The University of Georgia is now up to commitment No. 14 for the 2014 recruiting class. The 6'3" and 230-pound quarterback Faton Bauta made his commitment known to Mark Richt this weekend and it could position the Bulldogs to be set at quarterback for the next five seasons.
I released an article last week listing the top high school quarterbacks that have not yet made a commitment. I listed Bauta as the No. 3 available quarterback. In the article I mentioned his upcoming visit to Georgia and why it would be a great choice for him.
The scouting services have him as a 3-star quarterback and Rivals list him as the No. 10 dual-threat quarterback. So why is there so much fuss over a 3-star player?
Bauta is a 3-star prospect at almost any other school but Georgia. However, at Georgia he has 5-star potential. The only reason he is rated as a 3-star player is because of the uncertainty of the position he will play.
Bauta has the toughness and size of a linebacker, the speed of a running back and the arm strength of a quarterback.
Bauta has all the tools to be an All-American quarterback on the collegiate level. However, he needed to sign with a school that had the ability to turn him into a quarterback and he picked the perfect school.
Say what you will about Mark Richt, but there is not a better coach at grooming quarterbacks in the nation. He groomed two Heisman winners at Florida State. He turned David Greene into a quarterback who broke the NCAA career mark in wins. He turned Matthew Stafford into a No. 1 NFL draft pick—and that is not even mentioning D.J. Shockley and Aaron Murray.
Bauta is raw at quarterback and will need more snaps to learn the position, but he has both time and great resources.
Current Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray is just a sophomore and is unlikely to leave early for the NFL draft because he lacks ideal height. As a result, Bauta will redshirt next season if he remains at quarterback. Moreover, Christian Lemay will be gone by the 2015 season—he is that good.
I was a full-time scout when LeMay came out of high school and I rated him as the No. 1 quarterback in the nation. He did not play his senior season but threw for more than 3,000 yards and 44 touchdowns to only two interceptions his junior season.
As high of a ranking as I gave Murray in high school, LeMay’s future could even be brighter. LeMay’s eventual departure will allow Bauta to become the full-time starter with two seasons remaining but with three seasons of preparation.
As a result, Georgia now has a starting quarterback and solid backups until the start of the 2017 season.
With the quarterback situation settled for the near future, what about running back? The answer could be in Athens this week when high school recruit Todd Gurley will be in town for his second visit—this time unofficial. It has not yet been confirmed if his good friend Keith Marshall will be with him this time.
As you know, Georgia signed the No. 1 running back in the nation last season in Isaiah Crowell. Crowell has had a very good season on the field. He has rushed for 821 yards on a 170 carries and five touchdowns. However, to succeed in the SEC you need to have two solid running backs carrying the load.
This is where Marshall and Gurley come into play. While I am not convinced that it would be Gurley and not Marshall to redshirt, we will use him as the example. If Marshall comes in next season to help carry the rushing load, Gurley could redshirt. Crowell is likely to be gone after his junior season, which leaves Marshall and Gurley to become the starting running backs in 2014. If Marshall leaves after the 2014 season, this will give Gurley one or two seasons as the feature back.
This is a program that Alabama has been using successfully. We saw it with Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson and now Richardson and Eddie Lacy.
Keith Marshall is rated as the No.1 running back in the nation. However, Gurley has just as high of a ceiling and together they could become the best running back duo to ever come through Georgia.
The main reason for Georgia’s decline in 2009 and 2010 was because of the lack of a feature running back. Washaun Ealey and Caleb King did not have the wow factor needed in the SEC. They were solid but neither was great.
For the fans that stayed loyal during the last few seasons, your reward is on its way. Things have changed in Athens and I doubt there will be a return to the land of mediocrity anytime soon.