Georgia, recruiting, player development, chicken, egg: which comes first?

Seth Emerson’s got a good article up today tracing a link between Georgia’s dwindling fortunes on the won-loss front and the falloff in the number of Dawgs taken in the NFL draft.

… During head coach Mark Richt’s first five years, the Bulldogs were 52-13, won two SEC titles and won three East Division titles.

The past five years, the Bulldogs are 42-20.

From 2002-06, the draft years that followed Rich’s first five seasons, the Bulldogs had 32 total players drafted and 15 in the top three rounds.

In the past four drafts, the Bulldogs have seen 19 players drafted and only seven in the top three rounds…

That’s just a description of the symptom, not the disease, though.  Those numbers don’t tell us whether the program is slipping in its ability to recruit talent, or in its ability to develop that talent once it arrives on campus.  (Stewart Mandel notes that it’s not an illness confined to Athens, either.)

Over at his blog, Emerson takes the time to flesh things out a bit more, with class by class breakdowns of the top-rated recruits.  His conclusion – “Somewhere over the past five years, it seems there’s been a gap between recruiting and production once in college” – is logical if you assume that the recruiting services do a competent job analyzing talent.  Talent isn’t everything, though.  Are the players coachable?  And will they develop physically in a suitable manner?

Yes, overall, it still comes back to the coaches.  They’re the ones who identify their needs and they’re the ones responsible for turning high schoolers into functioning collegiate athletes.  But it’s critical for Mark Richt (and Greg McGarity) to reach a determination about how much of each side of that coin has contributed to the slippage.  Things won’t get better unless you’re fixing the right problems.

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64 Comments

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64 responses to “Georgia, recruiting, player development, chicken, egg: which comes first?

  1. Dog in Fla

    “Things won’t get better unless you’re fixing the right problems.”

    To which Mark and Greg would both respond, “Problems? What problems?”

    http://ugadogsblog.blogspot.com/2010/11/mcgarity-no-question-richt-will-return.html

    • AlphaDawg

      Richt’s respones would be “We’re doing everything the same a we did when we were winning all those games”

      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        Said it before. Still true. All those games the first 4 years and 3 SEC East titles plus 2 SEC Championships were won, for the most part, with Donnan’s players.

        • Reptillicide

          So you’re telling me we won an SEC title in 2005 with players that Donnan signed in 2000?

          Whatever, dude….

          • Puffdawg

            And Nick Saban’s success is only due to Mike Shula’s recruits. And Urban Meyer’s success is only due to Zook’s recruits. And Jim Tressel’s MNC is only due to John Cooper’s recruits. And Bob Stoops’s only MNC is due to John Blake.

            Oh, and I think Jim Donnan had a few guys fail a couple of years that led us to a final # 2 ranking in 2007.

  2. GreenDawg

    I think for this discussion to be more relevant, you have to look at the positions of the players drafted. In Richt’s first 5 years, 19 defensive players were drafted, while only 13 offensive players were drafted. In the next 4 years, 11 defensive players were drafted, along with 7 offensive players, and a kicker. The draft this year should include AJ and a couple O Linemen, along with possibly Justin Houston, Boykin, and maybe Akeem Dent. The bottom line is that Martinez just didn’t develop talent very well. Time will tell on whether Grantham can develop talent or not, but what he did with Akeem Dent this year is nothing short of incredible, so that certainly speaks well for him.

    • W Cobb Dawg

      I agree with you on Dent. He’s a completely different player than before CTG & staff came along.

      The biggest disappointment on D is the line. Of all those 4 star recruits (Tyson, Geathers, Lott, Jones, Dobbs, Tripp, Thornton, Smith, Wood) you’d think we’d have at least 3 who could plug the middle. CRG doesn’t have anyone to blame, as he’s both recruiter and coach. Since his boys aren’t producing, you have to question his coaching or talent evaluation. Only significant injury was Bean. Even last year with seniors Owens, Atkins & Weston, the line wasn’t very good.

      • Dawgwalker07

        In all fairness, CRG hasn’t been recruiting with the aim of having a nose tackle. That’s drastically different from two DTs

        • gastr1

          Yes, and two DTs were just drafted.

          • Dawgfan17

            I think it was 3 DT’s Atkins, Owens and Weston. Not to mention no one on this line was recruited for a 3-4. If the defense makes a quarter of the improvement next year as it already has from last year then we will be back to playing the way it was in the early 2000′s.

  3. Senator, did you not make similar post awhile back where you mentioned our lack of NFL prospect had to do Willie’s ability to develop talent on the defense? And that you hoped CTG would help reverse that trend? Just sounds familiar is all.

