Bradley’s Buzz: Is UGA’s recruiting hold getting slippery?

Fasten those seat belts; we’re going recruitin’!

I’m not Max Emfinger or Tom Lemming. I’m not Michael Carvell or Darryl Maxie. I am not the world’s greatest source on football recruiting. But I can, contrary to popular belief, read. And here’s what my reading of Brian McLaughlin’s exhaustively annotated list in Sporting News Today of the top 100 prospects for 2010 tells me:

Other schools are coming at Georgia hard — in Georgia!

From Page 1 of McLaughlin’s report, we learn the white-limo crowd at Auburn is in on three of the nation’s top 15 prospects.

On Page 2 it gets more intriguing, as we find that running back Mack Brown (ranked No. 32 overall) of Lithonia’s MLK has declared the hated Gators as his leader in the ol’ clubhouse, and also that receiver Markeith Ambles (No. 39) of Henry County is assessing West Coast schools as well as Alabama, Florida, Tennessee and Georgia.

From Page 3: Georgia is tracking running back Brannan Clay (No. 40) of San Diego and defensive linemen Jordan Allen (No. 43) of West Monroe, La. and Brandon Willis (No. 56) of Duncan, S.C. And also that Georgia would appear to lead on defensive lineman Garrison Smith (No. 53) of Douglass High.

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

From Page 4: Georgia is pursuing receiver Ted Meline (No. 74) of Miami.

From Page 5: Receiver Tai-Ler Jones (No. 82) of Gainesville has already committed to Stanford, while Tennessee, Auburn and Alabama are chasing UGA target Garry Peters (No. 81), who’s a defensive back from Heritage High. And defensive lineman Denzel McCoy (No. 89) of Duluth is headed for Georgia Tech, which is fighting with Mississippi State for quarterback Barry Bostic (No. 98) of Jefferson County. And defensive back Alec Ogletree (No. 91) of Newnan wants to attend college along with his twin brother.

There was a time when the Bulldogs had essentially buttoned up the state borders, but now there’s the Urban Crier to the south and Li’l Kiffy to the north and Coach Satan and the limo kings to the west and Paul Johnson sitting tall at the Flats. So this could be a more difficult recruiting season than Georgia has known since Mark Richt arrived from Tallahassee.

Then again, it could just be business as usual. Rodney Garner isn’t known as The Closer for nothing.

Peter King thinks he thinks the Falcons will be pretty good

Writing on SI.com, Peter King ranks the Falcons No. 11 among the NFL’s 32 teams. And if that doesn’t sound all that hot, consider: He puts Atlanta far above the other three clubs in the NFC South. He has Carolina No. 18, New Orleans No. 24 and Tampa Bay No. 26.

And you might recall Arizona coming within seconds of winning the Super Bowl four months ago. Pete has the Cardinals No. 12 — one spot behind the Birds.

Speaking of the Cardinals, Sporting News Today polled its NFL experts as to the identity of the league’s best receiver, and it will come as an utter shock to learn that Larry Fitzgerald is No. 1. Calvin Johnson (Tech guy) is 11th; Roddy White (Falcons guy) is 15th, and Hines Ward (Georgia guy and my down-the-street neighbor) is 19th.

Chipper on the Bravos: “We feel fortunate”

Can’t believe I’m always linking to Sporting News Today, given that the publication’s editor-in-chief has never had a good idea in his life. (I’m kidding. Esteemed former colleague Jeff D’Alessio is the best in the business.) Anyway, here’s an interview Bill Eichenberger conducted with Chipper Jones, who likes the Braves’ chances even after their middling start.

Lousy ownership! Get your lousy ownership right here!

The bad news: The Atlanta Spirit is ranked No. 4 on SI.com’s list of worst NHL owners. The good news: The same Atlanta Spirit is not — repeat, is not — ranked among SI’s list of worst NBA owners.

Speaking of hockey: The Hamilton Spectator reported over the weekend that a local group was making a bid to buy the Thrashers and move them to Ontario. (Speaking to esteemed colleague Chris Vivlamore, general manager Don Waddell quickly refuted the report.) And that’s a good thing, isn’t it? The Thrashers staying?

Well, isn’t it?

