Year in and year out, some of the nation's most talented athletes commit to play football for the University of Georgia. No signee over the past five years, however, has meant more to the Bulldogs program than Lorenzo Carter.
From an athletic standpoint, Carter is obviously an impressive specimen. At 6'5" and 232 pounds, Carter boasts all the strength and leverage one would expect, but he packages it with more speed and agility than any man his size should possess.
He is the definition of athleticism—a potent combination of power and grace. And according to the experts at 247Sports, he was the best recruit in the state of Georgia.
Yet even with a plethora of accolades, statistical achievements and eye-popping measurables, it is impossible to overstate Lorenzo Carter's importance to the Georgia Bulldogs.
Keeping the Best Players Home
Carter's signing with the Dawgs represents a win for the home team. That win over the past few years has become increasingly elusive for Mark Richt and his staff.
In 2010, the state's best player (according to 247Sports), Da'Rick Rogers, signed with the Tennessee Volunteers. In 2011, Georgia landed top recruit Isaiah Crowell, but his time in Athens was all too short. In 2012, the state's best player (Josh Harvey-Clemons) signed with the Bulldogs, but last year, Robert Nkemdiche broke through the border and signed with Ole Miss.
By garnering Lorenzo Carter's signature, Georgia once against established itself as the preeminent recruiter of the Peach State.
Dedication to the Defense
The amount of time and effort Georgia poured into Carter's recruitment is also indicative of the Bulldogs' dedication to improving upon lackluster defensive showings.
While Mike Bobo has successfully coordinated one of the most explosive offenses in the country for several years running, poor defensive performances have consistently hindered the team's potential. In 2012, a team stocked with NFL talent underperformed—particularly against the running game. Last year, a young defense struggled mightily against the pass.
Lorenzo Carter brings hope to a defense looking to make strides in all phases. While he may be best known as a pass-rusher, Carter managed to register 268 tackles over his final two seasons at Norcross High School. Obviously, those weren't all sacks; Carter is equally effective against the run.
As Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald reports, Carter is excited about helping the defense improve. According to Weiszer, Carter is looking forward to the opportunity and offered, "That defense is going to be nasty. I plan on being a big part of it."
Validation of Hires
Mark Richt demonstrated his commitment to improving the defense by hiring Jeremy Pruitt just two days after Todd Grantham left Georgia for Louisville. Without wasting time, Richt plucked Pruitt away from his position with the BCS National Champion Florida State Seminoles.
Several weeks later, Richt and Pruitt added Tracy Rocker, a well-traveled coaching veteran with NFL and college experience, as defensive line coach. Bulldogs fans' hope was that Pruitt and Rocker would be able to convince Carter that playing under their tutelage at the University of Georgia was his best option.
That plan came to fruition on Wednesday with Carter's signing, and while Pruitt and Rocker still have much left to prove on the field, their ability to cast a vision for a bright future at Georgia cannot be questioned.
A Rare Find
Last year's top commitment, Tray Matthews, was highly valued by the Bulldogs, and he performed well as a freshman. Unlike Carter, however, Matthews was not one of the state of Georgia's five best players.
Josh Harvey-Clemons was a stellar signee in his own right in 2012, but at that time, Harvey-Clemons was looking to join what was expected to be a dominant defense led by the likes of Jarvis Jones, Bacarri Rambo, Shawn Williams and Alec Ogletree. Lorenzo Carter is hoping to turn around a defensive unit.
Isaiah Crowell meant a lot to Georgia in 2011, but he joined a team completely devoid of identity following a losing season.
In 2010, Alec Ogletree was viewed as a 5-star prospect, but the Georgia coaching staff wasn't even sure where he'd fit on the field at the time of his signing. He started his career as a safety before moving to linebacker.
Lorenzo Carter is a tremendous athlete and an even better player. But his importance to the Bulldogs transcends the football field.
Georgia hasn't had a recruit like that in a long time.