Other than to put UGA in position to reach the SEC championship game, maybe the best thing to come out of the team’s current eight-game winning streak is the positive impact it has had on recruiting.
Somehow, some way, UGA was able to weather a storm on the recruiting front after the dreadful 0-2 start and rampant speculation over Mark Richt’s future.
Not only were the Bulldogs able to keep a stranglehold on all 13 of their commitments from over the summer, they added two more during the season — 15 total now, with UGA projected to sign a full class of 25 in February.
“We’ve got some momentum with recruiting, and I think there’s going to be more to come,” Richt told the AJC on Wednesday. “Well, let’s say I hope there’s more to come.”
The last few months have been a recruiting whirlwind for Richt. The 0-2 start was so intense and worrisome for recruiting that UGA’s top commitment, 5-star offensive lineman John Theus of Jacksonville, decided to go ahead and take an official visit to Notre Dame – just in case something happened to Richt. Other UGA commitments were also beginning to establish communications again with other schools.
As bad as the 0-2 start was for UGA in trying win over the hearts and minds of young recruits, the eight-game winning streak has been equally as powerful as a positive. Winning solves a lot of problems, especially when it comes to recruiting, Richt admitted.
“I think kids were certainly cautious at the beginning of our season and maybe took a little bit of a wait-and-see attitude,” Richt said. “Now that we’ve had a lot of success, you don’t really feel that as much. You know, the more you win, the more I think people are interested in your school.”
Last week’s win over Auburn was one of the best atmospheres for recruiting at a UGA game in years. The Bulldogs played nearly flawless against their rivals, the Stanford Stadium crowd was unusually loud – and the 30-plus recruits took notice. UGA entertained two prospects on official visits and the weekend was so successful that one Florida athlete committed before leaving campus and a 5-star defensive end moved the Bulldogs near the top of his shortlist of schools. UGA’s success has also put the Bulldogs “in the mix” for the nation’s No. 1-ranked prospect for 2013.
Richt cannot comment on prospective student-athletes due to NCAA rules, but was thrilled with last weekend’s recruiting efforts.
“It went great,” Richt said. “It was good for the fans, it was good for the team, it was good for the coaches and it was good for recruiting. It was good for the University of Georgia really. It was a wonderful weekend all the way around, from everyone from the alumni to the Redcoat Band. It was a good day to be a Georgia Bulldog and I think the kids and everybody got to see that first-hand. It was invaluable for recruiting, I think.”
With as many as 10 scholarship spots left to fill at Georgia before February’s signing day, we asked Richt what message he would want to get across to any recruits out there listening. “I would just say that we are very sincere about the total man. We want to not only see you realize all of your dreams on the football field, but also academically and socially. We want you to leave the University of Georgia as a full-grown man, ready for life. We’re serious about the football part, and everything that goes along with it.”
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– By Michael Carvell, AJC Recruiting Blog
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