Good morning, DawgNation! A lot has been made of Mark Richt’s trips to see some of 2016’s top recruits. Is it a sign of desperation from Richt, a unique advantage allowed by the signing of financial aid papers or something else?
The timing of his recent visits has led some to believe this is a desperation move from Richt. Leaving to see 5-star quarterback commit Jacob Eason in secret could be a sign of a coach who wants to show he is willing to do whatever it takes. These trips go against what Richt has done on the recruiting trail in the past. His assistants have been the main force with prospects during the season over the years. It seems odd that only a couple of weeks after rumors of internal conflict within the program surfaced, Richt started speed dating on the recruiting trail.
Richt’s explanation for taking the visits was because Eason and fellow commits Ben Cleveland and Julian Rochester had each signed a financial aid agreement with UGA. That gives Richt access to the prospects other coaches do not have. Nobody can fault Richt for taking full advantage of some extra one-on-one time with some of the nation’s top players before it becomes open season.
Could the administration have given Richt a nudge to utilize this advantage? It is possible. It might be just as likely that defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt has encouraged a greater sense of urgency with what could be one of the best classes in years.
Mark Richt’s latest in-home visit
After traveling cross country to visit 5-star quarterback Jacob Eason and supposedly having a squirrel for dinner with 4-star offensive lineman Ben Cleveland, Richt set his sights on 4-star defensive tackle Julian Rochester.
These trips have done a great job of getting Richt and UGA the type of social media publicity that is sure to catch the attention of other top targets. They have also shown a renewed commitment to the future, something fans and prospects alike can appreciate.
Rochester’s reaction to the visit was priceless
The surprise visit by Richt was a great story, but the Rochester’s reaction was priceless.
It’s safe to say that the surprise went a long way with the 320-pound defensive tackle. He and Richt shared a “mess” of food and got to spend some quality time watching football and getting to know each other. If it wasn’t clear that these trips were having an impact before, the UGA commit’s reaction should provide plenty of proof.
Look who I had lunch with today. Big Julian Rochester! Ribs chicken pasta and cheesecake!! Go Dawgs! pic.twitter.com/ngFULgXj0Q
— Mark Richt (@MarkRicht) November 22, 2015
Jacob Eason leads team to state semifinals
Eason helped keep Lake Stevens High School’s perfect season alive with another great performance in a 49-14 playoff win against Graham-Kapowsin on Saturday.
Top junior reveals a way to move up his list
Jamyest Williams, rated the nation’s No. 5 junior athlete, showed why he is so highly coveted when he made the game-saving tackle in Archer High School’s playoff win at McEachern last Friday.
— Chevapravatdumrong (@ACoachNamedJosh) November 21, 2015
After the win, Williams explained how UGA could make a jump up his list of top schools. 5-star athlete Mecole Hardman, Jr., the nation’s No. 1 athlete for 2016, is a good comparison for the type of impact Williams can have on a game.
UGA was pretty low on Williams’ original Top 10, but has a strong recruiting presence at Archer and could leapfrog some schools if it listens to what the 4-star had to say.
Major target clears the air
Rumors seem to be common in 4-star running back target Devwah Whaley’s recruitment. The 6-foot-1, 209-pounder was originally rumored to be silently committed to UGA. Then, reports came out that Whaley had a new leader after his official visit to Arkansas over the weekend.
DawgNation spoke with Whaley about the reports and helped clarify things. If Whaley commits, he and 4-star running back commit Elijah Holyfield would be the next pair in a line of highly-regarded recruits at that position.
William McFadden covers UGA recruiting for DawgNation and is an SEC multimedia reporter for SECCountry. Give him a follow on Twitter for sports news and opinions you probably won’t agree with.