Georgia’s “Dawg Night” in Athens on Friday was a chance to get some of the best high school talent from the class of 2011 into town. Many of Georgia’s commitments were present, and they were joined by several other top uncommitted prospects. The night paid dividends immediately with two new commitments.
OT Zach DeBell started the weekend with his commitment. At 6’7″, DeBell has the prototypical size and long arms you want from your tackles. The Tarpon Springs, Fla. resident is still a little undersized at around 270 lbs, but there’s plenty of time for that. He was offered by Florida, Tennessee, Clemson, South Carolina, and a host of others. He became Georgia’s 14th commitment for the class of 2011 and the fourth offensive line commitment.
DeBell’s commitment was quickly followed by a pledge from another Sunshine State resident. Center Nathan Theus of Jacksonville’s renown Bolles High School, became the 15th commitment and fifth OL commitment.
Theus is a bit of an unusual story in that he’s chosen to work at a very specific position: long snapper. And he’s good at it. He’s sought instruction from the Ray Guy | Prokicker.com Academy, and they’ve rated him the nation’s top high school long snapper. It’s not common for Georgia to have a long snapper on scholarship, much less offer one out of high school. But if you are going to offer such a specialized position, it might as well be the best guy available. Of course everyone quickly pointed out that Nathan’s brother John is quite possibly the top offensive tackle prospect in the nation for the class of 2012 and has already been offered by a ton of major programs, including Georgia.
Perhaps the biggest recruiting development of the weekend had nothing (directly, at least) to do with football. Kentavious Caldwell, a 6’6″ shooting guard rated #15 nationally in the Rivals 150 for the class of 2011, committed to Mark Fox over the weekend. Caldwell isn’t just a 2-guard who can sit outside and shoot. As his coach says, “Kenatavious can put it on the floor and take it to the basket. It’s not like he just sits out there on the wing and fires away. He can do it all when it comes to creating unique ways to score.”
Georgia’s football program might have played a role in Caldwell’s decision.
Caldwell played football and basketball at Greenville last year with offensive lineman Kenarious Gates, who switched from Kentucky to Georgia after a last-minute football offer from the Bulldogs. Caldwell plays on the same AAU team with Wilcox County’s Nick Marshall, who has committed to Georgia on a football scholarship and will walk on the school’s basketball team.
But Georgia has had similar relationships between football and basketball before and failed to capitalize on it. Credit goes to Mark Fox and his staff for this landmark commitment. Sustained success isn’t built on the back of a single recruiting class. Georgia can get a Mercer here or a Thompkins there, but Georgia hasn’t often been able to put together consecutive classes of impact that manage to stay in school, much less contribute on the court. Fox’s incoming class, highlighted by Marcus Thornton’s late decision, was a good starting point on the recruiting trail. A commitment from a player of Caldwell’s quality is just what the program needs to have an even better class in 2011. This class is loaded, and Georgia is in on several big targets. Will Caldwell’s early pledge influence some of those other top prospects?