Category Archives: Recruiting

“We don’t sign backups here at the University of Texas.”

Sure, Tom Herman signed the lowest-rated recruiting class at Texas ever, but at least there was science behind it.

However, it seems there was actually some strategy that went into Texas’ 2017 class. Herman said in a recent interview with Longhorn Network that he and his staff found research regarding first-year head coaches’ classes that prompted them to change their approach a bit. Below are some of Herman’s comments during the interview, which were transcribed via Football Scoop.

“We knew through all the metrics, all the analytics, all the numbers that point to most of the time in years of transition in coaching staffs, that signing class has the highest rate of attrition – meaning kids that quit – has the highest rate of off-field issues including academics, drugs and social, and has the highest rate of guys that can’t play, and don’t ever see the field.”

Whatevs, dude.  Just explain how proclaiming that you don’t sign backups — “None of these guys were signed for depth or anything other than we believe that they can either play now and help us win championships…” — turn right around to say that one of the main focuses of your 2017 signing class was to add guys who can provide depth, as opposed to ones who would see the field right away is anything other than a roundabout way of pretending you don’t really need those all-star recruits you were chasing and will continue to keep chasing.

Better stick the landing a helluva lot better with next year’s class.  At least that way you won’t have to spend as much time spinning to defend it.

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Filed under Blowing Smoke, Recruiting, Texas Is Just Better Than You Are.

When momma ain’t happy, you don’t sign.

When it comes to UGA, it turns out that Aubrey Solomon was negatively recruited… by his own mother.

She said a big reason why Georgia didn’t sign her son centered on coaching decisions and not anything specific in their recruiting relationship.

Caldwell said they were affected by the scholarship that was no longer there for 4-star Texas RB and longtime UGA commit Toneil Carter.

Adding to the confusion: SEC All-Freshman kicker Rodrigo Blankenship was not extended a scholarship offer despite what he did to win games for the Bulldogs last season.

She said that was not her family’s fight but that it was a factor into how they perceived UGA.

“We were concerned with the scholarship issues of those not either receiving (them) or getting it pulled and again (this was) not our fight but it played a factor,” she said.

Why did her son not take a last official visit to Georgia when he had one left? Why did Kirby Smart not get one last in-home visit?

Caldwell said that a final visit was planned. That’s when their family would’ve asked about the Blankenship and Carter situations. They wanted to find out those answers.

What happened there? Caldwell said the birth of her grandchild in late January was a factor. There were complications that extended that hospital stay there for her daughter. Her 5-star son also got to be an uncle. The Southwest Georgia storms were also cited as a factor.

She also had to get her hair done.

Ken Blankenship appreciates the solidarity.  He’ll probably bring that up the next times he fires off a screed to the media.

55 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting

What if the NCAA sees a drawn out investigation as a feature, not a bug?

A couple of posts at Red Cup Rebellion caught my eye this morning.

This one charts the hit Freeze took with this year’s recruiting class, while this one sounds a bit wistful about Ole Miss’ predicament.

Yea, the NCAA situation hurt Ole Miss this recruiting cycle. A couple of hours after piecing together the country’s No. 30 overall class on National Signing Day, Hugh Freeze himself referred to 2017 as “a penalty” and griped about other schools using the ongoing investigation for negative recruiting.

It was a decent class considering the limitations, but the reality is that the Rebels can’t have another like it and continue to compete with the top of the SEC (this year’s class ranked 12th in the conference). Ole Miss needs a bounce-back cycle in 2018.

Whether or not the NCAA will break camp by next Signing Day is anyone’s guess, though it’s hard to believe they can drag this thing out for another full year.

It’s the NCAA, sunshine.  I wouldn’t be too sure about anything, when it comes to the NCAA.

And that’s the thing.  We all know in an age of enormous conference television contracts, no program is ever going to get slammed with the death penalty again.  But slow playing an investigation so that a program’s recruiting suffers over a period of a few years while the sword of Damocles dangles overhead?  Yeah, I can see that.  If you think about it, that’s a pretty effective penalty in its own way.

