Archive for the 'Recruiting' Category

At least the Nerds are creative

Sadly, this offseason has become the offseason of coaching staff (unfortunately) discovering photoshop programs.

Since winning can’t lure recruits in, the Techies have resorted to this very bizarre tactic

Look, convincing players up north to come down south to play is a great plan and all that, but that’s until these players realize that they’re part of the student body at the North Avenue Trade School. 

Fall ’12 Pledge Class

Let’s pretend Texas A&M are pledges in the SEC fraternity.

Rush- We rushed A&M for obvious reasons. Though they don’t fit the E part of the SEC, for all intents and purposes they fit in. They make pretty good sense. Mizzo was, let’s say, that rushee that someone (Arkansas, per se) really saw potential in, so we went along with it. Not bad, but nothing to really strengthen your core. But they won’t hurt our image, right?

So they were given their bids, and now they’re pledging. How would you judge their tenure thus far?

A&M- So far, they’re doing what they’re supposed to. They lost to an older brother, but they held their own. And this wasn’t Vandy, it was arguably the one of the best programs in the nation, but showed enough respect to let them win. They picked on lesser fraternities in two blowout wins. Good job son.

Mizzo- Mizzo has been a bigger disappointment than we thought. They did earn some respect among the older brothers by beating Arizona State, but they’re supposed to do that, so it’s not exactly a job well done. They lost to UGA/SEC, two of the BMOC in the East, by a combined 72-30. And they’ve shown that they like to run their mouth a little bit (Grown Man Football). That’s a no-no while pledging. So far, Mizzo hasn’t done anything that makes me want to let them into my fraternity.

Bottom line, it’s been a rocky start for Mizzo. Not only are they a misfit, but they’ve run their mouth and have shown little to back it up. They can still earn their due respect with several good games coming up, and they’ll have a chance to become Pledge Class President on Nov. 24 in College Station, but they have got to get things right against Vandy and Kentucky. Bama will treat them like the pledges they are, as will Florida I’m sure. The most interesting test they’ll take during this pledge semester will be on Nov. 10 in Knoxville. Mizzo- we’ve given you a golden ticket, don’t make us regret it. You’re a 3 point underdog to UCF, you better win son.

And while we’re at it, I’m kicking their big brother Arkansas out right now. They’re a 13 point dog to a pledge and they don’t know how to act. We’ll give Mizzo a new big brother, LSU maybe, to see if they can right the ship.

Check in at the end of the semester to see if they get initiated.


Doing What Needs To Be Done

Welcome aboard, Ray Drew!

This was another HUGE pickup for the Dawgs today. If we’re able to wrap it up with Crowell on Wednesday, this could truly be a special class.

Richt and company are doing what they need to do- wrap up the in-state talent. We’ve literally sealed the borders this year and have a boatload of in-state recruits coming to Athens in the fall. The persistence and drive shown by the entire staff is good medicine to disgruntled fans. The new facilities these guys are stepping into are just icing on the cake.

There has been no shortage of complaints fired Mark Richt’s way in recent months, and rightfully so. 6-7 is simply unacceptable. However, a number of these recruits cite Richt as the reason they chose UGA.

I am unhappy with how the  past two seasons have ended, but I also want Richt to have a great year in 2011 and stay on the sidelines. He is the kind of face that, if winning, makes UGA a unique situation in college football. Quite frankly, if he gets UGA back to our winning ways, he is a huge reason why we can be a top 5 program . He’s a great face for the program, recruits and parents love him, and he doesn’t compromise the reputation our university has.

Fans, being the fickle people we are, don’t always see it that way. I’m guilty, you’re guilty, we’re all guilty. But if this “Dream Team” materializes and he’s around long enough to see it play out, many of these same Richt bashers will be singing a different tune. I just hope we do well enough in 2011 to see how this class does for him in 2012.

I have been upset at things, even to go so far as to say I wouldn’t mind if Richt were gone, but I think we can all agree that if Richt can get us back on track that there is no better man to lead our program.

