ATHENS – We’re inside a week until national signing day and the Georgia Bulldogs’ “recruitniks” are about ready to panic.
At this point, the Bulldogs have only 16 commitments with room to sign as many as 12 more in the 2012 class. And while Georgia traditionally ranks among the national top 10 in recruiting every year, the Bulldogs currently hold a relatively pedestrian average ranking of 14.75 between the four main services. ESPN has UGA at No. 5 but Rivals and Scout have the Dogs at 21 and 22, respectively.
Rusty Mansell, who covers recruiting for 247Sports.com, says Georgia fans need to relax. While the Bulldogs still have some work to do, he said they’ve already done quite well and have a chance to close strong.
“Georgia has helped itself for 2012,” said Mansell, whose service currently has the Bulldogs at 11. “But what everybody is trying to do is prepare for down the road and it’s hard to tell how they’re doing with that right now because they have so many spots open. They shored up some key spots for next season. But they need to close up these last few spots to make sure that 2013, 2014 and 2015 are what you desire.”
Mansell said it’s not of dire importance that Georgia reaches 25 signees, the maximum number the NCAA allows each year. With the SEC’s new 25/28 rule, more emphasis is being placed on early enrollees. The Bulldogs already have three 2012 prospects enrolled in school now and have two more pledged to come in early in January of 2013.
“You want to save some room for that next period some you can get some early enrollees in,” Mansell said.
And whatever the general view of Georgia’s class is at this particular moment, it’s likely to change in the next week. This time last year the Bulldogs were awaiting the decisions of Isaiah Crowell, Ray Drew, John Jenkins Malcolm Mitchell, Jay Rome, Stephone Anthony and Antonio Richardson. They inked five of the seven and the class was dubbed “The Dream Team.”
Here’s where the situation stands now:
NEEDS: There figures to be a lot of action in the coming days. Among the uncommitted targets Georgia hopes to close with are offensive lineman Avery Young of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.; linebacker Josh Harvey-Clemons of Valdosta; and wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson of Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College. They’re also trying to “flip” some players that are currently committed elsewhere, including Tucker defensive end Josh Dawson (Vanderbilt), Memphis defensive back Sheldon Dawson (Memphis), Sandy Creek wide receiver Ja’Quay Williams (Auburn) and Cedar Grove offensive lineman Brandon Greene (Alabama).
“If you had to rank one player left on the board it would probably be Avery Young because of they’re really wanting offensive linemen,” Mansell said. “Right now he’d be on the top of the line of the priority list. But you also have to look at Cordarrelle Patterson. He’s the No. 1 junior college prospect and a guy that a lot of people think is going to be a one-and-done. He’s that type of player.”
WINS: Georgia has already addressed some major needs for next season. The Bulldogs have a firm commitment from 5-star tackle John Theus of Jacksonville and offensive lineman Mark Beard and Raleigh’s Keith Marshall — who is rated the No. 1 running back prospect in the nation — are already enrolled in school. The Bulldogs pulled off a major coup in landing outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins of Harris County, who some rate as the state’s top recruit, and long ago addressed defensive line needs by securing Jonathan Taylor and Leonard Floyd. They’ve also secured a placekicker in Marshall Morgan and a punter in Collin Barber.
“They are going to provide immediate depth and could be providing meaningful minutes next fall,” Mansell said.
LOSSES: Most recently UGA was in the news when it was learned it would not be able to admit offensive lineman Chester Brown because of a controversial Regents policy that bans the enrollment of undocumented students. Brown was raised in the U.S. by Samoan parents who allegedly are illegal immigrants. The Bulldogs suffered some traditional defeats on some other primary targets, including Stone Mountain linebacker Markuss Eligwe (FSU); Buford linebacker Dillon Lee (Alabama) and Creekside defensive back Josh Holsey (Auburn). Even Georgia’s first commitment of the 2012 class, wide receiver C.J. Curry of Flowery Branch, had a change of heart and committed to Oklahoma State.