UGA’s more aggressive recruiting reflects changing times

I want you! Georgia coach Mark Richt is taking a much more aggressive approach to in-state recruiting this year. (AP photo)

I want you! Georgia coach Mark Richt is taking a much more aggressive approach to in-state recruiting this year. (AP photo)

Talk about changing times in recruiting.

Georgia, traditionally one of the more conservative programs around when it comes to football recruiting, actually sent out a press release early Wednesday evening to call attention to its in-state recruiting efforts this week. This is unusual on several levels — I guarantee you UGA’s compliance office ran over that release with a fine-tooth comb — but chiefly because you usually can’t get a peep out of the Bulldogs regarding their recruiting.

Yet there it was in my e-mail’s inbox at 5:43 p.m. Wednesday. Subject line: “Georgia Football Coaches Busy Recruiting The State.”

In the release, head coach Mark Richt outlines the Bulldogs’ plans to canvass the state during the next few weeks. “By the end of next week, our assistant coaches will have been to more than 350 schools in the state of Georgia,” Richt said. “Our coaches are really pounding the state of Georgia. The focus of our staff is to make sure we recruit the state of Georgia first.”

Richt also goes on to sell the athletic and academic merits of UGA and the ongoing $40 million expansion project of the Butts-Mehre football complex.

Monday represented Georgia’s first full week of the NCAA’s designated spring “evaluation period” and the Bulldogs began it in uncharacteristic fashion. They sent out seven assistant coaches — the maximum number allowed on the road at any one time — all together in one bunch and, starting in South Georgia, they went from school to school to school, hitting the ones with the highest-profile prospects first. They did the same thing throughout North Georgia and the rest of the state on Tuesday and Wednesday, and apparently they intend to carry it on until the four-week period ends.

Not coincidentally, the Class of 2011 represents one of the best of all time in the state of Georgia, which traditionally produces upward of about 150 Division 1 prospects per year. Players like Valdosta tight end Jay Rome, Wilcox County quarterback Nick Marshall, Carver-Columbus running back Isaiah Crowell, Thomas County Central defensive end Ray Drew, Dalton offensive tackle Watts Dantzler, Grady cornerback Damian Swann and Tucker linebacker James Vaughters are among the tops in the nation at their particular position.

Georgia coaches know this, of course, and have been hard-selling a “Dream Team” theme to those prospects and others. The theory is, get all these Georgia kids to stay home and the Bulldogs will be in the hunt for championships.

Says Richt: “As we all know, recruiting is the lifeblood of any program and our state is a hotbed for talent. It’s our job to do everything we can to show these young men the academic and athletic merits of the University of Georgia. I know if we get the best players in our state to come to the University of Georgia, we will win championships. When we do go out of state, it’s always been our philosophy to only sign great players who are great people.”

Georgia's still not using limos a la Auburn, but it's taking a more "see-me" approach to recruiting this year. (Van E. Golden/Davidson High School)

Georgia's still not using limos a la Auburn, but it's taking a more "see-me" approach to recruiting this year. (Van E. Golden/Davidson High School)

Georgia’s actions are a reflection of the times in recruiting. The Bulldogs’ “canvass the state” strategy closely mirrors the one employed the last two year’s by Auburn under coach Gene Chizik. Last year and this one, Chizik had seven of his assistant coaches — head coaches are not allowed on the road in the spring — pile into a white limousine decorated with Auburn regalia and parade around the state and occasionally into Georgia, making sure to make a scene and draw attention to their presence. Lane Kiffin used a similar strategy during the fall evaluation period, renting a helicopter and choppering into metro Atlanta high school stadiums where prospects were playing, usually right about the time the national anthem was playing.

Never minding that it is not in the spirit of the NCAA rules regarding evaluations, the Bulldogs have always displayed a “we’re-better-than-that” attitude to such “look-at-me” tactics. And as far as I can tell they’re still not riding around in any limos wearing logoed bowling shirts.

But the fact is that Auburn signed a Top 5 class this past February and Tennessee also finished ahead of Georgia, which finished out of the Top 10 in recruiting rankings for the first time in a long while. It appears the Bulldogs are taking measures to ensure that doesn’t happen again.

