Despite Harvey-Clemons drama, Georgia brings in strong class

ATHENS — Greetings from Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall. Yeah, I’m still here.

Been an interesting day, as you may have noticed. It looked like it was going to be a nice smooth national signing day and a largely positive one for Georgia. The Bulldogs had gotten good news on two of their main targets early in the day, missed out on a couple of other targets later, and coach Mark Richt and Rodney Garner told us all about what was right about the 2012 recruiting class early in the afternoon.

The plan then was to breakdown the class, disseminate all the information, write it up for our readers and get home in time for a late supper.

But then that letter-of-intent for Josh Harvey-Clemons went AWOL. Apparently the young man’s grandfather and legal guardian did as well. And though we all watched the highly-touted outside linebacker from Valdosta tell a national television audience he intended to sign with Georgia, the Bulldogs’ couldn’t announce him as a signee and we haven’t been able to put a bow around the 2012 recruiting class.

And that’s where we are. It appears that Georgia’s coaches have headed home as well as all of UGA’s sports communication staff. So even if Harvey-Clemons decided to send over a signed letter-of-intent at this point I don’t think there will be anyone here to see it. (Note to Harvey-Clemons — If you’d like to email it to me as an attachment, please don’t hesitate to do so at ctowers@ajc.com. Thanks).

So what does it all mean? Not much in the grand scheme of things, in my humble opinion.

Without a doubt, Harvey-Clemons is a major prospect and could become a great college player. But as far as the 2012 class is concerned, of all the positions Georgia was pretty well set at, I’d say the position Harvey-Clemons plays is the most solid one. The Bulldogs signed more defensive end/outside linebackers (4) than any other one on Wednesday. It was for that reason I was frankly surprised when I heard Harvey-Clemons announce Georgia.

Michael Carvell, our capable recruiting correspondent, has a relationship with Harvey-Clemons and his family. So I’m going to leave it to him to get to the bottom of this issue. In the meantime, here are some things I do know about Georgia’s 2012 class:

1. It’s pretty good, but not great.

Rarely are you going to ink just 18 players and have the class characterized as exceptional. But don’t sell this group short. Georgia doesn’t lose a lot from 2011 and this one goes a long way toward addressing whatever voids existed.

“I feel like we were able to meet our leads,” said Rodney Garner, Georgia’s recruiting coordinator since 1998. “I think we covered everything across the board. Sometimes I think the public may look at it one way while we have some things we’re doing from a standpoint of roster management that we may be doing with our current team. We’re going to shift some guys around to fit our needs that we feel may better benefit our scheme.  . . . We’re really excited about where we’re at.”

At last check, Georgia’s class was ranked No. 5 by ESPN, No. 6 by 247Sports, No. 12 by Scout, No. 19 by Rivals and No. 20 by Tom Lemming. Take it for what it’s worth.

2. Georgia needed more offensive linemen

I still don’t believe the Bulldogs have adequately addressed their depth issues on the offensive line. In a perfect world, you need a good 15 scholarship linemen to practice and compete at a level that’s going to give you plenty of guys ready to play. But that’s ideally. As Georgia proved last year, you can get by with fewer than that. And at least two of the three guys they got seem to be of the ilk that can help right away.

“Let me tell you something: Offensive line is a huge priority,” Richt said. “But the thing is, if you’re going to try to sign the best you’ve got to recruit the best. There are times when you hit it on the head and there are times when you don’t win the battle. We’re going against a lot of great programs but, I guarantee you, the guys that we’ve got are highly sought-after and guys we think can really help us.”

Theus (6-6, 292), a five-star-rated prospect, is expected to compete for playing time at left tackle. Beard (6-4, 300) is a junior college transfer who is already enrolled in school and figures to compete at both guard and tackle. Greg Pyke (6-6, 315) is a big guy out of Baltimore.

