With the presummer evaluation period ending and the summer camps getting ready to crank up, now seems like a good time to take stock of where Coach Richt and his staff stand in their recruiting efforts. This is the first in a three part series in which we'll look first at the offensive skill position players, then offensive and defensive linemen, and finally at the linebackers, defensive backs, special teams guys and "athletes" (a position found nowhere on the football field, but all over recruiting coverage).
Tailback: Georgia's skill position recruiting during the 2009 cycle has been influenced by both depth and star power already on campus. Take for example the tailback position. If the number of stars assigned by recruiting services was an absolutely accurate indicator of talent, Georgia would be in the running for the Best Backfield in America Award. With Moreno, King, Samuel and Jackson all being highly-touted prospects, you'd think it would be difficult to draw another tailback to Athens in the forseeable future.
But then you'd be wrong. Georgia of course got a verbal pledge from Emanuel County Institute's Washaun Ealey over the winter, fresh on the heels of his breaking the Georgia record for touchdowns in a season and being named the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Player of the Year.
Ealey's coach said during the recruiting process that his star player wanted to go to Athens so they could feature a "Knowshon and Washaun" show. I doubt Georgia will sign another tailback because, in addition to the four talented guys listed above, the coaches have been very high on rising sophomore walkon Kalvin Daniels of Dodge County. Really, we're full to the gills with young talent at the tailback slot.
Quarterback: Mark Richt and crew have recruited more elite quarterbacks in the past 6 months than many college coaches recruit in their lifetimes. Two , to be precise. The coaches went after two guys knowing that Matt Stafford may leave after this season, leaving them with a veteran possessing only sporadic experience (Joe Cox), a highly recruited player who's not been on the field yet (Logan Gray) and a host of walkons. In Zach Mettenberger they get the best pocket passer to come out of the state in a while, and in Aaron Murray they get a guy who threw for over 4000 yards in his first season as a starting quarterback at any level. We're done here as well, and should be set for the forseeable future.
Fullback: With Brannen Southerland, Shaun Chapas and Fred Munzenmeier, we won't likely take a fullback in 2009. There should be one spot available in 2010, assuming that 2008 signee Bryce Ros doesn't end up as a fullback/ H-back, which is a viable possibility.
Tight End: Here's where things get interesting. Orson Charles , Aaron Murray's high school teammate, is apparently #1 on our board. He's a hybrid guy in the Aron White mold: a solidly built kid who's wide receiver-sized now but will ultimately end up as a pass catching tight end. He's made no secret of the fact that Miami is his favorite by a wide margin. If Miami doesn't ultimately sign him, we will likely have to beat out Florida, whom Charlesowes a giant crystal football . In other words, besides Aaron Murray, we have very little going for us here.
Also on our radar is Arthur Fontaine, who already gave a verbal to Boston College before deciding that his decision was a little premature..
One guy to keep an eye on is Dion Sims of Orchard Park, Michigan. He has great size (6'5, 230 lb.) and moves well enough to play safety for his high school team. But he'll be tough to pull out of Big 10 country. The coaches just apparently have not been impressed with any instate tight ends this season.
Given Tripp Chandler's impending graduation, NaDerris Ward's transfer to Oregon and Dwayne Allen's lilly-livered inexcusable last minute defection perfectly understandable change of heart, we need a tight end pretty badly. Any one we sign in 2009 will step in behind Bruce Figggins and Aron White with a chance for immediate playing time at a school where tight ends invariably end up in the NFL. Logic dictates that we should be able to land at least one good one. There's also the possibility that Bryce Ros sticks at tight end, which would relieve the pinch some in the short term.
Wide Receiver: After signing a pair of top wideouts in A.J. Greene and Tavarres King in 2008, Georgia is again in the market for 2 receivers. In support of that effort, we are pursuing a who's who of wide receivers from across the southeast.
Unless I've missed something (and I frequently do), our chances of signing any one of them is probably less than 50%. Marlon Brown spends a lot of time talking to Aaron Murray according to interviews, but it will be hard to get him out of Tennessee. If anybody does it, I think it may be Pete Carroll and the USC Trojans. Ditto for Reuben Randle, who would surprise me if he selected any school other than LSU.
Quite frankly, we've jumped in late in the game on a lot of out-of-state receivers because of strict scholarship limitations, and haven't offered any of the best instate receivers for a variety of reasons (academics, character, speed, propensity toward spontaneous combustion, you name it). There's some work to be done here, as we lose Mohamed Massaquoi, Demiko Goodman and Kenneth Harris this year and Mike Moore and Kris Durham after the 2009 season. But if we can steal one of our bigtime out of state targets and find one more guy instate, we'll be set.
I'll be back next week with Part Two of the series. Let me know your recruiting thoughts in the comments and, as always . . .