THE TEN AT 10:
1. Georgia hasn’t had a commitment since Spalding defensive tackle Chris Mayes gave the Bulldogs his pledge on August 16. That was four months ago. And it appears that the Bulldogs may not have another one for the rest of the calendar year.
It looked like AJC Super 11 tight end Jay Rome of Valdosta might pull the trigger after a successful official visit last weekend. But Rome’s father Stan Rome has since said his son will likely take scheduled visits to Clemson and Tennessee in January. The Bulldogs were hoping to land JUCO All-American DE Cornelius Carradine of Butler County Community College on Wednesday, but he chose Florida State.
Georgia coach Mark Richt addressed that lack of recruiting movement at his Liberty Bowl news conference Wednesday in Athens.
“It’s tough. You always hope that when a young man knows for sure where he wants to go he would just say it. I think those days are changing. There are a lot of them who do. There are a lot of early commitments, then all of a sudden it seems like everything dries up for a while for the guys who want to wait until the very end. Sometimes it’s because they don’t know and sometimes it’s because they are wanting to do it at an all-star game or whatever it is. I think they are getting encouraged to do that a little bit. It is a special time for them and they want it to be a special announcement, and their families do too. You can understand why sometimes it drags on, and then there are guys who flat out just don’t know until the very end. I think most of them have a pretty good idea of where they are going to go. It would be nice if they would all decide and we could start working on next year’s class, but that’s not where it is right now.”
At least two of the Bulldogs’ 5-star targets, RB Isaiah Crowell of Carver-Columbus and DE Ray Drew of Thomas County Central, have said they don’t plan to make a decision until national signing day. Several others, including AJC Super 11 players Xzavier Dickson of Griffin and Damian Swann of Grady, have said in their past they will make their announcements during national all-star games in January. So it looks like it may be a while still.
2. It hasn’t been from a lack of trying. Georgia coaches have been blanketing the Southeast during the current contact period, so much so that the practices for UCF and the Liberty Bowl have almost been an afterthought.
“I don’t even know how many miles our guys put on,” Richt said. “It’s just amazing how much ground gets covered. They are pretty relentless out there and you have to be. The recruiting wars are just as important as the wars on the field. So there is a lot going on, and everybody is just kind of swooping in at the last second. I landed just a couple of minutes ago, and timed it out just right for this [news conference]. We actually pushed it back just so I could get in one more home [Wednesday] morning. We’ll continue to get on the road as we are trying to prepare. That’s the hardest thing you juggle when you are doing this bowl practice stuff. You are still out there recruiting, you are still out there trying to prepare for your opponent, and it’s not easy to do all those things at the same time. But we made sure our coordinators were off the road enough to get us enough of a plan that every practice would be valuable. Now it’s a matter of starting to practice and refine it as we go.”
3. Richt was asked if he felt like recruiting was more crucial than ever this year, as the Bulldogs have logged 11 losses the last two seasons.
“I think that recruiting is always crucial, it’s always important. I don’t know if you could say this season more than any other. I do think this recruiting year in the state of Georgia, even as we were mapping it out a year ago because you are looking that far down the road. This class in particular we thought was going to be extremely strong, and we still believe that. Not only strong in athleticism and ability, but very strong in character from what I’m seeing. I really like the young men we’ve been dealing with as people too. It’s been a very encouraging year in that way too, which is kind of nice.”
4. Carradine hasn’t been Georgia’s only whiff in the JUCO ranks. The Bulldogs also offered several other two-year college standouts who chose to go in other directions, including Coffeyville (Kan.) Junior College DT Sylvester Williams (North Carolina), Butler County Community College WR Marcus Kennard (Texas Tech) and San Mateo (Calif.) College WR Rahsaan Vaughn (Oregon).
Georgia’s last and biggest hope from the JUCO ranks remains with defensive lineman John Jenkins of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community. The 6-foot-4, 340-pound nose guard, a perfect fit for the middle Todd Grantham’s 3-4 defense, is hosting several UGA coaches at his home in Meriden, Conn., this weekend. Jenkins committed to Oklahoma State last month but recently re-opened his recruitment and is getting pursued hard by the Bulldogs, Auburn, Mississippi State and several others.
“He’s definitely an impact player,” MGCCC coach Steve Campbell told me. “We had Terrence Cody here and he was an impact player [at Alabama]. JJ is a similar kind of player. He’s not as big but he has a little more speed and burst. He’s a prototypical inside guy.”
Jenkins is probably not going to make his final decision any time soon either, however. He’s not scheduled to graduate from MGCCC until the end of spring semester. He has only visited Houston and Oklahoma State so far and wants to get onto some of these campuses. So he, too, could wait until national signing day to make the call — and likely will.
“As far as making a decision, I’m not ready yet,” Jenkins told me this week. “I’m just letting everything play out right now. I’m trying not to rush it.”
5. Speaking of JUCOs, former AJC Super 11 defensive end and Georgia signee Toby Jackson of Griffin signed with Central Florida on Wednesday. So did Jackson’s brother, Kentorious “Scooter” Jackson, a 6-1, 198 DB from Georgia Military College. The Orlando Sentinel provides some more details.
6. Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham’s gives his take on recruiting to Macon’s Seth Emerson.
7. WR Markeith Ambles, a 2009 AJC Super 11 selection, was recently granted a full release from Southern Cal and has returned home to Henry County. There is speculation he may transfer to Georgia State to be reunited with quarterback Drew Little. The duo set all kinds of passing records at Henry County under coach Mike Rozier. However, Ken Suguira, who covers the Panthers for us, reports that Ambles is still looking at options on FBS (formerly Division I) level.
8. Another Henry County product, Chris Jackson, may be considering a move across town from Georgia Tech to Georgia State. Jackson, a sophomore running back, hasn’t gotten much playing time for the Yellow Jackets. He, too, played with Little at Henry County High and are close friends.
“Chris has not requested his release be sent to any institutions at this time,” Tech spokesman Dean Buchan told Suguira in an email. “Per Chris’ request, he wants to wait until the semester is over. Thus, no institutions have received permission to contact Chris Jackson at this time.”
Jackson originally signed with Alabama but transferred to Tech following the 2008 season and sat out ‘09 per NCAA rules.
9. Two of Georgia Tech’s top recruiting targets for 2011 will be in action this weekend in the “Crab Bowl.” It’s a matchup of high school all-stars from the D.C. Area versus those from the Baltimore area and they will be playing Saturday in Bowie, Md. Cornerback Blake Countess and defensive tackle Darian Cooper will be starring for the D.C. team. Both are four-star prospects who are seriously considering the Jackets.
10. THIS & THAT: Carver-Columbus DT Gabe Wright has canceled an official visit to UGA this weekend, according to Scout.com. Wright has four officials set up for January: Alabama (7th), Tennessee (14th), Clemson (21st) and Auburn (28th). . . . It looks like it’s coming down to Georgia Tech and South Carolina for DL Roderick Byers (6-4, 262) of Rock Hill, S.C. Byers took his official visit to Georgia Tech last week and welcomed the Yellow Jackets’ coach into this week, according to PalmettoSports.com. Oregon and West Virginia are also in pursuit. . . .
Georgia Military College CB D’Mario Gunn signed with Georgia State on Thursday, according to PantherTalk.com’s Ben Moore. That gives the Panthers three pledges for the 2011 class. They can sign only about eight this year. . . . Collins Hill WR Jeffrey Glover is getting recruiting interest from Ole Miss and Maryland. He currently has offers from Presbyterian, Western Carolina and Austin Peay. . . . Glover’s teammate Zay Howard, also a wideout, has been offered by Valdosta State .