“First of all those guys are physically big men,” Richt said. “They are physical enough to compete right now. . . . Those guys I think have a tremendous shot to compete. John, in particular, is one heck of a player and he has a great chance to play for Georgia. He just has to stay healthy, learn what to do, nothing’s given but he’s definitely going to throw his hat in the ring. Guys like A.J. Green we’ve had in the past and Matthew Stafford, guys who are highly thought of at their positions. John is in that category to me.”

Richt also wanted to remind Georgia fans of redshirted linemen such as Zach DeBell and Xzavier Ward.

“People tend to forget about guys like that,” he said. “Ward has probably put on 40 pounds and he’s been getting healthy. He looks good, big, tall, kid who’s very athletic. . . . Before you know it he’ll be competing for us.”

3. Misses at wide receiver weren’t critical.

Georgia fans surely are bemoaning the choices of wide receivers Cordarrelle Patterson of Hutchinson (Kan.) CC (Tennessee) and JaQuay Williams of Sandy Creek(Auburn) to go elsewhere. But the reality is it is far from devastating. The Bulldogs are well-stocked at the position and they will be in a position to reload next year.

“Here’s the deal on that: We know we’ve got a pretty good bunch of guys already,” Richt said. “We’ve got some veterans making plays. Of course, TK [Tavarres King] had over 200 yards in our last game and we’ve got some other guys. [Rantavious] Wooten and Marlon Brown had great camps last year, then they got sidetracked by injuries and some freshmen came through and made a bunch of plays for us. So we know we’ve got some play-makers there and I think a lot of the recruits knew we had a lot of play-makers there.”

Richt went on to say they expect big things from the one receiver they landed, Blake Tibbs of M.L. King.

4. There’s some pretty good quality in this class:

Georgia landed two prospects that garnered 5-star ratings from at least one of the national recruiting services  in Theus and running back Keith Marshall of Raleigh. They also landed the top-rated players from four states based on various rankings – Theus (Florida), Marshall (North Carolina), outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins (Georgia) and cornerback Sheldon Dawson (Tennessee). In addition several other players are expected to make an immediate impact, including fullback Quayvon Hicks,  kicker Marshall Morgan of Fort Lauderdale and punter Collin Barber of Cartersville.

5. Georgia pulled major coup getting North Carolina’s top two running backs:

CBS national recruiting expert Tom Lemming lauded Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley for putting egos aside and both deciding to come to the same place. Marshall is considered the top running back prospect in the nation according to several recruiting services but Lemming isn’t sure whether Gurley isn’t better. And together he thinks they’re an unbeatable combo.

“To think you could get the top two running backs from anyone else’s state, that would be very difficult to do,” Richt said. “These guys have a very good friendship. To think I like about them both is they’re both very high character young men. They are extremely talented. They’re both already physical enough to play this game and they’re both highly motivated.

“There aren’t many running backs any more who come in thinking I’ve got to be the only guy. I don’t think anybody wants to be the only guy. Because if you’re going to carry the ball 25-30 times a game in our league, it’s not healthy for you. It’s not good for you. You want to be with guys that can share the load with you to keep you healthy and keep you fresh throughout any game in any given season. I think these guys are special backs and we’re excited about it.”

6. Of course, Marshall and Gurley will be joining Isaiah Crowell, Ken Malcome, Richard Samuel, Carlton Thomas and Brandon Harton in Georgia’s backfield. Richt does not think that’s too much depth.

“One year we had Thomas Brown, Danny Ware, Kregg Lumpkin and Knowshon Moreno at one time,” he said. “Lumpkin is in the NFL, Danny Ware is in the NFL, Thomas Brown was in the league, and, of course, Knowshon as well. We were loaded up pretty good but it didn’t seem to hurt those guys in their careers.”

Here’s Richt on a few other topics:

On fans . . .