  4. Ahhh…the good old days of JD’s recruits.

    • No One Knows You're a Dawg

      Speaking of JD, he just got finished saying on the radio that the problems with the defense comes down to Georgia simply not having very good players on that side of the ball, particularly in the secondary. JD described the pass defense as being “hope Justin Houston can get to the quarterback.”

      He said it wouldn’t matter which scheme Georgia was running right now, the results would be similar to what we are seeing. He also said the players should know the defense at this point in the season, but apparently don’t and the fault for that falls squarely on them.

    • Griff

      Ahhhh…the good old days of JD’s “what could have been” teams.

  5. The Original Cynical in Athens

    Sorry, I posted this on another thread, but it seems more logical to go here. As I say later on, yes, we may have failed in player development, but all those who clamor for us to always get the best in Georgia may have to realize that the best in Georgia just have not been very good lately.
    It’s 1996 all over again. Wish we could figure out a way to play our future NFL hall-of-fame WR at QB and RB.

    I think I have figured out what is really wrong with UGA. For those that argue that it is all cyclical, I might be inclined to agree.
    The state of Georgia is generally recognized as the 4th or 5th best state for football talent production, much higher than the states of Alabama or South Carolina.

    Of course, these are highly subjective thoughts, but I think it could point to why UGA has fallen off the last couple of years while Bama and Scu have surged.
    I was looking at the recruiting classes since 2005 to see about Superstars-guys who are/were college All-Americans, NFL 1st rounders, game-changers, etc.

    Since ’05, the massively producing state of Georgia has produced Bebe Thomas, Jermaine Cunningham, Eric Berry, Cam Heyward and Greg Reid. Of course, it does not help that UGA got NONE of those guys, but still, in 6 recruiting classes, you would think that there would have been more than 5 superstars, and Bebe Thomas was not even really a highly ranked kid coming out of high school.
    I didn’t include Cam Newton on that list, because although a superstar this year, he took a rather circuitous and interesting route to where he is now. Brandon Boykin could also probably be included. But still, there have been a lot of good players out of the state, but not many superfreaks.

    In that same time span, the little old state of Alabama has produced Michael Johnson(Gtu), Andre Smith, Rolando McClain, Julio Jones, Mark Barron, Marcel Dareus and Dre Kirkpatrick. I did not include Nick Fairley because of the same reasons I did not include Cam Newton. Still, though, while Nick Saban is no doubt a great coach, he has also had the good fortune of being in a very small talent producing state that has just happened to birth 7 superstar players in 6 years.

    The state of South Carolina, which produces a lot less players annually than Georgia, has somehow in just the last 4 recruiting classes produced Carlos Dunlap, Cliff Matthews, DeQuan Bowers, AJ Green, Robert Quinn, Stephon Gilmore, Alshon Jeffrey and Marcus Lattimore. To say that this kind of talent production from such a small state is staggering would be an understatement.

    The state of South Carolina has a smaller population than the Atlanta Metro area, yet, it’s realistic that Bowers, AJ Green and Robert Quinn could be the top 3 picks in this year’s NFL Draft according to some mock drafts. How unreal is that?

    So, maybe it is true that it is just cyclical? It’s like Washington Co suddenly producing Takeo Spikes, Robert Edwards and Terrence Edwards in a 4 year span, or little old ECI having 3 D1 players in the same graduating class? There is no way to explain, it just happens. It will come back around when the state produces a couple of classes in a row with Hines Ward, Champ Bailey, Matt Stinchcomb and Marcus Stroud, or David Pollack, Johnathan Sullivan, Sean Jones, John Stinchcomb and Thomas Davis. We just have to hope that we are getting the signees in those classes.

    Anyway, sorry for the long post, but I thought it was interesting

    • King Jericho

      Great post!

      A thought I had is, especially with this Camgate in full swing and all the reading I’ve done around that, could all the incredibly talented players be heading to where the money is? Maybe that’s a little crazy to think, but given current events, anything’s possible.

      • Julie

        You may be on the fast track here, sir.

        Sports Illlustrated ranks the SEC West’s recruiting class for the last two years nationally:
        2009: 2010:
        1) LSU (3) Auburn
        2) Alabama (4) Alabama
        20) Arkansas (8) LSU
        22) Ole Miss (25) Ole Miss
        23) MSU (NR) Arkansas
        25) Auburn (NR) MSU

        What a return on your investment! Bobby Lowder should have put Trooper Taylor in charge of his bank and maybe he’d still be in business.

