Category Archives: Recruiting

Toneil Carter, turning point?

Someone asked me in the comments the other day why I haven’t added an entry for the “Georgia Way”.  Honestly, it’s been a struggle to come up with something succinct.  On the one hand, there’s the part that easy to mock, which is the way Butts-Mehre has gone about its business for decades.

On the other, there’s the romantic part, the part where we like to believe in a football program that tries to adhere to a higher standard in how it operates.  That was part of Mark Richt’s appeal to the fan base.  The problem for Richt came when it was perceived that the Georgia Way interfered with winning SEC titles.

Richt is gone and Kirby Smart, fresh off nine years’ worth of being immersed in the Process, is the man now.  And judging from the way the Toneil Carter de-commitment went down, this isn’t your father’s Georgia Way any more.

It’s nothing different from what Nick Saban, Jim Harbaugh, Les Miles and countless other college coaches have done in previous years. Georgia used to not be one of those programs as it preached about doing things the “Georgia Way.”

The “Georgia Way” doesn’t seem so unique anymore. And hey, who’s to blame Smart and this coaching staff for adhering to this kind of recruiting philosophy? It has worked at Alabama, and Alabama has won four national championships since 2007.

But depending who you are as a fan, it could bring up either two feelings: You might be happy Smart and this coaching staff caught Georgia up with the ways a lot of the other major institutions handle recruiting. Or you’re lamenting the fact Georgia is no longer holding itself to the standard it used to.

All well and good, I suppose, with one caveat:  you’d better win and win big.  Otherwise you’re nothing more than a pale imitation of the original and that’s not what they’re paying you the big bucks to be.

I haven’t even gotten to the cringeworthy part of the Carter story.  It’s Sabanesque:

The Carter family is somewhat understanding of all this. They certainly landed on their feet. Toneil Carter, the all-time leading rusher and scorer in Langham Creek (Houston, Texas) High history, accepted a scholarship offer from the University of Texas later in the day Monday. He also was holding immediate offers from Baylor and Florida State after Georgia bailed.

But Byron Carter made it clear his brother still wanted to come to UGA. And they’re not happy with the way Kirby Smart handled the whole situation.

“We understand that Nick and Sony wanted to come back and play their senior season for whatever reason; we’re not mad at them,” Byron Carter said. “We told them Toneil was willing to come there and just be there as a midyear and learn their style and learn their playbook and everything. He wasn’t even concerned about starting anymore. But these guys were like, ‘we don’t have the numbers for him to come in anymore.’ So that is what it is at the end of the day. That’s it. We were done with Georgia.”

What irked the Carters was that they didn’t get to hear directly from Smart. After all, Smart had just flown to Houston earlier this month to meet with them after Texas came back into the picture. They re-pledged their loyalty to the Bulldogs and thought that was that.

Then, when Georgia decided to withdraw its offer, they had to hear it from McGee, who told them they would not be hearing from Smart.

“That was kind of a slap in the face,” Byron Carter said. “(Smart) could at least have come to me to tell me those last final words. First of all you’re going to tell me we ain’t got a spot, then I’m not going to hear from Smart? That’s not cool. That kind of ticked me off because, honestly, he was one of the big reasons we decided to come to UGA. He was a big factor in that decision. For us to not hear from him is discouraging.”

Thanks, Dell McGee.  Now we know when Kirby Smart doesn’t have time for that shit.

In one sense, this is water under the bridge already.  Georgia’s made its bed with a more ruthless approach to program building, and we all know what happens with some eggs when you make an omelet. (Good morning, mixed metaphors!)  Luckily for Carter, he’s a talented enough egg to land on his feet in one piece.  So at least there’s that.

To a certain extent, I can excuse a misstep like this — and don’t kid yourself, this is a screw-up that they’ll try to put in the rear view mirror as fast as they can — because it’s the kind of thing that happens to a guy who’s having a more successful early run rebuilding the roster than he imagined he would just a week or two ago.  A more experienced head coach would likely have handled this differently.  (Boy, am I looking forward to the day when I can quit typing that.)  In any event, Georgia is where it is now and will have to live with it.

