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Post The downside of filling up early

Tuesday July 21, 2009

A list of Georgia football offers for the class of 2010 might challenge the team limit of 85 scholarships much less the limit of 25 for a single class. Many of those offered will simply choose to go elsewhere. But as a class with limited room fills up, some find their spots taken and their offers no longer valid.

Take the case of Texas cornerback Kacy Rodgers. A week or so ago he was down to Florida and Georgia. Suddenly this week he commits to Miami without even visiting. Sudden change of heart? More likely Georgia and Florida both sent signals that Rodgers no longer had a spot waiting for him. It’s part of life in college sports, happens with every program every year, and we usually don’t hear about it because the communication is smooth.

Things can go very wrong when the communication breaks down. That seems to have been the case with QB/WR Devin Burns from Carver High School in Columbus. Burns received an offer from Georgia during the spring, but of course the recruiting outlook has changed much since then. Burns came to Athens along with several other top prospects over the weekend, and he intended to commit. The Georgia coaching staff flubbed communicating the fact that Burns’ spot had been taken, and the Georgia coaches were left in the embarrassing position of scrambling to rescind the offer before Burns had a chance to commit.

The fallout has been severe: the Bulldogs are “banned” from recruiting Carver according to Carver coach and Auburn alum Dell McGee. McGee has been in contact with the Georgia coaches who admitted their screw-up, but his ban remains in place for the time being. The ban won’t hurt Georgia much this year, but Carver usually has several D-1 quality prospects, and that will be the case again next year.

Complicating things is the NCAA rule that June 1st – July 31st is a quiet period for recruiting. That means that only on-campus contact is permitted with prospects. That’s why on-campus camps are so important – it gives the coaching staff a chance to evaluate and have contact with prospects that would otherwise be against the rules. For that reason, contact with prospects during this time either has to happen on-campus or indirectly through high school coaches. On the other hand, the prospect may call almost any time he likes. Burns confirmed his offer in late spring, but McGee admits that Georgia “didn’t know about (Burns’) intent to commit.” Communication during this quiet period hasn’t been clear in either direction.

Mark Richt is doing what he has to in this case and admitting complete fault in the face of an emotional reaction by the Carver coach. We’ve talked about “bans” before when it was Spurrier getting the boot, and ultimately it’s the relationship with the school that matters. The outcome here will likely be that Georgia gets a bit of egg on their face, Richt and staff cowtow, and the ban is lifted after a while. Just as it makes little sense for Georgia to alienate an in-state high school, it also doesn’t make much sense for the high school to shut out a top 10 program for very long.

McGee for his part did a bit of overreaching in his assessment of Georgia’s recruiting. He assumes that “Georgia still has scholarships left. It isn’t like they ran out of scholarships. That wasn’t the case.” While we’ve all done the math and figured out that Georgia still has a few slots left without public commitments in the 2010 class, it’s also reasonable at this stage that Georgia knows exactly whom they’d like to take those remaining scholarships, and those few know who they are. Georgia wouldn’t rescind a scholarship if it didn’t have a firm grasp on the numbers and how the last few commitments will go. “They ran out of scholarships” is exactly what’s going on, and at least Georgia is dealing with the cleanup now instead of oversigning and cutting the kid down the road.

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