UPDATE: Another strong class pushes UGA closer to the top

Mark Richt addresses the again-faithful Bulldog Nation on Wednesday. (Photo by M. Bradley)

Mark Richt addresses the again-faithful Bulldog Nation on Wednesday. (Photo by M. Bradley)

UPDATE:According to esteemed colleague Michael Carvell, Georgia received Josh Harvey-Clemons’ signed letter of intent Thursday morning.

Athens – Forget, if only for a moment, national signing day. As an indicator of which way Georgia is headed, Todd Grantham pointed to incumbent players who remain, not incidentally, incumbent.

“We had nine guys on defense who could have left for the NFL,” said Grantham, Georgia’s defensive coordinator, “and all nine would have gotten drafted somewhere. But all nine guys chose to stay. We’ve been talking about having a dream, having a vision, but to see these guys buy into that and help recruit new guys, that has really ignited our program.”

After the 6-7 record of 2010, after the 0-2 start of 2011, it was possible to wonder if the Bulldogs under Mark Richt had become a ghost ship. On signing day 2012, Georgia again bears the look of a shining ocean liner with the wind at its back. Things got good again for this program in the final 10 games of the 2011 regular season, and Georgia with momentum can never be dismissed.

Even if it did lose to the four best teams it played last season. Even if it did blow its bowl game. Even if it didn’t get every single recruit it wanted. Quibble all you want, but Georgia in 2012 resembles the Georgia of 2002. And the very nice haul of this signing day, even if it wasn’t quite so dazzling as last year’s Dream Team, showed a program primed to move from strength to strength.

Said Richt: “We just have tremendous momentum now. We’re even working into next year’s class.”

This recruiting class — whether or not it ultimately includes Josh Harvey-Clemons, the Lowndes linebacker who committed to Georgia early Wednesday on ESPN, but hadn’t yet faxed a signed letter of intent as of late afternoon — was never going to be as mood-altering as the Dream Team. That was the absolute right group at the moment of greatest need. Assemblage of the Dream Team enabled Georgia fans to believe again, and the resulting SEC East title offered affirmation: Their beloved Bulldogs had not been rendered an afterthought.

But the Class of 2012, which ESPN had ranked fifth-best nationally before Harvey-Clemons announced anything, is important in that Georgia loaded up where loading was necessary. It got two very good running backs — Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley — as insurance/impetus behind Isaiah Crowell. It got a linchpin offensive lineman in John Theus. It got a kicker. And it stockpiled bodies along the defensive front, which is what the SEC teams that also became national champions have done.

“To win the SEC, you’ve got to be dominant in the front seven,” Grantham said. “We addressed that.”

There are players who come billed as difference-makers, but the biggest difference in Georgia is Grantham. He built a top-five-in-the-nation defense in Year 2 here, and his enthusiasm for the task has made him the new Erk Russell. (For the uninitiated, Russell was Vince Dooley’s firebrand defensive coordinator.) With due deference to Crowell and Theus, the transforming recruit for Richt was Grantham, who said Wednesday:

“The way we’ve been able to change the attitude and the mental toughness, that excites me. We think we’re going to be able to have a dominating defense.”

Thirteen months ago, we asked if Georgia could manage even a winning season. At issue today: Can Georgia win not just the East but the whole darn SEC? The 2011 signing class helped change the dynamics. The 2012 bunch — with or without one linebacker from Lowndes — should serve to consolidate gains. From strength to strength: That’s again the Georgia way.

By Mark Bradley

348 comments Add your comment

Dawgs Run This State

February 1st, 2012
3:56 pm

First. Great job CMR & Garner!

Southside Dawg

February 1st, 2012
3:57 pm

MB Nailed It

February 1st, 2012
3:59 pm

“That was the absolute right group at the moment of greatest need” – Exactly!

GTBob

February 1st, 2012
3:59 pm

“To win the SEC, you’ve got to be dominant in the front seven,” Grantham said.

How would Grantham know what it takes to win the SEC?

Dawgdidit

February 1st, 2012
4:00 pm

Gtbob…the same way you know how to beat UGA….

JHC Still a Dawg

February 1st, 2012
4:01 pm

Per Kipp and Radi, JHC is 100% still committed to the Dawgs!

2012 Preseason Fulmer Cup Champs

February 1st, 2012
4:01 pm

I love how UGA fans get all giddy over top signing classes but those great classes NEVER live up to their own hype!!!!!!!!!

