Patrick Garbin takes a look back at Georgia’s recruiting under Richt and Smart. He breaks their work into five separate parts.
Period 1) In 2002, Georgia’s class ranked No. 3 in the country, but dropped each ensuing year, closing at No. 10 in 2005.
Period 2) The Bulldogs rebounded in 2006 with a team recruiting ranking of No. 4, and averaged over the four-year period a ranking of No. 6½.
Period 3) Over the last two decades, the low point in Georgia recruiting as the Bulldogs finished No. 12 or lower in three of four years from 2010-2013.
Period 4) A resurgence, of sorts, in recruiting as Georgia ranked No. 7, No. 6, and No. 9, respectively, from 2014-2016.
And Period 5) The last three years, with unprecedented success in recruiting at Georgia, finishing ranked No. 3 in 2017 and No. 1 in both 2018 and 2019.
That explains some of the way Richt’s career developed over time (and, to some extent, also contributes to Kirby’s first season). That’s interesting, but it’s what he notes about the offensive line recruiting that really made me think.
Yet, what probably struck me the most while compiling the data emerged prior to when it was assembled into separate time periods—consistency or lack thereof—but when displayed on an annual basis. For example, whereas Georgia averaged 4.3 offensive line signees per year from 2002-2005, or what is about average for the program during the entire 18-year stretch, 13 of those were signed in 2002 and 2003, but only four offensive linemen were signed in 2004 and 2005 combined…
● For each of the first four periods, the average rating of Georgia’s offensive line signees was never higher than 5.75, and as low as 5.69 (twice), or a high-three star. Yet, the average rating of the position group for the latest period was a lofty 5.89, or a mid-four star.
● Finally, when looking at both tables simultaneously, a number of conclusions can be made. For me, one thing seems clear: For a period of seven years from 2010-2016, Georgia lacked in its recruitment of offensive linemen—regarding both the number signed at the position and their average ratings. However, since then, the Bulldogs have undoubtedly made it a priority to sign an ample number along their offensive front—and, overall, sign high-quality upper-tier offensive linemen at that.
It’s been a fairly common criticism to accuse Richt of benign neglect at the position, but the truth is that Georgia really was never that good at evaluating and attracting top talent at the position. As you can see from Patrick’s work, there was a time when Georgia was bringing in sufficient raw numbers. It never amounted to much, though.
Richt’s first mistake was giving Neal Callaway carte blanche and the results were pretty disastrous. But none of Callaway’s successors really distinguished themselves, either. Pittman represents the greatest position coach upgrade at Georgia that I can recall.