National Signing Day 2011: Ray Drew and the Rest of the Georgia Recruiting Class
Many Georgia Bulldog fans were perplexed when head coach Mark Richt was retained for the 2011 season. Since arriving from Florida State in 2001, where he was the Quarterbacks coach and Offensive Coordinator, Richt has compiled a 96-34 record with a 53-27 mark in SEC play, two conference championships, a 7-3 bowl record, and six 10+ win seasons.
But in the past four years, Georgia has declined from 11-2 to 10-3, 8-5, and last year, 6-7. Dissent among boosters and impatience among fans has placed Mark Richt squarely on the hot seat heading into the 2011 season.
With a top defense and stud redshirt sophomore Aaron Murray at Quarterback (209/342, 61.1%, 3,049 Yds, 24 TD, 8 INT in 2010), Georgia could be a serious contender for the next couple of seasons.
Time will tell if Richt can turn things around and save his job at Georgia. He has gotten off to a fast start this offseason, however, hauling in what looks like a Top 10 recruiting class (Scout:8, Rivals: 7, ESPN:9) led by 5-star defensive-end Ray Drew out of Thomasville, Georgia.
See where the Top 100 recruits are headed.
Ray Drew, DE/OLB
By all accounts, Ray Drew is a game changing pass rusher. The 6-5, 248 product out of Thomasville, GA is explosive, and shows tremendous pursuit of the Quarterback. He has outrageous projectable size, and should easily be able to add at least 30 pounds to his frame. Did I mention that he runs a 4.7 40-yard dash? This kid could be a monster.
It remains to be seen where Drew will line up on the field. The Georgia Bulldogs employ a 3-4 scheme on the defensive side of the ball. The main knocks against Drew's abilities come in the running game. At times, he can be considered too passive against the run, unwilling to use his eIite strength to fight into the backfield and blow-up plays.
In a couple of years, after he adds some weight, Ray Drew may look like a young version of Richard Seymour. Right now, he may be best suited as an outside linebacker/pass rusher much in the way Clay Matthews is used by the Green Bay Packers.
Whatever Defensive Coordinator Todd Grantham decides, Ray Drew is sure to make an impact during his time in Athens.
Isaiah Crowell, RB
Scout.com has RB Isaiah Crowell out of Carver High School as the #1 Running Back Recruit in the country with good reason: he has great balance, incredible change of direction, and soft hands to make him a threat in the passing game.
At 5-11, 210 pounds, Crowell possesses the body type to be an every down runner at the college level, but due to talent on his team, was never forced to carry the load while in high school.
At the very least, Crowell should take carries away from rising Junior Washaun Ealey during his freshman campaign, and has enough talent to overtake the starting position by the end of the season.
With the loss of Wide Receiver AJ Green, Aaron Murray and the Georgia offense will be looking to run the ball and rely on the short passing game to their tight ends and running backs.
In order to have success, they'll need Isaiah Crowell to be a versatile piece for them.
Jay Rome, TE
With the loss of top receiver AJ Green to the NFL draft, critics have wondered whether Quarterback Aaron Murray is destined to struggle, sophomore-slump style.
With the expected improvement of last year's big Tight End recruit Orson Charles, and the addition of ESPN's #1 Tight End Jay Rome (6-5, 255, 4.6 speed), the Bulldogs could make nightmare matchups and run a ball-control offense much like the New England Patriots did this past season with their Tight Ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski.
The biggest knock against Jay Rome is strength, which is something that is sure to improve once Georgia can get him in their weight training program.
Rome is an exceptional student, and an enormous athlete who, due to his size and speed, is very dangerous in the open field. If his run blocking improves over time, Jay Rome may turn out to be a more complete prospect than Orson Charles.
Malcolm Mitchell, WR/CB
Malcolm Mitchell is a play-maker. He possesses Blue-Chip speed and has the ability to play on either side of the ball.
Many scouts feel that with his ability to burst off the line of scrimmage, run smooth routes, and catch tough passes with his long-arms, Mitchell is better suited to playing Wide Receiver at the next level.
At 6-1, 190, Mitchell is still very thin, and weak. He has difficulty jamming opposing receivers at the line of scrimmage, and he isn't a particularly big hitter.
Whether he ends up on offense or defense, Mitchell is sure to see time returning both kicks and punts; a skill that may take him to the NFL, like Devin Hester, regardless of his offensive or defensive productivity.
Christian LeMay, QB
Had he not been suspended for his entire senior season due to an undisclosed violation of school rules, Christian LeMay would likely be a five star Quarterback across every scouting service.
LeMay has fantastic arm strength, great accuracy, very good speed (4.6), and is apparently a poised and effective signal caller. He led David W Butler High School to a North Carolina State Championship as a Junior.
