Ok, DawgNation. We’ve been spending mornings together for awhile. I’m no preacher, but I think its time to get on the soapbox for a bit.
I’ll be quicker than an Auburn snap. Mark Richt is hunkering down. He’s not going anywhere, nor should he. That’s my honest take to anyone who wants to see UGA prosper in 2016 or 2017. Hit the reset button on UGA football and there’s no way an overhauled staff has the same impact on the recruiting trail in two months. Do you realize the 15 seasons worth of street cred Richt has established in living rooms across Georgia?
Players win games. Those are acquired through recruiting. Recruiting is all about relationships.
There’s a “burn it down” crowd who thinks he’s had his time, but my counter is his time is coming. Why? That young defense will be salty next season. The Heisman Trophy contender vows he’ll be back stronger than ever next season. UGA has never recruited like it has the last two years (read into that Jeremy Pruitt influence) and the program could sign up to five players who carry a 5-star rating in February. The chances of that sort of haul dim if there’s a major shake-up on the UGA staff.
This is a win-now world, right? Then the best way to do that is to ride this out. There’s a certain rocket arm on his way. Jacob Eason has also worked behind-the-scenes to make sure the 2016 class is stacked with impact players. The class is being built to address the needs at quarterback and wide receiver and it should also feature the vital defensive linemen necessary to win in October and November in the SEC.
Give Richt all the credit in the world for his bold move on Sunday morning. What did he do? Read on.
1. Mark Richt pulls a Richt Flair on the recruiting trail
To be the man, you have to out-recruit the man, right? Richt flew cross-country in a bold move to try to put a choke hold on the crown jewel of the 2016 signing class. He surprised Jacob Eason for breakfast on Sunday morning after flying out to Seattle after Saturday’s win at Auburn. He went out there by himself and even rode “hump” on the way to breakfast with the 5-star quarterback and his father.
If there was ever any doubt Eason was coming to Georgia, Richt’s extra effort has likely erased it.
2. Richt reviews his cross-country recruiting jaunt
It was an unprecedented move for Richt. He flew during a game week on a Sunday. That’s made possible because Eason has signed his financial aid papers that bind UGA to hold a scholarship for him per NCAA rules. He even discussed the move with UGA’s beat reporters on Sunday.
Richt flew about nine hours in order to spend at the most five hours with Eason. He even tweeted about it while finishing the drill on a 10-egg omelet.
We’re simply not used to a story like this on so many levels. That’s why it made perfect sense.
Having breakfast in Snohomish Washington in Jakes Cafe with Jacob and Tony Eason. Go Dawgs! pic.twitter.com/II6JFCkmYB
— Mark Richt (@MarkRicht) November 15, 2015
3. Has Devwah Whaley made his silent commitment?
UGA hopes to add one more running back to its 2016 haul, but it has to be the right one. Elijah Holyfield has already committed to UGA, but running backs coach Thomas Brown has set his feet on adding Devwah Whaley to the 2016 class, too. The 6-foot-0, 209-pounder has been the subject of speculation that he’s already made a silent commitment.
A color commentator on a game broadcast even hinted at it with information he gathered from Richt, but Whaley said that’s not the case. He told DawgNation he still holds UGA in high regard, but he has not made a silent commitment. He said his UGA visit for the South Carolina game (he rated it a perfect 10) was the best visit he’s had this year, and he plans two more official visits to Arkansas and Texas before he makes that silent commitment.
UGA appears to still be in great shape here, but that Texas interest should be a concern. Texas A&M is kinda sorta still in it, but Whaley is aware that program already has two commitments at running back for the 2016 class.
4. Blazing speed could commit to UGA this week
Virginia receiver Grant Holloway told DawgNation he’s made up his mind and will make his college commitment on Thursday. That’s his 18th birthday. (Side note: Does anyone find it interesting that a potential Eason-to-Holloway connection were born one day apart?) It is down to a Florida offer to run track and a UGA offer to run track and play football.
If that sounds odd, it should not. Holloway is one of the elite high school hurdlers in the country.
5. UGA Honor roll: Charlie Woerner has a monster game
Rabun County senior Charlie Woerner went off on Friday night. The 4-star UGA commitment caught two touchdowns and piled up the fantasy football points in the first round of the state playoffs. So did UGA 4-star quarterback commit Bailey Hockman.
And Mecole Hardman, Jr. did what he always does. Mr. Fast Forward only ran for 301 yards and two scores on a field fit for a Monster Truck rally.
6. Top 2017 defensive back is a priority
LeAnthony Williams, Jr., a 4-star junior cornerback from Georgia’s Roswell High, has already made contact with a lot of UGA’s heavy hitters on the recruiting trail. There are a lot of talented 2017 targets (Malcolm Askew, DeAngelo Gibbs, William Poole III, Jamyest Williams) in the secondary at UGA and Williams would be one of the best.
The idea Williams knows he is valued is a good thing, but the notion he might not visit UGA again until the summertime shows there’s a lot of work still left to do.
Jeff Sentell covers UGA recruiting for AJC.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play Between the Hedges.