ATHENS — Coconut Creek High School coach Kareem Reid has seen it all in recruiting. Going back to his day’s at Atlanta’s Cedar Grove High, he knows the gloves are off when it comes to teams battling for talent.
So Reid thought nothing of it when, on the eve of arriving at Miami as its new coach, Mark Richt almost immediately contacted Reid’s star player, defensive back Malek Young, and asked him to become a Hurricane.
“All is fair,” said Reid, who also coached at Pebblebrook before moving to South Florida five years ago. “At the end of the day, it’s recruiting. Until those kids sign on the dotted line, man, everybody’s game. It doesn’t matter. Kids get dropped all the time by schools. I mean, there’s no loyalty until the ink dries.”
At this point, it appears that Young will be the only direct recruiting casualty that Georgia suffered as a result of firing Richt and letting him set up shop in Coral Gables. And even that is somewhat of a debatable proposition.
There is evidence to suggest that the Bulldogs weren’t as enamored with Young, a 5-foot-9, 185-pound DB, under Kirby Smart as they were under Richt.
“Kirby Smart knows about him from his time at Alabama,” Reid said of Young, who was a U.S. Army All-American. “I don’t think Malek fits what he’s looking for in a DB. So I think it was a mutual separation.”
And that appears to be the case with at least one other former Georgia commitment who has Miami high on his radar. Randrecous Davis, a three- or four-star wide receiver from Atlanta’s Mays High School, decided to re-open his recruitment after he didn’t hear from Georgia’s new coaching staff following the change.
Davis immediately got an offer from the Hurricanes and was thought to be a heavy lean to sign with them. But since then South Carolina has gotten heavily involved and most predictions have the 6-1, 175-pound playmaker ending up with the Gamecocks.
Nonetheless, it’s going to come down to a signing day decision. And the war for his services has been waged by two assistant coaches who at one time were joining forces to lure him to UGA — Miami’s Thomas Brown and South Carolina’s Bryan McClendon.
So Davis will be fine. He’ll land a full ride to a Power Five conference program. But there is more than a little hurt left that it won’t be Georgia.
“In all honesty, from speaking to him and knowing the kid, even with the coaching change, I think he still would’ve been going to UGA,” said Mays coach Corey Jarvis. “I don’t even think he was going on any other visits. We hadn’t set up anymore for him.”
Jarvis said Georgia never has really made much of an effort to get back in with Davis.
“Coach (Dell) McGee came the Friday he went to Miami, but that was it,” he said. “It wasn’t a good look, to me, on Georgia’s part. Because I reached out to the coaches, and Randrecous reached out to Coach Smart and the OC, and nobody really responded to him. … I don’t know if it was a lack of communication between Georgia and myself and him or what. I don’t want to say it was under-handed, but I’m thinking that somewhat.”
Meanwhile, Richt seems to be getting things done just fine at Miami without having to heavily rely on many of Georgia’s targets. The Hurricanes’ class was ranked No. 17 nationally by 247Sports heading into national signing day, and that’s with a couple of big targets still hanging in the balance.
“He’s done a good job of keeping the top commitments in the class,” said Luke Stampini, who covers Florida recruiting for 247Sports.com. “That’s pretty good when you’ve only got two months to signing day when he took over. You’re trying to scramble and piece together a class.”
Richt’s efforts at Miami haven’t been without early struggles. Stampini said the Hurricanes incurred 23 decommitments since he came on the scene.
“A lot of those weren’t terrible decommitments for Miami and Mark Richt,” he said. “And the ones you’d say might’ve hurt their class, Richt’s done a good job of getting them back in good graces.”
Richt has reeled back in linebacker Zack McCloud from Palm Beach County and it looks now he is in good position to land four-star receiver Ahman Richards, also of Palm Beach County.
And unless Davis chooses the Hurricanes over South Carolina, Richt will have signed a class without a player from Georgia for the first time in 16 years.