The news that Mark Richt will not return at UGA will have a tremendous ripple effect on this year’s recruiting class.
DawgNation was projecting a signing class that included a minimum of four recruits who were rated as 5-star prospects. The biggest of those would be 5-star quarterback Jacob Eason. Eason and Stephens County offensive lineman Ben Cleveland — they were the first two commitments to the Class of 2016 almost two years ago.
Eason and his father Tony Eason did not respond to immediate interview requests on Sunday afternoon, but this is what we know about his feelings toward UGA based on conversations with his father after the Florida game. That was when Eason followed Florida offensive coordinator Doug Nussmier on Twitter, which generated a lot of speculation.
Easons on if Richt was fired
First and foremost, the Eason family hoped Richt would remain at UGA. The two parties have grown close over the last two years. When Richt made a recent cross-country trip to Washington to see Eason, it meant a lot.
It appears the Easons are connected to UGA and the football program and not just the coaching staff. There was a close connection with Richt. Yet when Mike Bobo left his post as offensive coordinator to become the head coach at Colorado State, the commitment remained strong. That had a lot to do with Richt, but also his desire to play at UGA.
Eason answered this question earlier this month: What would he do if Richt somehow was no longer the head coach at UGA?
“I will have to sit down with my family and figure everything out,” Eason said that interview from earlier this month. “But it is Georgia you know? It is SEC football. Richt has been there for awhile and I doubt that will happen. But if it did, I wouldn’t stress about it too much.”
He has been committed to UGA since July of 2014. He’s also been a busy behind-the-scenes recruiter urging other prospects to come to UGA. What would he say to another UGA target regarding all the uncertainty regarding the program?
”I just think just stick with it,” Eason said in that same interview. “If you really want to go there then it will be the place no matter what happens. There is going to be some adversity wherever you go. Just stick with it.”
Tony Eason, Jacob’s father, also weighed in on how the family would approach his recruiting if Richt did not return to UGA in 2016.
“If things fell apart and things that are out of our control happen, you have to have relationships with other people as a backup or a ‘Plan B’ or whatever you want to call it,” Tony Eason said. “A contingency plan even. It would be stupid not to.”
What’s the “Plan B” scenario? The only plausible one is if Richt does not return and the next UGA coach runs an offense that’s counter to what the pocket passer is looking for at the next level.
“You hit it right on the head there,” Tony Eason said. “If they brought in a Georgia Tech-style system where they don’t want a quarterback like Jake, then no he’s not going to go there. He wants to go to Georgia. I don’t have any indication (a coaching change) is going to happen. First of all, I don’t think this coaching staff is going anywhere and I think they would bring in another Pro-Style guy even if that did happen. But I have faith that things are going to work out.”
DawgNation will update this story with any statements from the Easons on Sunday afternoon.
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- Mark Richt’s dismissal was long in the works
- UGA moves ‘all about Kirby Smart’
- Richt’s firing confirms what many believed: It was time for a change
- Leading candidates to replace Richt at Georgia
- What do recruits think about Kirby Smart to UGA?
- Current Georgia player offers a message for Eason
- With Richt out, UGA’s next step is to get Smart
- Most of UGA’s coaches pulled off the recruiting trail
- Saban on Richt: ‘I hate to see these kinds of things’
- Current UGA players react to end of the Mark Richt era
- Richt’s former players ‘surprised’ by the news
- Hiring Mark Richt remains Vince Dooley’s proudest achievement
- UGA should think twice before hiring Kirby Smart
- National media reacts to Mark Richt being ousted at UGA
- Jeremy Pruitt with recruit Mecole Hardman’s mother when news broke
- UGA commits react to the firing of Mark Richt
- UGA targets react to Mark Richt’s firing
- Greg McGarity’s career will be defined by his first major hire
- A small vigil held outside of Butts-Mehre for Richt
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.