The Georgia Bulldogs are currently involved in a quiet, but significant, recruiting drama that illustrates why you simply cannot afford to take any recruiting news too seriously, too soon. It's an object lesson in the liberal application of salt to recruiting news, one which we'll discuss in more detail after the jump.
Obviously this weekend you were all witness to the coming out party of everyone's new favorite Bulldog from Tarboro, North Carolina. You may have also caught the Alabama Crimson Tide offense running roughshod over Michigan, in no small part thanks to freshman tailback T.J. Yeldon, who shared SEC freshman of the week honors with Gurley.
And you may have heard about Walton High tailback Tyren Jones, who through two games is terrorizing the State's highest high school classification, with some help from future Bulldog lineman Brandon Kublanow. Jones may very well be the best overall tailback in the state, displaying a low center of gravity, great change of direction, solid speed and a whole lot of toughness. Jones committed to Alabama over Georgia, disappointing many Bulldog fans (including yours truly) in the process.
Of course you've heard of Yulee, Florida jumbo back Derrick Henry, who committed to Georgia at the Dawg Night camp in the summer of 2011. He then reopened his commitment in June of this year, but the smart money has had him headed to Tuscaloosa to tote the mail for everyone's favorite shoe lift aficionado. Nevertheless, Henry remains very close to Bulldog QB commit Brice Ramsey and made it out to this summer's Dawg Night, in spite of his recent decommitment.
Perhaps you're also aware of Norcross athlete Alvin Kamara. Georgia has pursued Kamara hard, especially since Jones committed to the Tide and Henry started looking like he might do the same. He's a speedy, versatile runner who also has great hands and might even see action at slot receiver. Kamara has named the Tide and Bulldogs as his top 2 teams.
And while it's somewhat less likely, you may have also heard of Bama commit Altee Tenpenny, who in addition to being named like a character in a Charles Dickens novel, is also ranked highly by Rivals, Scout, and 247Sports.
So there's your cast of characters. Here's where the intrigue begins. Assuming Alabama holds onto Jones and Tenpenny, Henry has to decide if he wants to compete with those two for carries behind Eddie Lacy and Yeldon. Alabama will also have to decide if they have room to take 3 running backs. It's entirely possible that Nick Saban could promise Henry that he'll play tailback then switch him to linebacker, defensive end, or tight end. He projects pretty well at each position with his size and agility. Hey, Urban Meyer projected Tim Tebow as a linebacker while recruiting Jevan Snead. These things happen.
If Henry does pledge to Bama, many observers think that Tenpenny may look once more at the home state Razorbacks, especially if the urine is still at an elevated caloric level in Fayetteville as we approach midseason. Jones has said that he will keep his promise to Kublanow and officially visit Athens this season, after having taken a recent unofficial visit to the Classic City. One imagines the Bulldog coaches might really put the pressure on him to stay closer to home, where at this point he would be the Bulldogs' only running back commit. And while it was accepted as gospel that the 'Dawgs would try to sign 2 tailbacks in 2013, the commitments have been coming fast and furious and spots are filling up fast. Plus with Ken Malcome emerging as a steady option, Todd Gurley looking like a superstar, and Keith Marshall ready to play as a true freshman, the Bulldogs may not be in such dire need of an additional tailback.
If Kamara commits to Alabama it's hard to imagine there will be room for Henry in Tuscaloosa. Or that any school, even Alabama, could convince 4 of the nation's top 20 tailbacks to come in to school together. Further complicating matters is the fact that Tennessee is also still recruiting Kamara, Henry, and Tenpenny. The Vols look like the third option for each of them, but every year we see a few highly recruited prospects who wait too late and end up having to take their best available commitable offer.
Let's not even talk about Georgia's continued pursuit of Derrick Green and Greg Bryant, arguably the 2 top tailbacks in the nation, who may each end up choosing between Georgia and Auburn. If one of those guys decides Athens is the place for him, Georgia may be off the market for tailbacks and one of the above mentioned players really may need to go elsewhere even if Athens captures his heart.
The bottom line is that, perhaps more than in years past, there's a chance for a late "domino effect" of top recruits who are likely to end up playing the same position in the same conference. Depending on how those dominos fall, we could be Monday morning quarterbacking the 2013 running backs well into the future. But it's unlikely that this Gordian knot of backfield talent will unwind itself anytime soon. When you consider the fact that only a few short months ago Henry was committed to Georgia, Bryant was committed to Oklahoma, Jones was being talked about as a Bulldog "lock" (silly recruitnik speak for "my best guess based on cryptic Twitter traffic"), and everyone thought Kamara would be committing to Alabama any day, you realize that none of us really know how these recruiting battles will shake out. That's what makes it so fun. We'll continue to monitor the tailback situation, but now return you to your UGA/Mizzou game week, already in progress. until later . . .