A few final words about the Hawks

From Bret LaGree on Hoopinion comes this factual nugget: “[Josh] Smith attempted 68 jump shots in 11 playoffs games. He made 15 of them.” (That’d be 22 percent, for those without a handy pocket calculator.)

From The Human Highlight Blog comes this sobering note: “If we are to believe … that the team learned many great things from the loss in last year’s Boston series, then we must hope that lessons will be taken from this [swept-by-Cleveland] experience as well. To continue to stick the franchise’s collective head in the sand will only bring these issues out again next year … No matter how much older this young core will get, the results, if unchecked, will remain the same.”

And just for the heck of it

Here’s the famous YouTube video of Rodney Garner’s response to a question from esteemed colleague Chip Towers on Signing Day 2008.

213 comments Add your comment

country boy

May 14th, 2009
7:48 am

Don’t get excited about Dawgs not locking up twenty five 5 star recuits just yet. Richt and Garner will be fine. Too good of an opportunity for smart athletes ( maybe not student-atheletes) to pass on.

haney

May 14th, 2009
8:12 am

Good grief Mark, I guess there is a reason you never covering recruiting. The state of Georgia produces a TON of Div 1 prospects each year and UGA gets pretty much everyone they want. Sure they will miss a kid here an there but they can’t sign all of them. This year they might only sign a total of 18. I am not a Tech fan in the least, I hope they lose every game they play, but Paul Johnson is a smart man by focusing his recruiting effort in the home state. He will not only get better quality players but Tech might also draw more sidewalk fans. If you have the option to watch a kid that grew up in your town play or watch a kid from New York or Penn play, more local fans are interested in seeing the local kids play.

Back to UGA, they are now starting to build a national reputation recruiting wise and also starting to dip more into the state of Florida-a state that produces an increbible amount of college prospects. But to be sure, they will always grab the top players in Georgia. One thing to remember, we are in May, signing day is not until Feb of 2010. A LOT can happen between now and then. When the ink is dry, UGA will once again have a top 10 class.

RAMBLE ON!!!

May 14th, 2009
8:14 am

Mark, how can you talk about UGA recruiting without mentioning Hargrave Academy?

Rabnnod

May 14th, 2009
8:22 am

The UGA recruiting class is focused on D. They are getting talent it just isn’t sexy like RB/QBs are. DL to stop GT mostly. I would think Richt is more worried about losing to Tech (and then maybe his job) over in state recruiting. With the budgets and staff colleges have now you can recruit nationally a lot more accurately and in state recruiting doesn’t have to be dominant. It helps though.

MiltonDawg

May 14th, 2009
8:26 am

Dawgs will be fine in recruiting. Richt’s record and reputation sell themselves.
Atlanta Spirit is ruining two great franchises. I’ll bet that the offseason for the Hawks/Thrashers will be brutal. Folks, get ready to lose a lot of great, talented athletes. As long as Spirit continues their pathetic way to run a franchise, we’ll be limited to Braves, Falcons, and college ball.

Mark Bradley

May 14th, 2009
8:34 am

Certainly you’d have to bet on Richt/Garner, given the track record. But I was surprised to note that Sporting News Today didn’t have Georgia leading on every in-state player of note. I’d just gotten used to that. (I might not be a recruiting maven, but I do read AJC.com.)

gdawginkalamazoo

May 14th, 2009
8:37 am

Should be a solid class as usual. Putting two players in the first round this year is always a great selling point. Garner and Richt will get who they need and build some depth where it is needed.

JB

May 14th, 2009
8:50 am

We sign 20 or so young men a year. as with any program, look at the senior class. About half are gone, didn’t make it, left for the NFL early etc…… Signing these young men is a crap shoot. we have 3 star players turn into 5 star and vice versa. We will sign 14-15 Georgia boys a year and 5 or 6 out of state guys. Usually the out of state guys are studs, not picked over. Everyone will not come here because of the talent in the state, and we’ll lose some or we could be loaded at the position. I think any Georgia boy who spends an hour with Richt will have us on his list, unless they just don’t care for the school/team or they grew up a ________________fill in the blank fan.

fay-dawg

May 14th, 2009
9:01 am

Ramble On….two words for your smart a$$….Kenny Anderson

[...] Mark Bradley of the AJC blogs on whether Georgia football’s recruiting hold has become slippery. [...]