    • GreenDawg

      Absolutely agree. When is the last time the University of Georgia had a stud offensive player from the state of Georgia? AJ is from South Carolina. Murray, Florida. Knowshon, New Jersey. Stafford, Texas. Massaquoi, North Carolina. The only real studs from the state that have come to Georgia have been defensive players. Boykin, Houston, and Rennie are all Georgia products.

    • jferg

      Interesting. Thanks for the research.

    • devildawg

      Isn’t it this year? Look at the guys left on GA’s board. No qb’s or wr’s from GA, though perhaps Conley will end up a superstud one day. But there’s a whole slew of guys, several of them 5-stars, heading to UGA next week for the GT game, and a decent number will be back for the Gala. I hope a good number of them will be around next August, too. If you’re talking cycles, from what I see in recruiting rankings, the state of Georgia has it’s first real bumper crop in years.

      We just gotta hope they come to Georgia.

      • Scorpio Jones, III

        Great post, and something to note is the relative success of the programs involved and how important that has been to getting the best in-state kids to stay home. Bama needs no explanation, South Carolina has been working on their own state since Spurrier got there and just this past season kept all but one or two of the best kids out of Athens, where they have traditionally gone.

        One thing about Emerson’s post that makes me itch is the necessary assumption the “recruiting weasels” know what they are talking about. For one, I will never, ever forget Willie Williams.

  6. Bulldog Joe

    We should strongly consider changes in our recruiting philosophy.

    Looking in from the outside, we appear to lack creativity and energy, having the same guy in charge for over twelve years, doing the same thing. The “Dream Team” is the best we can do?

    We also need to address the huge avantage our SEC opponents have over us in the area of oversigning and greyshirting.

    Either participate or lead the charge to eliminate it. Don’t sit idly by and let the more creative schools enjoy this compounding annual advantage.

    We should expect only two to three seasons from our elite players now, so having a larger pool of developing players available to step in is more important than ever.

    It is no coincidence the top oversigning and greyshirting schools are also the top teams in the SEC this year.

    http://oversigning.com/testing/index.php/recruiting-numbers/

    • Bulldog Joe

      …and to answer the question, recruiting comes first.

    • Gen. Stoopnagle

      Bingo. The oversigning issue is a huge problem. The act is incompatible with the educational values which *should* be steering the actions of college programs. I can deal with the corruption of values to a degree – I have to in order to derive any pleasure from this hobby – but you have to draw the line somewhere. The whole deal with LSU and the OL player this year and Bama’s suspicious use of “medical hardships” stretches it too far. If Georgia began acting this way, it might turn my stomach more than a 3-5 SEC record.

      I think you are completely on the mark that UGA needs to start leading the charge against this practice or find a set of peers that holds better values.

      • Bryant Denny

        I would respectfully disagree related to “over-signing.”

        You “may” have an argument if you were speaking of an ill effect on Georgia Southern, Jacksonville State, etc. But you are speaking of the University of Georgia.

        If a school that happens to receive a #1 recruiting ranking signs 29 players, I’m pretty much guessing that each of those 29 thinks they are special and could play anywhere. In turn, they have been convinced that since they could play anywhere, why not join that particular recruiting class and be a part of something special.

        I’m not trying to be mean or critical, but what about if Georgia did a better job of recruiting some of the 29 that went to the other school?

        To complain about over-signing if you are a major school sounds a whole lot like whining. (I don’t mean for that to sound mean. :) )

        Have a good day,

        • The Original Cynical in Athens

          Is everyone in Alabama blind to the rules that most other people oblige by?

          Shit man, if the Auburn folks aren’t complaining about something, the Bama fans are complaining about opponents complaining about Bama oversigning. Jeez man.

          No wonder all the dumb shit that you hear about Alabama is true. People just ignore the law there.

          • Bryant Denny

            Well, up until recently this wasn’t a “rule.”

            I’m not complaining, I’m just saying that there may be another reason besides blaming it on over-signing.

            Unfortunately, I probably do fit the Alabama-fan stereotype.

            Have a good one,

            BD

        • W Cobb Dawg

          Agree. Oversigning hasn’t worked very well for Ole Miss. But on the other hand, there’s a strong argument that CMR doesn’t sign enough players just to fill the 85 man roster. We should stop when we get to the 24 commit limit, not at 19 or 20. Handing out scholys to walk-ons hasn’t gotten us much except that warm, fuzzy feeling – sitting on the couch watching somebody else play the mnc.

