Credit to Richt: A big recruiting yield at a big moment for UGA

Coming off its first losing season since 1996, Georgia is poised to sign the most illustrious recruiting class Mark Richt has assembled, which is saying something when you consider two 2006 signees were among the top dozen taken in the 2009 NFL draft. Obvious question: Who saw this coming?

Said Chad Simmons, the Southeast recruiting analyst for Scout.com/FoxSports: “I am a little surprised … but I’m not that surprised.”

If we’ve learned anything this past month, it’s that the Georgia program might be in a weakened state but that the Georgia name remains a powerful thing. Four different SEC programs have accounted for the past five BCS titles, and yet Georgia, at least on Signing Day 2011, seems positioned to stand with any of them.

Said Simmons: “I don’t think wins and losses make a difference. There’s a chance Georgia, which was 6-7, will outrecruit Auburn, which won the national championship.”

Said Jeff Dantzler, the astute Athens radio man: “This is the most important recruiting class coach Richt has ever had, and it’s one of the  most important in Georgia history. And it’s not just because of talent — it’s because of  the psyche of our people.”

We pause to insert the disclaimer: Recruiting isn’t an exact science; if it were, Georgia wouldn’t have been 6-7. But such was the discord in and around the program — fans in a tizzy, media (blush) in high dudgeon, the strength coach being re-assigned — that a diminished recruiting class figured to be the next falling domino. But no.

Scout.com ranks Georgia’s class the nation’s seventh-best, and Simmons said there’s a chance the Bulldogs could clamber into the top five. Still in play: The running back Isaiah Crowell of Carver-Columbus, the defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan of Asheville, N.C. and the massive defensive tackle John Jenkins of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.

Simmons: “If all the chips fall their way, this would definitely be the top class Richt has had. It would throw over the [2006] one with Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno and Reshad Jones.”

Let’s recall: The calendar year began badly. Having lost the Liberty Bowl to Central Florida on New Year’s Eve, Georgia watched Xzavier Dickson of Griffin and Quan Bray of LaGrange use the Jan. 5 Under Armour All-America Game to announce for Alabama and Auburn, respectively. That prompted even more hand-wringing among Bulldog Nation — and much tut-tutting, it must be said, from this observer — but Richt and Co. have since gotten almost everybody worth getting. How?

“It’s a tribute to these coaches for not giving up, for selling Georgia as still being Georgia,” Simmons said. “They want these guys to be difference-makers, the guy who’ll turn it around.”

We say again: With Richt, recruiting has never been the overriding concern. At issue is how well assembled resources have been marshaled. Which leads to this: Should Georgia land Crowell and Jenkins to go with Ray Drew (defensive end, Thomasville) and Damian  Swann (defensive back, Grady High) and Jay Rome (tight end, Valdosta), could the Bulldogs win the SEC East next fall?

Simmons: “These next few days [Crowell is announcing Wednesday, Jenkins not until Saturday] will be big for Georgia. Those are guys who can play for Georgia next year. They’re big pieces in this class. Jenkins is the 6-foot-4, 340-pound nose guard that [defensive coordinator] Todd Grantham needs for his 3-4 defense.”

Let’s see. Big interior lineman from a junior college: Didn’t Auburn just win it all with one of those? (The name was Nick Fairley, in case any Bulldog fans have forgotten.) And a hotshot freshman runner: Didn’t the arrival of Marcus Lattimore lift South Carolina to a breakthrough SEC East crown? Said Simmons: “Crowell can be that same type of player for Georgia.”

We pause here for breath, and also to remember: Georgia went 6-7 and didn’t beat a team with a winning record. But such is the promise inherent in recruiting, and no school knows better than this one. In 1979 the Bulldogs were 6-5. They signed Herschel Walker (running back, Wrightsville) on Easter Sunday 1980; on New Year’s Day 1981, they became national champs.

