Marc Weiszer shares an interesting quote:
”I would say our recruiting class is a lot like our year this year. We didn’t have the kind of year that I wanted to have, but we still did a lot of good things. We won eight games. That’s not good, but …I’m not going to try to paint a picture that’s any different than what it is … we definitely lost some good players.”
Nope, that ain’t Mark Richt speaking. It’s Jim Donnan, in 2000. That class turned out okay.
Who did Donnan sign that year? Guys like David Greene, Sean Jones, Musa Smith, Johnathan Sullivan and Will Thompson, who all were starters on Georgia’s 2002 SEC championship team.
So did Richt’s less-than-impressive-on-paper first class.
From that 2001 class, Georgia signed D.J. Shockley, who led the Bulldogs to the 2005 SEC championship, as well as David Pollack, Fred Gibson, Greg Blue, Russ Tanner and Gerald Anderson.
On the other hand, Dean Legge recalls a couple of more recent and more highly touted classes.
In 2007, Georgia didn’t sign Eric Berry, Allen Bailey, Josh Nesbitt, Jonathan Dwyer, Nick Claytor, D.J. Donley, Antwane Greenlee and Cameron Heyward. Tech signed four players in the top ten – their margin of error was wide. Two of those players are stars – the other two not so much. Georgia, by contrast signed two players in the top ten of 2007: Caleb King and Israel Troupe. Get the picture?
… The next top players, in order, the Dawgs signed were Rennie Curran, John Knox and Chris Little. None of them will be playing in Athens in the fall – two of them never really played there at all. We are through the top 15 in-state players for the year 2007, and Georgia will have one of those players on the roster in the fall. Now Caleb King is pretty good, but he needs help. It’s a good thing for Georgia the bottom of the recruiting list picked it up in a big way. Non-Top 20 players Clint Boling and Justin Houston have become very good players. I would have loved to see Berry or even Heyward at Georgia.
In 2005, Georgia signed another small class – and a slew of the top recruits never played. Tavares Kearney, Corey Moon, Brandon Sesay, Antavious Coates and Ian Smith never, for one reason or another, made a contribution on the field in Athens. A class of 19 was even smaller…
Legge’s real point, applied to this year’s class, is valid.
… Recruiting is about making the margin of error as large as possible for the future. But Georgia’s margin of error with [the 2010] class, just like the 2005 and 2007 classes, is small – they need production from the top of the lineup. Injuries always affect recruiting classes – other forms of attrition do, too. One of the 19 players signed to this class will be gone soon; one may never make it. Hamilton, a junior college transfer, won’t be in Athens in two years. Lonnie Outlaw probably has to get through Georgia Military before he ever gets to Georgia. Benedict missed some of his senior season with an injury – Brandon Burrows missed all of his hurt, too.
That’s not running those players down… that’s reality. The margin of error with this class is razor thin. It is like the classes of 2005 and 2007 rolled up into one – a small class, with the top player in the state going to Tennessee and with the rest of the top ten going to somewhere other than Georgia.
Things may work out well; they certainly have in the past. But last year exposed a flaw in how little a contribution has been received from the ’07 class to date. Luckily, the ’08 and ’09 classes turned out very well. And because of that, there probably isn’t too much of a concern about the talent Georgia will trot out on the field the next two seasons. But it’s pretty clear that the quantity and quality of the 2011 class needs to be significant to avoid a potential drop off in 2013 or so. The good news is that the in state talent pool for next year’s class looks to be outstanding, Georgia will have somewhere in the neighborhood of 27-28 slots to offer and the coaching staff ought to have its ducks in a row to capitalize on the situation. It’ll be critical for Richt that he makes it all come together.