National Signing Day 2010 has had its share of surprises for the Georgia Bulldogs. Da'Rick Rogers, the longtime Georgia commitment, decided to sign with the division rival Tennessee Vols. His choice was not as much of a surprise as his timing in making that choice.
It was only two weeks ago that Rogers was proclaiming himself to be 100 percent Bulldog—guess there were a few too many zeros on that proclamation because, by last night, it was clear that he was not going to be in Athens.
He cited the NFL pedigree of the coaching staff—Charlie Baggett is the new receiving coach at Tennessee—as one of his reasons for making the switch.
His loss was monumentally disappointing for most Dawg fans, but it is not the end of the world for the Dawgs in terms of filling out a good class for 2010. For the most part, this was a class that focused on "need." We had several holes to fill in the defensive line and in the secondary—we did that.
We got a big boost from the start when Mike Thornton (DT) chose to sign with Georgia (see video of him making his choice, below) over Penn State. He was the guy the Dawgs most needed to get once it was clear that Jeff Whitaker was going to ink with Auburn.
Thornton could be the perfect fit at the nose tackle spot for Georgia next season as they transition into the 3-4 defensive scheme—he's 6'2", 280 lbs., and Coach Grantham said his game would be molded to function in a similar way to current Dallas Pro Bowler Jay Ratliff.
Other prospects flirted with the idea of coming to Georgia but, in the end, inked elsewhere.
Telvin Smith (LB) was reportedly wavering as early as 9:00 this morning but, two hours later, he renewed his commitment to the Florida State Seminoles. Kadron Boone (WR) was a possibility as well, but chose LSU, while Jordan Akins (WR) opted for UCF—his decision left many scratching their heads.
For the most part, though, there were few surprises for the Dawgs today, as the kids who didn't sign were, by and large, not expected to do so. Others, like Mike Thornton, were known to be leaning Georgia and signed just as many thought they would.
That said, what's the verdict for this year's class of 18 signees? I'd say that Georgia gets a B-. They filled their needs on the defensive line with some key talent in Mike Thornton (DT), TJ Stripling (DE who may move to LB in the 3-4), Garrison Smith (DT), and Jalen Fields (DE).
The team also addressed the departures of Reshad Jones, Bryan Evans, and Prince Miller by inking Jakar Hamilton (S), Alec Ogletree (S), and Marc Deas (DB). Hamilton is likely to start early for the Dawgs and will probably patrol the outfield with Bacarri Rambo next season—the secondary looks very promising.
Offensively is where the Dawgs stumbled. Once it was clear that Rogers was Tennessee bound, it became even more important to fill his spot with another receiving prospect. They were hoping to get Kadron Boone or Jordan Akins on board, but both opted for other schools—leaving the Dawgs with only one wide receiver for the 2010 signing class.
That said, the Dawgs are already putting in the man hours on some nice prospects at that spot for 2011 in both DaVaris Daniels (6'2", 180 lbs., 4.4 40) out of Illinois and Alex Chisum (6'2", 180 lbs., 4.6 40). There are also thought to have signed Lonnie Outlaw (6'6", 190 lbs.)—he's a two-sport athlete who will need go the JUCO route before coming to Georgia.
Lastly, there is still an outside chance that the Dawgs will be able to sway Christian Green (ATH/WR) their way. Reports out of Orlando have him signing with Florida State but, as recently as this morning, Green's father was quoted as saying that "anything can happen".
Green is expected to announce his decision at 3:30 pm.
If the class holds, the Georgia Bulldogs will field a top 15 recruiting class full of quality guys and, possibly, some future playmakers. That is pretty good for a team that has gone through a rough season and is breaking in a new defensive staff.
Additions on the offensive line and at running back round out the list for the Georgia Bulldogs. See a list of all the new signees below (table is courtesy of Rivals):
|SIGNED LETTER OF INTENT||Pos||Stars||Ht||Wt||40||RR||Hometown|
|Demetre Baker||LB||6-0||200||4.45||5.7||Orange Park, FL|
|Brent Benedict||OL||6-4||278||5.07||5.9||Jacksonville, FL|
|Michael Bennett||WR||6-3||186||4.55||5.7||Alpharetta, GA|
|Brandon Burrows||DE||6-3||240||4.7||5.7||Marietta, GA|
|Marc Deas||DB||6-0||185||-||5.6||Kissimmee, FL|
|Jalen Fields||DE||6-5||250||4.65||5.8||Dalton, GA|
|Kenarious Gates||OL||6-5||300||4.9||5.5||Greenville, GA|
|Jakar Hamilton||DB||6-2||196||4.4||6.0||Milledgeville, GA|
|Kolton Houston||OL||6-5||270||-||5.7||Buford, GA|
|Ken Malcome||RB||6-0||213||4.54||5.8||Decatur, GA|
|Hutson Mason||QB||6-2||190||4.89||5.6||Marietta, GA|
|Dexter Morant||DE||6-7||240||4.9||5.8||Manning, SC|
|Alec Ogletree||DB||6-3||210||4.55||6.0||Newnan, GA|
|Alexander Ogletree||RB||5-9||205||4.55||5.6||Newnan, GA|
|Lonnie Outlaw||WR||6-6||200||-||5.2||Rochelle, GA|
|Derek Owens||DB||5-11||180||4.45||5.7||Jacksonville, FL|
|Garrison Smith||DT||6-4||250||-||5.9||Atlanta, GA|
|T.J. Stripling||DE||6-6||215||4.64||6.0||Decatur, GA|
|Mike Thornton||DT||6-2||280||4.8||5.8||Stone Mountain, GA|
*Photo courtesy of Atlanta-Journal Constitution