One thing about the past offseason I’ve noticed and mentioned before is how much more visible a role Todd Grantham played in the recruiting process than his predecessor did. I don’t just mean that in the context of his energy on the recruiting trail (although there certainly was that), but also in terms of having a clear philosophy of the types of players he wanted to recruit to play in his defense.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that Willie Martinez couldn’t recruit or didn’t have a strong idea about what kind of athletes he wanted to come play for him. But I sure thought about all of that as I read Dean Legge’s criticism of Georgia’s on-and-off recruiting from 2005-2009.
… What compounded the problem with the class of 2007 was Georgia’s class of 2005, which, as it turned out, was the worst of Richt’s career. Not only was Georgia limited in terms of scholarships in 2005 due to the large senior class that fall, the class started to fall apart even before it could make an impact.
Corey Moon, Tavares Kearney, Brandon Sesay, Ian Smith, Donavan Baldwin and Antavious Coates never took a meaningful snap in Athens. In other words, 35% of the class signed did nothing on the field. Jeff Owens, Marcus Washington and Roderick Battle all had at least one year’s worth of injuries – Owens got worse as his career went along. Bryan Evans was a liability the one year he started at safety. All in all the class of 2005 was a disaster, but it was made ok by a very strong class of 2006 – that is until the class of 2006 turned pro before the 2009 season.
Mohamed Massaquoi was the lone headliner in terms of NFL production in the class. Kade Weston is on the Patriots’ roster. But in terms of pure numbers, the 2005 class was the worst of the Richt era in terms of producing NFL talent. Some of that has to do with the small number signed. Some of that has to do with the number of players in the class that never player. Either way, it left Georgia, and Richt scrambling, and that’s why players like Evans were starting…
Certainly there was some bad luck in there, and I think Legge is being a bit unfair about some of the misses in the 2007 class he lists – Georgia offered Nesbitt as a safety, but he wanted a shot at quarterback, for example – but the end results are the end results, after all.
Which brings us to Legge’s observation that “Martinez may have been the scapegoat for really poor recruiting on the defensive side of the ball. Still, you are allowed to recruit.” There’s a certain chicken and egg quality to that, but there’s also an implication that Martinez didn’t have much responsibility with regard to recruiting. That strikes me as a little strange if true. But if so, I’m glad that Grantham appears to take a different approach. In any event, the timing couldn’t be much better. If recruiting is the lifeblood of a college football program, the Dream Team is shaping up to be a transfusion for Georgia’s defense. Let’s hope it remains a steady one.