2012 Preseason Fulmer Cup Champs

February 1st, 2012
4:02 pm

“Can Georgia win not just the East but the whole darn SEC?”

No. Playing an easy schedule and winning 10 games against bad teams……

Herschel Talker

February 1st, 2012
4:02 pm

MB:

What do you think of JHC’s grandpapa?

HT

SLAWDAWG

February 1st, 2012
4:03 pm

GTBob…….I have no idea Bob(ing) head how Grantham would know. Want YOU yell us!!!!

Gator bait

February 1st, 2012
4:03 pm

It’s like the ole ball coach says : “Georgia get’s all these players but what happens to them?” No National Titles in 30 years. And looking like 30 more lol! Eat it Rednecks ;)

Dawglasville

February 1st, 2012
4:04 pm

Mark – You’d better write something nice about the Jackets soon or you are going to be off a few more Christmas card lists.

GTBob

February 1st, 2012
4:04 pm

Mark really has become the ultimate UGA homer. I can’t wait for tomorrows article: “GT has worst recruiting class in the history of football.”

piermontdawgny

February 1st, 2012
4:05 pm

that’s what I’m talking about!
how bout em!!!

Blah, blah, blah...

February 1st, 2012
4:05 pm

…UGA is always pre-season MNC, and most times top 5 in recruiting – yet Spurrier remains correct, something happens to the “stars” once on campus, and it is called coaching, and the same leader of the coaches is there, so more of the same mediocre play for the foreseeable future…

SLAWDAWG

February 1st, 2012
4:05 pm

Grandpa, your not going to play the first down or crack the first book, so sign the paper & sit back & shut the hell up!

Hey GTBob...

February 1st, 2012
4:06 pm

ANOTHER one of your coaches just got fired for lying and cheating. You need to worry about your own instead of Coach Grantham.

Like James Franklin, CTG is all in your head!

J.J.M.

February 1st, 2012
4:06 pm

GTBob

February 1st, 2012
4:06 pm

GTBob…….I have no idea Bob(ing) head how Grantham would know. Want YOU yell us!!!!

I know about as much as Grantham, which is nothing at all. If you lose the SEC championship by 32 points then you probably shouldn’t start telling people how to win it.

omg

February 1st, 2012
4:06 pm

Josh Harvey-Clemmons just signed with Florida. Check out the latest at http://www.rivals.com

Frank Lane

February 1st, 2012
4:06 pm

Blah, blah, blah...

February 1st, 2012
4:06 pm

…and I am a UGA season ticket holder concerned with the continuation of the mediocrity…

SLAWDAWG

February 1st, 2012
4:06 pm

Funny how CMR got to 100 wins faster than Spurrier!!! Must be bad coaching!

Word to JHC's Uncle, it's not your choice

February 1st, 2012
4:07 pm

JHC’s Uncle, although I’m sure he cares a great deal about JHC’s future, should yield his influence and let JHC go where HE wants to go. After all, it’s JHC that has to: attend class/study hall, get up at 6AM for workouts, lift weights, manage the daily grind of college, and so on.

If JHC decides to get married one day, is his Uncle going to decide who he marries? Obviously, UF and UGA are both great choices. JHC needs to own the decision rather than does his Uncle.

Dawglasville

February 1st, 2012
4:07 pm

This one is just chum for a troll feeding frenzy.

faithfuldawg86

February 1st, 2012
4:07 pm

GTBob: what do you care? Go look at your own blogs and discuss your less-than-mediocre signing class…

GTBob

February 1st, 2012
4:07 pm

ANOTHER one of your coaches just got fired for lying and cheating. You need to worry about your own instead of Coach Grantham.

He was fired. Why am I going to worry about him now?

RM

February 1st, 2012
4:07 pm

A lot of people on this blog should be eating a big plate of crow for saying that CTG was a bad hire and would be the death of CMR. But, this blog is full of stupid comments every day just like GTbob’s above…

flagboy?

February 1st, 2012
4:08 pm

gtbob. . . sad sad.

faithfuldawg86

February 1st, 2012
4:09 pm

Would have loved to get Avery Young, and I sure hope we get JHC, and I still feel terrible for Chester Brown, but… all in all, I am very very happy with the class of 2012.

What's up with...

February 1st, 2012
4:09 pm

…the U having 33 commits – even AL only has 26…

GTBob

February 1st, 2012
4:09 pm

Funny how CMR got to 100 wins faster than Spurrier!!! Must be bad coaching!

Say any team was given the choice between Richt and Spurrier as their coach. Who do you think they would take?