As college football and recruiting fans, I’d say enjoy the show while it lasts. If I were to guess, I wouldn’t imagine the NCAA will let these shenanigans go on much longer. After all, this “evaluation period” is by definition provided as an opportunity for coaches “to assess prospective student-athlete’s athletic abilities and academic qualifications” and it forbids any direct interaction with said prospect other than a polite greeting.

At the current rate high school coaches will be shooting t-shirt cannons into high school cafeterias before it’s over.

For your edification, here is UGA’s press release in its entirety:

Spring practice might be over, but Georgia’s football coaches are still hard at work.

The Georgia coaches are on the road recruiting prospects during the NCAA’s designated evaluation period. The coaches began their work earlier this week and will continue recruiting throughout the month of May.

“By the end of next week, our assistant coaches will have been to more than 350 schools in the state of Georgia,” Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt said. “Our coaches are really pounding the state of Georgia. The focus of our staff is to make sure we recruit the state of Georgia first.”

Coaches may use one evaluation session to assess a prospective student-athlete’s athletics ability and another evaluation session to assess his academic qualifications.

“As we all know, recruiting is the lifeblood of any program and our state is a hotbed for talent,” Richt said. “It’s our job to do everything we can to show these young men the academic and athletic merits of the University of Georgia. I know if we get the best players in our state to come to the University of Georgia, we will win championships. When we do go out of state, it’s always been our philosophy to only sign great players who are great people.”

The eventual signees among the prospective student-athletes being evaluated by Georgia’s coaches now will be the first freshman class to benefit from the ongoing $40 million expansion of the Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall. The expansion, targeted for completion in January 2011, will include a 12,000-square-feet strength and conditioning area, an 8,500-square-feet training room, new coaches offices and a multipurpose room with a turf field that can be used for drills, walkthroughs and receptions.

“We are committed to providing the academic and athletic resources necessary for our football program to be among the very best in the country,” Richt said. “Our coaches are equally committed to winning championships on the field and to helping our players become the leaders of tomorrow. That is our message as we are on te road recruiting.”

189 comments Add your comment

dowgever

April 28th, 2010
8:09 pm

first as always

Dawg Fan

April 28th, 2010
8:10 pm

Nice tactic!

RomeDawg

April 28th, 2010
8:16 pm

I like the sounds of the “Dream Team”. Lets go get Crowell, Rome, Marshall, and Vaughters!

St.Petedawg

April 28th, 2010
8:16 pm

’bout time UGA recruits the state harder.

yes

April 28th, 2010
8:19 pm

Yes this is a real tactic now, trust me this will work out

north ga dawg

April 28th, 2010
8:22 pm

Its about time.uga is getting more aggressive

jimmy

April 28th, 2010
8:23 pm

hunker dowsn hairy dogs

19th Hole Dawg

April 28th, 2010
8:28 pm

This is going to be a great class. I’m glad to see the staff hitting Georgia hard. I think our class is going to start picking up momentum very soon.

Notice that GaTech isn’t even on the recruiting radar — Georgia is SEC recruiting country. It’s great to see our best players in state and in Red and Black. Go Dawgs!

Yellow Fuzz

April 28th, 2010
8:30 pm

Why don’t any of the top Georgia recruits want to play in Tech’s high school Wing-T offense?

tenn.DAWG

April 28th, 2010
8:31 pm

No doubt,if they can keep the home grown tallent at UGA, the ships will come in.Lets hope these young men,along with their parents have state pride and are willing to give the home team a shot.

19th Hole Dawg

April 28th, 2010
8:33 pm

I’m glad to see so many UGA Haters (aka Tech Fans) swamping the comment section of any UGA article. It just shows how envious of the Dawgs that Techies really are. Tech fans seem to be obsessed with our program.

I guess when you have as little going for you as the Yellow Jackets do, you have to hate.

Good luck, Tech!

Do I sense something?

