Posted: 4:33 pm Thursday, February 13th, 2014
By Michael Carvell
Does Mark Richt take it personally when a kid switches his commitment from UGA to another school?
“Flipping” is a common occurrence for every big-time D1 football program these days.
Last Wednesday, UGA had 21 recruits sign scholarships as part of the team’s 2014 class.
Over the past three years, UGA had six 2014 prospects who were onetime commits to the Bulldogs but did not end up signing with the SEC school last week for various reasons. For example, defensive back Kendall Gant of Lakeland, Fla., switched from UGA to Marshall shortly before signing day due to academic reasons.
Of course, UGA also made three late additions to its 2014 class with kids committed to other schools — Tucker defensive back Dominick Sanders (UCF), West Hall tight end Hunter Atkinson (Cincinnati) and safety Shaquille Jones (Louisville) of Merritt Island, Fla.
In a recent interview with the AJC, Richt was asked if he takes it personal when a kid switches his commitment from UGA to another school:
“De-commits happen for a lot of reasons. You know, a lot of times a de-commit is simply that. A young man either changes his mind on the school, or he thinks ‘Man, I should’ve looked around. It’s not necessarily that I don’t like the school that I committed to anymore. But I think I should look around a little bit. Maybe I made my decision too soon.’ Sometimes it’s flat out ‘I didn’t want to go to your school anymore.’
“Sometimes, we as the universities will have a mutual agreement that it’s in the best interests that it’s best to de-commit. Sometimes, there are some circumstances that happen. We’re not going to go public and say what really happened. We can’t anyway (due to NCAA rules).
“I think there are some times when the university cuts ties with a young man, and publicly it’s a de-commit. Or like I said, he doesn’t want to go to your school anymore, and it’s a nice way of saying ‘I’m de-committing’ and he will wait a minute and go where he really wants to go. And sometimes I think it is ‘I might’ve made a decision too soon. I want to open it up again. I still like this school as much as anybody else. And they still are in the running, truly.’
“And then they may go back to school they were originally committed to. I think there a lot of all three of those things happening.
Georgia Tech had two de-commits from its 2014 class after losing five last year. UGA lost three last year but also added three recruits committed other schools.
Out of the six UGA de-commitments for 2014, the only one that really hurt was losing Carrollton High School defensive tackle Dontavius Russell to Auburn. What’s really weird about UGA’s final numbers for 2014 is that the team’s first four commits ended up going elsewhere. What’s really amazing is that UGA only lost one kid after overhauling the entire defensive staff — and that was Kendall Gant for non-football reasons.
Why are there so many de-commitments across the board in college football? The main reason is because colleges, while in competition with each other, offer scholarships to high school kids at an earlier age, which in turn leads to kids committing to colleges at an earlier age. Problems arise due to changing factors (such as a new head coach, new offensive or defensive coordinators, and new offensive or defensive schemes, etc.) between when a kid commits early to when he signs the scholarship papers as a high school senior.
UGA’s DE-COMMITS FROM 2014 CLASS
- Nick Glass, LB-S, 6-1, 212, Peachtree Ridge (Undecided): Didn’t finish out senior season with team; maybe headed to JUCO. Once upon a time (as a sophomore), Glass was one of the state’s most recruited 2014 prospects with 20+ offers.
- Demarre Kitt, WR, 6-1, 195, Sandy Creek (Signed with Clemson): Enrolled early at ACC school
- Dontavius Russell, DT, 6-3, 275, Carrollton (Signed with Auburn): Ex-UGA RC Rodney Garner had help with Auburn family connections. This was probably UGA’s only big fish that got away.
- Krenwick Sanders, WR, 6-2, 195, Wayne County (Signed with Wisconsin): Turned down last-minute overtures from Florida to sign with Wisconsin. Had a big senior year.
- Stanley Williams, RB, 5-9, 190, George Walton Academy (Signed with Kentucky): After twists and turns with UGA, he ended up at Kentucky. He was UGA’s first commit for 2014, pledging to the Bulldogs after his freshman year in high school.
- Kendall Gant, S, 6-2, 180, Lakeland (Fla.) Lake Gibson (Signed with Marshall): Gant signed with Marshall because he has yet to meet NCAA entrance requirements. He can enroll at Marshall as a partial qualifier next year rather than risk having to attend a junior college or prep school.
UGA FLIPS FROM 2014 CLASS
- Hunter Atkinson, TE, 6-6, 250, West Hall: The Cincinnati commit got a last-minute call from Mark Richt and flipped to UGA. Atkinson had grayshirt offers from Alabama, Auburn and UCF.
- Detric Dukes, ILB, 6-0, 230, Tucker: Priority after Georgia missed on other targets, flipping from Louisville. Every bit as good as Raekwon McMillan (in my opinion) and played against superior competition in high school.
- Shaquille Jones, safety, 6-2, 175, Merritt Island, Fla.: As expected, Jones flipped from Louisville to UGA two days before signing day. He originally pledged to South Alabama.
- Dominick Sanders, S-CB, 5-11, 185, Tucker: Younger brother of former UGA DB Chris Sanders switched from UCF to Bulldogs. I will never understand how this explosive playmaker didn’t have 30+ offers, although many of the big boys came after him during the final week before signing day.
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AND THERE’S MORE
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