“I want to mention is the Bulldog Nation. Our fanbase generates so much excitement. When you talk about our fanbase, our guys understand it’s a real thing. They even mention it after they commit to Georgia, they just felt overwhelmed by the amount of love they’re getting from people just wishing them well or talking to them at the grocery store our on social media or something of that nature. They’ll say, “I didn’t realize how much the Georgia fans love their team.’ That’s a big part of us being able to recruit so well.”

On 10 of 18 signees coming from out of state . . .

“The bottom line is we’re trying to find the very best players, period. We know we have one of the greatest states in the country to recruit football. . . . Our philosophy is, if you go out of state, they better be special. They better be a special player; they better be a special person. That’s how we feel about these guys. But by no means do we ever want to slight the state of Georgia.”

On slow start in recruiting . . .

“I think ‘the noise’ probably hurt us a little on the front end. But once we had the season that we had, we did something we hadn’t done since the early 1980s, winning 10 in a row, and returning a lot of players and all that. I think maybe some of the guys in a wait-and-see decided they were very comfortable with where Georgia is now and where Coach Richt and the staff are. I think that had a little something to do with it.”

On the day’s events . . .

“Quite franky, I’d like to have no buzz on signing day. I’d like it to be the most boring day. I’d like to get the max number we can handle, get them all committed and get all the faxes thjrough by 9 o’clock. Everything’s lovely. That’s how I’d like to have it. But fans like that last-second drama.”

124 comments Add your comment

Still@theKool-aidBAR

February 1st, 2012
7:40 pm

Get ready for Bulldog, BAMA, Ga TECH or any teams Spring football.

http://www.atlantahaulitallinc.com/Bird_Houses.php

Birdhair

February 1st, 2012
7:48 pm

I said my prayers last night!

WDE

February 1st, 2012
7:57 pm

Chip thanks for the effort today , great job I think we hav ea really good class for addressing areas we need help at..Go Dogs!

BiggDawgK

February 1st, 2012
7:57 pm

It was a good day for Georgia. JHC will sign and hopefully Chip will be able to take it easy for a while.

SCarolina DAWGS

February 1st, 2012
8:04 pm

good job coaches and ‘all that helped get this class “between the hedges”

BobDawg

February 1st, 2012
8:06 pm

2013 is going to be a great class with monster volume

bamadawg

February 1st, 2012
8:11 pm

Is it true Clemons may have signed with UF

Troup Co. Dawg

February 1st, 2012
8:13 pm

I think this year was a Great recruiting class for adding depth for our Defense! We gotta be able to rotate that defense for all four qtrs. if we are going to win the SEC and so on. Offense will get better in time I think, If Bobo would use the talent we’ve got, the way I see it, we’ve got two dual threat QB’s and AM. There is no reason why we can’t use them all! Back on Defense, we should be able to shutdown everybody we play, and for God’s sake CMR…get us a Special teams coordinator!!!!

jake dawg

February 1st, 2012
8:15 pm

everybody’s reading about their own teams today and not trolling. wish it was like this a bit more often. congrats to all the new dawgs, welcome to the nation.

Jockich Ahn Smelley, II

February 1st, 2012
8:16 pm

We gotta get Clemons…….Granddaddy can get bail bonds FAST!!! He could make his annual sales quota with the UGA football team!!!

Mtn Dawg

February 1st, 2012
8:17 pm

I am excited. With or without Harvey-Clemons, we’ll be in the NC hunt this year for real.

Spike 80DF

February 1st, 2012
8:18 pm

This is a good class considering CMR being on the “hot seat” all year. Next year we’ll lose a LOT of guys to the NFL so it should be a big signing class for 2013 with guys knowing they can come in and play immediately. John Theus will probably be a starter from day 1, the running game will be improved, and the defense will be nasty. Hopefully we won’t turn the ball over and lose games that way……

Jockich Ahn Smelley, II

February 1st, 2012
8:19 pm

Someone at RB not gonna be happy accumulating slivers while warming the bench….Maybe I shoulda signed with UNC….NC State….East Carolina….Wake Forest…..so I could be guaranteed of playing………HEY at least I can say I was on the UGA football team………while my homies that I was far superior to will be playing in the NFL…………OH WELL…….Its GREAT to BE A GEORGIA BULLDAWG……..I SAY, IT GREAT TO BE A GEORGIA BULLDAWG…….Let me hear an AMEN!!!