April 28th, 2010
8:36 pm

Could it possibly be true? Georgia coaches traveling the state “recruiting”. Wow! Things must sure be changing in Athens. Why haven’t we been doing this all along. We rested on our rears too long and we got out-recruited. It’s no longer every players dream to play in Sanford Stadium. We’ve got to out-play, out-coach and out-recruit the premier teams in the SEC (especially the East). Glad to see some coaches on the road. It’s hard to sign top recruits waiting for them to come to you. Way to go Richt!!!!

CatsFly

April 28th, 2010
8:39 pm

Richt better start looking outside of state. NFL Draft 2011 has 5 of top forty players coming from UNC. None of them were from the state of Georgia. Two of them ahead of A. J. Green.

So....

April 28th, 2010
8:40 pm

Sounds like CMR is starting to feel the heat for a sub-par year and recruiting season. Plus, UGA having to do something no SEC wants to do and that is start a QB that’s never taken a live snap at the college level. That’s poor planning when it comes to recruiting. I’m sure he is figuring that if they do go 7-5 again, he’d better have a concrete future to sell ala a top recruiting class. Or the following (2011) season could get awfully hot…

Chip Towers

April 28th, 2010
8:41 pm

Reality: I also deleted two “guys” bad-mouthing Tech. I’m tired of this childish banter. This is not a vent. This is a blog. Talk about the topic and say about it what you will but I’m not going to let it continually disintegrate into a trash-pile of vitriol. And you, sir, are a top offender. . . .

And don’t use slang terms for certain parts of the male anatomy either. Kids come on these sites.

Pat

April 28th, 2010
8:41 pm

Make it happen so we can see the results.

Me

April 28th, 2010
8:49 pm

Nothing could be worse for Richt right now than seeing Bama, Tenn and Florida coming in and cherry picking the state. UGA would be very smart to focus heavily on in-state recruiting with all the talent this year. They have probably concentrated too much on other areas as of late.

Redd

April 28th, 2010
8:49 pm

Great article. Nice to see that their trying to get all of our home grown talent. The out of state prospect that i’m surprised that we haven’t offered yet is Vernon Hills HS. (ILL) DaVaris Daniels. He’s rated one of the top 5 WR’s in the nation. Let’s go Dawgs!

Dostoyevskiy

April 28th, 2010
8:52 pm

Catsfly, ESPN is touting UNC’s defense for upcoming season to rival USC’s 2008 defense, which was one of best ever. Butch was the right choice for UNC, and UNC for Butch. UNC getting ready to join the big boys.

CentralFLDawg

April 28th, 2010
8:53 pm

Chip…re your entry above, good for you! I’m likewise tired of all the crap.

atta boy chippy poo

April 28th, 2010
8:54 pm

I wonder?

April 28th, 2010
8:59 pm

I am also glad to see someone try and stop this name calling between the two schools! Great job Chip!

Bride of Chucky Knapp

April 28th, 2010
8:59 pm

“When we do go out of state, it’s always been our philosophy to only sign great players who are great people.”

But in state, heck we’ll take ‘em with a pulse as long as they can lay on a hit!

The Eternal Pessimist

April 28th, 2010
9:00 pm

That’s the type of class that national championships are built around. Here’s hoping we can keep ‘em in state! Go Dawgs!
And thanks for deleting the morons, Chip. Hopefully they’ll go away and we can elevate the level of discourse around here to slightly above a third-grade level.

he's like a Fox

April 28th, 2010
9:01 pm

they have always covered the state but have lost out to Bama, Florida, AU,and a host of others. Uga is a football only school they are just trying to make some noise so that the locals notice that they are still here. Selling 40 million $ worth of t-shirts out of the dollar gen., and Wal-mart helps (lots of cash) but its hard to find solid kids with class and smarts…..so Ga goes the other way….more cow bell …so they can hear us…we are finally gonna blanket the state…… lol

bill h

April 28th, 2010
9:01 pm

thanks chip, stay after them….the lunatic fringe just will never grow up….i enjoy your work, as i always have, albeit now from Viet Nam!