From here, it’s something of a race to see if the staff can continue to build momentum with the incoming 2017 class sufficiently to erase the bad taste in our mouths over how this went down.  My guess is that’s what happens.  February can’t get here soon enough for Kirby Smart.

As far as the Georgia Way goes, though, the next time folks like McGarity and Morehead wax poetic about what makes the school’s athletics special, it won’t be about doing things in a more elevated way than their peers.  Those days are gone.  As Carter’s brother puts it,

“At the end of the day all I can do is respect it,” he said. “It’s a business and you have to run your business the way you see fit.”

The Georgia Way is dead.  Long live the Georgia Way.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting

That roster management stuff’s a beyotch, mane.

This is what comes of two star junior running backs sticking around:

The elation that resulted from Georgia’s top two running backs deciding to return for their senior seasons was tempered a bit on Monday when running back commitment Toneil Carter announced he was decommitting from the Bulldogs.

The reason, he said in a message he posted to his Twitter account, is that Georgia would not have room for him to be able to enroll next month as he had planned after Nick Chubb and Sony Michel decided to return in 2017.

The four-star recruit from Houston, Texas wrote that “for the past week I’ve been in contact with the Georgia coaches (and) due to the two seniors staying something came up with the early enrollment process…So at this moment I would like to thank the Georgia Coaches and the entire Georgia program. I will be decommitting from the University. I want to thank each and every Georgia fan. I love you guys. This was totally out of my control.”

What’s a little embarrassing about this is that not even two weeks ago, Smart and staff headed off Tom Herman at the pass by getting Carter to confirm his commitment to Georgia.  Now, things have cooled.

The interesting part is the “something came up with the early enrollment process” bit.  If Georgia didn’t want him enrolling early, what does that say about the way numbers are building up for this next class?

Let’s hope this isn’t the recruiting version of clock mismanagement.

**************************************************************************

UPDATE:  Well, now.

Carter announced his decommitment from Georgia on Monday after showing full dedication to the program since his decision was made on July 10. While he still has plenty of desire to play at Georgia, that’s no longer possible.

Even after signing financial-aid agreements, Carter’s offer was essentially pulled by the University of Georgia, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. While Carter was told this over the weekend, he was not previously aware the coaching staff wouldn’t want him as a part of the class of 2017 if Chubb and Michel both returned for their senior seasons.  [Emphasis added.]

Carter originally planned to enroll at Georgia immediately after playing in the Under Armour All-American Game in Orlando on Jan. 1. This was finalized when Georgia head coach Kirby Smart and running backs coach Dell McGee visited Langham Creek during the recruiting period. Carter’s head coach at Langham Creek High School, Todd Thompson, reiterated that the decision was no longer in his former player’s plans.

“This was not Toneil’s decision, I just want people to know that,” Thompson said. “Toneil graduated on Friday and we found out about this news on Saturday.”

Throwing a perfectly good four-star back in the water?  Man, this 2017 class had better turn out to be something else.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting

Fixin’ to fix what’s broke?

For those of us who have complained for years about the neglect at offensive line recruiting, this is chicken soup for our souls:

When the entire class of O-line commitments is measured as a whole, it is clear that the program has never recruited this week in the modern era. At least as long as the recruiting rankings have been around. Let’s go back to 2000 and add up the total number of offensive line recruits in each Georgia class which were rated among the nation’s Top 16 players at their respective positions.

  • 2002: 0
  • 2003: 1
  • 2004: 2
  • 2005: 1
  • 2006: 2
  • 2007: 5 (Included a trio of 3-star junior college prospects)
  • 2008: 2
  • 2009: 2
  • 2010: 2
  • 2011: 1
  • 2012: 2
  • 2013: 1
  • 2014: 1
  • 2015: 0
  • 2016: 1
  • 2017: 5 (All rated with at least 4 stars)

I can go on for a few graphs to chronicle that UGA has never recruited offensive linemen as well as it has this year, but I think that just about covers it.