YellerSkeeters Are PeterEaters!

February 1st, 2012
8:26 pm

Is Harvey-CLemons a minor (not 18)? Does his Grandfather HAVE to sign his LOI? Why can’t his Grandmother sign — she was seated next to him when he signed on camera.

slydog

February 1st, 2012
8:27 pm

Prediction: At least one RB will either redshirt, be dismissed, or stay in the dog house. Harton Thomas and Samuel will just play out their eligibility. The only ones that matter are Malcolm, Crowell, Marshall, and Gurley.

beachdog

February 1st, 2012
8:28 pm

Georgia votes Republican and the Regents cost us a great Bulldog with their idiotic immigration policy.

Elections do matter. We are missing a damn good Dog because of politics.

Facts are what they are.

pj

February 1st, 2012
8:30 pm

D-Line, Running Back and kickers have been addressed for the next 3-4 years. If Theus and Beard pan out, so is the Tackle position. Yeah ewe have depth at WR now, but unless Tibbs is a bad arse, we may have issues in a few years. This class makes us better in 2012 – but long term I’m a little worried. We better sign 30 in ‘13.

Dawg Haus

February 1st, 2012
8:34 pm

It’s a solid class that will serve Georgia well moving forward. Go Dawgs!

Tony

February 1st, 2012
8:36 pm

I don’t understand why Clemons’ grandfather can’t put aside his own selfishness and let the kid attend the university that he prefers. Honestly I would rather my grandchild play for a respectable, honest coach like Richt. Hope he doesn’t sway Josh to change his mind.

Big Wally

February 1st, 2012
8:37 pm

Elections do matter. Just look at the idiot in the White House.

bamadawg

February 1st, 2012
8:40 pm

PJ, only Saban can sign 30

Remarkable

February 1st, 2012
8:42 pm

JHC may or may not sign with UGA but that doesn’t matter much. We still have a top 12 year in recruiting if you average the five rankings. Would have liked to see more WR and Offensive Linemen but no one gets everything they want. that’s what next year is for.

Topp Dogg

February 1st, 2012
8:43 pm

Sounds like Woodrow is trying to be an agent for JHC or trying to live his life through his grandson, sad just sad.Go to Auburn if you want to get paid Grandpaw.

Marseilles Mutt

February 1st, 2012
8:45 pm

Am I alone, or are we all in the same boat?

The Official SEC ‘Recruitnik and Blogger’s Calendar

New Year’s Day Bowls, etc.
BCS Championship
Recruitng Game
Spring Practice
Spring Game
Fulmer Cup Trials
Preseason Polls
Summer Practice
THE SEASON
Conference Championships
Minor Bowls

(Repeat)….uh, maybe I need to get a life, or use what is left in a somewhat more expedient manner?

…Nah, I like it as is!

And thanks Gramps and JHC, for continuing the Soap Opera and at least giving us a little overtime! ….was beginning to feel a little letdown.

Lewis Grizzard

February 1st, 2012
8:46 pm

This just in, Josh Harvey-Clemons of Valdosta has announced that he is no longer planning to go to college but will remain in his home town to work for his grandfathers bail bonds service. I couldn’t make up my mind where to go, said Harvey Clemons, so I decide to heck with all of them. Josh had received hundreds of offers of athletic scholarships but had narrowed his choices to 3 schools before making his shocking announcement. He starts to work Monday morning said his beaming Grandpa, ” I don’t expect him to learn everything overnight, but the kid’s gonna be a great one”.

noseknows

February 1st, 2012
8:51 pm

Looks like Trooper Taylor brought out the bank to get a couple of signees for AU.

