Recruiting nightmare: What if Keith Marshall does NOT pick UGA?

  • (Lots of breaking news of Marshall: Please check at the bottom for the most current updates)

What if Keith Marshall does not pick UGA on Tuesday?

It would be a recruiting nightmare for the Bulldogs. Even the idea that the nation’s No. 1 RB is seriously considering alternatives ignites panic attacks among masses of UGA supporters.

Marshall is the “make-it-or-break” recruit for UGA’s 2012 class. The speedster from Raleigh, N.C., is the guy that the Bulldogs have to get. Why is that? Because of ongoing RB problems and an emergency-level lack of depth (we’re talking fire alarms, folks) at the place once proudly known as “Tailback U.”

For many, the success of UGA's entire recruiting efforts for 2012 will be judged by Keith Marshall's Tuesday decision (Photo provided by 247Sports.com)

For many, the success of UGA's entire recruiting efforts for 2012 will be judged by Keith Marshall's decision on Tuesday (Photo provided by 247Sports.com)

From listening to some UGA fans, if Marshall doesn’t make the “expected” decision on Tuesday afternoon, the Bulldogs might as well forget about next season. It would be like another 0-2 start without playing any games.

That seems kind of drastic and silly. But maybe the perception isn’t too far off? After all, Mark Richt seemed to validate the theory by making a rare public display of recruiting desperation, telling reporters that “If I was a great running back, I would want to come to Georgia” – which many translated as Richt personally handing out a  job application to Marshall.

Many Georgia fans feel that Marshall is a “lock” to pick the Bulldogs over Clemson, Florida, Notre Dame and South Carolina on Tuesday. That’s not exactly illogical thinking, as Marshall has been rumored on message boards to be favoring Georgia for months. Yes, they are UGA-themed message boards, but no other UGA targets are talked about with such bravado and swagger.

However, this is the circus of recruiting – where anything and everything can happen and then change entirely again in a couple of days. Nothing is 100-percent certain with teenagers, as we learn every February, until the scholarship papers are signed (See: Mike Davis, Florida Gators). Heck, it’s that same unpredictability that makes recruiting so fun and addictive to follow.

Back to our question: What if Keith Marshall does not pick UGA on Tuesday? Short story: It wouldn’t be a pretty picture. The Bulldogs are pretty much using the same “high risk, high reward” recruiting strategy that was so successful in landing Isaiah Crowell last year. In other words, it has always been Keith Marshall at the No. 1 spot on the recruiting board and no one else. Yes, Georgia will sign at least two running backs in this class, but Marshall always has been and remains the grand prize.

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“Yes, that’s an interesting question,” said Rusty Mansell, National Recruiting Analyst for 247Sports.com. “You know, the biggest advantage for Georgia if something like that was to happen with Keith Marshall is that he’s announcing on Dec. 6 and not in February. That way, if Keith goes somewhere else, Georgia has 50-something days left in the recruiting cycle to set their sights on other running backs.

“With Isaiah Crowell, it was a different story. It was hit-or-miss on national signing day. Nobody knew for sure what he was going to do until that day. Georgia’s coaches probably knew before that, but as late in the recruiting process as other schools were still pursuing Isaiah Crowell, everybody was a little nervous until he announced. This time around with Keith Marshall, there’s still two solid months before signing day. That gives Georgia time to do what they need to do to get some other players on the board.”

What is Georgia’s “Plan B?” The No. 2 target is another North Carolina RB, Todd Gurley of Tarboro. He’s bigger and considered to be more physical than Marshall, but doesn’t have the same explosiveness and speed. You can’t really call Gurley “Plan B” because he’s part of “Plan A” right now as UGA hopes to sign both (Gurley will announce in early Jan.). So what is the backup plan?

“I don’t know … I mean, there are other running backs that Georgia has kind of kept in touch with,” Mansell said. “There’s Chris Brown at Seminole County High School. Georgia had been talking to him each week until recently. Speaking with his coach about a month ago, he felt like Georgia was close to offering at one point. Chris plays at a small Class A school but he has good size and put up big numbers. Allatoona’s Miles Jones is another one who may get a look from Georgia. I wouldn’t be surprised if they make one last push for someone like Kenyan Drake. I know he’s solidly committed to Alabama, and has never said anything differently to me. But it doesn’t mean that other schools won’t try to recruit him until he signs.”

