ATHENS - Awhile back, it seemed signing day would be an anticlimatic at Georgia. So many players already enrolled, even more already firmly committed, only a few big names still out there, so hardly any drama, right?
Ah, should've known better.
Not only will there still be drama next Wednesday, but there is some as we speak:
Georgia still has offers out to highly-rated prospects: Defensive tackle Montravius Adams, defensive end Davin Bellamy, linebacker Rueben Foster, tackle Laremy Tunsil and tailback Alvin Kamara. The Bulldogs have also not given up on linebacker Matthew Thomas, a prospect from the Miami area.
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But in the past week the Bulldogs have also extended offers or at least had contact with several other recruits:
- Tailback Jonathan Ford, who had been a Vanderbilt commitment.
- Myles Jack, a linebacker and tailback from Washington state who grew up in Georgia. Jack has been and currently remains committed to UCLA, but he told several outlets he has long hoped for an offer from Georgia.
- And on Thursday the Georgia school plane was in Muscle Schoals, Ala., which besides being a key lyric in Lynyrd Skynyrd's most famous song, happens to be where defensive tackle prospect Dee Liner lives. (Yes, a defensive lineman goes by the name Dee Liner.) The four-star prospect has been considered a likely signing for Alabama after de-committing from Auburn, and Georgia had not publicly been involved with him. But now the Bulldogs are.
This kind of late activity is unusual so late in the process. So what's going on?
Rusty Mansell, the recruiting analyst for Dawgs247.com, thinks it comes down to numbers.
"I just think that Georgia is gonna do everything they can not to under-sign. They've got 29 commitments right now, 13 early enrolleees. But they've still got spots left," Mansell said on Thursday, after emerging from a 20-minute interrogation about recruiting from a couple mechanics who were changing his oil.
Because of back-counting, Georgia can sign as many as 34 this year (or perhaps 36, because that number still hasn't been confirmed by anyone at UGA or the SEC.) But the more important number may still be the number of players at each position.
For instance, the tailback position: The transfer of Ken Malcome is what led the staff to make a late run at Ford, rather than worries that Kamara won't choose Georgia. The Bulldogs have Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, and a commitment from A.J. Turman, as well as former walk-on Brandon Harton. But they desperately want to sign a second tailback in this class, whether it's Kamara, Ford or even Jack - who can also play linebacker.
"I just see that as Georgia doing everything to make sure they get a tailback in this class along with A.J. Turman. ... Now that Ken Malcome's gone," Mansell said.
Then there's Liner. A late run at him may lead to the conclusion that Georgia doesn't feel good about its chances with Adams. But Mansell disagrees, pointing out that the team just wants options at nose tackle, what with John Jenkins and Kwame Geathers leaving the program.
"People are instantly saying that Georgia's not getting Montravius Adams. It's not that. The numbers I'm looking at, they've got plenty of room to sign Montravius and Dee Liner," Mansell said.
The Bulldogs are still looking at Toby Johnson, another defensive tackle recruit. But he continues to visit other programs.
There was a bit of a late flurry before last night's signing day: Georgia got Josh Dawson to flip on his commitment to Vanderbilt, and Sheldon Dawson to flip on Memphis. But this year there seems to be a bit more up in the air.
"It looks like Georgia is going to make sure they're going to have options if other guys don't pan out," Mansell said.