Why do high school football stars enroll early in college?
Mainly, it’s to get a headstart on competing for a starting position.
QB Brice Ramsey has his reasons for graduating from Camden County High School this month so he could enroll at UGA for the start of the spring semester on Jan. 7. Ramsey will be joined at UGA by his high school teammate, DB JJ Green, who is also committed to the Bulldogs.
“It was for academic and football advantages,” Ramsey told the AJC. “You get to come in and play with the team, along with make the transition to college without having it all piled onto you in July and August.”
Ramsey is one of 17 high school, prep school, or junior college prospects committed to UGA that have said they plan to begin college classes in two weeks. The Bulldogs are only counting on 10, as that’s the maximum number that can be “back-counted” to last year’s scholarship numbers in order for UGA to creatively circumvent the SEC’s over-signing rules of a 25-man annual limit on recruiting classes. Using the early enrollees, Mark Richt told reporters he expects to finish this year with 30-35 signees — his largest class in more than a decade.
Richt, who had only two early enrollees in 2011 and three last year, really pressed the issue with this year’s class to make up for roster deficiencies. ”If there was any year we pushed it, it was this year,” Richt said. “We’re trying to get to 10. So that was an important thing for this year’s class. But most of the time we might bring it up, ‘If you’re the kind of guy that would be excited about getting a head star, great. If not, it’s not that big a deal.’”
It was a big deal for UGA this year after whiffing on numerous targets on last year’s signing day. To make up for it, the Bulldogs targeted a lot of recruits that had strong enough academics to be able to enroll early. “They would’ve been behind if they didn’t,” Scout.com’s Chad Simmons said. “After (the small class) last year, they were really behind in numbers. It was really a good job by Georgia to go out and identify guys that had the option to graduate early … to help them catch up with (the 85-man roster limit).
Perhaps no position is important to be an early enrollee as QB because of the complicated playbook. UGA’s coaches mentioned the idea to Ramsey, who had already been thinking about it. Now he’ll have the chance to compete for a backup position this spring. And he could be much higher on the depth chart than many expect, depending on how things shake out with the NFL/transfer decisions of Aaron Murray, Hutson Mason and Christian LeMay.
“The big advantage for me is learning the playbook,” Ramsey said. “And I’ll be able to get in there in the spring and get some reps. That’s going to help me out a lot.”
What are the disadvantages of all the early enrollees at UGA? For the Bulldogs, there are none, as they get an instant boost of manpower to the roster. For the early enrollees, particularly the ones from high school, they miss out on many of the pleasures and joys of being a senior. UGA tries to be accommodating in some areas according to former Bulldogs recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner, who spoke the AJC before leaving for Auburn this past week.
“I think the biggest negative is that the (early enrollees) are forfeiting a little bit of their senior year. But a lot of kids get ’senioritis’ anyways that second semester. However, they are forfeiting that opportunity, and the good thing about Coach Richt is, that with every midyear kid we’ve had in the past, he has always allowed them to go back to the prom, if they wanted to go to the prom, or walk with their class at graduation. We’ve always tried to accommodate those things so they did not miss those significant moments, as long as it doesn’t interfere with a test or anything like that. I think that’s a good thing that Coach Richt has done.”
It appears that UGA has already hit its magic number of 10 early enrolles, based on the college’s student directory. One 2013 recruit, LB Ryne Rankin, was already cleared to practice with the team, while 10 other names appear in the directory, meaning they likely have already been approved by admissions. The other half-dozen will find out if they can start UGA early sometime in the next 12 days.
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