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Two Out of Three Ain't Bad

You don't really have to follow college football recruiting all that closely to know that the University of Georgia has already gotten verbal pledges from two quarterbacks for the class of 2009: Tampa (Plant H.S.) QB Aaron Murray and Oconee County standout Zach Mettenberger.

What you may not be aware of yet is the fact that these two quarterbacks have already pulled off something unusual. They have both received invitations  to compete in the EA Sports Elite 11 Quarterback Camp this summer in San Juan Capistrano, California. In fact, Murray was the first of the attendees selected. Mettenberger (or "Mett" as he's now sometimes being called) was the third.

I've been looking for, and so far have not been able to find, any evidence that two quarterbacks committed to the same school have attended the camp in the same year since 2002 (Florida commits Chrissy Leak and Justin Midgett). Of course, I haven't been able to find a complete list of attendees either, so if any of you guys know better, clue me in. But  the "Elite 11" (which interestingly is actually attended by 12 campers) is invitation-only, and reserved for the 12 best quarterback prospects in the country according to the camp's selection panel. Getting two of those guys in the same year is a coup, no doubt about it.

Elite 11 counselor and former Tennessee quarterback Tee Martin said recently that Mettenberger and Murray may be two of the three best quarterback prospects in the country this season. The fact that they both appear set to play in Athens is, to say the least, an anomaly in today's college football world.

Gone are the days when Darrell Royal at Texas and Bear Bryant at Alabama could race around the country signing dozens of players just so that their rivals couldn't sign those same young men. Mark Richt has talked in the past about how he wasn't fully aware of the competition he would have from Jim Kelly at Miami. Now however, the players recruited have gone from the hunted to the hunters. The internet, text messaging and the various camp and combine opportunities mean that these guys know who's going where. They know where the depth charts are favorable and where the system suits them.

Now, it is rare for Mark Richt and his UGA staff to go after two quarterbacks in one recruiting cycle. In fact, with the exception of 2004, they've never done it before. That was the year that the 'Dawgs signed both Mississippi standout Blake Barnes and Peach County signalcaller A.J. Bryant. Bryant of course moved to receiver for his stay in Athens. Barnes saw only rare action in a backup role before transferring to Division II Delta State. Ironically, it was A.J. Bryant who attended the Elite 11 camp in that class. He then went on to throw for over 2200 yards and 23 touchdowns his senior season.

So the Elite 11 selection process is not foolproof . But the fact that both talented quarterbacks have decided to matriculate under Mike Bobo and Mark Richt is a testament to those coaches and to the strength of the football program they and others have helped build. Now lets see if they can each recruit some receivers. On a side note, I also heard a rumor (and this is a recruiting post, so I'm dutybound to post at least one unsubstantiated rumor) that Matt Stafford is also serving as one of the counselors at this summer's Elite 11.