Have Bulldogs lost their footing in South Georgia?

Has Georgia lost its footing in South Georgia?

There are indications that could be the case, in Valdosta in particular. Tyler Hunter became the latest major-college prospect to go south rather than north out of Lowndes County. The defensive back from Lowndes High — and son of former Bulldog receiver Brice Hunter — recently committed to Florida State.

Should Hunter’s commitment hold up — he says he’ll still take visits — it will continue a rich southward flow of talent from Valdosta to Tallahassee. The Seminoles beat Georgia head-to-head for Greg Reid in 2009 and Telvin Smith in 2010. FSU also signed Gerald Demps out of Lowndes in 2009.

Conversely, Georgia currently has just one player on its roster from Valdosta — sophomore linebacker Mike Gilliard — and none from Lowndes High. The Bulldogs currently have just 10 players on their roster from South Georgia. There was a time it seemed the Bulldogs got most any player they wanted out of that area.

“They’ve lost their stronghold,” said former Georgia quarterback and sports radio talkshow host Buck Belue, a Valdosta native. “Once Ray Goff lost his job I’ve heard more complaining about the Georgia coaches just not working that area as hard. I’m not saying that’s the case right now with Mark Richt. But beginning with Jim Donnan I started get a lot of phone calls asking where are the Georgia coaches?”

Geography and population explain some of it. Valdosta is only about an hours drive from Tallahassee (79 miles from city centers). It’s a solid four-hour drive (279 miles) to Athens. It’s also closer to the University of Florida in Gainesville (108 miles).

Meanwhile, Metro Atlanta is now home to 5.5 million people. That provides a very deep pool of talent within two hours of UGA, which spends a great deal of time and effort fighting off the whole of the ACC and SEC for prospects in the area.

But the Bulldogs definitely need to pick it up in Valdosta, which continues to produce top-shelf talent.

“They’re fighting Clemson and Florida and Florida State for [Valdosta High tight end] Jay Rome and [athlete] Malcome Mitchell is blowing up at Valdosta as well. They’re going to be fighting Alabama and Florida as him,” said Chad Simmons, South recruiting manager for Scout.com. “They definitely don’t have the command they had a decade ago where they could just go there and pick who they want and sign them. It’s a little different there now. FSU has a big presence there, especially at Lowndes High School.”

The battles extend beyond Lowndes County. Georgia is already competing with the Seminoles — and many other schools — for defensive end Ray Drew (Thomas County Central), quarterback Nick Marshall (Wilcox County) and offensive lineman Xzavier Ward (Colquitt County), among others.

As for Hunter, Simmons doesn’t think that was major loss for the Dogs.

“They never really targeted and offered Tyler Hunter,” Simmons said. “They recruited him on and off and were still in the process of evaluating him like some other schools were.”

As for the Bulldogs’ overall footing in South Georgia, that tale is still being told. How they do this year could say a lot about how they do in the future.

NOTE: One person wrote in to complain that I wrote in the comments section that “best I can tell” signee Tony Zenon of Albany is the only true South Georgian on Georgia Tech’s roster. I was indeed wrong about that and have since added offensive lineman Antonio Foster of Valdosta (I just overlooked his name running my finger down the roster). But I disagree with this reader’s suggestion that I should have incuded Jemea Thomas of Fitzgerald and J.C. Lanier of Stillmore. Both those guys are from Middle Georgia based on my map.

245 comments Add your comment

You know it!

March 15th, 2010
1:01 pm

jaglaw

March 15th, 2010
1:06 pm

theTruth

March 15th, 2010
1:10 pm

I belive both Reid and Smith had other reasons for attending FSU so I’m not sure it was an ‘even’ playing field. Both have family close to Tally in Fla and even Smith wavered a bit at the end. This year GA is loaded so I hope we can land 10 of the top 20 and that would put UGA in the top 5 in the country. Jay Rome would be a major coup for UGA.

Hootie Bookems

March 15th, 2010
1:12 pm

Buck Belue’s opinion is worthless. He is a pot-stirring, self-indulgent jack ass contrarian…and that’s on his good days

robodawg

March 15th, 2010
1:13 pm

Back when FSU was dominant, they seemed to carry a lot of talent from nearby South Georgia. Now that players know who’s in charge (was it Jimbo or Bobby?), they’ll be hard to fight off in the region.

jaglaw

March 15th, 2010
1:14 pm

Nice article…….I stated many months ago on this blog why south ga kids dont go to uga. Au, FL, FSU, constantly talk about these kids via media print. Its not uncommon for the Valdosta paper to have articles regarding these kids and the attention that these aforesaid schools are paying them(the kids).
Meanwhile, the AJC or Athens Banner never mentions these kids.

