWAYS been a big part of Richt’s offenses, and I just don’t believe one exists with Mason at QB. The pundits will all have you believe that Mason is the etched in stone starter for the 2014 season, but now I’m not so sure. Rumors are that Richt and Bobo are going to give the superstar QB Brice Ramsey a shot at winning the job. Ramsey is a lot like Stafford, 6′3″ 220lbs. with an accurate cannon for an arm. Murray said that Ramsey has been a beast in the film room and learning playbook, which Murray said is more complex now than when he started at UGA. It would be a gut wrenching task for Richt to have to tell Mason that Ramsey will start, but Richt’s seat is already warming, with white hot right around the corner. The pundits would have you believe otherwise on that as well, but I know different. Richt needs to make the most of 2014, because if Gurley II leaves Athens after this season without a championship, like so MANY VERY NATIONALLY TALENTED PLAYERS HAVE UNDER RICHT, then his seat is on fire, bet on it.

[...] of Georgia, Bulldogs’ football fans seem lukewarm over Mark Richt’s consensus top 10 football recruiting class. [...]

UGA Insider

February 12th, 2014
9:26 am

Word is Jon Lilly will be coaching kick return and punt return team. Boy that is a big upgrade! What a joke. Hopefully we can average more than 1.92 yards per punt return but I doubt it because CMR doesn’t like to practice ST’s.

Bulldawg35

February 12th, 2014
10:01 am

Chuma Edoga just named Tennessee his leader! How pathetic is will friend as a recruiter??? Most of our best players leave state and till that changes then we will never win the sec again! Thanks!

UGA Insider

February 12th, 2014
10:16 am

I don’t know much about recruiting but it seems like 2015 is off to a pretty good start. I think we have 4 guys who are all 4 or 5 stars. I am gonna go out on a limb and predict UGA has the #1 recruiting class in the nation with Pruitt this year.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

February 12th, 2014
10:19 am

Columbus Dawg

Interesting thoughts on Ramsey competing

I sure hope these young QB’s get some experience this coming season; I dont foresee us making any championship runs with a new defense; inexperienced O-line; supposedly new Special Teams; and injured ball players coming back

If Mason plays as good as Joe Cox I dont foresee any of the other QB’s getting playing time even with 3-5 losses

Columbus Dawg

February 12th, 2014
11:21 am

Flat Tire, If Richt has three to five losses again this year he will more than likely and I mean 90% to !0% likely be GONE. I know many of you do not, will not, do not want to believe this, but just watch.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

February 12th, 2014
11:52 am

Columbus Dawg

Nah; they will give him another year. The excuse will be the defense has a brand new coaching staff and we have an inexperienced QB

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

February 12th, 2014
12:01 pm

Columbus Dawg

I will add that Ive been watching this fanbase make excuses since Dooley left

Columbus Dawg

February 12th, 2014
12:16 pm

Yeah, I hear you Flat. Frustrating ain’t it?

mcdaviddawg

February 12th, 2014
12:25 pm

We’ve been finishing 6 or 7 in the SEC fr several years with much better classes. If Richt can’t do it with tpp 5 recruiting classes, what will less bring us. Rciht has a history of not coaching players up so what we’re building is a team that ha no shot at a championship of any kind.

dawgfan

February 12th, 2014
12:27 pm

No way Richt is gone after next year. The defense will need more time to “gel.” We have a new QB with only 2 starts under his belt who has only been in the program for 4 years. We will have players with injuries. The refs hate us because of the Florida game in 2007. The bounces just never go our way.

Rinse and repeat. Rinse and repeat…

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

February 12th, 2014
12:29 pm

Columbus Dawg

Yea;

of course I will be called a troll and a non fan in a few minutes probably followed by a wait til next year

Hairy Dawg

February 12th, 2014
12:38 pm

Enter your comments here

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

February 12th, 2014
12:42 pm

According to the kool-aiders If it wasnt for the

refs
the ball bouncing around like a pin ball machine
the administration not allowing us to sign 400 or more players each year
programs that are allowed to cheat
the stadium not giving them a wonderful disney like experience
players wanting to leave for the NFL
the current starting QB not being a winner
not enough time
Trolls and Hobbits being negative
the SEC making us play a hard schedule
the media is against uga

we would have won the National Title at least 3 or 4 times in the last decade

dawgfan

February 12th, 2014
12:56 pm

My favorite of all time was just earlier this past season when the fans weren’t being loud enough at home games. Nevermind that one of the excuses for the Clemson game was that it was TOO loud.

$3 million a year for this crap folks. I think we’re getting ripped off.