By Mark Bradley

523 comments Add your comment

just a fan

January 31st, 2011
12:35 pm

Mark Bradley

January 31st, 2011
12:36 pm

just a fan, maybe, but taker of the coveted kudos.

Jesse Stone

January 31st, 2011
12:37 pm

MB- Maybe this will quiet SOME of the UGA faithful that claim you “gush” about CPJ.

just a fan

January 31st, 2011
12:40 pm

thank you Mark I want to thank everyone who helped me get to where I am today……

Milledgeville Dawg

January 31st, 2011
12:40 pm

We shall return-This upcoming season

TDA

January 31st, 2011
12:41 pm

Big recruiting yield? Um, they had top 10 classes from 02-09. They had top 10 classes 07 08 and 09. And that got them what?

Greedy

January 31st, 2011
12:43 pm

AHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

2011--No Aj No Kris Durham No Justin Houston

January 31st, 2011
12:44 pm

6-7 team. Boise first game usc next
good luck with that.

Mark Bradley

January 31st, 2011
12:45 pm

I’d say the first two games of 2011 will loom rather large.

GTBob

January 31st, 2011
12:46 pm

Congrats to Richt for doing what he does every year. 2008 rank: 5th, 2009 rank: 4th. It’s not like this is uncommon ground for Richt. Im pretty sure also that wins and losses don’t matter too much to recruits. Teams like Texas, Notre Dame, and UGA will recruit well regardless of how bad they were the previous seasons. Even USC is recruiting well and they can’t even compete in post season games.

Class of '98

January 31st, 2011
12:46 pm

Like the NFL draft, college recruiting is about filling specific needs. And with Drew, and hopefully Crowell and Jenkins, we would fill our 3 biggest needs. Very pleasantly surprised with this class.

fla dawg

January 31st, 2011
12:46 pm

recruiting has never been the problem. getting them in school, keeping them in school, keeping them out of trouble, and last but surely not least….if richt and company cant coach them up then nothing will change.

Herschel Talker

January 31st, 2011
12:46 pm

MB:

Richt gets credit for helping UGA do well under its next coach in 2012. But make no mistake – 2011 will still be a disaster.

HT

dawginfla(help!)

January 31st, 2011
12:49 pm

I dunno – I hope this class helps turn things around, but I’m worried about how many Cam Newtons end up as defensive ends at UGA…

aaron

January 31st, 2011
12:49 pm

i sincerely hope we get all these guys. i think we’ll need almost all of them for richt to have any chance to save his job. it’s sad to say that our most interesting football competition this last year has been in recruiting and not on the field. still, forever GO DAWGS!

Bamboozled

January 31st, 2011
12:50 pm

Richt has to realize that he cannot redshirt some of the guys who can make a impact immediately. Thats-so-80ish & 90ish. Today’s College football landscape is much different and the big time programs are playing true freshman, not only in the skilled position, but OL & DL, as well.

ATL Fan

January 31st, 2011
12:50 pm

GSU Eagle 91,
I don’t think you can call Ray Drew a thug. A minister maybe, but not a thug.

elvis

January 31st, 2011
12:51 pm

Regardless of how unpredictable the recruiting science is UGA had to quiet the noise of the doubters. No such thing as a can’t miss, but these guys are legit candidates for an overall improvment in talent.
Part 2 would need to be a convincing win over Boise…SC,etc.

James

January 31st, 2011
12:52 pm

Great story Mark..

Steve

January 31st, 2011
12:52 pm

Ga recruits well every year because this state is a top 5 recruit state in the country and only has two div a football teams. Compare that to the rest of the south Mark. What you should be writing is why he had top 8 programs in 2007 2008 and 2009 and a top 15 class last year and they went 6-7 with a top 5, maybe 1-3 nfl draft pick and another first rounder. Why don’t you write about losses to colorado and central florida and how inexcusable that is with the talent they have. No all we get is hey look at great recruiting class. Yeah we get that every year. What a kool aid drinking article this is.