Go Dawgs!


Welcoming The Pastor of Disaster

It’s now official. Five-start defensive end prospect Ray Drew has verbally committed to being a Bulldog.

Drew’s commitment adds yet another star to a recruiting class that could end up being ranked within the top five.

If Mark Richt is on the hot seat, Georgia’s incoming recruits either don’t care or think that Richt is very secure in Athens.

Are the early kickoffs affecting recruiting?

I just finished listening to a Chip Towers interview on 960 the Ref and he brought up some great points I had not considered.  UGA has yet to have their number one recruit Isaiah Crowell or Five-Star defensive end Ray Drew make an official visit due to conflicts with their schedules.  This week they both have games Friday night and stated that due to the early kickoff they probably will not be able to make it into town.  Drew hopes to make it to the Idaho State or Georgia Tech game and will be in the stands for the Florida Game. (Neither UF or UGA can have official recruits due to this being a neutral site)  Last week Rodney Gardner touched on this subject and thankfully didn’t sugarcoat his reaction.

“Honestly, it’s a hindrance,” recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner said. “But it’s still self-inflicted. If you don’t want to play at 12 o’clock you should be 4-1 and you’ll be on at 3:30 or 5 o’clock. It is what it is. We’re just glad to be on TV and to get some exposure. It definitely beats the alternative.”

These early kickoffs are making it very difficult for south and west Georgia recruits to come to campus, especially when UGA begins their official recruiting process at 8:30 AM.  I think Coach Garner says it best when he puts the blame on early kickoffs on the poor start but should UGA have at least one non-televised game scheduled for a 6:00 PM start in order to get recruits on campus?  Before UGA started 2-4 , the first 3 games were scheduled at noon.  Damon and the upper administration have all clamored for fewer night games and while this has protected our beautiful campus you have to wonder what it has done for our “brand” and the Athens economy.

You can listen to the 960theREF interview and read Chip’s article in yesterday’s AJC here:
960 Interview Begins at 14:40
Chip’s 10 at 10


On Wilcox-Fitzgerald and Marshall

I’m guessing many (some/most?) of you have heard about the shoving match that went on after the Wilcox-Fitzgerald scrimmage last Friday. The AJC did a piece on it, but it was pretty broad.

I’ll recap what happened quickly, then talk about possible outcomes, specifically concerning Marshall.

Fitzgerald, a powerhouse AA school, played Wilcox, an up-and-coming powerhouse in A in a scrimmage. The two communities of Rochelle and Fitzgerald are only a few miles apart and there is a large sense of rivalry between the two schools, even though they don’t play each other every year.

They played what was a pretty close game up until the end. With just a few seconds left in the third quarter (JV was to play the 4th alone), Fitzgerald was up by a couple of scores and decided to throw a long bomb. They scored, essentially running up the score in a scrimmage. It was really no big deal at that point, but it is frustrating to the opposing team when that is done, especially in a scrimmage. A point to note here is that Wilcox has to play its players on both sides of the ball the entire game, and Fitz only has one or two guys who go both ways. Wilcox already had some JV guys in at this point. But I digress.

After the game while shaking hands, Wilcox coach said something to the effect of “Thanks for running up the score”, to which HC Pruitt from Fitzgerald replied with some language I’m not going to repeat. Of course tempers flared, guys went to swinging, and things got ugly. There’s actually a funny part here; one of the bozo officials threw a flag during the mess. I guess he thought that would stop the melee.       

That’s a quick recap of what went down. You can hear varying stories, and what I gave you is not very detailed (for a reason), but that’s essentially what caused the brawl.

Now, it is my understanding that the GHSA has reviewed the tape and is taking no further action since it was not a GHSA sanctioned event. However, the individual schools involved have some tough decisions to make. There are many things that have to be considered, such as did any players hit coaches and does that constitute as a student hitting a teacher, are any actions taken towards coaches that were using foul language, and what type of punishment is going to be levied for fighting on school property?