GeoffDawg

May 14th, 2009
9:06 am

meh…if they’re coming into Georgia, we’re concurrently going into their states to cherrypick top talent so it’s a wash. With the exception of Ole Miss, we all have to abide by the same scholarship limitations.

Mark Bradley

May 14th, 2009
9:09 am

I laughed at that one, Geoff.

haney

May 14th, 2009
9:10 am

Like I said before Mark, UGA is not going to get every top player in the state. They might not be interested in UGA or vice versa or they are not at a position of need. One kid you mentioned in your article, Ambles, I don’t think UGA has even offered him because from what I have heard-meaning rumor-he has some issues that might keep admissions from allowing him in school. Tailer Jones from Gainesville, he is a top recruit that claimed UGA was a dream offer, but then said they didn’t offer him earlier enough-and he isn’t a senior in HS-that means, he had his feelings hurt. You move and it appears UGA likes the WR out of Calhoun better as well as few highly ranked kids in Florida.

I can see where you might be surprised that UGA does not lead with every in state player, but that does not mean the program is slipping, as your article might suggest. It just means Richt/Garner are being VERY selective in whom they offer and how many they offer at certain positions as well. As you have concluded, trust in Richt/Garner as they know what they are doing.

GeoffDawg

May 14th, 2009
9:12 am

Also, an Atlanta Spirit related question – are there any examples of teams run by LLCs or other ownership groups which have consistently excelled in their respective league? It seems like you need that one driving personality at the head of the table to stay competitive on a yearly basis. Groups tend to have either the “too many cooks in the kitchen” or the “too many chiefs, not enough warriors” problem. Whichever metaphor strikes your fancy.

Mark Bradley

May 14th, 2009
9:18 am

The Angels won a World Series when Disney owned the team, Geoff. But they’re aren’t many examples.

[...] Mark Bradley of the AJC blogs on whether Georgia football’s recruiting hold has become slippery. [...]

F.G.

May 14th, 2009
9:21 am

Paul Johnson has changed recruiting for UGA since his arrival at Tech, and will put even more pressure for UGA to recruit in the future.

fay-dawg

May 14th, 2009
9:24 am

Mr. Bradley…..enjoyed the article. Does this mean that you’ll be entering the recruiting fray from time to time?

Mark Bradley

May 14th, 2009
9:26 am

Perhaps from time to well-spaced time, Fay-dawg. Gotta pick your spots, y’know?

You’ve also got to leave it to the experts, which I’m not.

old gold

May 14th, 2009
9:28 am

Paul Johnson will be specifically focusing on the state –something that neither Chan Gailey nor George O’Leary did. So Georgia now has in-state competition out on the GA recruiting trail. Truth be told though, there is plenty of GA state talent out there to go around –both programs will more than fill their needs.

HH

May 14th, 2009
9:31 am

Maybe the best high-school players have noticed that old Urban and Saban get, should I say coach, their teams to more BCS bowls more frequently then certain other coaches do. According to those that supposedly know these things, UGA has had a string of top ten classes, not to mention Stafford and Knowshon, but ain’t got much to show for it in the trophy case. You don’t suppose that might have anything to do with it,do you Bradley?

Dawg Man

May 14th, 2009
9:31 am

Rodney Garner’s getting big money to bring in the top recruits. He better step it up or he can hit the road. UGA needs a lot more talent to beat Florida and win the SEC. Right now, they don’t have what it takes. I’m getting sick of losing to Florida almost every year and the arrogant Urban Meyer!

Charles

May 14th, 2009
9:34 am

I’m worried about certain facets of the UGA program, but recruiting certainly is not one of them. They can only sign 18 or so, and the kids they sign will be the best of the best, just like always. For instance, we may miss Brown, but we’ll sign the kid from San Diego or Lattimore from Byrnes. Miss on Jones, but sign Meline from Florida and Rogers from Calhoun, who’s the best prospect in the state. Total non-issue.

UGA hasn’t even offered Ambles. Kid’s seeing his offers fall off the table daily due to character concerns.