Mark Bradley

January 31st, 2011
12:53 pm

The recent history of Georgia football might have been different had Knowshon Moreno not been redshirted in 2006 or Aaron Murray in 2009.

Mark Bradley

January 31st, 2011
12:54 pm

Why, thanks, James. But I owe it all to Messrs. Simmons and Dantzler.

Jesse Stone

January 31st, 2011
12:54 pm

Steve- MB puts it out there and let’s us do the spinning.

NC Dawg

January 31st, 2011
12:54 pm

Come on guys, let’s load up and win the BCS with a new face. Let’s don’t forget Antonio Richardson and Jeoffrey Pagan.

80 Dawg

January 31st, 2011
12:55 pm

First two games are very important to the season, If we can win those two ,anything is possible .Everyone has to remember , almost every game beside the second half of the Auburn game , the DAWGS were in the game. I know a drop pass , apunt hitting a players foot, a fumble here and there is all part of the game and can be traced back to coaching, but we really had some bad breaks. Looking for a SEC title this year! GO DAWGS

DawginLex

January 31st, 2011
12:55 pm

Mark, i will give you Moreno in 2006 but playing Murray over cox would have resulted in at least 2 if not 3 losses-Arkansas, SC and Auburn.

Thomas

January 31st, 2011
12:55 pm

MB if you want credibility write an article titled
Uga recruting 2011, been there done that. What happens on the field with the coaching is the problem. Not this garbage.

Herschel Talker

January 31st, 2011
12:56 pm

“The recent history of Georgia football might have been different had Knowshon Moreno not been redshirted in 2006 or Aaron Murray in 2009.”

Murray was injured, so there was little choice there. As for the Moreno comment, sure we would have done better in 2006, but then with high expectations in 2007, we would have had the 2008 disaster a year earlier. In the big picture, nothing would have been different had Moreno not redshirted. That said, redshirting Moreno really spoke poorly to Richt’s talent evaluation skills.

DawginLex

January 31st, 2011
12:56 pm

Not to mention the fact he was coming off of a serious injury and his shoulder was not well enough to throw starting in 2009.

CHARLOTTE DAWG

January 31st, 2011
12:56 pm

Can anyone provide an explanation on why Geathers was so ineffective at nose tackle last year? Look at his physical stats…the kid is plenty big enough. D Tyson at nose did not make sense. To his credit, he’s not big enough to occupy two big O-lineman. But Geathers is.

So my question is…what was the problem? Endurance, Strength, attitude? I didn’t hear much on this issue last year but it was obvious that our NG position was not effective in drawing double teams and stuffing the middle when it came to the run(SC game is an example).

can anyone shed some light on my questions about Geathers?

Jesse Stone

January 31st, 2011
12:57 pm

“Jumpy” Geathers was a great pocket crusher.

B

January 31st, 2011
12:58 pm

Damian Swann

joe

January 31st, 2011
12:58 pm

Two things: 1. They have not signed on the dotted line yet, so don’t count those chickens. 2. Yes, CMR is a great recruiter, but something happens between each February signing date and kickoff of game 1 in the fall…those dream teams turn into nightmares once CMR, coach bozo and the rest get ahold of em. Not sure why that is, but it is what it is…

DawginLex

January 31st, 2011
12:58 pm

charlotte dawg,

How about not showing their actual weight?

Geathers weighed closer to 275 and Tyson around 265. They were giving away 40 -60 pounds vs SEC OL. That’s why we got pushed around plus the fact that the S&C program was awful.

dawg2

January 31st, 2011
12:59 pm

Its not getting the players thats the problem, its doing something with them when they get here. Also keeping them out of jail……Now Richt no excuses.

Mtn Dawg

January 31st, 2011
12:59 pm

‘mon Isaiah, Jenkins, and Pagan. Let’s put the pieces together for a big year, and re-establish the Dawgs once again as having an elite program.

dawgster

January 31st, 2011
12:59 pm

@Herschel Talker…don’t know what will happen in 2011 as you do, but i will ask you the question: are you man enough to come on here and say you were wrong if 2011 goes very well for the dawgs…i mean you seem to know what will happen, i’m just wondering how you address it if your prediction is wrong…go dawgs

Jesse Stone

January 31st, 2011
1:00 pm

Over/under on how many of these recruits will be NQ?