Bottom line: There really isn’t a backup plan for UGA. Some will say it’s a reckless way to recruit, while others will point out that it was the same exact all-or-nothing strategy that successfully netted Isaiah Crowell – and will prove to work again for Marshall.

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Back to Mansell: For the record, he has been communicating with people around Marshall and said that “it sounds like Georgia is in pretty good shape.”

That’s good news for UGA, and there’s more good news: Guess who Marshall saved for the very last spot on his calendar for his final in-home visit with college coaches before his decision? That would be Richt. Don’t you save the best for last? Richt sprinted with the speed of the “Honey Badger” after the SEC Championship game (with RB assistant Bryan McClendon on his back) to North Carolina to meet with the highly-touted recruit and his family on Sunday.

Decision Day is Tuesday for the RB ranked No. 1 in the country by Scout.com. It is tentatively scheduled for 2:30 p.m. but may run a few minutes late like they always do. Please come back to the AJC for coverage.

Also, you may want to consider following Keith Marshall on Twitter by going here. He’s pretty active on Twitter and it wouldn’t be surprising if he dropped a few hints between now and his announcement.

  • UPDATE: There are numerous reports on Monday that Clemson is making a strong push for Marshall, and is much bigger competition for UGA than most people think . Said Mansell on Monday: “All indications are that Clemson is a serious player. I felt like UGA had been the leader for a while and was the team to beat. But Clemson is definitely coming on strong, and it sounds like it will be Georgia or Clemson on Tuesday. Right now, I don’t think anybody will know for sure what Keith Marshall will do until he announces it.” Also, there are unconfirmed reports that Clemson (not UGA) will get the last face-to-face meeting with Marshall on Monday.
  • UPDATE: 247Sports.com is reporting that Clemson’s coaches did indeed get to meet with Marshall on Monday. Could Clemson beat out UGA for Marshall? Read more at 247sports.com …. Check back for updates.
  • RELATED: Buford TE Kurt Freitag picks Alabama over Florida (click on story link)
Ex-Florida RB commit Mike Davis

Ex-Florida RB commit Mike Davis

THE OTHER BIG NEWS OF THE DAY

  • UGA has a 10-year streak of finishing in the Top 10 of the Rivals.com rankings. They are off to a struggling start this year, currently ranked No. 22. Can they make up enough ground to keep the streak intact? Go here to vote
  • Shocker! RB Mike Davis de-commits from Florida after nearly a year of being committed to the Gators. Why? (click on story link)
  • AJC Super 11 DE Dalvin Tomlinson rated his official visit to Georgia Tech as an “8 or 9″ (click on story link)

– By Michael Carvell, AJC Recruiting Blog

Got an item? mcarvell@ajc.com

Got an item? mcarvell@ajc.com

Note: Inappropriate BLOG comments and personal attacks will NOT be tolerated. We love the lively discussions but hate-filled, harassing and irresponsible comments are unacceptable.

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395 comments Add your comment

andrew hall

December 5th, 2011
1:32 pm

Johnny Too Good

December 5th, 2011
1:49 pm

If they dont get him oh well, its not the end of the world, uga has other options on the team and other prospects….. rbs are a dime a dozen, just ask lsu

http://www.youtube.com/thatsjohnanderson

LSUTiger

December 5th, 2011
1:52 pm

Why would any good player go to UGA and lose all the big games?

Bryan G.

December 5th, 2011
1:52 pm

I say get Chris Brown…the last two guys from SCHS worked out just fine for the Dawgs (Phillip Daniels and Baccarri Rambo)!

Come on down...

December 5th, 2011
1:53 pm

Keith Marshall…The Dawgs need a tailback with something between the ears.

WinderDawg

December 5th, 2011
1:53 pm

Good ones cost a little more than a dime!

Kramer

December 5th, 2011
1:53 pm

They will get Marshall. To much opportunity here for the young man to make an impact right away. It does mean, to me, that they lose at least one exisiting rb. Also, in Knoxville today on business and the word here is that Dooley has kicked Da’ Rick off the team. Heard it from more then one person here.

Steve

December 5th, 2011
1:54 pm

this is a big one for the dawgs

Brown Dog

December 5th, 2011
1:55 pm

Marshall is very good. But given the problems UGA has had with Crowell staying on the field, why are they going after another small back?

Ginger

December 5th, 2011
1:55 pm

Go Dawgs–Marshall and Gurley you are needed and wanted !!!

