Dawgs chasing big time recruits
By Matthew Osborne
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Despite a disappointing end to their 2011 season, the Georgia Bulldogs are still extremely optimistic about the future of their program.
The Bulldogs will return the vast majority of their starters next season, and they have a bevy of young athletes waiting to make their presence felt at the collegiate level.
As Georgia continues to look to stockpile talent from around the country, Southern Pigskin recently chatted with Dean Legge of DawgPost.com to learn more about the Bulldog’s 2012 recruiting class.
According to Scout.com, Georgia’s 2011 recruiting class was ranked No. 5 in the country. In your opinion, have the Bulldogs been able to keep that momentum going for their 2012 class?
“Well, probably not number five, but they’ll do okay in the end. The State of Georgia didn’t really have tons and tons of kids that were overwhelmingly talented like they did the year before, so the pool of talent was a little lower.”
Georgia just recently picked up a commitment from Keith Marshall, who is currently ranked as the top running back prospect in this class. Can you give us a breakdown of his game?
“Well, he’s very fast. There’s no question about that. He’s shifty and fast and explosive. I think he will help Georgia. They have really struggled with injury at running back this past year and they need some help there, and I think Keith Marshall will be just one more back to sort of help out Isaiah Crowell.”
Marshall isn’t the only running back the Bulldogs are hoping to land in this class, correct?
“Right. They’d still like to get either Mike Davis or Todd Gurley. We’ll see what happens with that. That could be asking a lot to get one of those two guys considering Keith Marshall is already committed to Georgia. They need help at tailback. In the SEC, it’s tough to keep running backs healthy, particularly for a 14-game season like Georgia had this year, so it’s asking a lot for those guys to be healthy for the entire year. You need as many backs as you can.”
The Bulldogs currently have 15 verbal commitments in this class. How many prospects will they have room for on Signing Day?
“They can sign all 25 if they want to. I would imagine that they will hit 25.”
One of the Bulldog’s top remaining prospects, defensive end Jordan Jenkins, will be announcing his decision in less than a week (Jan. 9). How do the Georgia coaches feel about their chances of landing Jenkins?
“They don’t really talk to the media about recruiting because they are not allowed to. I think they are in better position than they were a few months ago with Jordan, but I think Alabama is in the driver’s seat right now.”
Who are some of the other top prospects remaining on Georgia’s board?
“Well, Jordan is definitely one of them, as are Gurley and Mike Davis. Kenderious Whitehead is a guy to keep your eye on. It’s mainly those four guys will be kind of the big name guys who are remaining out there for Georgia.
There are some other kids that are maybe taking some time to decide that people have forgotten about that could emerge at the end, but I think if they can figure out how to pull in a couple of the bigger name guys who are remaining they’ll do okay.”
Special teams was an area that needed to be addressed in this class. Can you talk a little about the Bulldogs have fared recruiting specialists in this class?
“Right. They’ve got two specialists, in fact, and it will be interesting to see what happens with the departure of Blair Walsh and Drew Butler. Drew Butler has been one of the best punters in the country over the last three years. The two guys they have coming in, Collin Barber and Marshall Morgan, are guys that clearly Georgia needs to step in right away and perform. Field goal kicking was very shaky this year for Georgia, but it’s tough to replace those guys. There’s a learning curve on specialists too.”
Do you think that the fact that Mark Richt seems to have a little more job security after this season will help in recruiting at all?
“Well, not necessarily for the 2012 class, because those guys have known for awhile that he is going to be around, but 2013 it will really help. But to be fair, in the SEC, if you’re not on the hot seat, you are about to be on the hot seat, so it’s kind of irrelevant. It didn’t hurt them in 2012 signing the “Dream Team”. In the SEC, football is very important, and recruiting is very important to football. It’s very important to them (the fans). They always want to win and if they’re not winning, they are upset with the coach. The thing about it is, Georgia is a place where, no matter who the head coach is, it’s very, very attractive to a lot of kids in the south, particularly kids from Georgia. They are never going to be bad at recruiting, so Mark being on the alleged hot seat for awhile didn’t help, but I don’t know how much it hurt them either.”
Last year’s class is known to Georgia fans as the “Dream Team”. Is there any chance that this year’s class might get a name of its own?
“No, they are just kind of a regular class. They’re not a bad class. I mean, they do have two of the top five players in the country committed to them. It’s just that those guys, you know, they’re not from Georgia. That “Dream Team” thing was an effective slogan, good marketing by Mark and those guys, and 2013 is loaded with kids too. There’s ton of in-state talent in 2013, so you could see a “Dream Team” type of thing again there, but there wasn’t a “Dream Team” in Georgia this year and that’s okay.”