Herschel Talker

January 31st, 2011
1:00 pm

Coach Johnson knows we don’t have nothing at Tech but in 3 years we will see if Georgia’s recruits are better than Tech’s! Money says ..Johnson will be gone!!

Matt

January 31st, 2011
1:00 pm

Fla dawg- completely agree.

Had Washaun not been sharing carries his stats would be almost identical to Lattimore’s. Him or King would have gained 1,000 yards two years ago if they weren’t sharing carries.

Attitudes need to change.

joe

January 31st, 2011
1:00 pm

Two issues: 1. nobody has signed any papers yet 2. Once CMR and staff gets ahold of em, those dream teams turn into nightmares…seems to happen most every year…not sure why that is.

MustangDawg91

January 31st, 2011
1:01 pm

Lets gooooooo Dawgs….

CHARLOTTE DAWG

January 31st, 2011
1:02 pm

Hershel Talker,

And what about putting Richard Samuel at RB? Gee Whiz…someone really messed that evaluation up. The kid was strong and fast but had not cut-back ability whatsoever and had no vision to find the holes. It was painfully obvious to a non-profesional bystander such as myself.

Example-Seeing him try to change directions against vandy in Nashville….it took him 4 steps to cut it up north and south. Moreno in one or two steps and he would have been gone.

Richard Samuel and Knowson are two example of very poor talent evaluation.

So I definetely agree with you. But good coaches learn their lessons so we can only hope the best see the field in 2011.

An about my question about Geathers?

Herschel Talker

January 31st, 2011
1:02 pm

“are you man enough to come on here and say you were wrong if 2011 goes very well for the dawgs”

Absolutely. If Richt stuns me, happily of course, and has a stellar year, I will certainly say that I underestimated him.

But it won’t happen. A guy doesn’t have 3 years like he had in 2008-2010 and all of a sudden turn things around. If he had that ability, then 2008-2010 wouldn’t have been such disasters in the first place.

DawginLex

January 31st, 2011
1:02 pm

Mrbiguns,

Richt won 96 games in 10 years including 2 SEC titles.

Goff and Donnan won 76 games the previous 10 years without a sniff of the GA Dome except for the chicken bowl.

Richt is a victim of his own success but the time has come to win big.

KBP

January 31st, 2011
1:02 pm

I have stated to many of my fellow Dawg fans that Richt has had two bad years since 2000: 2009 & 2010. 2008 was a great year inspite of the 3 losses. This talk of Richt being on the hot seat was simply preposterous. The biggest issue over the last 5 years has been recruiting. 2000-2005 look at how many NFL players we had and look at how few we had from 2006-2010. Ultimately Richt is accountable for that and his coaching ability nor his demeanor nor his faith has nothing to do with the recent struggles. Nobody said he lacked fire and passion between 2000-2005. Hopefully we get Jenkins and Crowell especially and the others would be nice and then let’s line up and play football in September. Recruit better and the chances of winning are better.

Coach Cheesedip

January 31st, 2011
1:03 pm

In 3 years..Johnson will be gone and Tech might be able to draft good recruits again!

CHARLOTTE DAWG

January 31st, 2011
1:04 pm

Nahh, i’m not sure that’s right Lex….pre-season publications I had had Geathers way north of 300 lbs. If memory serves..he was closer to 320.

But if you are correct, yes, that would be the obvious answer. But since I think he was a lot bigger than that, my question still remains.

The Dude Abides

January 31st, 2011
1:04 pm

Add Kent Turene to that list of recruits joining the ‘Dream Team’

DawginLex

January 31st, 2011
1:05 pm

I saw Geathers and Tyson in person in Lexington and neither one of them is within 20 pounds of 300