Red&Black

April 28th, 2010
9:04 pm

Can’t really tote our academic prowess to recruits when we aren’t even a member of the prestigious organization that governs top tier schools. I’ve read recently that every Big 10 (11) school is a member and yes, the hated school in Atlanta is a member and so is one SEC team in Vandy. Richt should learn more of our academic history in regards to Jan Kemp and the Harrick, Jr. exam before passing on misinformation to his recruits. I may be wrong…but lying is a sin.

CONFEDERATE DAWG

April 28th, 2010
9:05 pm

REAL TALK I HAVE SO MUCH GA CRAP ON MY CAR, IN MY HOUSE, BLA BLA BLA. BUT IM FINE WITH TEC. SURE THEY ARE CITY NERDS AND HATE. BUT THEY REALLY ARE SO FAR OUT OF GA’S RELM. GA HAS TO PLAY HARDEST TEAMS IN COUNTRY EVERY YEAR AND FOR MOST PART STILL ALWAYS HAS MORE W’S. SO WE DONT EVEN NEED TO REPLY TO THE TECERS. ALL WE NEED TO WORRY BOUT IS WHOOPIN THE GAYTORS. POINT BLANK NOTHING ELSE MATTERS. UNTILL THEY KNOW THEY AINT GONNA WIN EVERY YEAR WE AINT LEGIT.

COME ON DAWGS

Worm

April 28th, 2010
9:05 pm

Chip, you’re a class act, unlike your comrade Bill King!

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

April 28th, 2010
9:05 pm

chip- marshall the QB, is he not related to Lonnie Outlaw, UGA 2010 WR recruit??

Red&Black

April 28th, 2010
9:06 pm

That said…we do have a pretty decent football team and our facilities are top notch! 90,000+ fans will buy tickets to our games and 80,000+ will show up! We may not win National Championships but we are always competitive!!!

Seenthisb4

April 28th, 2010
9:06 pm

Why not start at the Athens-Clarke County jail? Heard there are some pretty good players there.

THEHILLISREAL

April 28th, 2010
9:08 pm

UGA better let Coach Mcclendon go out to get these guy. He’s young and can relate to most of players.

TROTTINGHOME

April 28th, 2010
9:08 pm

CHIP BUSTED YOU BEES WAX TO SMITHERENS. YOU GO CHIP!!!!!

Worm

April 28th, 2010
9:10 pm

Dr. Noisewater, he is a Cousin!

gdawgy

April 28th, 2010
9:12 pm

It’s awesome the coaches are finally ransacking the state. Over the past couple years AUB, BAMA, and FLA have been recruiting better in GA than we have. This year is very crucial, the state is LOADED with talent. Grantham has really lit an aggressive fire under Richt. He really seems to have changed quite a bit over the past couple months.

Delbert D.

April 28th, 2010
9:14 pm

“Coaches may use one evaluation session to assess a prospective student-athlete’s athletics ability and another evaluation session to assess his academic qualifications.”

That quote from the press release and Chip’s paragraph on the same makes me wonder how exactly the NCAA enforces that part of the process.

Big L

April 28th, 2010
9:16 pm

Oh pulease. The life blood of recruiting talk is trash between Tech and UGA. It is just a good outlet til the season. Lay off and let em holler at each other. Glad Richt is seeing that work needs to be done though.

Gerald

April 28th, 2010
9:24 pm

UGA doesn’t need to improve their recruiting. They need to improve their player development and coaching. They addressed those issues on defense with the hiring of a new DC and position coaches. However, the much longer and much worse problems on offense (as Richt IS an offense coach, not a defense coach like Saban) persist due to the pedestrian at best coordinator and position coaches on that side of the ball.

Seriously, not a single program in the country wastes more talent than UGA does. Not a single one. UGA burns through almost as many good players as Texas and USC did in the 1980s and 1990s, and even more than that notoriously underachieving Michigan program.

Big L

April 28th, 2010
9:24 pm

The lunatic fringe blog nut psychos will unite against this afront.

J dog

April 28th, 2010
9:28 pm

Way to go Chip Towers! Thank You!

It appeared Richt always recruited out of state first and in state last which puzzled me with the talent we have in Ga. This strategy of attracting the best in state players and forming a Dream Team, along with our soon to be improved defense, should put us back in the SEC championship picture.