CHDawg

February 1st, 2012
8:54 pm

Small, but good year with extremely high quality players–several could end up being truly great players. The big miss is on the O line, obviously. However, maybe Young saw how good some of the other young tackles are and decided to go to AU? Losing Brown was big, too. I think the O line has been the difference between us being in a BCSCG lately (07, 08, and 11). We’ll see how the youngsters do–you never can tell. On paper, it looks to be our weakest point for next year and maybe 13, too. I’m surprised they didn’t get more kids, but the weird stuff just keep happening at that position. Go Dawgs.

Lobosolo

February 1st, 2012
8:56 pm

Big Wally, Bush has been gone for almost four years now…

beanster

February 1st, 2012
8:56 pm

Meanwhile, our beloved basketball team has scored 15 points in the 1st half against Auburn. Apparently we have no idea what to do against a zone defense.

C’mon Coach Fox. This is embarrassing.

Jborodawg

February 1st, 2012
8:59 pm

I agree, solid but not great. Could have been great if we’d signed 6 more, especially Avery Young. Hated losing him, considering the Brown loss. But, it’s true we’re not ‘dangerously’ short on the OL. We had 6 last year I believe.

I’m a little confused about Harvey-Clemons. If the kid had told grand dad that UGA was a front-runner; if he had told him he was gonna sign with UGA…why didn’t grand dad nix the idea before NSD? Why did he wait until today to “go AWOL”; not sign off on it?

Speaking of JHC, any word yet on coach Richt committing a violation by talking about Harvey-Clemons before having the LOI in hand?

007

February 1st, 2012
9:01 pm

LOBOSOLO , great job, I agree w/ you & what does it say for the people that voted for Bush twice.

SugarHillDawg

February 1st, 2012
9:06 pm

PJ, Beard ain’t a tackle, he’s a guard. We don’t need guards!!

Leroy

February 1st, 2012
9:09 pm

All these recruits won’t amount to a hill of beans as long as Bozo is calling plays!

BobDog

February 1st, 2012
9:15 pm

My understanding is that CMR talking about Harvey-Clemons will be a secondary violation. There shouldn’t be major implications. It was an honest mistake.

Mark (another one)

February 1st, 2012
9:29 pm

We need depth at all positions. If Beard is a guard, it wouldn’t hurt. I would also give credence to the story mentioning that he plays both.

We filled some needs, but I find myself wondering if there are other unsigned quality players out there. I see some of the guys listed on various sites are still undecided. There’s no reason to waste a scholarship but not all quality players sign on the first day.

fordcobra

February 1st, 2012
9:37 pm

What is up with GrandPa? Sign the letter and move on.

TampaGator

February 1st, 2012
9:37 pm

I am hearing that Florida fully expected JHC to commit to the Gators today…..and the family wanted him to play college ball close to home (Gainesville or FSU). Maybe Josh has finally had enough of the grandpa dictating his life….and wanted to get as far away from grandpa as possible.

pj

February 1st, 2012
9:40 pm

My bad – you’re right Beard is a guard sorry. But there can never be enough Guards! We need big uglies to push the line for Crowell/Gurley/Marshall – I’m really perplexed that we couldn’t sign more than 1 WR with our QB situation so solid for the next 3+ years. I’m cool with this class, but we better sign the fool out of some offensive players in 2013

TampaGator

February 1st, 2012
9:43 pm

Georgia had a great day….with or without JHC. The recruitment of this kid just bothers me, especially the grandpa…..strange dude. This is not about him, but I think he thinks it is.

P.S. Florida did not have a great close today, but ended up with a great class thanks to the switch of Fowler from FSU to the Gators. Makes up for Reid a couple of years ago. Fowler is going to be a force for Florida (along with Ronald Powell) at the hybrid DE/LB position. He is incredible off the edge, very quick and strong. And him committing today makes up for the loss of Jenkins to Georgia….more than makes up for it, I think. Now, if Diggs comes to Gainesville, the Gators will move up….maybe ahead of Texas into the 3rd spot.

