Ahh, recruiting season: when grown men obsess over the whims of seventeen- and eighteen-year-old boys for a few months out of the year, when everybody knows somebody who knows a kid's daddy who said his son would be suiting up for a given school, when coaches deem pre-bowl practices not as important as hitting the recruiting trail to bring in next year's harvest of talent. Although I don't follow recruiting nearly as obsessively as I used to (seriously, it can be bad for your mental health), I thought I'd give a quick update on how things are shaping up for the Dawgs on the 2014 recruiting trail so far.
Probably could have used this big fella... via media.scout.com
- David Sharpe, OT, Jacksonville, FL. You know Coach Will Friend is having problems on the recruiting trail when he loses an elite prospect who plays a position of need at Georgia to a program coming off a 4-8 season and lacking a position coach. Sharpe, the second-ranked offensive tackle in the country, will be taking his talents a few miles down the road to play for Florida. Why? Your guess is as good as mine. With Georgia whiffing on Laremy Tunsil, who decided to jump on the gravy train bound for Oxford last season, this one stings a bit.
- Raekwon McMillan, ILB, Hinesville, GA. I never had any strong feelings that McMillan wanted to be a Dawg, but the fact that he made a few appearances on campus (attending Dawg Night, etc.) and took his official visit to Georgia for the LSU game, ranking the visit very highly, made me wonder if he just had a really good poker face. I should have gone with my gut as the country's top-rated inside linebacker decided, for some reason or another, to play for the loveable Corch Irvin Myers at The Ohio State.
- Josh Malone, WR, Gallatin, TN. Many liked the odds of Malone committing to Georgia from the get-go and speculation only grew when he signed an agreement of financial aid with the University not too long ago. Well, the sought-after receiver ultimately decided to stay in-state to join a Tennessee class that is unrealistically large and reportedly replete with talent.
(Relatively) Recent Hits:
- Keyon Brown, DE, Wauchula, FL. For all the buzz about Georgia not being able to bring the Peach State's top blue-chippers to Athens, a meme that was stuffed down our throats last Signing Day, Coach Richt and his staff are doing a terrific job luring in talent from neighboring states. Brown, whose size tells me he might end up at LB in Coach Grantham's scheme, is the most recent commitment for the 2014 class. He committed to the Dawgs a good two-and-a-half months ago, but with the bevy of talent from which the coaches were able to secure verbal commitments early on already committed, no news is good news at this point.
- Shattle Fenteng, CB, Grayson, GA via Hutchinson, KS. The news of Fenteng's commitment, like that of Brown's, is hardly breaking news at this point as the Grayson native committed to the Dawgs in mid-August. Hutchinson has been good to Georgia recently, also giving us fellow Georgian-turned-temporary-Kansan DL Toby Johnson last season. Fenteng joins Kendall Gant and Malkom Parrish as Georgia's future stars in the secondary. I am thrilled that these young men are coming aboard for 2014.
- Dontavius Russell, DL, Carrollton, GA. Russell committed to Georgia early on and seemed to be solid on his verbal pledge. That is, until he attended the Iron Bowl this year, promptly decommitting from Georgia after his trip to Auburn. I'll accept two explanations for this: 1.) he got caught up in the moment of a thrilling night win over an intense rival and had little war eagles flying around in his head, telling him not to be a Dawg, or 2.) Auburn's being Auburn- you know what I mean. For the record, Russell did not commit to Auburn on his trip, but he did decide to open up his recruitment again. I don't think Georgia is out of the race for good, but a decommitment typically means that a recruit is a goner, Tramel Terry last year being an exception in recent memory.
Keep an eye on:
- Lorenzo Carter, DL, Norcross, GA. Georgia was inexplicably, but sadly predictably, burned by Carter's former Norcross teammate, RB Alvin Kamara, on Signing Day last year, but this might be one Blue Devil who does opt to don the red and black. The Dawgs currently seem to have somewhat of the inside track in signing Carter, the #9 prospect in the land, who is also considering Florida and Alabama. As we've seen since the arrival of Nick Saban, the latter is a recurrent thorn in Georgia's recruiting side, so don't bank on Carter suiting up Between the Hedges in 2014 just yet, but things are supposedly looking good.
He's big, but I wouldn't dare call him ugly... via www.tuckertigersfootball.com
- Elisha Shaw, DL, Tucker, GA. The potential loss of Dontavius Russell could actually help Georgia secure the commitment of Elisha Shaw, a monster lineman out of Dawg-friendly Tucker High School. Shaw would be the perfect fit on Coach Chris Wilson's line and there seem to be very few cons in him committing to the in-state school.
- Wesley Green, CB, Lithonia, GA. Green decommitted from South Carolina earlier on this fall and seems to be high on the Dawgs right now. Georgia's coaches have also made it clear that he is a priority for them. I'm not guaranteeing that Green signs with Georgia in February, but with South Carolina being the other school in serious consideration, I like our chances.
- Nate Brown, WR, Suwanee, GA. Brown jumped on an early scholarship offer from Missouri and is still committed to the good Tigers, but Georgia, who only offered Brown in November, might be making some progress in keeping him from making the 700-mile trek to the good Columbia. I don't know what the Dawgs' chances are of flipping the 6'3" receiver are at this point, but keep an eye on this one.
Positions of interest:
You know you want to play for me... right? via media.247sports.com
- Offensive line: As per usual, Georgia finds itself relatively short on offensive linemen this time of year, even with three big uglies committed to the 2014 class. I have not heard many names floating around, but the Dawgs would be wise to reel in a quality left tackle from the JUCO ranks for next season. Per this list, at least, I'm not getting a very positive vibe about any upcoming good news in that department. Will the coaches surprise us come signing day?
- Wide receiver: Even with plenty of talent at the position in 2014, Georgia will be getting thinner in the receiving corps when the aforementioned Bennett, Conley and Mitchell leave campus after the 2014 campaign. There are some talented guys in the system already, but depth could be a concern in the Dawgs don't snag another receiver or two in this class.
- Defensive back: The coaching staff addressed this area pretty well in the 2013 class and they already have three DBs in the 2014 class, but I'd like to see at least one more commit on or before Signing Day, especially with recent news of safety Shaquille Fluker leaving the team before even playing a down for Georgia. We all saw the kind of chaos that inexperience and depth issues can cause in the secondary in 2013, so I am of the belief that one can never have too many talented DBs in this class.
Whatever happens between now and National Signing Day, I love what I've been reading about the 2014 recruiting class. It's significantly smaller than last year's group of 33, but Coach Richt and his assistants have really assembled a "quality over quantity" class so far and we should all be excited about the potential of these fine young men.
What do you think of how the 2014 class is shaping up? Who would you like to see commit to Georgia? What are your positions of most urgent need? Of all the blue-chip kids out there, who do you think most likely ends up in Athens in February?