Yes, UGA is loosing its grip on South GA, been saying that for over 2 years know.

The other point is this…..North GA teams get all the attention, while South GA teams win all the state championship ( look at the % in the last 20 years from A-AAAAA),. The southern school wins most of the time.

Bettter Question: Does the AJC ever give southern schools the attention they deserve or the “time of day”? no they dont. Real football is in south ga. So while UGA ( my beloved school) continues to ignore South GA players, we will continue to loose to UF.

knoxdawg

March 15th, 2010
1:15 pm

Every recruit is a unique situation. We have to evaluate and then go after who we truly want and who truly wants to be a Dawg. Bryce Hunter was a fine player for UGA and perhaps his son wanted to go elsewhere. Congrats to FSU on his committment. As for other prospects, we just have to work hard and show them that UGA is as good as every other school. They just need to decide which school is best for them.

chazzo

March 15th, 2010
1:16 pm

Richt is pulling some good talent out of Florida, also.

steven

March 15th, 2010
1:21 pm

One thing Chip failed to mention here is that Lowndes coach is an FSU guys and is supposedly in love with Jimbo and has been rumored to push guys to FSU.

Hunker

March 15th, 2010
1:21 pm

Tyler Hunter has some physical issues, which may result in his not playing at all much less for FSU….It seems the UGA staff wants on campus camp attendance. My question is, have we been able to get the SW Ga kids to come to campus for the camps? That would be a great article for this Blog…

memphisdawg

March 15th, 2010
1:25 pm

has chip towers lost his foot in reporting?

steven

March 15th, 2010
1:27 pm

I will agree that this blog has turned into ‘What is UGA doing wrong now?’ or ‘Who are they missing?’ Just b/c their father played there doen’t entitle them to an automatic offer especially when they may not be worthy of it athletically.

Basically anyone who doesn’t pick UGA who may have received a letter from them is considered as going against UGA–UGA can’t sign every kid in GA. I will agree that they could do better in South GA.

ugaaccountant

March 15th, 2010
1:30 pm

A major part of the problem is this paper. The constant negativity by the journalists seems purposeful and spiteful towards the UGA program. So a kid growing up 279 miles away from UGA might get influenced by the states #1 paper, since he rarely would get a chance to actually check out the UGA program. But it would be pretty easy for him to check out FSU in person, since that drive could be made on a school day, wheras Athens is an overnight trip.

Paddy

March 15th, 2010
1:32 pm

South Georgia is worth the effort. With effort UGA can get back in the game down there. U. Miami lost its strong hold on Dade Co. and surrounding territory. It takes a while to re-establish but many good players that should consider UGA are not being signed. Lets get back in the game!

Paddy

March 15th, 2010
1:35 pm

ugaaccountant……since the AJC is no longer delivered to south georgia, that in its self could be the problem.

hit em' hard

March 15th, 2010
1:35 pm

Until a Valdosta guy comes to Georgia, Georgia’s not going to waste time there. Why invest all that time, and then somebody goes to FSU to be with his buddies?

Richt’s a strategic guy, he has a pipeline into certain schools on his radar, other’s have proven to not be worth the time invested because other competetor’s have a better pipeline.

You can start a pipeline by offering a package deal, like Tenn did to Rogers and Nance, but you only want to do that where a school is withing your geographic range and strategic reach. You can also build a grear relationship with a coach. You can recruit a non-4 or 5 star player. You can be better academically, at winning the SEC, at winning a Natl Champ, at getting guys to the NFL, at coaching up players into all-Americans, and at building character.

recruits have bene great for UGA, that hasn’t been the problem. The problem has been coaching: turnovers–giveaways on offense, takeaways on defense. Also, lack of running game.

If we get the coaching squared up, win the SEC, and a Natl Champ, get more guys to the NFL, then the recruits will come UGA’s way.

Recruiting follows success on the field. The Valdosta pileline for FSU will close real soon if FSU doesn’t win the ACC and start getting more guys to the NFL. All it takes it one bad year for FSU, where Georgia has a great year, and everything changes.

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

March 15th, 2010
1:38 pm

Marshall will probably end up going to Fla ST. to another southern player gone south (maybe I am wrong)

wreckincrew

March 15th, 2010
1:38 pm

It sure would be nice to see some yellow jacket coverage. It would also be nice for us to get down South.

ugaaccountant

March 15th, 2010
1:38 pm

paddy – sort of agree. Kids get 99.9% of their news online, but south GA really gets overlooked in the coverage due to this. So it’s like south GA players have to be superstars to get noticed at all.

The Sham

March 15th, 2010
1:38 pm

I would be interested to know the truth about how those HS Coaches push the kids. This is a reality of all HS programs but if the Coaches are going to push them one way, is it really worth UGA’s time to try and pull them back? Not when you have pipelines built in other locations that can deliver a higher quantity of the same quality… IMO that is.