GTBob

February 1st, 2012
4:10 pm

A lot of people on this blog should be eating a big plate of crow for saying that CTG was a bad hire and would be the death of CMR.

He had one ok year. UGA fans are quick to crown someone the best in the business before they prove anything. See Mark Fox as a good example.

Quit posting JHC just signed w/ UF (NOT TRUE)

February 1st, 2012
4:10 pm

You trolls need a life.

SLAWDAWG

February 1st, 2012
4:11 pm

GTBOB……Why don’t you go talk to CPJ & ask him how his mickey-mouse offense who averaged over 40 pts a game, is gonna try to top 17 this November!!! Grantham’s defense kicked CoTech’s A** up & down the field his 1st year on the job!

Stuff it GT Bob

February 1st, 2012
4:12 pm

“GT has worst recruiting class in the history of football.” They’ll have to say it if it’s true. If you’ve been listening to the radio you’d know that GT is incapable of getting the premium talent in state. And in fact Coach Shrek is doing an absolutely pitiful job of recruiting in genneral.

He’s going to leave a mess for the new coach in 2013.

ChewDawg

February 1st, 2012
4:13 pm

I’ve heard a lot of talk about UGA losing to the 4 best teams it played last year. For me, it begs the question, “If you’re going to lose 4 games in a year, don’t you want it to be to the best 4 teams you play?” Beyond the loss itself, how is losing to a better team a bad thing?

Anyway, glad to the see the Dawgs reload. I hope we find a way to make it pay off.

whatsgoingon

February 1st, 2012
4:14 pm

Well – if UGA keeps playing the pansy schedule that they played this year (not beating a single good team) – then yeah – UGA will do great. Maybe that is why UGA is afraid to play Alabama – a real team??

GTBob

February 1st, 2012
4:15 pm

Grantham’s defense kicked CoTech’s A** up & down the field his 1st year on the job!

You know that this wasn’t Grantham’s first year don’t you?

Poor GTBob...

February 1st, 2012
4:16 pm

Coach Paul Johnson laid an egg AGAIN, just like he does pretty much every time he plays the big brother Dawgs or any team with time to prepare for his gimmicky offense.

31-17 still hurts doesn’t it? Dawgs RUN This State!

GTBob

February 1st, 2012
4:17 pm

31-17 still hurts doesn’t it?

Meh, it hurt like 5 years ago. Can’t say I care anymore.

Newnan Dawg

February 1st, 2012
4:17 pm

Way to undersign Offensive Linemen yet again. Richt never learns from his mistakes.

Mike

February 1st, 2012
4:18 pm

We have to improve our strength of schedule. We are never tested and when we play the winner of the West, we get our butts handed to us. In reality this year we were the 4th best team in the SEC behind Alabama, LSU and Arkansas. I don’t see anything different next year.

Wet Willie...keep on smiling

February 1st, 2012
4:18 pm

Grantham knows the front 7 have to get it done and why….because he has watched Alabama play!

Ruff Ruff…the dream and the ring team …you folks are pitiful…Muschamp is going to beat your azz this year and forever as long as the preacher man is running the dog pound.
Nick is coming for the best players in Jawjaw again…Robert N is about to pull the crimson string

Stuff it GT Bob

February 1st, 2012
4:19 pm

GT Bob has to make negative comments on the Dawg blog, because there’s nothing good to write for the Bumbling Bees.

Barry

February 1st, 2012
4:20 pm

I said very early last season that everyone needed to “cool it” and let the season play out – and it did – pretty darn well. Now that recruiting for 2010- 2012 has played out – it seems that we (Dogs) again have done pretty well. Congrats to Coach Richt and his staff for a job well done. Lets start strong in the Fall!

Cohutta Dawgman

February 1st, 2012
4:21 pm

I believe you are mixing the Kool Aid and drinking it.

GTBob

February 1st, 2012
4:22 pm

I saw that Clemons kid interviewed on ESPNU, he looks dumber than a box of bricks, just like your typical UGag student. He’ll fit in there perfectly and be another failure like Crowell is.

Meanwhile Coach Johnson got EXACTLY what we needed for our perfect option scheme.

THWG

GTBob

February 1st, 2012
4:24 pm

Whoever my imposter is at 4:22, it was a good try. I give it 4 stars.

Stuff it GT Bob

February 1st, 2012
4:24 pm

No drug testing where GTBob works, I guess.

I still say Coach Shrek is gone after next year – unless GT is ready to accept mediocrity.