In the wake of the buzz following Ray Drew’s announcement yesterday, Matt Hinton had a question for us.
Georgia fans: Do you feel the 'Dream Team' is shaping up as a special class? Rankings say par for the course for UGA but unusual hype.—
Matt Hinton (@DrSaturday) January 29, 2011
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 wa
ive 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.
UPDATE: More Dream Team stuff from Seth Emerson here.