I can say this, officials within both school systems are not happy. They also face tough decisions, because both of these teams are poised to contend for State Championships in their classifications. Furthermore, they both have kids who are going to play ball at the next level in 2011.

So, as far as UGA is concerned, what is going to happen with Nick Marshall? Who knows at this point? It’s my understanding that it is solely in the schools hands right now. Maybe nothing. Maybe a multi-game suspension. It’s not clear. It could be worse, but I hope not. I hope that the situation resolves itself and it can be handled internally in both systems. I also hope that for the coaches involved that nothing major happens, because both coaches are really good guys.

More on Marshall: He really is a good kid. Folks from Wilcox County will tell you that he’s not a trouble maker. However, as we can all relate to, some of his influences have short tempers, and in a situation like this emotions can escalate. I can relate back many years ago when I played HS ball. I was not a great football player by any means, but I know that when things got heated on the field, you get that “teammate first” mentality. It’s hard to show maturity at 17 years old, especially when you have a rivalry and you feed off the emotions of other players and the coaches. I really don’t fault any of the players too much here; it never should have reached that point. The coaches have to show more responsibility.

Which leads to another point: I have a suspicion that if any disciplinary actions are taken, the coaches will be involved to some extent. This whole exchange was started by them, and the players got involved in the aftermath.

It may all blow over, who knows. I simply wanted to put some things out there that maybe helped clear up the subject as well as defend Nick Marshall a little bit. There will be negative things said about him and his involvement in the coming days, but I really feel that it is unjustified at this point. He is a good kid, and will make a great Dawg.

If and when more things come from this, I’ll attempt to clear up the jumble above.


HS B-Ball and Future Dawgs

A few weeks ago, I spent some time talking about Wilcox County and rural recruiting. As you recall, I talked about what a solid basketball team they have this year. UGA is getting one of their studs, Lonnie Outlaw, and our sights are set on da man, Nick Marshall.

If you’re in the midstate this week, Wilcox will be playing in the Macon Centreplex on Wednesday (and if I had to guess, again on Saturday). Wednesday is the state semi-finals. It will be a good chance to see at least one future Dawg display his athletic ability. Game on Wednesday is at 8:30.


It Is Not the End of the World As We Know It (So Feel Fine)

I have wanted to give my two cents worth on the Dawgs’ 2010 class, but work related activities have kept me from really sitting down and expressing the points I have wanted to make. 

Not to mince words about it, but this was obviously Coach Richt’s worst class.  Not only was it the lowest ranked class, but we also failed to seal off our state borders and keep Georgia’s best talent in-state.  I have never been one to bang on the staff on failing to get the best in state talent, because we have been able to go to neighboring states (and states that are not so close) and grab talent.  From Matthew Stafford to Ben Jones; New Jersey to Florida and the Carolinas, we have over the last several seasons gone after and gotten top players from other states.  Still, with the talent in this state and 90 miles from Sanford Stadium, we should do a much better job than we did in 2010. 

I wish we could have gotten more than one WR who can play immediately, because that is a position that we don’t have much depth at in 2011 and beyond.  Next season, however, we probably have the best receiving corps in the SEC.  Throw in possibly the best group of TEs in the country and our passing game should be on solid ground (in spite of an inexperienced quarterback).  The running game, with the offensive line worked out, should continue to be the bread and butter of our offensive game plan.  Offense will not be a problem in Athens in 2010.

My biggest rebuttal to Dean Legge and all the “woe is me” Chicken Littles out there is this:  we had the worst season of the Richt era, what do you expect?

Folks liken this class to the 2007 class.  What do the 2007 and 2010 signing classes have in common?  Both those classes were coming off the worst seasons of Richt’s tenure.  The worst class previously (2007) was #9 in the country.  I guarantee that if UGA does what is most important, win ballgames in 2010, then the recruiting will work itself out and we will be where we are used to being at.  More importantly, where we belong. 