JAWJeRDAWG

December 5th, 2011
1:57 pm

Hope he chooses UGA! Go Dawgs!

poopdawg

December 5th, 2011
1:58 pm

UGA needs to go hard for Kenyan Drake regardless. This kid can play . Who knows? Uga will find plenty of TB prospects.

McDawg

December 5th, 2011
1:58 pm

if not we should fire Bobo and certainly blame IC’s dreadlocks

poopdawg

December 5th, 2011
2:00 pm

Browndog , Crowell is not small at 215. Neither is Marshall at 190 . Now Thomas 163 aand Harton 174 are small.

Concrete Pete

December 5th, 2011
2:00 pm

He’s a lock guys. No worries. Early enrollee so Joe T can get him physically ready to play and he can learn what to do in the spring. Come fall camp he’ll be like fully acclimated.

1eyedJack

December 5th, 2011
2:03 pm

I’m hoping that next year Crowell turns out to be what we expected this year.

Macclenny_dawg

December 5th, 2011
2:03 pm

I really think we should go the Juco route and get a player that can come right in and be able to take the pounding he will get. Just not sure a rb right out of high school will be in good enough shape to take the pounding. We need bigger backs.

Pat

December 5th, 2011
2:04 pm

Keith needs to get on campus ASAP!

GT Insider

December 5th, 2011
2:05 pm

One RB will not help UGA next year, especially Marshall. He is smallish like Crowell and we see how Crowell fared trying to be the main guy. He got hurt.

Marshall may be shifty, but he’s small and he’s not Trent Richardson or Hilliard from LSU. Those guys will run you over rather than around you.

robodawg

December 5th, 2011
2:07 pm

It wouldn’t be total disaster — Isaiah will be stronger and more experienced, and Boo Malcome should get better. But you do need depth at RB. If we didn’t get Marshall AND if Crowell had a season-ending injury would be a disaster for next season.

We really need a bruiser like Gurley as well.

McDawg

December 5th, 2011
2:08 pm

i hope we get him and everyone can place all their expectations, hopes and desires on him and then shred him to pieces when he disappoints

Nooga Dawg

December 5th, 2011
2:13 pm

Yes, Marshall looks quick and fast, but can he take the beating an SEC back takes every week ? Dawgs better get some d b ’s that want to fight for 60 minutes, those boys just flat quit Sat night.

tim

December 5th, 2011
2:14 pm

Go to Georgia. You can smoke dope, fail a drug test during the week and play on Saturday (unless it is a weak opponent)

Dawglasville

December 5th, 2011
2:15 pm

I don’t want to hear 5 star anything.

LSUTiger – good point. He should go to LSU where you can fondle women against their will, beat a guy senseless with your other football buddies. Hey, just win baby. Just win.

BS

December 5th, 2011
2:16 pm

I THINK WE SHOULD GIVE Malcolm more looks. He seems hungry looked good when he came in the game and is a load to tackle!

Cowell will get better, but Malcolm needs to step up and take the position.
Carlton is too small! sorry!

c'mon man

December 5th, 2011
2:16 pm

Keith Marshall…The Dawgs need a tailback like YOU. The games between the hedges are awesome. Tim Worley worked out well as a NC DAWGS.

Insider "U"

December 5th, 2011
2:18 pm

Tommorrow is going to be a good day…. One full off season under Brown and IC will be a different player. Some real good things to get him ready for next year are already being out into place. And…. IC, Harton and 2 other freshamn backs will be in ther next year. Woops did I leave (he leaves) someone out……….?

Johnny Too Good

December 5th, 2011
2:18 pm

I agree, malcome should get more looks, i’ve saw a few practices this spring and he looked fine

http://www.youtube.com/thatsjohnanderson

Blackoutanyone?

December 5th, 2011
2:19 pm

Crowell sorely misses the discipline he would have received at Bama. Not to mention redshirting behind a hard working Heisman Trophy candidate/model citizen in Trent Richardson. As for Marshall. I suspect he will sign with UGA. Hopefully his decision will help attract talented offensive linemen. It all starts up front and Richt just hasn’t grasped that. Roll Tide!!

c'mon man

December 5th, 2011
2:19 pm

Marshall and Gurley the backfield of champions. Boo is coming on to carry the rock and let Marshall and Gurley in the game. Move Samuel to fullback and continue to give him the rock as well. IC seems to be a real concern and they almost aren’t even hiding it anymore.