LeMay doesn't have the best mechanics, and he will definitely have to add muscle in order to stay durable at the college level. He should redshirt during his first season on campus, and will likely sit behind Aaron Murray for another season before finally getting a shot as a red-shirt sophomore.
This should give LeMay the necessary time to bulk-up and improve some mechanical flaws in his delivery. With time, LeMay will likely be very successful.
He has all the tools an elite college Quarterback should possess.
Damian Swann, ATH
Damian Swann may not be particularly big, but he moves around the field as gracefully as his namesake would suggest.
The Quarterback/Free Safety/Wide Receiver out of Grady High School in Atlanta, GA is tall, lean, and possesses tremendous quickness. Though his straight line speed isn't exceptional (4.5), Swann is known for his closing speed, agility, and tackling fundamentals.
Combined with great instincts, and the ability to change his direction on a dime, Swann should make for a great cover corner at the collegiate level.
He has the height to stay with the taller receivers, but will need to get a bit stronger/bulkier, in order to handle the physicality of some of the SEC's elite pass catchers.
Like Malcolm Mitchell, Swann could fine a find a home on offense or defense and likely make an immediate impact. Another true playmaker in Georgia's class.
Chris Conley, WR
Watch the video and let what you just saw sink in.
Now watch it again.
Chris Conley is 6'3, 180 and he has his sights set on becoming the next AJ Green. He has great size, better hands, and great speed; more than capable of getting behind SEC safeties, some of the fastest players in all of college football.
Conley doesn't possess an exceptional ability to make tacklers miss, but he is still a very athletic prospect. What more could a coach look for in a receiver than for a guy to get downfield, make the catches he's supposed to, and be able to get the ball out of the air against whatever defensive back he's competing with?
Watch that video again. You don't think Conley will be catching every jump ball?
Conley may strive to be AJ Green, but this Dallas product conjures up images of Larry Fitzgerald. After losing their top 2 receivers after 2010, Georgia is looking for players who can provide Aaron Murray with consistent production.
Chris Conley could be a frosh sleeper.
Chris Mayes, DT/DE
Chris Mayes is one of the more intriguing prospects in the 2011 class. He is an enormous kid at 6-5, 295, but is very raw after playing only one year of high school football.
According to scouts, right now, Mayes just plays. It isn't necessarily a bad thing, since he is clearly talented. But Mayes has a lot to learn if he wants to become the next Jason Sehorn, and turn one year of high school football into a professional career in the sport.
Mayes possesses great size and athleticism, but he could use at least his red shirt season, and maybe longer, learning the proper techniques of a defensive lineman.
It remains to be seen whether he'll be kept at Nose Tackle and forced to bulk up further, or moved outside to Defensive End where he could become a nightmare size matchup no matter who he faces off against.
Keep Mayes' name on the backburner for 2011, and monitor coaches comments to find out how quickly he's improving.
Mayes has a ton of upside. We'll see what the Georgia staff can do.
Amarlo Herrera, ILB
Amarlo Herrera had offers from every single SEC school. The 6-2, 215 pound linebacker out of College Park, GA has the prototype linebacker body, and the signature linebacker mean streak.
He is a great at blitzing on pass plays, and is a tremendous, hard hitting run stopper. Herrera's main weakness is cited as his ability to cover running backs in the passing game, where he is susceptible to getting burned.
Amarlo Herrera is a player with great instincts, and the true look of a inside linebacker in a 3-4 front. If he's able to add some weight, Herrera could have a chance to make an impact as a freshman.
Herrera should quietly anchor the middle of the Bulldogs defense for the next few seasons. He reminds me a lot of David Harris, the New York Jets middle linebacker and team-voted Most Valuable Player.
Corey Moore, Safety
Corey Moore is a top 5 safety recruit out of Griffin High School in Griffin, GA.
He stands 6'1", 195, and possesses 4.45 speed in the 40-yard dash. While unspectacular in any one area, Moore has incredible instincts, and very good closing speed.
While his coverage in man to man can be soft at times, Corey is more than capable of playing a Zone Coverage, and he is a very tough hitter.
Corey Moore may be unspectacular at any one thing, but he is a very good all-around safety. Moore, Ray Drew, and Amarlo Herrera should be nice pieces to build around in the coming seasons.
Mark Richt's haul may go a long way towards him keeping his job. Right now, however, he needs to have success on the field.
Georgia was the most profitable SEC football program in 2010, despite their losing record of 6-7. Richt has all the talent in place, an easy schedule that includes their tougher opponents at home and avoids both LSU and Alabama, great facilities, and the surprising support of his own athletic department.
This needs to translate to wins.
Ray Drew is probably going to be a great player. The question remains whether Mark Richt will be around to see him mature.
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