CaulDawg

May 14th, 2009
9:37 am

Can you say Eric Berry? He’s a pretty good one that got away; this is not new news Mr. Bradley.

PTC DAWG

May 14th, 2009
9:38 am

Mark, you show your ignorance by stating that UGA should be leading on EVERY in state player. It just can’t be. Read up on something before you write on it.

Start by finding out how many 1-A players sign scholarships from UGA. IF you can do that, you will realize why even UGA and GT combined cannot possibly be in on all of them.

Island Dawg

May 14th, 2009
9:39 am

HH, what has Saban gotten except his team’s a$$ handed to them by Utah? Give me a break. Utah?

Cameron

May 14th, 2009
9:40 am

Mark:

Yes, UGA is trailing on some in-state prospects. A couple of notes.

-UGA has been slow to offer a lot of these kids, due to limited scholarship numbers. This has allowed other schools to come in, offer, and start building relationships. By the time UGA has finished their more thorough evaluation, they are already looking up at some of these other schools.

-UGA’s staff is very honest and forthright in recruiting. We will not tell a 280 lb. DE that he will get a fair, honest shot at MLB (see Allen Bailey). We also will not tell a 6-0 QB, who can run, and has a strong arm, but is destined for WR or DB that he will get a shot at QB. Saban will, Urban Cryer will, Lame Kiffin will do anything.

-The talent in several surrounding states is WAY down this year. Thus, other schools are attacking Georgia and Florida VERY hard.

-UGA is starting to be more aggressive with blue-chip out-of-state kids. If you go back to the same list, start clicking on some of the top OT, RB, DE, and CBs. You will see UGA listed on all of them. We actually have a shot with a lot of them as well. UGA may not be leading for every Georiga kid as in the past, but they also are in on a lot more out-of-state top talent.

-These other schools that come in here can offer right away, guage interest, and then pull back if they decide they like another kid better or that they don’t really have a chance. UGA cannot offer these in-state kids unless they know for sure that they will accept these kids if they commit. UGA has to go into these same counties/areas/schools year in and year out for recruiting. These other schools only come when there is a kid they like that they can’t find in their own state.

-All in all, UGA will be fine. It might take us a little longer to lock up our class this year, but we will be in the top ten. We will sign the majority of the top ten prospects in Georgia. We will also sprinkle in some Florida kids with some other national recruits.

No worries here.

SoCal Dawg

May 14th, 2009
9:40 am

When the dust settles, UGA’s recruiting class will again be a top 10 class. Just like the regular season, the competition for recruits in the SEC has become fierce. No longer are their two tiers of schools but now there is almost a single tier of quality programs competing for the best athletes. So, the days of protecting your backyard are gone–the fences are torn down.

Great programs are not built on getting the best players…it takes the RIGHT players. I have no doubt that CMR and CRG understand that better than most. UGA’s recruiting class probably isn’t going be loaded with 4 and 5 star athletes but that isn’t the most important measure of success. It is what happens on the field 2-3 years later.

Supes

May 14th, 2009
9:42 am

Mark, slow news day in the sports world is it? That’s the best you can come up with? Hey, it worked, it made me click and read the top part of the article until I realized how insignificant it was. Just ramblings and speculation, that’s all recruiting is until students sign that letter of intent. After that…recruiting means NOTHING if there isn’t sufficient coaching, and if the athlete is not determinted to succeed and better himself.

So thanks for nothing Mark, I’ll be looking forward to more “brilliant” blogs like this from you the rest of the week.

How about you write something about the ATL BRAVES, just coming off a huge road trip win? At least stay current. Then again, it is the AJC, always a bit behind with that stuff. Thank God for Orlando L. and DOB and their blogs, otherwise you’d lose all credibility with blogs such as yours sir.

Otto

May 14th, 2009
9:42 am

UGA may not be locking up as much in state talent as CMR did early in his career. However he is getting more top talent across the country than ever before. MoMass and Cox from NC, Brown from TN, Murray and Charles from FL, the list goes on. I understand UGA has a limited class and is going after defense this year so I doubt you will hear much but that does not make the recruiting any less of a success.

