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Post Football recruiting all but finished

Thursday January 10, 2008

Not ten years ago, you’d go to a Georgia basketball game on a January weekend to scan the crowd. It was official visit time for football recruits, and obsessive fans had to know who was there, who was hosting them, what snacks they got from the concession stand, and to what extent they were enjoying the game. The final month of the recruiting process was a zoo with almost half a class still to assemble. Each weekend brought a half-dozen or more high-profile prospects to Athens, and it was disaster if verbal commitments didn’t follow.

Here we are now a month from signing day, and crickets are chirping. Tumbleweeds. Georgia football recruiting is more or less finished. Recruitniks are already moving on to look at the early standouts in the 2009 class. There are just a few storylines remaining for what might well be the top recruiting class in the nation:

  • Maintain those who have committed to date. That includes some like TE Dwayne Allen who have been looking around a bit, but the recruiting pundits don’t expect any defections.
  • Maintain the commitment of A.J. Harmon. Harmon, one of the state of Georgia’s top line prospects, switched his commitment to Georgia from Clemson over the weekend. Harmon still shows a bit of indecision, but it’s clear that he has been thinking about committing to Georgia for some time. In fact, he tried several weeks ago only to be told that there was no room left. The subsequent transfer of Blake Barnes opened up a scholarship for Harmon. Depending on whom you read, Harmon is either solidly in the Georgia camp now, or just "kinda" committed.
  • Watch the decision of Zebrie Sanders. The story of Sanders, a standout offensive tackle from Ohio, has taken an interesting turn recently. Sanders was more or less down to Georgia or Florida, but both schools have put him on hold within the past week.

Florida’s sudden change of heart with regard to Sanders might be explained by last weekend’s commitment of tackle Matt Patchan. If they were considering Sanders as an insurance policy in case Patchan went elsewhere, they can move on to other priorities.

Why has Georgia suddenly cooled on a four-star tackle like Sanders? The reason might be named Omar Hunter. Hunter, a defensive tackle from Buford rated the #4 DT in the nation by Rivals.com, pulled his verbal commitment from Notre Dame last weekend. It was assumed that Hunter would simply switch his pledge to Florida, but rumors this week indicate that Hunter is also showing some late interest in Georgia.

I don’t get that involved in crunching scholarship numbers. All I know is that Georgia manages to field a team every year with the right number of scholarship players, so I leave the worrying and accounting to those paid to pay attention to those things. That said, we know that Georgia is very close to its limit even with Sanders and Hunter hanging out there. There was room for Harmon only after Blake Barnes transferred, so were the Dawgs holding a final scholarship for Sanders? Has the interest of Hunter made Georgia apply the brakes? One source shows how that might be the case:

Sanders came to the Under Armour game set to announce a commitment to Florida or Georgia. The 6-foot-6, 275-pounder had hoped to commit on ABC…but a pair of phone calls changed the plan.

"I was supposed to commit today," Sanders said after the game. "I called Florida up and I called Georgia up. Coach Meyer and [Georgia] coach [Mark] Richt both told me that right now wouldn’t be the right time."…

…This could be a "slow play," meaning Florida and Georgia coaches are encouraging Sanders to wait as they sort out their scholarship numbers and determine if they have room for him in their classes. NCAA rules allow schools to bring in only 25 new players a year, and some may not even have enough open scholarships to sign that many. So Sanders will wait until Sunday before announcing his final decision.

So even in this relatively calm homestretch, there is some drama worth keeping up with. Things should settle pretty quickly; Sanders is still planning on committing on January 13th, and Hunter is expected to visit Florida this weekend. Excepting the always-possible signing day surprise, it should be a pretty quiet finish to a great class.

One Response to 'Football recruiting all but finished'

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  • Hunter, I really, really want u to sign with the bull dawgs. It’s your call but I like watching u play so I hope u will choose Ga.