The only comparable year looks to be back in 2009. But that’s a year that was beefed up by a trio of junior college prospects. The junior college rankings pool is much smaller than the high school crop and each of those JUCO Bulldogs carried only a 3-star rating.

Hayes — the only JUCO option this year — is even rated as a 4-star recruit.

No, we don’t know if any of ’em will pan out, or even if they’ll all sign in February, but merely as an example of a change in focus, you have to be a little awed by what Pittman has accomplished in one year on the recruiting front.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting

Monday morning buffet

Get ‘yer feedbag on…

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Filed under Academics? Academics., ACC Football, General Idiocy, Georgia Football, Look For The Union Label, Recruiting, Stats Geek!, The NCAA

You gotta start somewhere.

All the usual caveats (it’s only one year, it’s not signing day yet, you still have to coach ’em up, etc.) apply, but, still, this is damned impressive to consider:

In particular, so is this.

Size on the o-line is what Kirby and Pittman wanted coming in and size on the o-line is what they’re getting.  Say what you will, but it’s been a long time since we’ve seen Georgia devote this kind of attention to recruiting offensive linemen.  Sure hope it pays off.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting

Two words… just two simple words

Forget the ups and down of the 2016 season for a minute.  Kirby Smart is about to take his first real test on upgrading the Georgia program.

It’s that time of year, with attrition beginning and some recruits beginning to sign, that these two words begin to take center stage: Roster management.

There are always two key numbers to remember, one of them hard, one soft:

The hard number: 85. That’s the NCAA limit on football players who a school can have on scholarship.

The soft number: 25. That’s the SEC signing limit per year, but it doesn’t mean a team is strictly limited to 25. Because the SEC rules allow teams to “back-count” early enrollees – if there’s room the previous year – you can go well over 25 players in one signing class. But that’s only if you under-signed in previous years and have early enrollees. Still confused? OK, think of it this way: You can sign no more than 125 players over a five-year period, and depending on the early enrollee situation, there is a limit each year, which won’t be much over 25. Still confused? That’s OK.

So where does Georgia stand?

… So as of this hour, and with the best information at our disposal, the count is Georgia being committed to 66 scholarships for returning players next year: 19 current freshmen, 5  redshirt freshmen, 19 sophomores, 3 redshirt sophomores and 20 juniors, redshirt or no. (Feel free to go through the roster yourself and check my math. I didn’t count Wilson, or Joseph Ledbetter for that matter. I also didn’t count certain walk-ons who haved play a lot, such as Blankenship, Trent Frix and Christian Payne. I did count Aaron Davis, who’s basically a starter, as well as J.R. Reed, the transfer from Tulsa who sat out this year.)

You’ll notice that 66 + 19 (the current commitments) = 85. So if Georgia wants to sign more than that, assuming the math is correct, there will have to be further attrition. And again, that’s likely to happen.

Roster management.  It was Mark Richt’s Achilles heel, the biggest shortcoming of the second half of his Georgia career.  And the consequences from it have had a ripple effect all the way into Smart’s first season, as Emerson describes.

For the first time in awhile, the 85 scholarship limit is worth watching at Georgia. It’s not been a problem in past years because of the massive attrition the program experienced from 2010-13, and the program not signing huge classes to make up for it. But when Jeremy Pruitt arrived a few years ago, teaming up with Mike Bobo and the rest of the staff, they helped prod Richt towards more robust recruiting classes, and that, combined with Smart and his staff’s push, means Georgia finally has that roster management problem that most good programs have.

In other words, Kirby’s had to play the hand he was dealt to some extent, but he’s starting to draw new cards to replenish his hand.  Can he do the things he needs to do to smooth out the ebb and flow of class numbers from year to year that marked the period from 2010 to 2015?  Well, that’s certainly something he should have a good handle on after sitting at the feet of the guru of roster management for almost a decade.

Fixing that problem for good may not cure all of Georgia football’s ills by itself, but if nothing else, at least it won’t be contributing to them anymore.  And that would be a terrific place from which to build.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting

Making recruiting services great again

Scout Media files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, thereby proving a limit exists on how much milking fans’ interest in teenagers’ decision-making process pays.

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Filed under Recruiting