The only thing I’m not sure of is if the NCAA is actually that clever.  If it is, though, that’s something an overly aggressive head coach might have to factor into his approach on the recruiting trail.  Assuming there’s a next time, of course.

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Filed under Recruiting, The NCAA

Second time’s the charm?

Andy Staples says it’s a coach’s second recruiting class that really sets the table.

“Somebody had told me when I got the job that your first full cycle will be your best class,” Smart said. Smart didn’t say who told him that, but his former boss Nick Saban might agree based on history. Saban’s 2001 class at LSU included a huge contingent of difference-makers (Joseph Addai, Rudy Niswanger, Andrew Whitworth, Marcus Spears, Michael Clayton, Marquise Hill, Travis Daniels, Ben Wilkerson) that would help LSU win the national title in 2003. Saban’s 2008 class at Alabama might have been even better. It included a group (Julio Jones, Barrett Jones, Courtney Upshaw, Mark Barron, Marcell Dareus, Mark Ingram, Damion Square, Dont’a Hightower, Terrence Cody, Robert Lester) that helped turn Alabama into the monster that continues to dominate the sport.

Urban Meyer, the other coach atop Smart in this year’s recruiting rankings, also has signed his most important classes to start year two. In 2006, Meyer stood behind a lectern in the south end zone at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and said this: “I’ve been fortunate to coach a bunch of guys who never had any stars by their names. I’ve got a bunch of championship rings upstairs because of those players.” But Meyer didn’t have any national championship rings at that point. He hadn’t had access to four- and five-stars at Bowling Green and Utah. The Florida job offered his first chance to recruit against the best, and Meyer proved dominant. His 2006 class in Gainesville included Tim Tebow, Percy Harvin, Brandon Spikes, Jermaine Cunningham, Riley Cooper, Brandon James and Marcus Gilbert. Some of those players—Harvin and Tebow, for example—helped put an already talented 2006 team over the top for a national title. The rest of that group formed the nucleus for the 2008 title. But like Saban, Meyer’s best second class came at his second national championship stop. His 2013 Ohio State class included Ezekiel Elliott, J.T. Barrett, Darron Lee, Eli Apple, Vonn Bell, Joey Bosa, Gareon Conley, Jalin Marshall, Billy Price and Tyquan Lewis. Some of those players played critical roles in the Buckeyes’ 2014 national title, while others emerged in the two seasons since.

Will that translate successfully to Athens?  No way of knowing, of course, but Smart gives every indication that a lot of careful thought and planning went into assembling the 2017 class — and maybe beyond.

… Smart, knowing he’d have better relationships and better evaluations for his second class, purposely did not sign a full class in 2016. “We had slots open and people wanting to take them, and we didn’t jump at anybody,” he said. “We didn’t reach for anybody. We kept those spots knowing that we could use them this year more judiciously.” That also allowed the Bulldogs to begin recruiting in earnest the players who signed Wednesday.

Either luck or careful selection—and probably a mixture of both—gave Georgia a relatively drama-free ’17 class. Twelve of Georgia’s new players never took an official visit anywhere else—and not because no one else was interested. “You don’t have that much anymore in college football,” Smart said. “Those kids were committed to Georgia and committed to each other.”

That should help Smart and the Bulldogs in the ’18 cycle. While other programs tied up loose ends on the ’17 class, Georgia had turned the page to the next class. Smart also had a chance to recruit some more critically important players for the ’17 season. The decisions of tailbacks Nick Chubb and Sony Michel and linebackers Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy to return for their senior seasons will make Georgia far deeper than originally expected. “It’s probably more important, I would think, to have them than the guys coming in,” Smart said. “They can impact the game more.”

One great class does not a championship make, of course.  But you’re not going to get started on the road to there without one, either.  As I’ve posted before, now comes the hard part.  We’ll see if the staff is up to it.

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UPDATE:  More second year stuff here.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting

Is that good?

Gridiron Now writer refers to Tennessee’s 2017 recruiting class as “a Derek Dooley-level recruiting class”.

