Thinking Dream(y) thoughts

In the wake of the buzz following Ray Drew’s announcement yesterday, Matt Hinton had a question for us.

On one level, I see his point.  It’s not like the 2011 class will be the first highly rated one that Richt has reeled in.  But context matters here.  Richt found himself selling a product that appeared a little torn and frayed around the edges after last season – and doing so in the face of aggressive competition which had the last two national championship trophies to waive at many of the same recruits whom Georgia targeted.

Call the Dream Team concept a marketing gimmick, if you’d like.  But if you do so, don’t forget to admit that it’s worked admirably.  And it’s done that on a number of levels.  It’s given the staff focus on the recruiting trail.  It’s given the in-state kids a theme to rally around.  It’s excited the fan base.  It’s also created the impression that maybe, just maybe, Richt isn’t ready to be buried in Athens just yet.

In the short run, that last factor is as important as anything, if you’re Richt.  The program needs to wash the taste of that 6-7 season out of its mouth, and quickly.  Positive momentum is a priority, and at this time of year there’s no more obvious way to generate that than with a flashy recruiting class.

Richt’s done a good job of managing it, too.  Compare the attitude directed towards the program from a month ago after Dickson and Bray signed with verballed to ‘Bama and Auburn to the electricity Georgia has now.  I can’t remember Georgia under Richt ever closing out a recruiting season the way 2011 appears to be playing out.  And I don’t think that’s happenstance.  So kudos to Richt – and let’s hope this is just a good first step on the road to SEC relevancy this season.

Someone else whom I suspect deserves some kudos for assembling this class is Todd Grantham.  The Dream Team concept has its roots in Grantham’s observation made early on in Athens that he believed he could field a national championship caliber defense without having to travel too far to assemble the talent.

And while he hasn’t had the high profile on the recruiting trail that Bobo’s (deservedly) had – although he’s been front and center on Jenkins like nobody’s business – it’s clear from comments like this from Drew (from an earlier version of Chip Towers’ post about his commitment)…

“I will be playing the same position that Justin Houston played this year. While it is the 3-4, the majority of the time it’s a 4-3 look where the outside linebacker plays on end with his hand on the ground and gets after the quarterback. That’s the way it is 60 to 70 percent of the time.”

… that Grantham’s been in the ear of these kids and they’ve been receptive to what he has to say.  He sounds like a coach who knows where he wants to go with this class.  It’ll be interesting to see how good a judge of talent he turns out to be in the next year or two.

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UPDATE: More Dream Team stuff from Seth Emerson here.

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45 Comments

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45 responses to “Thinking Dream(y) thoughts

  1. SCDawg

    Based on Drew’s comments yesterday, I’d say it has given the in-state kids something to rally behind, which is a must have this year. It’s good to have some positive momemtum, and even better for such a highly rated to be calling out other guys (Crowell, Jenkins, etc) we really want and need after he commits.

  2. Hogbody Spradlin

    Richt is still gonna have to get tougher. I harken back to Bobby Bowden’s comments when Richt was being hired, and to Vince turning things around after 1974 by drawing a little blood. No doubt he’s got the technical knowledge and management ability.

  3. Jim

    The last week of good news in recruiting is the only real positive news i can recall coming out of this program in a while. I’m know i’m missing something but i couldn’t even come up with what our last positive momentum was. Beating auburn and tech in ’09?

  4. Comin' Down The Track

    I hate that I am about to ask this… Did you mean “… championship trophies to wa[i]ve at many…”, Senator?

  5. View from the 42

    I believe this Dream Team is going to do wonders at Georgia. We have always had te talent on the field, but the biggest difference is every single one of these kids that have committed have told of their desire to Change the way our program is headed. I believe they can. Just like the UGA bball team, it’s up to them of how long it takes to get there

  6. papadawg

    My concern is this: labeling this class as the Dream Team puts a tremendous amount of pressure, not only on these kids, but also on the staff. If this class doesn’t produce a ring (maybe in the next 2 years), it could be the nail in the coffin for Richt, etc.

    I’m remembering Donnan’s “waiting for 55 years to coach a team with this much potential” and then losing his job at the end of the season…

    I hope Richt hasn’t painted himself into a corner.

    • papadawg

      On second thought……..
      Maybe I hope that he has painted himself into a corner?

      Something has to give

      • Indeed. What does Georgia have to lose? Richt and company may as well roll the dice on the Dram Team hype. It’s not bad as a recruiting tool, and if it gets results–and a winning season in 2011–it will look like genius material. Another season like last year and the staff will be toast, so why not run with the PR?

        • Dream Team, not Dram Team. My old eyeballs get worse daily.

          • Comin' Down The Track

            I agree with this. We get mad when he doesn’t lay it on the line and take chances. We can’t very well be mad when he does.

            I’m all for it.

