A few thoughts as Georgia nears signing day

semerson@macon.comFebruary 1, 2013 

ATHENS - There are a lot of qualified experts out there who follow recruiting 365 days a year, so generally I don't try to swoop in late and report whether Montravius Adams is going to Georgia, and whether Laremy Tunsil is going to Ole Miss, and so on and so forth.

But there are some big-picture items related to the recruiting process that are worth passing along, as we sit five days from national signing day. My thoughts:

Item 1: The following is vital to remember for Georgia fans: There is a limit on how many players the team can sign, and thus there is a limit on how many scholarship offers the team can be making at one time. Georgia's staff is not going to go out and offer scholarships to 15 players if it only has five or six spots. The team has to avoid a scenario where everyone suddenly accepts their offer from Georgia, at which point somebody has to be told the offer doesn't stand anymore. Yes, an unlikely scenario, but one it has to be ready to avoid.

That's why a recruit out there may be talking with Georgia, but doesn't have an official offer. I feel I have to point this out because there's been some ridiculous chatter out there about a "hoax" offer to Myles Jack, a recruit in Washington state. I guess people are too caught up in the Manti Te'o story. Whatever. As far as I can tell, Georgia has spoken to players such as Jack, Dee Liner and probably some others that have not become public yet, and gauged their interest in coming to Georgia. (Jack is still officially committed to UCLA). But there haven't been official offers for the previous-stated reason.

Now, if over the next few days Georgia decides it has no chance at a certain prospect it has offered, then another player will get an offer. That scenario could play out between now and Wednesday, or even on signing day itself.

Item 2: At the risk of reminding people of Kevin Bacon's character at the end of "Animal House," it's also important for people to remember that the final five days of recruiting probably won't make or break Georgia's class. If Tunsil, the nation's top offensive line recruit, doesn't pick Georgia, and many of the elite prospects on Georgia's target list go elsewhere, then the temptation from a few of you will be to seek the nearest tall bridge.

Yes, Georgia would prefer to have Tunsil at left tackle, Adams at nose tackle, Reuben Foster at inside linebacker, and Alvin Kamara as an option at tailback. But its biggest immediate needs, in my opinion, have already been met: The team has restocked its secondary and inside linebacker positions, which were almost drained. And if no other player is added to the current list of 13 early enrollees and 16 commitments, that's still a 29-member class.

But will Georgia have enough high-impact players if it misses out on Tunsil, Adams, Foster, etc.? That remains to be seen. Take a look at the series I'm doing right now on Georgia's top 10-rated recruits of the past 10 years, and who has turned out to be the best 10 recruits over the same time period. It's better to be highly-rated than not, but it is far from a guarantee of success at the college level.

Item 3: The final stretch of recruiting, when a small portion of the class finally signs, reminds me of the oversized attention that the first round of the NFL draft receives. While the first round is important, it's not the entire draft for any team. (Unless you're the New Orleans Saints the year Mike Ditka traded his entire draft for Ricky Williams. How'd that turn out?) Just as you shouldn't judge an entire NFL team's draft on the first round, you can't judge an entire team's class on the last few players who do or don't sign.

Last year is a prime example for Georgia: Josh Harvey-Clemons, Josh Dawson and Sheldon Dawson were Georgia's last three commitments last year. The team missed out on Cordarelle Patterson (receiver who went to Tennessee) and Avery Young (offensive lineman who went to Auburn) on signing day, and those two players would have been welcomed this past season.

But well before signing day last year Todd Gurley, Jordan Jenkins, Keith Marshall and John Theus were already committed or already enrolled at Georgia. So far, they've turned to be pretty good.

I'm not saying what happens over the next five days doesn't matter. But let's keep it in perspective.

Follow Seth Emerson at @sethemerson.

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