Welcome to the third edition of “The Mailbag.”
I should probably say the “ill-fated” Mailbag. The other two times I’ve put this feature together it got trumped by big news.
The first week it ran, it got overshadowed by the late-night exploits of a now former Georgia AD. Last week, it was up only a couple of hours or so before news broke of a bar brawl in Knoxville, Tenn., that resulted in the arrest of a certain five-star prospect from just up the road.
So, be aware, odds are some major news will break within hours of this posting, possibly while you’re attempting to read it. With that in mind, read and respond quickly. And I’d suggest opening multiple tabs to be sure you don’t miss the real news when it breaks.
Now for the fake news, into the bag we dive . . .
TampaGator asks: Who would you consider the top 16 recruits by need and priority for Georgia? The Gainesville (Fla.) paper does this every year concerning the Gators and they do an end-of-the year analysis. For example, the Gators ended up with 10 of the 16 considered high priority last year.
Chip: I don’t know, TampaGator, sounds like homework to me. . . . You didn’t stipulate whether this should include players already committed or not. So I’m going to leave out those that have already pledged the Dogs. And I don’t know where they get the 16 number because there are two dozen I wanted to put here. But here’s 16 I’m sure the Dogs want/need but would settle for one or two at any position.
Defensive line — Ray Drew, Xzavier Dickson, Gabe Wright;
Offensive line — Zach DeBell, Xzavier Ward, Brandon Shell;
Running back — Isaiah Crowell, James Wilder, Quan Bray;
Tight end — Jay Rome;
Wide receiver — Sammy Watkins, Tobias Singleton;
Defensive back — Damian Swann, Malcolm Mitchell;
Linebacker — Stephone Anthony, Tony Steward;.
Jesus Perez asks: It seems that UGA has put all of its chips on the table for two prospects in particular: TE Jay Rome and TB Isaiah Crowell. I understand why they are going real hard at those two guys but, at the same time, it seems that other top recruits at those respective positions are almost being put in the back burner. I really like those two guys but there are some other guys out there that UGA should be targeting as well. What would be the solution to a nightmare scenario of both of those recruits ending up somewhere else?
Chip: First of all, Jesus, I think Georgia has a very good shot at both of the players you mention. But even if they don’t land either one, college coaches always — always — have a backup plan. Remember Kenarious Gates and Lonnie Outlaw last year? There are always good running backs in this state, some of whom might not have had a chance to show their stuff yet. The same goes for tight ends.
John Nott asks: How does the departure of Bobby Johnson affect the incoming recruiting class at Vanderbilt? Do you think any of the prospects will ask for a release from their LOI? I know Tech was targeting a wide-out that was to be an incoming freshman this year. With the WR pool dwindling, we could sure use one.
Chip: It’s not good, that’s for sure. First of all, I’m not sure Johnson got the credit he deserved as a recruiter. The Commodores have been as active as anybody recruiting in Georgia and in Atlanta in particular. They actually signed nine players from our fair state last year, including wide receivers Chris Boyd of Roswell, Jonathan Krause of South Gwinnett and Trenton Pruitt of Fitzgerald. I think Boyd may be the one you’re thinking of. I’ll see if I can track down some of these guys and find out if they’re thinking about jumping the Commodores’ ship.
HooperGDawg asks: Valdosta’s Malcolm Mitchell and Jay Rome are very good buddies, any chance they are wanting to go to the same school? Second question, why has there been little talk about Bobby Hart? Most of the talk is about DeBell, Ward, and Shell as far as possible OL commitments but very little talk about Hart even though UGA is in his final eight. Maybe a long shot to land Hart? Do you know how many schollies are left for OL this year for UGA? Last question, has Ray Drew said when he might make a decision? Seemed early on he actually be an early commit for UGA, has he mentioned a leader?
Chip: Bleep, bleep! (that’s supposed to be a whistle sound) You’ve been flagged for too many questions. Your penalty is really short answers: (1) Yes but it’s not a priority; (2) you answered it; (3) two, maybe three; (4) no, and it likely won’t be until national signing day.
John H of Powder Springs asks: Hey Chip, I was wondering how much you feel like success on the football field, especially early in the season, would help with the top recruits for UGA? If the Dawgs struggle early, do you think it will have a strong negative impact on the nice recruiting class they have going so far?
Chip: I think that varies among recruits. To some it’s a big deal; to others, other factors are more important. In general the most elite recruits wait the latest to commit anyway and that’s often because they’re taking a wait-and-see attitude. There may be more wait-and-see this year than in previous years for those considering the Dogs.
Geoff Clark asks: Has the departure of Dontavius Jackson increased the chances of Georgia landing James Wilder Jr.
Chip: Methinks depth charts aren’t a big concern for young Mr. Wilder.
Drew Ingalls asks: First off, did you see the ESPY’s [Wednesday] and how great Emmanuelle Chriqui looked? Easily one of the top three ladies on there. And why was she not in the last episode at ALL?! Crazy. . . . As for football , looking at a list of Georgia Tech’s top prospects, I noticed that all but one was on the defensive side. Do you think this has to do with new defensive coordinator Al Groh’s standing as an ex-NFL coach, and the fact that he produced some top NFL stars from UVA?
Chip: I did not see the ESPYs, Drew; I chose instead to put hot needles in my eyes. But I did see a photo of Ms. Chiriqui (aka “Sloan” from Entourage) working the red carpet beforehand, which I’ve included here. Apparently the show’s writers didn’t pay any attention to the Mailbag’s earlier suggestion to include more Sloan in the storylines. But there’s always hope. . . . .
As for football, I think that Al Groh’s presence on The Flats has attracted the attention of the best defensive prospects in the country. Let’s face it, the best players want to know what they need to do to “get to the league.” Groh can show them and tell them exactly that. He’s the main reason out-of-state players such as Tony Steward, Curtis Grant and Doran Grant and in-staters like Ray Drew, A.J. Johnson and Stephon Tuitt have the Jackets under heavy consideration.
Buddy Coltrane asks: I just saw in the ESPN rumors section that Ray Drew was asked to name three standout schools in his eyes. He named the Tide, the Vols, and the ‘Noles. I was wondering have you heard anything or spoken with him about his leaders. Maybe he was just hamming it up for the Tide recruiting site, but if this is true, what happened with him and Georgia?
Chip: Nothing has happened with Ray, Buddy. Last I talked with him he likes those three and a few more. He’s a super nice, intelligent kid that has a somewhat playful disposition. I think he tends to tell whomever’s doing the asking what he thinks they want to hear. But he has made it clear he’s not going to be in a hurry to make up his mind. So I’d say to relax and stay out of those “rumor sections.”
Chris Groskreutz tells: Last week, Mailbag readers may recall that I asked a reader a question. Chris Groskreutz wrote in to ask me a recruiting question and I asked him if he was any relation to Heidi Groskreutz of “Do You Think You Can Dance” fame (I’ve never watched the show but she came up all over the place when I googled Chris’ unusual last name). Well, Chris wrote back this week: “Heidi is a cousin of mine. I only know this because my dad made me aware of her success on that show. Other than that, I’ve never heard of her. If you don’t believe me just watch this clip from my wedding. Rhythm obviously didn’t make it down my side of the family tree.” . . . I’ll warn you all, the clip is over three minutes long but 15 or 20 seconds is all you need to see. Watch at your own risk.