I subjected myself to listen to the nonsensical ramblings of Bill Shanks this afternoon, and he had Brent Beard on talking signing day results.  He said, and I will paraphrase, that if Georgia keeps this up in a couple of years Kentucky and Mississippi State will pass us in recruiting.  Read that sentence again.  When I heard that I almost drove my car off the road and hit the Big Peach in Byron.  

That is correct, if we continue to poorly recruit (which I don’t think we did.  We shored up our defense.  Big deal.), then obviously our beloved program will slip.  But this goes back to my biggest point throughout the season:  don’t we have enough faith in Mark Ricth to think this will be corrected? 

I am sure the fans and pundits who are loosing their junk over this class are the same ones who thought that we would get hammered by Tech, that Richt wouldn’t man up and fire Martinez et al, and then wouldn’t spend the money to go out and sign a worthy defensive coordinator.

I don’t have the time or the wisdom to worry about how bad the 2011 class is already going to be.  Coach Richt said he wasn’t happy with the lack of depth at WR.  Guess what folks-that will (should) be his biggest focus next year!  I think Richt and company realize what needs to be done, and hopefully will do it.

If you are already writing off the future of the program based on how we did on class without any thought that it could get better, then nothing will calm your nerves.  As Ucheedawg addressed the other day, this class addressed several needs.  Just because we didn’t get the depth at WR (which won’t be a problem in 2010), I don’t think football will cease to be played in Athens. 

If all these Negative Nancies and Debbie Downers didn’t harp on recruiting, they would harp on something else.  Sometimes there is just no pleasing people.

For me, I wish things could have gone better, but I: a) am pleased with the defensive talent we just signed and b) have faith that our great coach will continue to make the decisions that will make us a better team in 2010 and beyond.

For all the complainers out there who think that the Mayan Calendar actually means that the UGA Football world will end in 2012, here is something for you:


…and I feel fine!


Have a good weekend, beat Vandy and Go Dawgs!


Rural South Georgia Recruiting- The Fans Perspective

Late events yesterday tied in perfectly with the final edition of this mini-series I’ve toyed with this week. T Kyle has a nice write-up about Lonnie Outlaw, whom I mentioned in my post on Tuesday. I was actually told last Friday that CMR and CMB were talking not only with Marshall, but Outlaw as well. I was also told that he wouldn’t be going to Athens this fall, but to GMC. I’m really excited to watch this duo mature and progress. This helps our chances with NM, and we could see something special in the years to come.

Ok, moving forward. National Signing Day brings a lot of excitement to each town across the state. But the path to getting there is even more exciting in many cases. Such is true with rural Rochelle, GA. Today I am going to talk about the fans perspective of having celebrity Head Coaches come to sporting events and visit town.

Last Friday night, there was an electric buzz flowing through the Hawkinsville High gymnasium in anticipation of CMR arriving. It’s hard, make that impossible, to keep a secret in a small town. Everyone knew that CMR was coming to town. Everyone knew that he was flying into the airport in the neighboring community and that one of the coaches had gone to pick him up. Everyone knew that he was there to try and build upon his relationship with Nick Marshall. And when he walked in the door, every eye turned to him and watched him walk to his seat.

When someone the likes of Coach Richt comes to a small South Georgia town, where over 90% of the population are diehard Bulldogs (and the other 10% aren’t just to be different), it’s a big deal. When CMR goes to Gwinnett or Valdosta, it’s not that big a deal. But it’s different in towns like Rochelle, Hawkinsville, Lincolnton, etc.

The buzz on Friday night was incredible. The fans were just fun to watch. When folks from Hawkinsville came over to visit with CMR, some of the more vocal Wilcox County inhabitants were eager to tell them to get back on their side. My favorite comment was “Charles Johnson ain’t here no more, so just get on.” It was a hoot. Everybody wanted to come by. Some were a little braver than others, making a point to try and carry on conversation and take a picture. Some of the others just wanted to get close to CMR and get a glimpse of him up close. I don’t know how many folks were there Friday night, but I’d venture to guess that well more than half made the effort to get an autograph. You’d have thought that the POTUS was in attendance.