Insider "U"

December 5th, 2011
2:19 pm

Sorry Richard back from injury… Not the player I was speaking of.

AltamahaDawg

December 5th, 2011
2:19 pm

Hopefully Marshall doesn’t read all the classless crap some of the UGA fans have said about Crowell and still commits.

Insider "U"

December 5th, 2011
2:21 pm

True Blackout… Crowell would have def benefitted from a red shirt.. even if UGA could have they would have had to pull it b/c of lack of depth. He’ll be a special player…

Nooga Dawg

December 5th, 2011
2:22 pm

Mason and Malcome both should have seen a lot more playing time. Will be surprised if Mason stays in
Athens after this season.

AltamahaDawg

December 5th, 2011
2:23 pm

Malcome’s lack of PT was all on him.

Robinwood

December 5th, 2011
2:24 pm

I will be *shocked* if IC is even academically eligible for the Outback.

Insider "U"

December 5th, 2011
2:26 pm

Yes Altamaha. Our guys just need a hard-nozed off seasson (tailbacks) I think the ones we have along with the ones we get will be a terror to face in years to come.

Robinwood

December 5th, 2011
2:27 pm

@Altahama

I’ve yet to read a negative thing about Crowell that either didn’t pan out to be true or that he didn’t bring on himself by being a Precious Snowflake.

super committee

December 5th, 2011
2:28 pm

Tek troll claiming to be an LSU tiger… Robinwood.. do you have inside info or are you grading his papers?

Kev

December 5th, 2011
2:28 pm

He said he wanted to go to a school with a solid academic program. He’s a 4.3 student. Doesn’t sound like he fits in on an SEC team. The only school remaining on his list with strong academics (and theirs a big gap between them and no. 2) is ND.

We coming back

nash

December 5th, 2011
2:29 pm

the thing is there weren’t any upper class men there to help mold the young guys this season aside from Samual but, I think he was just hanging around campus because I think he has already graduated. The guys that Boo was behind King and, Early weren’t there to help the young guy along but there waiting to be draft eligible. If you look at the rest of the roster there where people there to show the youg pupps what is expected of them so I can understand why there where so many issues with that group

RxDawg

December 5th, 2011
2:29 pm

Well it’s certainly not a “recruiting nightmare”. Good grief AJC… please quit with the sensationalism. PLEASE? I would like to continue to come here for some of my UGA news.

slydog

December 5th, 2011
2:30 pm

@AltamahaDawg

December 5th, 2011
2:19 pm

Hopefully Marshall doesn’t read all the classless crap some of the UGA fans have said about Crowell and still commits.

He’s going to hear classless crap regardless of who he signs with. Starting right here on this blog!!!

slydog

December 5th, 2011
2:32 pm

The coaching and recruiting philosophy needs to change in Athens

k.chubbs

December 5th, 2011
2:32 pm

Despite nagging injuries, Crowell was a productive RB this year. Unlike most UGA backs, including Moreno and nearly every other back since Herschel, Crowell did not have the benefit of a redshirt year. And, 1 year on campus training with a college team can make a big difference. That said, Crowell clearly has talent. Next year, he will hopefully be in better shape and put it all together.

Of course, getting Marshall would be very nice!

AltamahaDawg

December 5th, 2011
2:34 pm

Anybody hoping that Marshall comes to Georgia, better be crossing thier fingers that Crowell is still here for a couple of years.

Ellen Horn

December 5th, 2011
2:34 pm

I just heard from a reliable source that Marshall is leaning heavily toward South Carolina after his visit. He had a great time, loved the school, coaches and players. Watched them beat Clemson.

LSUTiger

December 5th, 2011
2:40 pm

Man I wish we had Trent Richardson because he is going to run all over our Defense.

just the truth

December 5th, 2011
2:41 pm

Marshall is headed to Florida. Hence Davis taking the high road out of Gainesville. Marshall and Gurley shouldn’t even be talked about in the same report. Gurley is NO Marshall. Very average speed who likes to run over you but can’t beat anyone around the end.

Al Beeski

December 5th, 2011
2:43 pm

Robinwood, I’ve heard the same thing from several people in the know from Columbus, that he will definitely be ineligible for the bowl game. I just hope Albany State can beat out North Alabama for his services.