          • Bulldog Joe

            Ole Miss signed an average of 30 players per year from 2006-2009, leading to their first back-to-back nine win seasons since 1961-62.

            I would say oversigning has worked quite well for them.

            Would you rather pick your starting lineup, backups, and scout teams from a pool of 120 players or 86 players over four years, as Georgia does?

            Then Georgia tries to prepare its defense using Parker Welch as Cam Newton? How much good does that do?

        • MT

          Oversigning is a distinct advantage.

          As we’ve seen, there can and normally is a difference between a player’s ranking and his eventual value to a program (like our famous low-star recruits David Pollack and Thomas Davis).

          Getting more player churn by oversigning and eventually throwing out the players who don’t stick in your system (either ‘encouraged’ transfers or medical redshirts) essentially allows you to throw more knives at the dartboard and increase your odds of getting a bullseye.

          The flyers that Alabama takes on recruits #26-29 may not directly be stealing players out of another specific school’s system (maybe UAB or Troy), but it lets the school get the players on campus and see if the player has some substance behind the flashes he showed on game tape.

          To believe that oversigning is not an advantage is disingenuous.

          • Puffdawg

            I think it was SB who snoted Mark Ingram and Marcell Dareus were numbers 29 and 30 in that class. Gross oversigning is a disgusting practice if you have any concern in maintaining ANY appearance whatsoever of a reputable academic institution.

      • Dog in Fla

        It’s bad karma to use the word “Bingo” here.

    • Ben

      I can’t read this whole thread, but I’ve got to chime in here. When I heard Richt say we recruited Newton out of HS as a TE, I almost screamed. The guy is about to win a Heisman as a QB, and we thought it would be a good idea to bring him in as TE? I mean, c’mon. That’s some weak sauce, there.

  7. BuzMan

    One thing I’d be interested in seeing is how players who seemed like top recruits and failed to perform at GA have somehow managed to make it to the next level and perform adequately. I’m thinking of how everyone decided Reshad Jones was a trainwreck in the secondary and how Kregg Lumpkin was thought of as a bust but still made it to the next level. To me this means that some coach in the NFL has managed to get a little more out of these guys.

    • Biggus Rickus

      It seems to me that Martinez suffered from the same problem as Addazio does at Florida. He was promoted beyond his ability and both his position and the defense as a whole suffered because of it, and Georgia is still dealing with the aftermath. Similarly, Addazio put together good offensive lines prior to becoming OC, but this year that group was horrible, possibly the worst unit on the team.

    • W Cobb Dawg

      Do you mean like when Danny Ware (averaged 7.2 yards per carry) sat on the bench so Thomas Brown (averaged 3.4 yards per carry) could play? Of course Ware was forced to leave early and promptly won a super bowl ring. That was before the Knowshon redshirt fiasco.

  8. Recruiting, & wouldn’t it have been great to sign Greg Reid & Lattimore.

    • Griff

      Lattimore yes. Reid looks like a he would fit in with our corners we have now. He gets burnt all the time and he definitely went to the Deion Sanders school of tackling. I think Reid was a good miss. He’s ok, but the FSU fans I know complain about his defense constantly.

  9. slive sux

    Can we start with db’s tall enough to ride the “scream machine” alone ? good read

  10. Bryant Denny

    Here’s another way to look at it:

    If you had won 5 more games over the last 5 years, the breakdown would be almost identical.

    Heck, you could probably find two games this year (Ark, CU) that should have been won.

    The NFL numbers may be down, but that may not be the problem.

    BD

  11. TomReagan

    On the recruiting front, we usually forget that there are 2 major aspects. It’s not just a matter of getting the guys we want–it’s also a matter of PICKING out the right guys to go after.

    I’ve been sold on the notion that recruiting isn’t as much of a game of getting everyone you want so much as making quality evaluations and spending your recruiting resources chasing after players who are going to develop into good football players.

    That’s the major takeaway for me from reading Meat Market. Evaluation is more important than the ability to sell the program.

  12. Here is what I said on Seth’s blog. I think its an interesting thing to at least consider:

    I think we can all agree that the last 5 years for College Football have been even dirtier than the 5 years before that.

    I think we can also agree that it is highly unlikely Richt has ever been involved in paying for players or any other shady dealings.

    Imagine, if you will, that we’ve lost 1 or 2 big recruits every year for the last 5 years because Richt isn’t playing the game dirty like a lot of other programs appear to be.

    Could that possibly be an explanation for a drop in talent?