Besides – Since Champ and Boss, who were the last MAJOR contributors who came from that area and actually did something? Without having done any research I can’t recall any off the top of my head… Any help on this one?

The Sham

March 15th, 2010
1:39 pm

I know it wasn’t Mudcat Elmore…

ugaaccountant

March 15th, 2010
1:40 pm

The sham – came to UGA and did something, or went anywhere and did something? South GA recruits are just as likely to succeed as any other recurit.

no dog

March 15th, 2010
1:41 pm

georgia doesn’t want those players from S. GA., they couldn’t qualify anyway, it’s the news papers fault, it’s Belue’s fault, it’s too far from Athens, the Lowndes coach is an FSU guy….did I cover all of the excuses? It couldn’t be that these good players just don’t want to go to georgia…nahhh.

all time hater

March 15th, 2010
1:42 pm

its not why dont they come to u g a y, its what happens to them once they get there.

Otto

March 15th, 2010
1:42 pm

Accountant kids don’t read the paper they watch Sportscenter, cable tv, and sites such as Rivals.

CMR has been historically slow to offer and has put resources on the Atlanta area and out of state (heavy in Florida).

It is key to keep strong relations with South Georgia well coached S. Ga players provide a steady pipeline of solid players. UGA is facing more competition than ever for this talent.

IMO S. Ga should be the focus over metro Atlanta. Sure metro Atlanta has talent but metro Atlanta is a largely transient population with ties to other areas of the country. However South Georgia is for the most part natives with ties to Athens, IMO it would be wise to keep these strong before the closer programs of FSU, UF, and Auburn take over and UGA is the outsider.

Clint

March 15th, 2010
1:43 pm

And how have these guys worked out for FSU? They are still losing 5-6 games a year with the south Georgia talent. We usually get the players from South Georgia that we want. Charles Grant, The Bailey Boys, Thomas Davis, etc. are all from South Georgia. We have missed on some good kids in the past few years, but we get more than we miss on.

Chip Towers

March 15th, 2010
1:43 pm

ugaaccountant: I highly doubt our paper has anything to do with where kids sign. If it does then that’s an indictment of the recruiting job UGA coaches are doing. . . .

memphisdawg: I don’t think so. . . .

theTruth: I don’t know about any “Tally ties” that Greg Reid and Telvin Smith had but I definitely think the fact them and Gerald Demps were all teammates at Lowndes was a strong lure. And Smith struggled more than “a bit.” He was torn between UGA and FSU even in the last hour before he signed with the ‘Noles. . . . Jay Rome would indeed be a coup as his daddy Stan Rome went to Clemson and the Gators are on him very hard.

South Ga Dawg

March 15th, 2010
1:45 pm

A lot of talent and speed down here. I think the proximity with Talahassee has a lot to do with it. That and the fact kids are loyal to their state anymore either.

bigdawg01

March 15th, 2010
1:47 pm

Buck Belue is an idiot. He doesn’t know is a$$ from his elbow. He knows jack about recruiting and is wrong 99.9% of the time he reports on anything.

I cant fathom how he has his own blog and people actually go to it.

Chip Towers

March 15th, 2010
1:49 pm

Clint: Reid worked out pretty good. He was an All-ACC freshman.

The Sham

March 15th, 2010
1:49 pm

ugaaccountant: for the sake of arguement – either. who did we get or did we miss out on from that area?

Chip: I applaud you for riling us up without slamming us. At least you qualified the Hunter kid as not being a MAJOR recruit target. Not to say he won’t pan out for them, but he evidently wasn’t a priority simlar to an Athens area lineman recruit who didn’t get an offer soon enough to his liking… Good job!

just down in Colquitt County

March 15th, 2010
1:50 pm

both those recruits seem to be leaning toward the dawgs…course thats where Charles Grant is from……as for your paper Chip? you right decent but the other two Morons MB and JS need to be writing for Sesame Street or Dora the Explorer…..course the rest of the paper is just an outlet for the Communist Manifesto in Washington and inside i-285…best wishes tho!!

just down in Colquitt County

March 15th, 2010
1:52 pm

Oh and Belue needs to take some Hormone(male) supplements , he sounds like Barbara Striesand on the radio

The Sham

March 15th, 2010
1:53 pm

Don’t blame Buck – look who he has to work with on the radio? You can’t hang out with JK for too long before you too become less intelligent just by assimilation…

Lowcountry Bulldawg

March 15th, 2010
1:53 pm

Wasn’t his late dad BRICE Hunter? Lets hope at least the coaching staff knows the difference. His father was a great Wideout at Athens.

just down in Colquitt County

March 15th, 2010
1:55 pm

one more thing to the blogger that calls himself …all time hater…we can sniff out a tech fan all the time on these blogs…..crawl back under your rock buggo…or stay out and recruit some more baton twirlers for Coach Paul…you know ole alligator jowls Johnson…Mr. “what has Georgia done since 1980?” looking forward to this year’s game in Athens….Johnson will find out what Georgia has done since 1980!