If we’re recruiting the best in the state, does this include players like AJ Johnson who has an offer from almost everybody but UGA?

JJ

April 28th, 2010
9:29 pm

Using the old dark room and spotlight?

Playing good cop / bad cop?

Threatening to hack off a players hand and sign scholarship papers with it?

termigator

April 28th, 2010
9:31 pm

Sounds like CMR is feeling the heat. He should be doing this all along especially with the talent in this state. If he would of been this aggressive he wouldn’t of lost Blake Sims to Bama.

JJ

April 28th, 2010
9:32 pm

“Richt also goes on athletic and academic merits of UGA and the ongoing $40 million expansion project of the Butts-Mehre football complex.”

Leisure Studies??? Why even bother calling yourself a University? Where in the world is a Leisure Studies grad going to work that he couldn’t have worked WITHOUT the degree? Please, someone tell me.

Sanford Drive

April 28th, 2010
9:40 pm

Leisure Studies is for the football players.

quaildawg

April 28th, 2010
9:42 pm

I say Dawgs should go AZ on alien schools and institute a new immigration law (or tax) that if you come across state lines in a putrid (not to mention stupid) looking limo wearing Tommy Bahama bowling shirts you have to pay an excise tax on any player that leaves state borders to go attend your college.
Aubbie grads how proud you must be (not to mention desperate) to stoop to this. Talk about demeaning!!!

Florida Dawg

April 28th, 2010
9:44 pm

Based on the recent NFL draft…we didn’t do too much with recruiting several years ago.
I know, I know…Stafford should have went this year but really not. He was projected to leave after his junior year when he was signed.
Knowshon was thought to go this year so we would have only had one in the first round if you count him.
Several other SEC schools blew us out of the water…so our recruiting has not been all that.

GooseDawg

April 28th, 2010
9:46 pm

I’m sorry but I 100% disagree with Big L about the trash talk!
Sure, GOOD-NATURED trash talk is a part of football in the South, but the same old LOSERS come on the AJC blogs EVERY SINGLE DAY with the same ol’ tired, predictable, CHILDISH gibberish about my team is better than yours. Although I bleed RED & BLACK, I actually get more frustrated when UGA fans stoop to that level than when the Yellow Jackets or Gators or Vols or Tide make themselves & their own schools look uneducated and immature. I just wish ALL fans were better than this, especially my fellow DAWG fans!

Imagine coming on a blog about UGA or Tech or a top notch recruit & actually reading nothing but comments PERTAINING to the article…HECK, we might all actually learn something about other people’s viewpoints if only this were possible. Lastly, speaking of the article, I think it’s sad that UGA is practically FORCED to stoop to this level but such is the name of the game in recruiting these days…at least we aren’t flying choppers & rollin’ around in Red & Black limos, not YET at least. The NCAA needs to step in & do something about all of the dirty recruiting going on around the country & USC & the state of Alabama (both schools) are good places to start.

THANKS A BUNCH FOR BANISHING THE FOOLISH CHILDREN CHIP!
PLEASE, KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK!

P.S. If you need any help, I’ll glady volunteer to ban idiot posters for free in my limited spare time.

Delbert D.

April 28th, 2010
9:47 pm

It’s a legitimate field. Masters and PhD programs as well as undergrad.

” The therapeutic recreation option emphasizes delivery of leisure services to people with disabilities; graduates are typically employed in clinical or community settings where they work to provide quality recreation opportunities to people with special needs. The administration option emphasizes skills needed to manage public or non-profit recreation facilities or park and recreation resources; graduates are typically employed by recreation centers, park districts, youth recreation agencies, and land management agencies. Both programs prepare students to assume managerial roles in the field, though the M.A. also requires thesis research which prepares students to enter a doctoral program.”

FRED

April 28th, 2010
9:47 pm

YOU CAN ONLY GET THE CREAM OF THE CROP WHEN YOU DEVELOPE A CONSISTANT WINNING PROGRAM. I HAVE NOT SEEN THAT IN ATHENS HAVE YOU????