            • Russ

              The thing I like about the “Dream Team” concept is that many of these guys are coming in as a team. In the past, it’s seemed like we’ve (and other teams) have recruited a bunch of highly talented individuals. There just seems to be a slight tweak of attitude with this class, and sometimes that’s all it takes. We need a team with a little bit of a chip on their shoulder, with something to prove.

  7. Know One Knows You're a Dawg

    Schultz and Bradley pick up Hinton’s meme in 3, 2 . . .

  8. Macallanlover

    While not a recruitnik, I could have sworn I heard the “Dream Team” label long before this year’s disappointing season. I say this because that would mean it wasn’t a marketing concept in reaction to a tattered program. Doesn’t matter though, just get good talent, at the right positions, with better character, and we will see things right themselves. Looks like 2 key players from exceeding expectations in the face of a horrendously, destructive fanbase trashing the program daily. I have to admit, that was really overcoming a strong headwind. Job well done, even if we don’t get the two big fish left on our wish list.

  9. bigeasydawg

    I think that things feel different this recruiting season because 1. A month ago I thought this was a lost class and would be lucky to get into the top 25. 2. We usually get so many commits early and it felt like we didn’t this year (but that could just be my impression, I don’t usually pay too much attention til Jan.). 3. Another impression correct or incorrect, was that we were getting beat by a ton by saban on a lot of in state talent, and this years its turned around. Either Richt will continue to have talent or somebody else will. Either way there won’t be a talent drop off. Again, these are the impressions of someone who is not that into recruiting, but afterall, we’re talking about the hype of the dream team.

  10. The Original Cynical in Athens

    This class will not be par for the course if things play out with Crowell and Jenkins. It will be a top 5 class, and while UGA has consistently been in the Top 10 under Richt, top 5 is different.

    We also appear to have some kids who have managed to stay underrated this year, who are considered 3*’s but because UGA has struggled on the field, the kids aren’t getting the Chad Simmons’ 4* bump, thus artificially inflating the class ranking.

    We are also fending off the last two national champs for these kids, and Coach Richt is showing some mettle. All those par-for-the-course classes we have gotten the last 10 years have followed on the heels of 10 win seasons.

    • The Original Cynical in Athens

      And Andy Staples had a good article yesterday (shocker, I know) about where the defensive linemen in the NFL come from. His data shows why getting Drew is so important. Maybe we can turn X. Dickson, too?

  11. Richard

    The difference in this recruiting class and the last few appears to be in these youngsters are eager to accept the challenge and responsibility of big time college football. To some it may come off as egotistic and arrogant. The impression is these kids want to take on leadership roles from the get go. The differnce in a good team vs a great team is the character and leadeship that is built inside the locker room. We have missed that for 3 years. On field and locker room leadership is clearly a part of team building skills that coaches cannot force onto their players. Players have to step forward , take leadership roles and make others accountable.

    • Orson where art thou?

      I think you’ve hit the rub. Stating that players “want” to win or be leaders doesn’t say much. This is America — no one’s going to say they don’t want to win, and no one’s going to deny wanting a leadership role.

      The question should really be whether superstar players are prepared to do the extra workouts, video sessions, voluntary 7-on-7 scrimmages, playbook drills, and the thousand other things you have to do ad nauseam to position yourself to win in the SEC and to assume a leadership role among your peers. In other words, we need players who no only want to win/lead, but who demonstrate every day that they want to do both more than Bama, UF’s, UT’s, or Aubie’s guys. This is where accountability happens.

      In this regard, I see an immense difference between Rfreshman Murray and even junior Stafford. In other areas (esp. special teams), not so much. Here’s to hoping that the new focus on character changes that.

      Also, I’d suggest applying the same high standards to our coaches. When Martinez was benching Rambo for Evans, I don’t think all the player leadership in the world would have improved the D. Likewise, when we went up by 14 against Auburn/Tech this year and then started crashing Ealy into 8 in the box, even a Stinchcomb speech wouldn’t have improved our results.

  12. Doug

    I normally get as excited about recruiting as I get about getting my car’s oil changed, but yeah, this class is different.

    Think about it — we’re virtually surrounded by programs that have won national titles in the past five years, not to mention another bitter rival that finally broke through to win the SEC East last year. You’ve got to think that every one of those coaches is telling our recruits that Richt and Co. are dead men walking. Yet these 4- and 5-star recruits, who can have their pick of just about any team out there, are saying damn the torpedoes and signing on to become Dawgs anyway.

    Granted, it means zilch if the team doesn’t produce on the field. But it’s a heartening sign that Richt still has some fire in his belly. And it’s something the fan base desperately needed to see after the Liberty Bowl mess. Hopefully it will provide enough energy around the program to keep this offseason from simply being the Richt Deathwatch, which wouldn’t bode well for the 2011 season under any circumstances.

