As you probably know, National Signing Day for prospective college football players is a mere 6 days away. Traditionally Mark Richt and his staff have had the hay in the barn, so to speak, for weeks by now. 2012 however has been a little different, mainly for 2 reasons.
One is that the uncertainty (whether real or perceived) surrounding the Bulldog coaching staff's future during the spring and summer of 2011 put us behind the eight ball with many recruits. It's likely that many didn't want to get too attached to our coaches when there was a chance they wouldn't be around in 2012. Additionally, this time last year it appeared that Georgia would not have that many scholarships to offer. So the coaches began with a smaller set of prospects to work on. They were fairly stingy with offers inside the state of Georgia, not wanting to have to come back later and withdraw an offer from a kid at Calhoun or Sandy Creek or Warner Robins. That kind of thing is bad for business, even if only in the short term. But then Marcus Dowtin, Caleb King, Nick Williams, Washaun Ealey, Jeremy Longo, Brent Benedict and others cleared up some roster room.
Georgia now has 16 verbal commitments and is looking to sign 22-24 players. Who will round out the class? I don't know, but I've got some guesses, and I want to hear yours as well. We'll look at some of the contenders after the jump, and talk about your chance to claim bragging rights over your fellow Dawg Sports readers.
Here's the deal. Below you'll find a list of 10 prospects who may or may not end up Georgia Bulldogs on Signing Day. Some will announce over the next few days, some will wait until Wednesday. I've listed my best guesses for where these players will end up, and I invite you to do so in the comments to this post. We'll track the percentages that everyone gets right, and the highest percentage of correct guesses wins. So simple an Auburn grad could do it.
What do you win? The adoration of your fellow fans, bragging rights, and your choice of musical selection for next week's Free Form Friday post. I tried to get Kyle and the gang to chip in for a cruise or a trip to Aruba or something, but this place runs on sort of a shoestring budget, especially now that we're looking to add a duel-threat 5 star JUCO quarterback to the masthead. Because that sort of help is not free.
If a prospect announces before you post your predictions, don't despair. We'll just remove that guy from your calculations. No guess whatsoever on a given recruit counts as a wrong answer, so don't wuss out and leave any of them blank. As a tiebreaker, if you so choose, list 1 prospect not listed below who you think may end up in red and black. There'll be no penalty for missing on this bonus pick. Let's get this party started:
Avery Young, OT, Palm Beach Gardens, FL: Young has been on the Bulldogs' radar for a while. At one time or another there have been rumors that he was favoring Georgia, Alabama, Auburn, Florida and recently Miami. The Cuthbert native, a cousin of former 'Dawg Thomas Davis appeared to be down to Florida and Georgia last month but has since opened things back up. I think Alabama and Miami have gotten in too late, though the Canes and Gators join Coaches Richt, Bobo and Friend in visiting Young this week to try to close the deal. In my mind it's either Auburn or Georgia for Young, and neither would really surprise me. But in the end I think Georgia is the school that's been there from day one cultivating a strong relationship. MaconDawg's pick: Georgia.
Brandon Greene, OT, Cedar Grove: Greene was an early commitment to Alabama who then took an official visit to Georgia a few weeks ago. He then reaffirmed his commitment to the Crimson Tide, but rumors have persisted that he may have an interest in the Bulldogs. With the loss of Chester Brown we could certainly use some help from a guy with the physical ability to play early at either guard or tackle. I'd love to snag Greene. But I just don't think it's in the cards. MaconDawg's Pick: Alabama.
Will Redmond, DB, Memphis, TN: Redmond is currently committed to Mississippi State, but a variety of schools, including Georgia and Ole Miss have remained in touch. The 6'0, 178 pounder could play either safety or corner, and that versatility has caused several coaches to give him another look as Signing Day approaches. In the end I think Redmond sticks with his plans to matriculate in Starkville. However, if Hugh Freeze manages to convince him to reroute to Oxford, it would be a big coup for the Rebels' new skipper. MaconDawg's pick: Mississippi State.
Sheldon Dawson, DB/WR/RB, Memphis, TN: Dawson has been compared to Brandon Boykin coming out of high school, and I think that's pretty fair. He's a bout the same size Boykin was coming out of Tucker. He does everything but drive the bus and cook the pregame meal like Boykin did. Unlike Boykin, I've never seen Dawson take off from 2 feet in front of the free throw line to dunk a basketball. But on the football field he looks as good with the ball in his hands as just about any prospect in the southeast. Dawson was committed to Memphis before the school unceremoniously dumped head coach Larry Porter and has since opened things back up. Memphis and Georgia seem to be the major competitors. I don't think that's a contest we lose. Dawson has also picked up offers from Arkansas, Tennessee, Ole Miss and Ohio State, but again, I don't think any of those schools has built the foundation to sign Dawson, and the chance to be used all over the field in a Branden Smith, Brandon Boykin role will be too much to pass up. MaconDawg's Pick: Georgia.
Josh Harvey-Clemons, OLB, Lowndes: Harvey-Clemons, a bail bondsman by trade, is the biggest target left on Georgia's board for 2012. He's likely the top player in the state of Georgia, plays a position at which Georgia is heavy with upperclassmen, and is the kind of high character guy we've made a priority. It's long been believed that this was a Georgia/Florida battle, but Josh recently had a good visit to Florida State, and has scheduled an official visit to Miami this weekend. You can never count FSU out for a kid from Lowndes High School. But I still think it's between the Gators and 'Dawgs, and that if I could take an all expense paid trip to Miami this weekend I'd be on a plane headed south, too. That doesn't mean I'd move there full time. Harvey-Clemons was rumored to be recruiting for Georgia at the Army All-American Game earlier this month, specifically focusing on Stephenson tailback Mike Davis (who has since committed to South Carolina). While his family is playing things close to the vest, they also really like Todd Grantham, and as a result I really like our chances. MaconDawg's Pick: Georgia.