The day before, Coach Saban and Coach Smart were in Rochelle. From what I hear, there was a traffic jam in downtown Rochelle. The first to ever be recorded.

I’m from a rural town Georgia myself, so I know what it’s like to grow up admiring Bulldog greats. Where I come from, you’d swear it’s the heart of Bulldog Country. Flags outside of houses, mailbox coverings, car tags, etc. Of course, it’s like that in most small towns. College football, The University of Georgia to be specific, gives us all something to rally around. The same is true in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, etc. So when a poor rural town gets a special visitor, the red carpet is rolled out and the attention is turned on high. You have to displace yourself for a moment if you’ve never spent any time in a small town and think about the way of life as compared to places like Warner Robins, Macon, Cumming, Roswell, etc. There aren’t the restaurants, bars, movie theaters, or other forms of entertainment in these small towns. In Rochelle, as I mentioned on Monday, the only place to eat a meal outside of your home is a Subway, now that Nell’s Fried Chicken is closed. Or you can make the drive to Cordele.

I say that to make this final point: When Coach Mark Richt visits your school to look at one of your players, it’s magnified. It’s also extra-special. You take ownership of the kid. Every single person from Wilcox County knows Nick Marshall and Lonnie Outlaw. They’ve all watched the boys grow up, play little league and middle school ball, and grow into exceptional athletes. There’s a greater sense of pride when national powerhouses come wanting “your” players. There’s an even greater feeling when it’s your University of Georgia. These kids ARE Wilcox County. They are the bright spots that bring State Championships to a community that needs something to rally around. They get people excited, and they show outsiders where their community is on a map. It’s not just Rochelle, GA. The Bailey boys showed the world where Folkston, GA is. Herschel Walker put Wrightsville on the map. Travis Jones did the same for Irwinton.

There is more to offer in cities like Valdosta, Warner Robins, and the metro Atlanta area, so you don’t get the entire community behind you and supporting you like you do in Rochelle. There’s no real way to describe it other than to say it’s just special.

There are similar stories across our state and nation that could be told. I just happened to find this one very interesting and thought that you would enjoy reading about it. I hope that I was able to offer a new perspective to many of you, and to others to refresh fond memories. The main point I wanted to get across is that recruiting in rural Georgia, whether it be North, South, or Middle, is just a lot different than recruiting in your major markets. It’s a community affair, and it draws people together. And it’s fun to watch in action.

We’re officially into the off-season now, I hope it’s a good one for you. Be excited about Lonnie Outlaw, and hope that he can help convince his buddy Nick to come play ball with him in Athens. And if you get the chance, go watch these 2 play basketball together. I have no doubt that they’ll make it to the State Championship in Macon, so if you can, do yourself the favor.

Go Dawgs!


I promised to add some pictures from Friday night. They were taken with a blackberry, so the quality is not very good. Most aren’t even worth putting up. Here are a few that turned out ok though. Enjoy.

Coach McClendon and Coach Richt beside Kensingtondawg

Nick and Lonnie- Future UGA Studs

Nick Marshall

CMR and A Good Lookin' Woman

Signing Day Wrap

First things first, I’d like to give a big “Thanks” to DH and Bernie for their outstanding coverage from Athens today.

