Another year of recruiting has ended and most of the dust has settled from National Signing Day. For the Dawgs, though, things weren’t wrapped up until John Jenkins made his announcement Saturday. In all Coach Richt, Coach Garner and the rest of the bunch landed 26 new players for the program. In terms of ranking it actually isn’t Richt’s best class ever, but it certainly feels the best.
Battle Hymn Notes is not where you’ll find the most in depth recruiting coverage (I haven’t seen a second of film on at least half of these guys), but here are some thoughts on the class as a whole, the coaches’ efforts in landing these kids and some individual players:
Mike Bobo owned South Georgia this year. The Dawg’s inability to keep talent from south of Macon in the state has been well-chronicled in recent years. But Bobo was key in landing Crowell, Rome, Mitchell, Scott-Wesley and others. He went toe-to-toe with fellow native Georgians Kirby Smart and Will Muschamp and came away with a near sweep.
We obviously don’t know all the ins and outs of the coaches’ schedules on the road during these contact periods but it seems like Richt, Garner, Grantham, Bobo and Lily especially were just killing it. They were obviously all over the state here, but also in Florida, in Mississippi and even in Connecticut multiple times. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say they simply out-worked some other staffs they competed against.
Outside of the coaching staff the one individual UGA fans owe a debt of gratitude is Ray Drew. One signee after another has identified him as the ring-leader of the Dream Team and pointed to his persuasion as part of their decision. John Jenkins basically said the Drew took an official to Miami just to recruit him to Athens, which he successfully did.
Of all the players in this class Drew excites me the most by far. There are never guarantees when it comes to player production, but it seems he’ll really thrive in Grantham’s system. Just as encouraging though, he seems like a kid of incredible character. There is no worry he’ll end up in the custody of Athens-Clarke County’s finest. And he seems to be an outstanding leader of the rare David Pollack breed. His peers are already responding to his leadership and I suspect even his elders will sooner than later.
As wonderful as the in-state nature of this class is, it’s influence won’t fully be known for a few years. That’s obvious when it comes to on-field production, but I think we’ll also look back in 2-3 years and know for sure whether this class really turned the tide in leading the state’s best talent to stay at home. How great it would it be if Saban, Chizik and Dooley had to begin assuming all the best players in Georgia were inclined to play in Athens and would have to be convinced otherwise?
I’m ceratinly happy to have Crowell too. I saw him play once. He took his first touch 90 yards, busting through the line, cutting to the outside and leaving everyone in the dust. I’ve been sold ever since.
I know the coaches have said in previous years that we’ve had great classes go relatively unnoticed just because they’ve been wrapped up weeks previous to Signing Day. But this was a good year for the late drama. It not only helped morale in the fan base but also garnered attention from rival fanbases who saw Richt as a dead man walking just a few weeks ago.
I don’t know about long-term impact but I believe Jenkins was the most important piece of this class for the 2011 season. And after his commitment I head from him and Grantham he’ll be wearing #6 so that he can see the field on offense a bit too. I have loved Chapas and Sutherland, but I can’t tell you how excited I’d be to see 340 lbs. of man lined up at FB when the Dawgs are on the goal line.
Other players that excite me:
Justin Scott-Wesley- The Dawg’s haven’t had too many athletes like this. Bobo needs to find creative ways to get him the ball like Florida has done with their track guys in the past.
Amarlo Herrera- An early commit in this class that has the build to do really well in Grantham’s LB-friendly scheme.
Malcolm Mitchell- A filthy athlete who the coaches will probably fight over as long as he’s in the program.
Cornerbacks- There are four in this class as the shortest one is six foot even. The best of the bunch will be probably Nick Marshall, a great athlete who by most accounts could have been a perfect QB for Tech’s system, but moved to the defensive side of the ball just so he could be a Dawg.
Players and areas of concern:
Offensive line- look at this group and then take a peek at Texas’ o-line commits for this year and it’s not hard to see why Searels saw greener pastures in Austin. It’s not a terrible bunch, but none of them seem like guaranteed contributors. Most need to gain weight, lose some pudge, learn the position better, etc.
Defensive line- Other than Jenkins there was only one other defensive lineman in this class- Chris Mayes. There are currently a lot of defensive ends in the program, but this will need to be a top priority next year.
Overall it will be interesting to see how the two no-name players in this class turn out, receiver Sanford Seay and safety Cootie Harrow. Time with tell if Harrow was just offered to entice Crowell. He certainly produced in high school but he’ll either be a diamond in the rough or simply enjoy a free education.
You never know who will be the “bust” in any particular class, but if I had to put my money on one here it would be QB Christian Lemay. He’s got a great arm, but he’s still pretty small, will be stuck behind Murray for at least three years and you just never know how things like his suspended senior year in high school affect a kid. He could easily turn out to be a Blake Barnes type player who just gets caught in between better players and never sees the field.
What are your initial reactions to the class?