Josh Dawson, OLB/DE, Tucker: Dawson is a longtime Vanderbilt commit who nevertheless recently took a visit to Athens and has continued talking to the Bulldog coaches. At 6'4 and 220 pounds Dawson would play linebacker at Georgia in the 3-4 or defensive end in Vandy's base 4-3 alignment. He's a versatile athlete who also played some tight end for Tucker. The fact that Dawson is listening this hard this late to the instate school, the one that has produced several Georgia Bulldogs over the years, makes me feel really good about our chances on this one. The only thing that might make me feel better is watching James Franklin blame Todd Grantham for this one while Logan Stewart chop blocks somebody's grandmother in the background. MaconDawg's Pick: Georgia.
Junior Gnonkonde, OLB/DE, Lanier County: Gnonkonde is an intriguing case. The south Georgia standout was Georgia Tech's first pledge for 2012, but found out last week that Georgia Tech deemed his ACT score too low for admission. Gnonkonde is new to football and very raw. But his athleticism is just off the charts. At 6'5 and 225 pounds he looks exactly like what Todd Grantham looks for in a linebacker recruit. Paul Johnson called George O'Leary after breaking the news to Gnonkonde's coach (who is also his legal guardian) and secured a scholarship offer from Central Florida for the kid. He's since received attention from South Carolina, North Carolina and Florida among others, and took a midweek recruiting visit to Louisiana Tech. His coach also talked to Mike Bobo, who indicated that right now Georgia feels like they might be full at outside linebacker, a decent indication of what the coaches think regarding Harvey-Clemons and Dawson. Florida essentially told him that they're waiting on Harvey-Clemons and will know about him by 9:15 on Signing Day. I'm going out on a limb here, but I stand by my Harvey-Clemons pick above and think that Gnonkonde is Florida's consolation prize at OLB. MaconDawg's Pick: Florida.
Dalvin Tomlinson, DT, Henry County: Dalvin Tomlinson is a two-time state heavyweight wrestling champion, and has scholarship offers from Georgia, Georgia Tech, and . . . Harvard. To say that he's not your average every day football recruit seems fair. The 6'3, 270 pound prospect would likely play defensive end at Georgia. At one time Tomlinson had significant interest in Alabama, but the Tide seem to have cooled on him. After losing Deangelo Tyson, and with Abry Jones and Garrison Smith being upperclassmen, we could use a guy like Dalvin. However he recently cancelled an official visit to Georgia, and was at Georgia Tech for almost every home game this season. I think the writing is on the wall that Bulldog footballers will be facing young Dalvin across the line of scrimmage in November. While Tomlinson could still wind up in Tuscaloosa if Nick Saban has room, I think he ends up on North Avenue. MaconDawg's Pick: Georgia Tech.
Cordarelle Patterson, WR, Hutchinson Junior College: Patterson, a South Carolina native, is regarded as the top JUCO wide receiver in the country. He'll have 3 years in which to play 2, but is unlikely to redshirt no matter what his destination. At 6'4 and 205 pounds Patterson has been compared by many to another big, athletic receiver from South Carolina. I don't think he's A.J. Green athletic, but he's plenty athletic enough to contribute immediately at the school of his choice. Patterson has taken visits to Georgia, Tennessee, Auburn and Ole Miss among others, and has been thought to also be considering Arkansas. He initially told recruiting analysts that he wanted to play close to home, a factor which would seem to favor the Bulldogs. However, after 2 seasons in Kansas, I suspect Patterson is probably a little more independent and a little less homesick than he once was. Instead I think he'll be looking for a school where he can play early and polish his NFL resume. I think the school that offers him the best opportunity to do that is coached by Hugh Freeze. While Patterson could play early at Georgia, he's unlikely to become an immediate star to the exclusion of Tavarres King, Malcolm Mitchell, Marlon Brown, Chris Conley and Michael Bennett. MaconDawg's Pick: Ole Miss.
Jaquay Williams, WR, Sandy Creek: Williams indicated over the summer that had Georgia offered a scholarship early on, he would have seriously considered committing. As it is, Georgia held off on offering and Williams jumped on an offer from the then defending national champion Auburn Tigers. Since then Auburn has lost offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, perhaps to Williams' dismay. He's also remained in contact with Bulldog coaches, who are not giving up. The question will be whether Williams is scared off by Georgia's very young receiving corps, and whether new Auburn OC Scott Loeffler can bring him back fully onboard. I'm betting the answer to both questions is yes, and that Williams sticks with the Plainsmen. MaconDawg's Pick: Auburn.
Finally, one guy who might end up a "surprise" Bulldog:
Chris Brown, RB/DB, Seminole County: Brown has been an under the radar recruit this season after missing his entire junior year to a dislocated hip. He terrorized opposing defenses as a senior, however, rushing for 1648 yards on 132 carries, a nifty 12.5 yards per attempt. He also had 5 interceptions on defense and was named All-State on offense by the AP and All-State on defense by the AJC. Brown has been quietly recruited by Georgia (as a defensive back) and Georgia Tech (as a running back) and is the kind of guy who could get that last offer on Signing Day morning if there's one available, a la Tim Jennings or Kenarious Gates. Brown will play somewhere in college, and I believe is going to be a steal for somebody. He reminds me a lot of former Seminole star Bacarri Rambo, in that he's just a football player, pure and simple. MaconDawg's Pick: Georgia.
So who you got, Dawg Sporters? Until later . . .