I’m more than happy to join the chorus of those unhappy with Georgia’s recruitment of offensive linemen. (Perhaps the money thrown at Rob Sale sent a message that he was needed on the recruiting trail stat.) And I’ve complained about Richt’s approach to roster management for years. But even with that in mind, I find this to be one deeply strange article about the current state of Georgia recruiting.
That’s what sets the state of Georgia apart from a place like Louisiana. Both are southern states with clear-cut college football powers, but the pull of LSU for the caliber of player Ohio State is looking for is so strong that recruiting Louisiana isn’t worth the risk for the Buckeyes.
Georgia is worth the risk because the players are willing to leave.
Numbers bear that out. But instead of digging into the whys and wherefores – transient population in the metro Atlanta area, sheer geographic size of the state, the number of D-1 kids the state’s high schools produce annually – the author is satisfied comparing Georgia to Louisiana and Ohio as evidence that Richt’s approach is flawed.
• Since 2005, Georgia has signed 35 percent (7-of-20) of in-state players rated five-star prospects by 247Sports. Meanwhile LSU has signed 67 percent (10-of-15), and Ohio State has signed 73 percent (8-of-11) of their in-state five-stars.
• Of the top 5 in-state players each year from 2006-2014, Georgia has signed just 21, while LSU has signed 35 and Ohio State has signed 31 out of their respective states.
• Georgia has signed the state’s No. 1 overall player just four times in the last decade.
“There are certain states that just by quality and quantity you go, the Texas, the Georgia, the Florida, the New Jersey, those are off the top of my head that we’re going to saturate a little bit, but then we go cherry pick the best players at certain positions, and Ohio State is a national brand,” Meyer said after beating Oregon in the National Championship.
Nice advertising. Clearly this is a member of the media who has no intention of sitting in Seat 37F.
The timing is strange in that Georgia is having a strong year in state right now on the recruiting front. The piece also ignores the success Georgia has had doing exactly what it touts Meyer for doing, cherry picking top players from other states. Not to mention that currently Georgia leads both LSU and Ohio State in whatever recruiting rankings you care to check out right now.
But that’s not the weirdest part of the article. This is:
Here’s a caption: “How can that happen?”
That was repeated several times by Creekside coach Olten Downs during an in-person interview with cleveland.com on Thursday….
“You see a guy like Vonn Bell making interceptions and you say, ‘How’d you let him leave the state?'” Downs said. “You see a guy like Raekwon McMillan starting as a freshman. You’re hurting for linebackers, but you let this guy leave? How can that happen? I don’t know. I think (Georgia) wants guys who love Georgia, and want to play for Georgia. That’s all fine and dandy but you still gotta make guys feel special and wanted.”
My first thought upon reading that was somebody’s butt hurts. And I’m not really sure why. Creekside is where the Berry clan hails from, so there’s little surprise that Tennessee’s made some inroads there. And that Georgia’s come up short in some battles. But the Dawgs have a current commitment from a Creekside kid, Jayson Stanley, so it’s hard to understand why Downs is complaining about benign neglect as a standard for Georgia’s recruiting approach. To criticize Georgia’s staff, especially the guys who’ve been recruiting Georgia’s 2015 class, for lack of effort seems like a bit of an overstatement.
It sounds like Richt needs to go have a heart-to-heart chat with somebody. Because you can bet Corch will be waving this story around for a while.
UPDATE: One more thing to put in perspective about this…
Corch has to cherry pick out of state because there simply isn’t enough local talent. Not just to go around, but even for Ohio State’s selfish needs. He doesn’t have the wealth of choice available to Richt. And that’s not changing any time soon.