I saw a few questions yesterday about how Georgia wound up signing more than 25 in the 2018 class. We don’t know for sure at this moment if there are any academic question marks in the bunch that would affect the final edition, so that may be one possibility. Another, and more likely, is back-counting. Seth Emerson explains.
Think of it this way: A program can sign 125 players over a five-year span. That’s a fairly hard number. But within those five years you can play with the numbers, mainly by back-counting early enrollees, so that in some years you can sign more than 25 players. (And as a result in future years, you will have to sign less than 25.)
What is back-counting? That’s the process by which an early enrollee counts toward the previous year, assuming there is room to do so. Justin Fields, for instance, can count toward Georgia’s 2017 class.
There’s some danger that my numbers are off here – journalism majors are not known for math – but follow me here: Georgia signed 21 players in 2016, which would leave four spots open, but six enrolled early. That potentially could leave room for 10 to back-count to 2016. Georgia then signed 26 last year, six of whom enrolled early. So if you back-counted those six, that left room to sign up to 31 players this year … at least under my interpretation of the rules.
One change: The NCAA tweaked the signing rules last year to limit programs to only five back-counters. But even assuming that, UGA still had room to go up to 30 this year, again, by my interpretation of the rules.
Bottom line: don’t sweat the 25-man limit.
The bigger issue is the overall 85-scholarship player ceiling, and there, Georgia is over. For now.
Here’s what I do know: A program can only have 85 players on scholarship at one time. That’s a hard number. And Georgia has been near the limit and will be again in 2018.
My numbers, after the early departures of Roquan Smith and Trenton Thompson, the transfer of Jacob Eason, and the medical disqualification for Rashad Roundtree, had Georgia at 63 scholarships. (Here’s my most recent look at Georgia’s scholarship numbers, back in December.)
So if Georgia signs 26 players, then that puts it four over the limit. But with plenty of time to reach 85. Georgia was just over the limit last spring too.
Can you say roster management? I thought you could. This is one area I can definitely say Kirby Smart is on the mother. Georgia will be fine when crunch time arrives.