Kevin Price commentary on Georgia football: Bulldogs' offseason seems to be off to successful start

kprice@ledger-enquirer.comJanuary 15, 2012 

It would seem that Georgia and football coach Mark Richt are having a successful offseason season so far.

Most of the recruiting sites have the Bulldogs’ 2012 recruiting class ranked in the top 5. Of course, national signing day is still 17 days away, and any of the 4-star and 5-star recruits who have said they will sign to play football for the Bulldogs still could change their minds.

Plus, there is no way of telling whether those guys deserve those 4- and 5-star rankings. Those rankings are given by people working for recruiting sites and not coaches, so take them with a grain of salt.

Case in point: Israel Troupe. When he signed out of Tift County High in 2007, he was a 4-star recruit by rivals.com and listed by ESPN as one of the best players in the country.

He just finished his unremarkable career at Georgia with 12 catches, including one in 2011.

So when looking at players who committed to sign with Georgia on Feb. 1, such as Keith Marshall and Jordan Jenkins, take a deep breath and realize that at least some of those players are not nearly as good as some Internet guy says they are.

Georgia had an even better week with third-year players who announced that they will return for another season in Athens, rather than declaring themselves eligible for the April NFL draft.

The Bulldogs will have nine starters return on defense after players such as Bacarri Rambo, Branden Smith, Cornelius Washington and Sanders Commings said they will play their senior seasons.

“It means a lot to come back and play with these guys next year,” Rambo said in a news release from the school. “Many of these guys gave up their dream of playing in the NFL just to come back. We have a lot of leaders and a lot of really talented players with experience coming back next year. We have guys who are going to go out there and work hard and help lead the young guys and show them the Georgia way. I’m really excited to play with these guys one more year.”

Georgia’s best defensive player, All-American linebacker Jarvis Jones (Carver High), already had said multiple times during last season that he is returning. Although only a sophomore, Jones was eligible for the draft because he is three years removed from high school.

It also helps that Richt and Georgia convinced defensive coordinator Todd Grantham to stay. In just two seasons, Grantham transformed Georgia into a top-5 defense in the nation. They should only be better in 2012.

“Every man … came to Georgia with dreams and goals of winning championships,” Commings said in the news release. “That is the reason that I decided to stay here at Georgia. With the leadership in this room, we realized that the opportunity of achieving those dreams are great, and I am excited to be able to be a part of it.”

With a favorable schedule and a rock-solid defense, the only thing that could hold Georgia back is another inconsistent year on offense. Georgia must find a replacement for tight end Orson Charles, who did decide to leave early for the NFL, and find a solution to the problems at running back.

Kevin Price, kprice@ledger-enquirer.com, 706-320-4493

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