GeoffDawg

May 14th, 2009
9:42 am

Dawg Man – if anybody’s earning their paycheck, it’s Rodney Garner. Like Charles said, recruiting is the least of our worries at Georgia. Injuries and defensive scheming are much higher on my priority list.

CaulDawg – I think Eric Berry was some sort of legacy at UT so you can’t really read too much into losing him. He’s a special player though and would’ve obviously loved to have had him.

Cameron

May 14th, 2009
9:44 am

HH:

UGA has been to more BCS games than Florida and Bama since Richt has been here. Bama has only been good for last year. And, they didn’t fare so well in their BCS game. Florida–that is another story. That have two national championships. No arguments there.

Caul Dawg:

Eric Berry went to Tennessee because his dad played there. I guarantee you he regrets that decision. They didn’t win last year and probably won’t this year. He will be leaving after this year.

Cameron

May 14th, 2009
9:45 am

Supes:

I agree with you about the RIGHT player thing. But, we will have a class loaded with 4 and 5 star players, with the few 3 stars sprinkled in. We always do. There will just be more out-of-state players this year.

JB

May 14th, 2009
9:45 am

Meyer looks into Georgia for only the top cream ( top 3- 4 players) and tells them, come to us and be in the BCS every year, or go to Athens and play in the Capitol One bowl. Meyer has no interest in stocking his team from Georgia. He just wants that special ” Too good for Georgia” kid.

jdawg

May 14th, 2009
9:47 am

Mark Richt mentioned this very subject in Rome the other night and said that schools were coming in with blanket offers….he said not to worry…that when they offer….he has a scholarship…and also, maybe the young man does not match Ga. profile and needs….so he is keenly aware of this…I feel confident according to him that the Georgia recruiting board looks OK….jdawg

Mike the Tiger

May 14th, 2009
9:47 am

Certainly Georgia’s regression from number one in the country to around number twenty after beatings by Alabama, Florida, and the humiliation by Georgia Tech, will hurt recruiting in the near future. This article failed to reference Richt’s belief that God is directly involved in his recruiting effort. The decline might have something to do with Georgia’s well publicized behavior issues. Mamas and grandmamas may not want to send their babies off to Deadwood.

Ramblin Wreck!!!

May 14th, 2009
9:49 am

Are you guys scared like I am about the upcoming football game against Georgia? I am very concerned, all yall need to wake up and smell the coffee. Georgia owns us and we don’t have much longer to hide behind the “45-42″ phrase. I’m terrified!!!

H.S. Coach

May 14th, 2009
9:49 am

Can you say Eric Berry’s dad went to UT? It not a real shocker that he followed in his footsteps.

GeoffDawg

May 14th, 2009
9:50 am

JB, Richt’s been to a BCS bowl three times in his tenure including two years ago. There are plenty of legitimate recruiting points for Florida but I highly doubt Meyer is using that particular line of logic.

ReggieATL

May 14th, 2009
9:51 am

Yes, Georgia produces a ton of talent. But we’ve had some BIG losses. these past couple years- in state. Just this year, we lost those lineman from North Gwinnett and some of those Gainesville kids. In the past year, we’ve lost legit NFL guys- Eric Berry and Allen Bailey. So yeah, Georgia fans should be concerned, especially with Nick Saban on the trail…his classes have been LOADED. But let’s not jump off any ledges. As far as Georgia Tech, we land out of state talent, like Orson, Lynch, A.J. Green, and Aaron Murray, that they can only dream about. We just landed a top ten class. And as far as Florida…they got some of our guys, we get some of their- Rantavious Wooten, Carlton Thomas, etc. Heck, we just landed a pair of Florida defenders. Everyone needs to RELAX and let CMR and CRG do their job.

Mark Bradley

May 14th, 2009
9:52 am

Oh, I can recall one or two pretty good Georgians who went out of state. Jamal Lewis. Cosey Coleman. Deon Grant. Charlie Ward. William Andrews. I’m aware it’s not a totally new thing.

GeoffDawg

May 14th, 2009
9:52 am

Mike, losing to Florida by that score was humiliating. Losing to tech by 3 was not.

