November 23, 2011

UGA's offensive needs

During the first decade plus of Mark Richt’s tenure, recruiting has mainly gone one way.

The Georgia coaching staff has made a habit of locking up the majority, if not all, of their class before New Years Day, causing National Signing Day to be minimally eventful.

In 2011, the year of the “Dream Team,” it was much different. Georgia received commitments from its most highly touted targets in the six weeks leading up to signing day.

Xzavier Ward, Jay Rome, Malcolm Mitchell, and Isaiah Crowell were all big time offensive targets who made a pledge to be a Bulldog between January 1 and signing day.

One could make an almost unbeatable argument that the “Dream Team” would have been a proverbial nightmare without these four prospects.

2012 is shaping up to be a very similar class with some of Georgia’s biggest offensive targets still uncommitted.

Offensive Needs

Georgia’s biggest needs on offense are running back and offensive line.

The Bulldogs currently have commitments from three offensive linemen in John Theus (Jacksonville, FL), Greg Pyke (Baltimore, MD), and Chester Brown (Hinesville, GA).

With two prospects committed at offensive guard, Theus is the only offensive tackle to pledge for the Bulldogs in 2012.

The top offensive line target on Georgia’s board right now is Avery Young of Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Young is a big time talent on the offensive line and has the raw tools to be an All-American offensive lineman at the next level. Georgia is recruiting him very hard, as is Alabama, Auburn, and Florida. Young will take his official visit to Georgia on December 9 for the year end Football Gala.

Many thing Florida leads at this point, but Young has listed Auburn, Alabama, and Georgia as his top three and has yet to visit Florida despite the fact that they are the closest school to him.

Many expect Georgia to be in the market for another offensive tackle, but a clear target is not evident at this time. UGA recently offered JUCO tackle Donald Hawkins of Northwest Mississippi Community College, but the Bulldogs are currently fighting for an official visit.

Conventional wisdom suggests that the Bulldogs will be sending out a few more offers between now and January 1, but it is not clear whom those offers will be extended.

Georgia has no commitments at running back for 2012, but they are hoping that will change very soon.

Millbrook, NC speedster Keith Marshall is the top running back on UGA’s board, and, as an early enrollee, he has recently set his decision date for December 6. Marshall is one of the fastest players in the country and has elite vision and elusiveness. Notre Dame, Florida, Clemson, and South Carolina are also in consideration for Marshall’s signature. Georgia has been and still is considered to be the clear leader for Marshall’s signature.

Todd Gurley is Georgia’s other top target at running back and he was in attendance as the Bulldogs clinched the SEC Eastern Division Championship against Kentucky. Marshall is a life long North Carolina fan, but the uncertain coaching situation has given Georgia a chance to get Gurley’s attention. The Bulldog coaching staff has done just that. North Carolina, Clemson, North Carolina State, and Georgia are all vying for Gurley’s services at this time, and he plans to decide on January 3. Many believe that Georgia has the edge for Gurley at this time.

Two other positions of interest for the Bulldogs are tight end and wide receiver.

With Aron White exhausting his eligibility in 2011, and Orson Charles a candidate to enter the NFL draft after his junior season, Georgia wants to add two tight ends for the 2012 class.

They currently have a commitment from Colquitt Count tight end Ty Smith, and they are in hot pursuit of Blake Jackson of Scottsdale Community College (Scottsdale, AZ). Jackson took an official visit to UGA as they defeated Kentucky this past weekend, and he stated that his visit was “a perfect 10.”

Jackson has family in Georgia, and the Bulldogs are the team to beat for Jackson’s services.

Wide Receiver is a position where Georgia has solid depth, but they would like to continue to add playmakers.

The only UGA wide receiver commitment is Martin Luther King’s Blake Tibbs who has shredded Georgia high school defenses all season.

Cordarrelle Patterson of Hutchinson Community College (Hutchinson, KS) is Georgia’s top target at the receiver position because of his size, 6-foot-5 205 pounds, and big play ability. Patterson is down to UGA and Tennessee, and he, like Young, is set to take his official visit to Georgia for the Football Gala on December 9. Patterson will make his decision shortly after his visit to Athens.

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