Now that it appears that the excitement is over, we can begin to assess the damage. I’ll start by re-capping who we signed:

  • Garrison Smith– DT from Douglas HS
  • Mike Thornton– DT from Stephenson HS
  • Brent Benedict– OL from Jacksonville
  • Dexter Morant– DE from Manning, SC
  • Derek Owens– DB from Jacksonville
  • Ken Malcome– RB from SW Dekalb
  • Jalen Fields– DE from Dalton High
  • Alexander and Alec Ogletree– LB and DB from Newnan HS
  • Hutson Mason– QB from Lassiter High
  • Marc Deas– DB from Kissimmee, FL
  • Kenarious Gates– OT from Greenville High
  • TJ Stripling– DE from SW Dekalb
  • Demetre Baker– LB from Orange Park, FL
  • Brandon Burrows– DE from Walton HS
  • Michael Bennett– WR from Alpharetta HS
  • Kolton Houston– OL from Buford High
  • Jakar Hamilton– Safety transferring from GMC
  • Lonnie Outlaw– WR, Wilcox County High school
  • With that class, we have 2 Defensive Tackles, 3 O-Linemen, 4 Defensive Ends, 4 Defensive Backs, 2 LB’s, 2 WR’s (1 not coming until next year), 1 RB and 1 QB. Basically, TE and K/P were the only positions where we didn’t sign anyone, but we didn’t need anyone there as we are young in both places.

    The biggest miss was obviously Rogers, who pulled a switch and went to UT. Bacarri Rambo has vowed to take care of that for us, so I’m not  overly concerned with that. I feel like it hurts our PR more than our on-field performance. Of course, you always want highly rated players, but this is a kid who also has some baggage. We were also teased by Christian Green, bu the was leaning FSU the whole way. The sky is not falling in this case, so fret not.

    We’ve heard a lot of griping and complaining about the class today. Message-boarders are mad. If you read any of those, you’d think we’re a sinking ship and that CMR is on his farewell tour. That’s so incredibly short-sighted in my opinion that I won’t waste my time discussing it. If you think that we can’t recruit with the big-boys and don’t stand a chance of winning the SEC East, there’s not much I can do for you.

    We had one of those classes that doesn’t really have a “wow” factor, but we did fill some needed holes. We signed 3 big hogs to play O-line, which is huge. We’ve got some promising DB’s and LB’s which will not only provide depth, but potentially some immediate impact.

    It’s easier to look at what we already had to really assess this class. We are returning a lot of offensive players. Really, every position on Offense other than QB will have experienced players returning. Skill position wise, we’ll have potentially the best WR corps and the 2nd best RB corps in the conference. We’ve got experience along the line and good TE’s in place. So we added to the depth on offense. The only thing I would have liked to have seen was another big-time WR, but we’re ok there. Remember, we had 3 freshmen on last years squad, and we still have a guy named Green.

    We were very Defense heavy this year. Of the 19 signees, 12 of them play on the defensive side of the ball. That’s going to be much needed both this year and next, after losing a lot of manpower on that side of the ball. I would have liked to have seen a big space eater signed to play D-line in the 3-4, but we’ve got 2 signed that could be studs. I’m very excited about the prospect that Mike Thornton brings. He could make immediate impact.

    Again, it’s tough to get really excited about this class, but it’s not as bad as some will say. We’ll have a very solid squad to build off of moving forward and are in a great position for the 2010 season. Yes, Florida, Alabama, Auburn, LSU and UT all had good classes, but of those, only Florida and Bama really blew us out of the water. Auburn’s class is inflated by the fact that they signed a ton of kids. UGA had the smallest signing class in the SEC. According to ESPN, we had nine 4 Star recruits, which is pretty solid for a class like this one.

    Don’t play Chicken Little if you’re a Dawg fan. We’ve seen the biggest change of staff since CMR has been here this offseason after having the worst year of his tenure here. Things will be better this year, and signing day will be “sexier” for those of you who need it next year.

    If I had to grade this class, I think I would give it a solid B to B+. You may disagree, and that’s fine, but we’ve got to look big picture.

    Hope you enjoyed your National Signing Day. Go Dawgs!

    Update 1: If you are reading this you have already seen that David Hale has a good post pointing out that this was not a bad class as the message boarders make it out to be.  Still not good on the PR front, but still not the end of UGA’s football program.