  13. Scorpio Jones, III

    I hate to be a downer, but there are at least two questions here:

    A: are they qualified academically,

    and B: are they qualified to be allowed to enroll.

    I will feel a whole lot better when all of them are issued pads in the fall.

    But whether its harder work or a response to the quality of the kids available especially in-state, or most likely both, I gotta tell you, I feel better than I did after the Liberty Bowl.

  14. dan

    The opening game has something to do with the success of recruiting. That’s a great selling point.

  15. Like It Is

    I haven’t seen anyone really address the “unusual hype” comment from that Twitter post by DrSaturday…

    The “Dream Team” concept was born out of not just getting the best players, but from getting the best players in GEORGIA. This is something our coaches did not pursue as much over the last 4-5 years. They messed around in other states trying to get their talent while we had plenty of Georgia talent that was being plucked by AU, UA, UF, etc. out of our own back yard.

    Look at Texas. They have the pick of the litter every year in their state and every other team there (of which there are many) plays second fiddle. If we could do something similar then who knows what could happen?

    My point is this: the “Dream Team” has gotten this “unusual hype” because we have not seen this much talent in the state of GA flock to UGA in quite a long time.

  16. Skeeter

    Here are a few more reasons for the success:
    -New facilities are amazing. This is where big money helps.
    -Recruits see the gaps in the team and know they have a good shot at playing time
    -UGA puts men in the NFL (probably more influential than championships to these kids)
    -Parents love Richt & Bobo
    -Athens is an awesome town (maybe too awesome for some)

  17. Dang Senator with this crowd you don’t need spell check-If possible get big Ralph that is if Hugh Nall can’t be lured into the fray.I like what Buck said about a mean and nasty streak

  18. Paul's Johnson

    What this all means is that the talent cupboard will be loaded for your next coach. That is all.

    • Dawgfan Will

      If this year doesn’t pan out for like I hope and believe it will, then so be it. THAT is all.

      • Vincent

        yeah after the last ten years, I’m pretty sure tech’s ready for ANYBODY besides Richt to coach Georgia.

        Isn’t he undefeated at Boddy Dodd going back to when he was an assistant at FSU? Come to think of it the guy’s won more BCS bowl games than your entire conference. How’s that for embarrassing?

  19. Dog in TN

    There is no doubt that the “Dream Team” has gained momentum and is looking good. BUT, there are no running backs committed and the one out there that could take the dawgs over the top will not make his choice known til signing day. If, heaven forbid, he chooses Alabama then no running backs are in this signing class. We may pick up one the caliber of King or Ealey. That doesn’t look that good to me. I am worried about our running back position.

    One last point, 4 or 5 stars guaruntees potential, not performance.

  20. Competition: This Dream Team will not only provide the Dawgs with plenty of potential but it will make the players already on campus have to compete for playing time. I believe some of the current players will become much better players now. The others will find themselves observing the game from the bench. That works for me.

  21. shane#1

    It is a beautiful day here in South Ga. Seventy degrees and not a cloud in the sky. To top it off the Dawgs seem to be on their way to one of their top classes in years. I know that the long winter of our discontent is not over. Febuary is coming and the Dawgs still have much work to do. However, a day like this lets you know that spring is just around the corner, and a brand new season will begin with spring practice.. The 2011 Dawgs are undefeated.

  22. W Cobb Dawg

    CMR & co is working hard and competing. The results reflect hard work and determination. The opportunity for great recruits and great teams has always been there, just need to capitalize on it. I may be wrong, but I trace the effort back to McGarity – he’s not going to hand paychecks out to slackers. Coaches have seen the writing on the wall.

  23. Off the subject but I just read Buck’s Blog. It appeared to me that he did not state any opinions (except Geathers might be an ORT). He just stated some facts. Yet a number of people disagreed with him. Why?

  24. sUGArdaddy

    I’ve also always thought that we get a bad deal on the recruiting rankings. If Alabama or USC had our exact same class w/ Jenkins & Crowell, what do you think they’d be ranked?

    The bottom line is that if we get those guys, we will have gotten almost everyone we’ve gone after, and that’s what matters. I’m also not sure that Dickson might not give the ol’ switceroo on signing day. If we get all those other GA kids, the lure of doing something special with your state will start weighing on him.

  25. ScoutDawg

    Yes Bluto it shows UGA still has cache and recruits know this.

  26. Bad M

    Reasons for the extra excitment:
    1. We are building this class from bottom up. Usually a high ranking is a Top QB or RB and the rest 3 stars. (Lemay’s difficulties have pushed him under the radar.
    2. Richt is winning battles he doesn’t seem to normally get vs the Bammer’s and FL’s.
    3. He’s winning late. Usually if you like coach R, you commit early. Makes coaches feel better, but fans like to know that player was in demand. They like the drama.
    4. He’s getting momentum. After a lull and a bad All-star game, the train is gaining steam.

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