Yep…..Muschamp has no clue as to what he is doing……time for summer dreams to start.

beanster

February 1st, 2012
9:48 pm

There is more to this story than the public is being told. I have a very hard time believing that Grandpa was completely caught off guard by JHC’s choice. Perhaps that was the reality of the situation, but it seems highly unlikely that they never discussed who the front runner was….especially since JHC stated today that he knew he liked UGA after his official visit (i.e. time spent with Grantham) which was weeks ago. Obviously his sister knew. Based on the smiles from the rest of the family after he made his choice, I can’t say they seem surprised or disappointed. He never said, “Hey Grandpa, you won’t freak out if I choose UGA, will you?”

Baloney.

Weed grows in Gainesville, Fl.

February 1st, 2012
9:51 pm

There is major major dropoff in classes between Alabama, Florida St down to what UGA brought in or maybe did not bring in.

Some of those 2011 Dream Teamers had better step it up or that killer schedule in 2013 will be CMR’s last at UGA.

Weed grows in Gainesville, Fl.

February 1st, 2012
9:54 pm

bamadawg

February 1st, 2012
8:40 pm
PJ, only Saban can sign 30

Only a Gabulldawg whines about other schools picking their state apart

flagboy?

February 1st, 2012
9:57 pm

Good group and UGA has some guys from last season’s recruiting class that should start to contribute as well (Drew, Rome). Still wish we had gotten 2 more O linemen though. . .

flagboy?

February 1st, 2012
10:00 pm

as far as Clemons. . .erm. . did no one else not see the grandfather as being a bit of a spotlight stealer from the reports over the past couple weeks?

I hope UGA gets his LOI soon. . .but this could drag out.

beanster

February 1st, 2012
10:00 pm

I do find some consolation knowing that Jimbo Fisher has officially overtaken CMR as the coach who does the least with the most talent.

Hugo

February 1st, 2012
10:03 pm

beachdog

February 1st, 2012
8:28 pm
Georgia votes Republican and the Regents cost us a great Bulldog with their idiotic immigration policy.

Elections do matter. We are missing a damn good Dog because of politics.

Facts are what they are.

Congratulations! This was the winner of the lamest comment of the day. Keep your politics to yourself slapnut. Don’t like the immigration laws of Georgia move north and enjoy. Facts are, you are an idiot!

BestRun

February 1st, 2012
10:03 pm

Richt still doesn’t get rushing offense.

Bottom line, to win the SEC you have to average 200+ a game rushing like Alabama/LSU did this year, not 164.

You have to average @5 yards per carry like Alabama/LSU did, not 4 yards per carry like UGA did.

You have to get 35 rushing td’s like Alabama/LSU did, not 15 td’s like UGA did.

The whole scheme has to change if you want to win the SEC. Passing the ball isn’t working.

The identity of the team has to change.

BestRun

February 1st, 2012
10:08 pm

Guys don’t get 20 carries anymore? Really? 20 guys averaged 20 carries a game or more this year.

Richardson averaged 22 carries per game, Dyer 20, Poole 16.

Looks like Richt’s trying to change to an LSU multiple back type of offense, which would be a good thing, as long as you are averaging 5 yards per carry, getting 200+ yards per game, and getting 3 rushing td’s per game, if not, then hand it to the most productive guy 20 times.

BestRun

February 1st, 2012
10:09 pm

Richt’s record is something like 41-4 when he gets A 100 YARD RUSHER.

Richt doesn’t understand this KEY TO WINNING GAMES.

NYDAWG

February 1st, 2012
10:09 pm

Avery Young signing with Auburn was a kick in the balls. Thought/hoped we had a back-up plan for him if went elsewhere. What ever happened with the fast rising safety form MLK high school?