Happy Hump Day, DawgNation! Did you read the piece our own Seth Emerson wrote yesterday on the financial support that UGA’s administration has provided the football program? If Mark Richt returns next season, he would be to reap the benefits.
Richt and defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt have lobbied for a bigger budget in recent years and have gotten their wish. The indoor practice facility is in the works, the salaries for the coaching staff have increased and the recruiting budget reached seven figures.
According to figures provided by UGA through the Open Records Act, the football program’s recruiting budget for 2015 was $1.34 million. In 2014, it was $717,091. The one-year increase of 87 percent now places UGA’s recruiting war chest in the upper echelon of the SEC.
Those resources allow for the coaching staff to send more letters, stage more memorable official visits and travel across the country to meet with prized recruits. UGA has always recruited well, but what kept it from having the No. 1 or No. 2 class in the nation was allowing a few of the state’s top prospects to get poached by rival schools. That budget increase should be the means to prevent it. The rise of the SEC Network and the cash payout to each member school has had to help this area.
Richt said he believes recruiting is going extremely well right now. The class currently ranks No. 6 nationally, but could rise if UGA receives good news from its top undecided targets.
QB commit showed he’s a true leader
McEachern High School quarterback Bailey Hockman played well in his team’s playoff loss over the weekend, but it was his actions after the game that were noteworthy. The 4-star junior displayed the leadership qualities every coach desires.
Hockman was the first player to commit to the 2017 class. Although 5-star quarterback Jacob Eason is considered by fans to be the team’s future at the position, Hockman has not shied away from the potential competition. In fact, he believes that competing against Eason would only improve his own skills. One thing that he doesn’t need to improve, though, is his leadership.
Nation’s No. 1 player opened up about Ole Miss visit
UGA is in the mix for Rashan Gary‘s final official visit. The nation’s No. 1 player is deciding between Clemson, Notre Dame, Alabama, Kentucky and UGA for the last spot, but spoke with Rivals.com’s Adam Friedman on Tuesday about his official to Ole Miss over the weekend.
Gary told Friedman that his visit went well and he was impressed with the atmosphere surrounding the game. He will take an official visit to Auburn this weekend for the Iron Bowl. He said he wants to see “how crazy the game can get.”
Gary’s mother also had positive things to say about his visit to Ole Miss. She enjoyed her visit to UGA earlier this year but had one major concern. Getting an official visit would give the coaches a chance to make her feel better about that.
A pair of top juniors break out the highlights
Malcolm Askew, a 4-star defensive back, and Tony Gray, a 4-star offensive lineman, are two names fans may want to remember. The two juniors have new highlight films that show why there are several top programs vying for their commitments.
Gray recently told DawgNation that he’s hearing from a lot of schools these days. It’s no surprise he’s been busy with recruiting after seeing this reel. At one point, Gray pushes a kid across the field, pancakes him and then lies on top of him to keep him down. If that isn’t working both hard and smart, then I don’t know what is.
UGA is a familiar place to Askew. The 4-star defender has visited many times and has a good relationship with the coaching staff. He almost committed to UGA last summer and said he experienced the “coolest thing” he’s seen at the school during a recent visit. Askew’s highlight film shows him catching passes with his defender five yards behind him, but his future is at cornerback. UGA, based off his relationship with Pruitt, has been his leader for quite some time.
— Malcolm Askew™✨ (@MacAskew4) November 24, 2015
UGA focusing on top junior college players
Some teams target more junior college players in certain years than others. That largely has to do with a lack of junior and senior contributors. It seems UGA could have a few junior college players in this year’s class if things break the right way. UGA is pursuing the No. 2 and No. 3 junior college prospects on ESPN’s Junior College Top 50 ratings and has a commitment from the No. 12 player in those rankings.
Garrett Bolles, a 4-star offensive lineman, is ranked No. 2 and UGA recently offered the No. 3-ranked player, Derrick Willies. Javon Wims, who committed to UGA earlier this month, comes in at No. 12. Junior college players only have two years of eligibility. When a prospect gets an offer at that level, they are seen as likely plug-and-play contributors once they arrive on campus.
Bolles took an official visit earlier in the year, but there hasn’t been much news on him and UGA recently. There may be plenty of room for him, though, if he decides to choose UGA. Currently, three offensive linemen are committed, but as many as six could be taken in this class.
UGA offered Willies, a Texas Tech commit, last week and it’s looking like a smart move. After Grant Holloway chose Florida and Davion Curtis de-committed, UGA dropped to four receivers in the class but now has the 6-foot-4, 205-pounder as a target.
Bolles has more than a couple of suitors
The 6-foot-6, 305-pound lineman has drawn plenty of attention lately. Bolles has the size to play in the SEC, but is also technically proficient and moves very well. Physical skills aren’t the only thing the junior college standout has to offer, though.
Bolles discussed a two-year church mission he embarked on in an interview with Recruitingnewsguru.com’s Ryan Wright. The mission helped him become a person who college coaches like to have in their program.
“It set the tone for the rest of my life and made me the person I am today,” Bolles told Wright. “It helped me mature a lot.”
The interview also included a bit of recruiting news and he mentioned UGA among the schools pursuing him the hardest. In Bolles, UGA would get a player with the experience to fill one of the holes left behind by seniors John Theus and Kolton Houston. With Eason on the way, that would be a good thing to have.
UGA already has an elite tackle commitment in Ben Cleveland but is still going hard for high school tackles Willie Allen and E.J. Price. There is also interest in another junior college tackle, Demetri Moore, so it seems that they aren’t closed off at the position. Another thing that Bolles offers that UGA has shown an interest in over the years is versatility. He transitioned to the offensive line from defensive tackle so Bolles has shown the ability to adapt to different positions.
William McFadden covers UGA recruiting for DawgNation and is an SEC multimedia reporter for SECCountry. Give him a follow on Twitter for news and opinions on the latest sports news.