ATHENS — Mark Richt’s rare in-season round of recruiting visits continued on Sunday, as Georgia’s coach paid a visit to defensive lineman Julian Rochester. And as he did with two other high-profile recruits last week, Richt let everyone know about it by tweeting out a picture of the two together.
Normally a coach can’t talk about a recruit, but in the case of Rochester, Jacob Eason and Ben Cleveland there’s an exception. Each has signed financial aid papers with UGA, which though not binding do allow Richt to comment on them, as well as make in-home visits during a period when coaches of other teams cannot.
“The big thing is these young men have signed the financial aid papers, as you know,” Richt said Sunday. “We’re allowed to have contact with them, we’re allowed to call or text or do whatever we want in that regard. And once the season ends everybody’s gonna be able to visit them. So I just thought it’d be a good thing to just in some ways say that hey, we appreciate you guys for having the faith and the confidence to come to Georgia and sign your financial aid papers, and in some ways reward them with an extra home visit.”
Richt added a couple other points: First, the timing of the visits “really didn’t affect preparation” for Georgia’s next game. He flew out to see Eason in Washington State on the Saturday after the Auburn game, then returned on Sunday. He made a much closer, in-state visit to see McEachern High School’s Rochester on Sunday, and the Cleveland visit in Stephens County was on a Thursday night after practice. Sundays and Thursday are “some of the very few moments that we as coaches have to be free,” Richt said.
Second, Richt’s personal life also cooperates.
“Quite frankly the other thing is we’re empty-nesters at the house, and my wife Katharyn’s been doing a lot of studying for her nursing school, so when I’m out of the house it helps her focus anyway,” Richt said. “So it works out fine.”
The Eason visit drew the most attention, for several reasons, among them that Georgia’s quarterback situation has been a concern and the five-star recruit has a chance to start right away. But Cleveland and Rochester also have a good chance to play right away, especially as they’re set to enroll this spring, as is Eason.
Rochester, who committed to Georgia last May, is a four-star recruit listed at 6-foot-5 and 315 pounds.
“He’s a big D-linemen. He’s gonna play inside for us,” Richt said. “He’s a big man. I think he’s gonna be a whale of a football player.”
Cleveland, who committed last year, is 6-foot-7 and north of 320 pounds, and projects as a tackle, according to Richt.
The coach also issued a clarification, required by his tweet last Thursday, when Richt said they were going to “eat squirrel.” They did not in fact do that, Richt said.
“We were just having a little fun,” Richt said. “A lot of people were like: Did you really eat squirrel over there?”