    Just spitballing here. I’m not saying I actually believe this, and I’m quite upset at Richt for the last 5 years. I mainly think the problem has been his excessive loyalty at hanging onto bad assistant coaches. But still, this is an interesting thing to think about.

  13. Brandon

    5 players on the defense last year, drafted off of a team that couldn’t stop a paper sack.

    • merk

      Curran was a monster LB…the only thing that hurt his Draft stock was his size and he wasn’t getting ne taller.
      Owens + Atkins were both good DTs.
      RJ showed some improvement in 09 so maybe that helped to get him drafted.

  14. MS Dawg

    The landscape of the SEC has changed drastically over thae last few years. Unfortunately it has left little room for the “nice guy” coaches. Nice guys finish first in life….not footabll (at least in the SEC).

  15. joe

    Here’s the deal; Player development.

    1) BVG leaves after the 2004 season. A pretty good LB and equally (if not better DC). He had the personality to bring his coaching staff together and get his players to perform.

    2) DVH has a heart attack after the 2005 season and Jancek has a full offseason/spring to “coach” LB’s. Argubly the biggest drop is at LB during the last five years. Couple that with a bitter RG because he didn’t get the DC job and you have the recipe for what we witnessed 2006-2009.

    You can draw a line in the sand on those two dates on talent level drop. I believe we failed to develop the kids mentally and physically to play in the SEC and the players digressed in both categories.

    I think with the new staff on defense this will change. IF we upgrade our S&C program (I believe we will); I think our LB development is already happening (Dent) but the jury is still out on Lakatos. If anything Martinez could coach DB’s, but you can also draw a line in the sand of when our DB’s seemed to not perform as well when he became full time DC.
    IMO the other piece of this is that Richt should have:
    -Got rid of Garner, and paid the short term price in recruiting
    -Let DVH go after the heart attack and subsequent problems. NO WAY could he perform as he did 2001-2005 w/the physical problems he had.
    -Let CWM pick his “D” staff, he inherited the staff and was forced to take Jancek.
    -Let the “D” staff go after the 2008 season.

    JMO

    • merk

      Yea…Garner may have ties to a lot of the HS coaches in Ga due to recruiting here for so long, but a lot of talent has walked away during that time too. I think we would prob see a 5-10 spot class drop for maybe 2 years (1 year if CTG can get 2-3 more D guys to play like Houston and Dent have this year.)
      Houston and Dent having a HUGE year with 0 experience in CTG scheme is going to help out a lot for getting more LBs and DEs in here who want to play those spot. They see a guy going from average/good to All-SEC and All-SEC= NFL + Money.

  16. merk

    Yea…
    This recruiting class should get a lot of help from CTG being able to see all the players play in his system. Thus he now clearly knows that he has one corner and one safety. As much as yall say we must have a NG…we really need 2 more DBs. Ogletree will get better with more playing time. Rambo has seemed to regress as the season went on (I mean if Bryan Evans and RJ were on the bench how many of us would have been calling for them to be starting over Rambo right now?)

    Boykin will most likely stay because of how horrid the DBs were this year. That killed his stats and thus his draft stock. Houston will prob stay due to this being his first year in the 3-4 and him having a huge year. He knows one more year of CFB could mean 3-4 more million when he leaves.

    The O is well….we have QBs now…we just have to find a new Green or MoMass to help Murray and the TEs out cause Bobo sure didn’t.

  17. AthensHomerDawg

    So does anyone want to venture a guess as to why Texas with a winning head coach and coach “in waiting” is facing a possible 6 loss season after playing for the NC?

    • Siskey

      I have a friend I was in the Marines with that is a huge Texas fan. He and I would stay up all night on Saturday nights in Okinawa (13 hr time difference to EST) and watch the College Football games together. We were the only ones dedicated enough to do this despite all the fair weather Ohio State fans that came out of the woodwork following 2002. Anyway, I ,agree with him that Texas’s problem is their inability to run the ball. With the amount of competition they face, they should be able to line up and the run the ball and beat everyone they play except for Oklahoma. For some reason they are unable to do that this year. They became overly reliant on stellar quarteback play with VY and Colt McCoy and are now unable to do anything on offense. They like us are consistently inconsistent and also like us have way to much talent to perform so poorly. As embarrassing as losing to Colorado was for me, I will take that over getting blown out by Iowa State and Kansas St. I also feel that they are suffering from a sense of complacency after so many years at the top. I also think that their situation and that of FSU shows the problems with announcing a Coach in waiting. It just seems to me that by telling a younger and ambitious guy that he’ll be the guy can lead to a situation that benefits neither the current Coach or his successor. .