Chip Towers

March 15th, 2010
1:56 pm

The Sham, steven: Lowndes coach Randy McPherson does not have any direct ties to FSU that I know of. He went to college at a small school in Kansas. However, he did coach Madison High in Madison, Fla., to some state titles before going to Lowndes. Madison is about 50 or so miles east of Tallahassee. That said I personally think the influence of a high school coach in recruiting is overplayed in modern-day recruiting.

Hey Chip

March 15th, 2010
1:57 pm

Maybe you need to write for Dora the Explorer to ….your just as bad as bradley, sgt. shultz and the rest of the bunch at AJC….course youins learned it from your boy Terrence Moore i guess….come up to Chattanooga…their paper gives the Dawgs alot more favorable Press coverage!

WonderDawg

March 15th, 2010
2:03 pm

Boy, if Buck Belue reads this stuff from (supposed) Dawg fans, he may wish he’d gone to FSU also…

arrowhead1959

March 15th, 2010
2:12 pm

Grant is from Miller Co-Colquitt-not Colquitt Co.; there are other schools from S GA- Currently in Seminole,Earlyand Bainbridge alone are players such as Bacarri Rambo, Darryl Gamble, Nick Williams, Shawn Williams; not a bad group-previous players such as Grant and Phillip Daniels are also from that area.

BRAD

March 15th, 2010
2:12 pm

Uhhhh….Bacari Rambo is from my home town, Donalsonville. Nick Williams is from Bainbridge, so is Gamble. And they have a player from Early County. Charles Grant is from Colquitt, and Phillip Daniels is also from Donalsonville. Last time I checked, we live about as far south in Georgia that you can without being in Florida!

bigdawg01

March 15th, 2010
2:17 pm

You should all go and get a membership to UGAsports.com. They have ACCURATE information that the AJC pirates all the time and you get it fast…not three days later like the AJC.

Buck Belue Sucks.

76-Dawg

March 15th, 2010
2:21 pm

I am from Albany and a 1976 graduate of UGA . Before I chose UGA I considered University of Alabama because their Accounting school had very high ratings and I considered Florida State because it was so close to Albany.I wasn’t good enough to get a scholarship in baseball so when I found out how high out of state tuition was UGA was my best choose. UGA will always have a hard time recuiting from Columbus to interstate 75 all the way to the Florida line. A lot of mom and dads went to Florida State, and Auburn. If you ever have spent any time in Athens it is very apparent that the majority of the students, at least 70%, come from Atlanta. The Atlanta crowd are more sophisticated, educated, and refined and they talk like yankees. The rural kids have a more of a southern accent, they are more polite and like fast cars. I was bird hunting when I was 7 years old. There is a huge cultural difference. UGA will always have a problem out of the smaller towns because these kids just feel more at home at Valdosta State, Florida State, and Auburn.

all time hater

March 15th, 2010
2:24 pm

just down in Colquitt County, so just what does happen to all of the top recruits that jawja recruits? When you consistently recruit top 10 talent, coaching and conditioning needs to put them over the top. It doesnt happen at u g a y.

Buck Belue fan

March 15th, 2010
2:26 pm

Why all the hate on someone who tells it like it is?

bruce mac

March 15th, 2010
2:27 pm

Buck is a Bulldawg thru and thru. He wants his alma mater to recruit kids in Valdosta. What the heck is wrong with that?

bruce mac

March 15th, 2010
2:30 pm

Yea All Time Hater, Top three winning percentage in all of College Foot ball in the Richt era really stinks. You only look like an idiot when you post, the rest of the time you look better.

Tailback U

March 15th, 2010
2:33 pm

When you look at the landscape of college football in this
neck of the woods the talent level coming out of that region
especially lately , says special effort is needed and will
prove worth it in the long run.

ga gator

March 15th, 2010
2:33 pm

Interesting comments from 76Dawg. Being from Florida, I am not sure about your comments concerning Auburn kids, but both FSU and Florida kids make up a similar cultural makeup as UGA. A large percentage come from the major metro areas of Florida as do the kids in Athens, so I dont think that is the reason. Proximity would more likely be the reasons kids leave there and not flock to Athens.

all time hater

March 15th, 2010
2:36 pm

bruce boy. With a name like bruce, I am sure you just love markie mark.