Georgia’s commitment spree last week did more than just add to the Bulldogs' already-loaded 2015 class.
By landing homegrown standouts in 5-star defensive tackle Trent Thompson, 4-star receiver Jayson Stanley and 4-star defensive end Jonathan Ledbetter in a five-day span, Mark Richt struck a blow against rivals aiming to poach top talent from the Peach State.
With 10 of the ‘Dawgs 20 commitments being in-state products—including five of the state’s Top 15 players—the movement to keep top prospects in-state is starting to gain traction among the elite talents in the state of Georgia.
Last week’s additions are a prime example as Thompson, Stanley and Ledbetter are all ranked in 247Sports' national Top 247.
One of the biggest reasons for the ‘Dawgs resurgence in their home turf is the new coaches Richt added to his staff in the offseason.
Octavia Jones, who coaches Thompson at Albany’s Westover High School, said new defensive assistants Jeremy Pruitt and Tracy Rocker made a strong first impression on him. In particular, Pruitt—who began his coaching career at Hoover (Ala.) High School—used his background in the high school ranks to click with coaches across the state.
“When I first met them (new defensive coaches), we had some brief conversations about keeping the talent in-state,” Jones said. “They wanted him (Thompson) to come there and help build something special with the other in-state guys they are recruiting.”
The Bulldogs staff has been as aggressive as they have been creative.
For example, as Michael Carvell of the AJC described, Thompson was one of a handful of in-state recruits to receive special hand-drawn portraits of themselves with jerseys bearing half of their high school uniforms on one side and the other half bearing the Bulldogs' game-day threads.
Their pitch has even become a hit on social media, with assistants such as ace recruiter and running backs coach Bryan McClendon leading the charge and making hashtags such as #CommitToTheG and #fam15.
|Notable Schools Who Have Signed Players from Georgia Since 2011|
|School||GA Recruits Signed from 2011-2014||GA Recruits Committed in 2015|
|247Sports, B/R research|
According to Jones, part of the allure of staying home for Thompson was to continue the relationships he had built with fellow in-state stars and Georgia commits such as Natrez Patrick and Chauncey Rivers. In joining forces and heading to Athens, the group’s motivation is simple: help Georgia get over the hump in the SEC and bring home the school’s first national title since 1980.
In past years, schools such as Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, South Carolina and Tennessee have made a habit of coming into the state and swiping stud recruits.
With Richt adding assistants such as Pruitt and Rocker who are proven recruiters with championship pedigree, he’s already taken the first step toward preventing key in-state targets from leaving the state.
“I think he’s (Richt) got the key ingredients to win a championship because he’s built a championship staff,” Jones said. “That starts with bringing in great recruiters. That’s what these guys have done by focusing on bringing in the top guys in-state.”
Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand and all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.