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Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, Recruiting

One last recruiting post

I promised you one last Henry post about recruiting after signing day, and it’s time I delivered.

This one is a direct comparison of Richt’s recruiting rankings and Smart’s, both based on Scout’s numbers.

Here’s how they look:

Mark Richt Recruiting Classes

Year National

Rank

SEC

Rank

SEC East

Rank

Total

Signed

Top

100

Avg.

Stars

2002 9 2 2 29 4 3.24
2003 11 4 3 24 4 3.08
2004 6 2 1 19 5 3.32
2005 4 2 2 19 5 3.84
2006 4 2 2 27 7 3.63
2007 17 6 4 23 1 3.39
2008 5 2 1 23 4 3.70
2009 4 3 1 20 7 3.85
2010 21 7 3 19 4 3.47
2011 4 2 1 26 5 3.54
2012 14 6 3 19 5 3.68
2013 8 4 2 33 3 3.42
2014 12 7 3 20 3 3.70
2015 4 3 1 29 5 3.59

And…

Kirby Smart Recruiting Classes

Year National

Rank

SEC

Rank

SEC East

Rank

Total

Signed

Top

100

Avg.

Stars

2016 10 5 1 20 5 3.90
2017 2 2 1 26 7 3.96

There are a lot of interesting contrasts and comparisons to be made there, but the general impression is that, in his first two tries, Smart has indeed upped the ante on the quality of Georgia’s recruiting classes.  Smart’s gone back to back with the best classes in the division; Richt, to his credit, did that several times, but didn’t first pull that off until after his third season in Athens.

As far as star rankings go, Richt never achieved a class that averaged 3.9 or better.  His fourteen years listed there averaged 3.53 stars, which is certainly commendable, but a far cry from Smart’s 3.93.

Richt’s best class came in 2009.  It’s fair to argue it was better than Smart’s 2016 class.  The five stars from that season included Aaron Murray, Orson Charles, Marlon Brown and Branden Smith.  That class was the backbone of the team that brought the program back from the poor 2009 and 2010 seasons and came close to delivering an SEC title in 2012.

As the 2013 class reminds us constantly, it’s still a matter of keeping them enrolled and coaching them up along the way, but in terms of raw material, the numbers speak for themselves.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting

Things changed.

Tucked into this piece about how Alabama has had to adapt to stay atop the recruiting rankings is this little bit:

Going back to Georgia, in 2012 Alabama plucked Geno Smith, Dillon Lee, Brandon Greene, Kenyan Drake, Tomlinson, Dakota Ball, Kurt Freitag and Adam Griffith all out of the Peach State. It’s also where it found Chance Warmack in 2009, along with Adrian Hubbard, Brian Vogler, Blake Sims and Austin Shepherd a year later.

In 2016, the only addition was tight end Miller Forristall. This year, it’s safety Xavier McKinney.

Add to that this observation about how Georgia’s been an underachiever based on its recruiting rankings…

Georgia is a special case. While it consistently ranked high in recruiting and sent plenty of players to the NFL, it also consistently missed on many of the top players in its talent-rich home state under former coach Mark Richt. From 2012 to 2015, Richt only twice signed the top player in the state. One of those was Josh Harvey-Clemons, who was kicked out of school and transferred to Louisville.

“There are a lot of guys on the roster at Florida State, Ohio State and Alabama that are from Georgia that would have maybe made things a little bit different for Richt in his final few years,” Crabtree said.

That’s not the case in this class, however. Second-year coach Kirby Smart signed five of the top six players from his home state, including all three five-star recruits.

… and again, keeping in mind all the usual hedges (only one year, you gotta coach ’em up, etc.), you have to think Smart is at least laying the groundwork to take the program to a higher level.

Which is why I find Bill Connelly’s first 2017 projected S&P+ rankings of interest.  Georgia comes in at 20th, which seems realistic, but it’s Bill’s breakdown in three categories that is illuminating.

  • Recruiting impact:  6th
  • Returning production:  41st
  • Weighted five-year:  8th

One of those numbers is not like the others.  There’s a lot of potential there.  Can this staff unlock that?

 

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Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting