John Pennington looks at what’s coming on the horizon in this state, football-wise, and sees potential in Georgia State’s move to FBS football (and Georgia Southern’s attempt to do the same) to upset the status quo on the recruiting front.
Each February, more SEC football signees come from the state of Georgia than from any other state in the Union. That includes Florida, despite the fact that the Sunshine State produces more NFL-caliber talent year-in and year-out than the Peach State does. The explanation for that is pretty simple:
FBS Schools in Florida: Florida, Florida State, Miami, South Florida, Central Florida, Florida Atlantic, and Florida International.
FBS Schools in Georgia: Georgia and Georgia Tech.
It’s easier for SEC schools like South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Alabama and Auburn to target Georgia kids because — face it — they can’t all stay in state. That’s the reason Missouri is now aiming at Georgia and Atlanta, too.
Ah, but things could get a bit tougher in the years ahead for all those schools who mine Georgia for talent. And don’t laugh too hard when you read this: Georgia State is moving to the FBS level this season and Georgia Southern is taking steps toward such a move down the road.
He raises some valid points there, but leaves out one which I think is relevant: Georgia Tech isn’t an attractive option to most high-profile in state recruits. Take a look at Scout’s Georgia database for the 2012 class. The Jackets signed one four-star recruit this year. Here’s the list of schools which equaled or bettered Tech’s results: Alabama (5); Auburn (3); South Carolina (2); FSU (1); LSU (1); Miami (1); Stanford (1); Tennessee (1); Virginia (1). That’s a total of sixteen, which is twice as many in state players as Georgia Tech signed total.
No, you don’t expect a school to sign them all, and, yes, Alabama is on a different plane than Georgia Tech is when it comes to what it offers to a top-ranked high school player, but that’s still a lot of bleeding.
My point here isn’t to mock Georgia Tech, believe it or not. As this post shows, over the last decade, Tech’s done a credible job getting in state players in its program to the next level.
Its no surprise that Georgia and Georgia Tech have signed the most players (28) from the Peach State to go on to be drafted after Scout.com started raking players in 2002.
That should be the basis for a well-honed sales pitch, but the reality is that Georgia Tech has become a less likely destination for the state’s best since Gailey’s best recruiting class. Here’s what the numbers look like for Tech’s four-star signees (per Scout) over the five classes leading up to this year:
- 2007 – 6
- 2008 – 1
- 2009 – 3
- 2010 – 2
- 2011 – 0
If high-end talent is the lifeblood of any successful major college football program, that’s a disturbing trend if you’re a Georgia Tech fan. And while it’s hard to see a newbie Georgia State program playing in the Sun Belt being a credible threat, you do have to wonder how much damage it could do to Tech’s recruiting with lower profile talent if it had someone more dynamic than Bill Curry running the show.
That’s where I see Georgia State (and Georgia Southern, too, if it gets that far) playing into what Pennington suggests. By my count, thirty schools outside of Georgia signed kids from this state with three-star ratings in their 2012 classes, and they didn’t all sign with Alabama. There’s some hay to be made, particularly if Georgia Tech isn’t up to the harvesting.
I haven’t said anything about Georgia so far. Here’s the four- and five-star signee numbers over the last six classes:
- 2007 – 7 (one five-star)
- 2008 – 9 (two five-stars)
- 2009 – 5 (one five-star)
- 2010 – 8 (one five-star)
- 2011 – 11 (two five-stars)
- 2012 – 5 (two five-stars)
Georgia has different concerns in recruiting than Tech does, as those numbers make clear. Georgia State isn’t likely to become as big a threat to Georgia’s in state efforts as Nick Saban already is. (Per Legge, Alabama signed only five players from Georgia before Nick Saban became head coach and have signed 25 players since.) Richt has to fight hard with other major programs for the élite talent – and if you’re into trends, it’s a good one that he’s already got commitments from four four-star Georgia high schoolers for the 2013 class – while Paul Johnson is looking at getting squeezed at the top and from below if Georgia State becomes a credible recruiting option.