Martinez, Grantham and recruiting

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.

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34 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting

34 responses to “Martinez, Grantham and recruiting

  1. Baron de Coubertin

    Another reason to take downplay the recruiting “victories” and not fret over the recruiting “losses.”

    The fact ALL of the guys mentioned were highly sought after recruits. The were being recruited by everyone not just us and for whatever reason – academics, discipline, and injuries – it did not work out for the players and us.

    Also, you can pretty much point to recruiting mistakes as a major problem at most big-time schools that are struggling. Texas & Tennessee & Michigan to name a few.

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  2. Skeptic Dawg

    Poor recruiting + lack of player development = 8-5 and 6-7. What does 2011 hold? Your guess is as good as mine, but I do not see 9+ wins as an option. It will be a struggle to reach 8 wins (here are the L’s: BSU, SC, UT, UF with MSU a toss up).

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    • Don’t get the Tennessee love. If you think Georgia’s struggled with recruiting and player development, the Vols have been far worse. And their best defensive player was just dismissed from the team.

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      • Skeptic Dawg

        The L in Knoxville is not a sign of how good the Vols are. Last 2 trips to Knoxville have not been kind to the Dawgs, even with less talented Vol squads.

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        • Turd Ferguson

          I don’t understand this reasoning at all. It’s like the sports-fan version of the gambler’s fallacy.

          Except for the head coach, and a few players here and there (most of whom won’t actually be playing), we’re essentially a completely different team than we were for our last trip to Knoxville. Completely different defense — scheme, coaches, personnel, etc. Tons of underclassmen who have no memories of past failures against the Vols. Etc., etc., etc. Why on earth should we think there is any interesting causal relationship whatsoever between games played 2 and 4 years ago, on the one hand, and a game played this fall, on the other?

          It’s one thing to be skeptical on the basis of sound reasoning. It’s another thing to be skeptical just for the sake of being skeptical.

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        • I’m totally in I’ll-see-it-when-believe-it mode with regard to the Doggies this fall, but I find it hard to fathom a loss in Knoxville to a team with less talent than the team 6-7 Georgia beat by 4 touchdowns last year.

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          • AthensHomerDawg

            +1.
            I’m sure the resulting 9 of 22 kids remaining from the Lame’s recruiting class will have an effect for some time to come. We ain’t losing in Knoxvegas. Not this year. The Coiffered One will have a similar tenure amongst the Hillbillies that Mike Shula enjoyed while coaching the Bamaneks.

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            • funny stuff, Homer…
              Put me on record too. We’re not losing to UT this year (erasing memories of 2002, 2004, and 2007 now). We have our QB situation in such a good place that if our DEF improves one iota, we will win against the ‘billies and continue to win throughout the season with a great chance of getting into the SECCG.

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  3. Mike

    Having an excellent DC that is also an excellent recruiter is a big plus, but not always necessary. Mickey Andrews of FSU, in his prime, was one of the best DCs in the country. But Bobby Bowden rarely allowed him the living room of big recruits. Mickey did not have a particularly effective living room presence. Therefore Bobby left recruiting duties to Chuck Amato. (As an aside, it is my belief that the decline of FSU was due as much to Amato leaving as it was due to the departure of Richt.)

    In all honesty, I will believe that Georgia will have an effective defense with that killer instinct when I see it on the field. It was not there last year and has not been present since VanGorder left.

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    • ’05 defense was pretty stout, but that may have been a case where good habits hadn’t yet worn off.

      Also, I thought second half of 2007 Georgia looked good defensively.

      Key to BVG and WM scheme is a front four that can get pressure. After ’07, that was never the case.

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      • Biggus Rickus

        The ’06 defense was actually pretty good when it wasn’t facing a Cutcliffe coached offense.

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        • Dawgfan Will

          Man, if there was ever a coach that had another coach’s number, it was Cutcliffe and Martinez, wasn’t it?

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          • Dog in Fla

            I am very happy Hamilton hired Derek rather than Cutcliffe.

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          • W Cobb Dawg

            Never cared for cutcliffe after we lost in knoxville and he called Champ Bailey “Chump Bailey”. Champ was always the same player we see today – all class. Love to see cutcliffe lose – he’s a jerk!

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  4. zdub

    Dean Legge is a joke.

    He loves writing articles trashing his readers (see his articles on Pro Combat and Social Media) and usually the team.

    Guy is a complete ego maniac and I can’t stand him. If DawgPost didn’t have the free board the guy would have no place to peddle his pay site. F*ck Dean, for realz.

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  5. Go Dawgs!

    What Legge ignores isn’ t just the fact that Martinez was allowed to recruit during the times in question, but also the fact that he was in charge of the defense, and therefore in charge of determining which players got targeted to be recruited by other assistant coaches. He selected who he wanted, the coaches (in most cases) went and got them, and then he was left with what he asked for.

    Martinez was by no means the worst assistant coach or coordinator in the history of assistant coaches and coordinators. However, he didn’t get the job done, and that goes back even to the high cotton days of 2005, his first year as coordinator. If you go back to the setbacks of that season, they can all be traced back to critical lapses on the defense. Go back and read Brandon Cox’s assessment of the wide open play that put Auburn inside our five yard line with time expiring. They hit that play earlier in the game and couldn’t believe how wide open it was, so they filed it away and brought it back for that 4th-and-forever. He couldn’t believe that it was even more wide open the second time. Go back and review the first half vs. WVU.

    Martinez wasn’t horrific (even in the 2008 loss to Tech, he had the scheme to stop the Jackets, the players just didn’t execute it). But he presided over the decline of the defense, and whether it was schematic or just a lack of talent, or both, it doesn’t matter. He presided over both.