JB

May 14th, 2009
9:53 am

Mike the Tiger…..nothing but fodder…..you do not know the inner workings of UGA football nor do you Mark Richt’s Personal Relationship with the Lord and how it Does or does not inter twine with the football program. It’s just a cheap shot by you about his Faith.

Ben

May 14th, 2009
9:53 am

Uhhh, HH… not sure what you mean there, but Richt has won the SEC twice in the past seven years. As far as i know, Saban hasn’t won anything yet with the Tide.

And to echo what some others have said, it seems that our coaching staff has gotten very meticulous about who they offer. I think this is a good thing, and i like our we’re expanding our recruitment nationally. It only provides better exposure for the team. I mean, look at Knowshon and Stafford… Jersey and Texas respectively. We’ve been continuing that with recruits like Robinson, Lynch, and Love.

Huh?

May 14th, 2009
9:53 am

First of all, outsiders targeting UGA players is nothing new. Everytime there is a new flavor of the week coach in the SEC we UGA fans have to hear about how our recruiting is in trouble because they are coming after us. Blah, blah, blah. Richt & Garner have more than held their own. Secondly, in this age of easy information, the internet, and wall to wall college football coverage on ESPN, I think you’re going to see college football recruiting going more and more national. Players are just more familiar with programs and leagues outside their geographical area than they used to be. Like someone said, as long as Georgia is cherry picking top recruits from other states I think we’ll be okay.

Then again, I’m not much of a recruiting whiz either. That rarely stops me from being right though. Thanks.

Pi$$onaDAWG

May 14th, 2009
9:54 am

Island Dawg do you really think UTAH would not eaten your secondary alive had you played them? GeoffDawg I got to see Eric play a lot here in So Fulton and he was a great QB too. I would love for the Falcons to get him but It ain’t gonna happen he is a top 5 pick in this years draft. Deion talent without the public mouth.

JaxDawg

May 14th, 2009
9:54 am

Cameron- well said. Coming off a class where we got the number 1 QB out of the state of Fl in Tampa no less which is definite gator territory and pulling the top 2 players out of Tenn in Brown and Long, I’d hardly say we’re slipping in recruiting.

HH

May 14th, 2009
9:55 am

Dear Island Dog: Looks to me like Saban has a National Championship ring. I don’t see Richt weraring one; R has also ben hanging around Athens nine or ten years, counting this season. So far as Alabama goes, looks like they didn’t show up—just like your favorite team didn’t show up against them, or Old Urban , for that matter. You can take a break any time you want to. I hear life behind the McDonald’s counter can be stressful.

Mark Bradley

May 14th, 2009
9:57 am

My point — and I do have one, I think — is that the recruiting stakes in the South keep getting higher and higher, what with Tennessee ripping off shirts and Auburn doing the limo tour and Saban settling in and Tech beating Georgia for the first time since 2000. It could well be that Georgia is strong enough to fend off such an onslaught. Guess we’ll see, won’t we?

richtfan

May 14th, 2009
10:00 am

Mark,

Let’s take this one situation at a time……

1. uga recruiting isn’t slipping in any way. We get pretty much who we want. However, we have burned because the state of Georgia, in many situations, is not doing its job at the high school level in preparing kids to take the standardized entrance exams. Especially in rural communities many kids don’t take things seriously in 9th or 10th grade academically, and they get into a hole. Therefore, UGA leaves many of those prospects, some of whom are very talented, to other schools like Auburn, UF, South Carolina, Tennessee and others. They simply cannot get in to UGA. UGA has no other choice but to find talent elsewhere.

2. UGA has to go elsewhere to find talented wideouts because there simply are too many high school programs running the wing t offense, and that offense does not produce enough kids who can catch the ball. the state of georgia, as a whole, is known for producing running backs, offensive guards and centers, linebackers, defensive backs and def. linemen. Very few great high school wideouts come from Georgia. There are occasional exceptions, but that is the rule.

3. Georgia’s recruiting is national because they are on tv most Saturdays. This leads to so many other kids and coaches who are interested in UGA football across the country. We don’t have to limit ourselves. So, the reality is that we’re simply not recruiting at all many of the prospects you’re talking about. That makes it a farce when you print that we’re getting beat out by other schools. How can we get beat out for a kid we’ve never recruited or offered?