Say what you will about the unseemly process of football recruiting, but the young men at the heart of it are expert trend-spotters. They know which program is Hot and which is Not Hot. On Wednesday two ballyhooed Georgians used the Under Armour All-America Game as the venue to announce they’d be making runs for the border, and there you have it.
The Georgia Bulldogs = Not Hot.
Xzavier Dickson of Griffin is bound for Alabama. Quan Bray of LaGrange is taking his talents to Auburn. According to ESPN.com, both rank among the nation’s 25 best prospects. We should also mention that ESPN.com has Georgia’s 2011 recruiting class rated No. 8 nationally. We should also mention that Rivals.com has the Bulldogs 23rd, while Scout.com puts them 20th.
Yes, rankings can and will change. (And yes, recruits have been known to reconsider. Ask Da’Rick Rogers, currently enrolled at Georgia … er, Tennessee.) But seeing Georgia ranked outside anyone’s top 10 always constitutes a shock. Rivals rated the Bulldogs’ signing class among the 10 best every year from 2002 to 2009; last year the Bulldogs were 15th according to Rivals, 21st according to Scout, 12th according to ESPN.
Even in lesser seasons on the field, Georgia under Mark Richt has always been able to point to its recruiting. Now, with lesser seasons running together, the program that controlled its state controls it no more. The buzz about this program has been downgraded to a murmur, and the murmur concerns the future of its head coach. Which grows more tenuous by the moment.
Four SEC schools have qualified for the BCS title game since 2005, Georgia not among them. Seven league members have qualified for the SEC championship game since 2005, Georgia not among them. This program of vast resources has been rendered second-rate.
The Bulldogs lost 19 times in Richt’s first 95 games as coach; they’ve lost 15 times over the past 35. Recruits know this better than anyone. Recruits can sense a program on the descent, even if it’s the flagship school in their state. Thus does the cycle of football spin onward: Win and you’re the place to be; stop winning and you’re the place to flee.
This isn’t to say Georgia can’t and won’t land an uncommitted player or two to bolster this class — Jay Rome of Valdosta and Isaiah Crowell of Columbus are still in play — but Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald offers this nugget: The Bulldogs’ last known public commitment was rendered on Aug. 22.
Put another way, not one recruit has been moved to pledge himself to the Bulldogs since the football season began. Talk about Not Hot.
By Mark Bradley