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      • Cojones

        Most people forget that Martinez was slated to be the D coach from day one. Van Gorder was an afterthought of Richt’s stemming from the FSU games when VG impressed MR with the best D he had seen against his offense. Flip of the coin or whatever, VG got first shot and it was always planned to have Martinez as the D coach when we needed a new one. Martinez’s past Ds were more familiar to Richt’s liking and that was why he was here. Just thought I would update those who think Richt was more favorable for promoting “his buddy” from within while that really was not the case. He was D coach in waiting since he arrived on campus.

        The team injuries screwed everything up for everyone since 2006-7 by playing havoc with fielding a consistent team. Arrests and attitudes were exascerbating the situation while coaches tried to right the ship. Coach fallout was inevitable, including Martinez and Searles.

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    • IveyLeaguer

      The difference in the Martinez recruits and Grantham recruits is night and day, just like the difference between the VanGorder and Martinez recruits. It’s about evaluation, and Martinez wasn’t very good at it.

      Now if we can get some Grantham-like efficiency and improve the evaluation on the offensive side. Bobo hasn’t been the best either. But it’s getting better, and having Friend in Athens should help.

      SEC teams that don’t oversign and run players off can’t afford too many evaluation mistakes. It’s been part of the problem of the last 5 years.
      ~~~

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  6. 69Dawg

    The Invisible Man in all this is the D-Line coach Rodney Gardner. He is the tread through all of our D-Line problems. Here is a D-Line coach that has umteen guys in the pros but could not get All-American efforts out of them in college. RG seems to have his favorites and his pets. I think CTG can handle RG because he coached the D-Line in the pros. I think Willie was at a disadvantage when trying to handle RG since he knew nothing of coaching the big uglies. RG will play who TG tells him or TG will cold cock him. Think back and remember BVG new the big uglies too.

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    • W Cobb Dawg

      Good point. After all the years Garner has been here I still wonder about his coaching and recruiting abilities. I guess other schools think he’s a good assistant. It’s not as if we’ve had dominating D lines all these years and had a slew of DT’s as first round picks. To his credit, Sullivan was a terrific DT. But few others come to mind. I don’t believe he recruited Seymour and Stround – though I’m sure somebody will look it up and let me know soon enough.

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  7. The 05 Class Was A Disaster. The 06 class had to include JC players to offset that. With the 06 players that left early & the JC group using up their eligibility the 06 class failed the Dawgs also. The Dawgs have had very little in the way of experienced players & Senior Leadership to help the younger players the last 2 or 3 years. This also showed up On & Off the field & in the number of wins. NOW they are FInally over those humps, including Martinez as DC, & It Is now ‘Now Or Never Time”. No reasons, No excuses; Just let the Big Dawg Eat. GATA.

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    • Ms. Emily Litella

      I don’t want to beat it to death but I have been saying for at least 2 years that the most successful seasons that CMR had were with Donnan’s players, ’07 being the exception. CMR is a great Xs and Os guy–recruiting –not so much, at least until the Dream Team. Maybe he got a fire lit under him after last season.

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      • Dawgfan Will

        It might be true that Richt had his most successful seasons with Donnan’s players, but if DJ had not gotten injured against Arkansas in ’05, the sky was the limit that year. And that was all Richt’s guys.

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        • Ms. Emily Litella

          That was the red-shirt senior class from Donnan’s last year. Donnan got fired after the 2000 season but the commits he had formed the core of the signees for the upcoming recruiting class. Some may say that those players belonged to CMR but it was Donnan and his staff that recruited them.

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          • JRDP

            I’ve seen this argument before but it was just as off the mark then. By my recollection we had exactly one RS senior on the 2005 team – Will Thompson. Perhaps you can remind me of another. And Will is right – if DJ doesn’t get hurt against Arky that season we’re undefeated and playing for BCS championship.

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  8. Normaltown Mike

    I worry that the decline in talent is more fundamental than just Willie. CMR and/or Garner seemed to have moved to an “offer early and rest on our laurels” approach to recruiting. This doesn’t make sense when you account for the slow physical development of HS football players.

    As has been said repeatedly, Rivals et al don’t no shit from shine-ola in analyzing players, they merely regurgitate based upon the quality of schools targeting a kid. It’s the tail wagging the dog. When Tom Dimitroff leaves the Falcons to be a talent evaluator for Rivals, I’ll put more credence in their evaluations.

    I believe CMR thought he could autopilot 10 win seasons at UGA once he get things rolling based on the FSU model. Well todays SEC aint 1990’s ACC ball. The people who are successful in our conference now are relentless (Saban, Urban, Mullen) dirty (Chizik), have made a pact with the Devil (Les Miles) or are in fact the Devil (Petrino). I’m hopeful the last few seasons have flipped the switch for CMR but I’m in a wait and see.

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    • Dawgfan Will

      I don’t know if it’s an “offer early and rest on our laurels” approach or more of an “offer early and stand by our offer regardless of player development because it would be unethical to revoke the offer” approach. I guess it doesn’t really matter, since the effect is the same.

      I think you might be right about the autopilot thing. Hell, I thought we would never have a season like last year’s under Richt, even though history shows that ALL coaches who stay at the same place long enough have their down years. If it took a 6-7 season to shake the man up and get us back on the right track, I’m fine with it, as long as we GET BACK ON the right track.

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    • W Cobb Dawg

      I’ll give CMR a little slack here. UGA’s higher standards cost him a lot of signees. These days, the compliance officers have to give the okay before we recruit a kid. On the flip side, considering our attrition I’m more pissed about not signing the full limit of players. I think that’s what has really hurt us. 8 walk-ons getting schollys!? – that’s a recipe for trouble.

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