I’d be the first to agree that recruiting matters and that it matters a lot and that people like Bradley and Schultz who lazily assert otherwise are idiotic for doing so (although Bradley seems to be backtracking from that already) and that, while the Boise States of the college football world can get away without having to sign elite five-star kids, it’s impossible to win in a conference as tough as the SEC without getting your fair share of those players and that it sucked seeing Tunsil getting pulled away at the last minute after Georgia’s staff lavished plenty of tender loving care to his recruitment over the past two years and that it was no surprise that losing your recruiting coordinator within a month or so of NSD can have a negative impact… but even with all that in mind, I’m having a hard time making the leap to Michael Carvell’s “brutal and humbling experience”.
For one thing, as somebody who has definitely been in the crowd of those who expressed something in the range of concern to alarm over Richt’s roster management during the past two or three seasons, it is a flat-out relief to see a large class with a ton of early enrollees that has very little in the way of reaches (twenty four-star kids by ESPN’s count). That should pay immediate dividends in shoring up defensive depth, particularly in the secondary and at linebacker (not to mention that Grantham sounds satisfied with the help he got for the defensive line), and in improving athleticism on the special teams. I’m having a hard time pouting about that.
And another thing about that class size – there’s a little more margin for error when it comes to evaluation. I’m not buying the “I’d rather have a bunch of three-star kids who want to be in Athens than the five-star prima donnas” stuff, because, let’s face it, the odds are better that you can turn a highly regarded high schooler into an above-average contributor on the college level than the rest of the pack, but the flip side of that coin is that there will always be plenty of four- and five-star kids who don’t pan out the way you hope/expect. If half of Georgia’s 2013 signees make a respectable impact over the next four or five years, we’ll be pretty happy. (And if a couple of those twenty four-star kids wind up playing on an elite level, we’ll be ecstatic.)
What the success of this year’s class boils down to – what the success of any recruiting class at Georgia boils down to – is context, that is, how does it fit into the way the coaches have molded the program and where they’re trying to take it. Brice Ramsey’s rawness means nothing right now, or even next season, but if he never develops the way Bobo thinks he can, then, yeah, it’s a big whiff. But you look to future classes for insurance against that costing your program overly much.
And that leads to the other big point to draw from this year’s class. Next year is a very different animal.
… With the early enrollees and today’s signees, Georgia currently has 87 scholarship football players. That includes some guys like Brandon Harton and Blake Sailors who may not have their one year grants renewed to get us down to the NCAA-mandated 85. But with only 14 seniors on the roster and almost zero candidates among the juniors to leave early, next year’s class may be the smallest of the Mark Richt era. If the guys in this class don’t pan out, we are in deep, deep trouble. Because it will be two years before we can start trying to make up for any mistakes.
I think that’s right. But I’m less concerned about a class of thirty-two completely imploding than I am about a class half that size doing so. Especially when this year’s bunch looks credibly deep. But none of that should mean Richt starts a trend of failing to get some of those five-star in state studs, either.
I can’t read the future. Neither can Michael Carvell, I suspect. But I do know better than to judge the impact of this week before those kids have even seen their first G-Day game. Those of you out there who have been hyperventilating about the crushing disappointment of this class ought to remember that, too.