10. THE RODNEY GARNER INFLUENCE? Bryan McClendon worked under former UGA recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner (now at Auburn) for four years before being named as his replacement in February. What will McClendon do the same as and different than Rodney Garner, his predecessor? “Coach G (Garner) did a great job of not so much who exactly is being recruited but who is doing the recruiting of a player,” McClendon told the AJC. “That’s one thing I think he did a tremendous job of, just making sure that the right people got involved. We need to get as much information for each recruit upfront to know exactly the right type of way each kid needs to be recruited. The biggest thing is that I want to make sure we’re efficient in everything we’re doing.” UGA fans seem to have a love-hate relationship with Rodney Garner. Is it as simple as he was beloved when he worked for the Bulldogs, and now not so much now since he coaches for an archrival?
9. SOMEWHERE, CPJ IS SMILING: Georgia Tech’s quarterback of the future, Jaylend Ratliffe of Scotland County (N.C.) High School, definitely understands “what commitment means.” Ratliffe told the AJC that he won’t visit any other schools, and explained it in a way that would make Paul Johnson smile proudly. “It’s just like getting engaged to a girl,” Ratliffe said. “You’re not going to keep going on dates if you’re engaged to a girl. So I’m not going to go on any more visits.”
8. GEORGIA APPROACHES 200 MARK: One of Georgia’s greatest exports is college football talent. See Cam Newton (Auburn), Eric Berry (Tennessee), George Rogers (South Carolina) and Jamal Lewis (Tennessee), just to name only a few of the countless stars from the Atlanta area. In the defense of UGA and Georgia Tech, they can’t sign them all every year because the state simply manufactures so much talent. Here are some detailed numbers from ESPN’s Jeremy Crabtree, who did a story about how “Georgia is a recruiting melting pot” for college football programs across the nation. The state of Georgia produced 190 FBS signees (formerly known as NCAA Div. I-A) in 2009, followed by 182 in 2010, 179 in 2011, 182 in 2012, 184 in 2013 and 188 so far in 2014. Expect the state to easily hit the 200 mark when Georgia Southern becomes a full-fledged FBS member in 2015.
7. KEVIN WHERE? Georgia State and Auburn are two possible destinations for Kevin Ware, who became a household name after the gruesome way he broke his leg on national TV while playing for Louisville last year. The former Rockdale County High School basketball standout has been granted an unconditional release from Louisville, according to courier-journal.com — meaning he can sign anywhere. Why Auburn? Ware signed with Tennessee out of high school, but got a release after Bruce Pearl (now at Auburn) was fired. Ware later pledged to Central Florida before later committing to Louisville over UGA. Why Georgia State? Coach Ron Hunter acknowledged that he is recruiting Ware, according to the AJC’s Doug Roberson.
6. GEORGIA TECH IN TOP 5: At 6-foot-6 and 215 pounds, Lanier High School defensive end Trevon McSwain passes all the eyeball tests. McSwain has a top five of Georgia Tech, Tennessee, Duke, N.C. State and Vanderbilt, via JacketsOnline.com’s Kelly Quinlan. McSwain is ranked as a 3-star and the state’s No. 47 overall prospect.
5. ADJUSTING TO TRIPLE OPTION: In case you were wondering, new Georgia Tech QB commit Jaylend Ratliff doesn’t think he’ll have any problems adjusting to the triple-option offense in college. “We run a spread, no-huddle offense (at my high school),” he said. “We run the option but it’s not the triple option, know what I mean? It’s like an inside zone, and outside zone option. My sophomore year, we ran a triple option out of the spread, like a shotgun formation with two backs. It’s the same, it’s just (getting to) understand a little bit faster.” What makes Ratliffe think he can make a smooth transition? “It the same reads from defensive end to linebacker. It’s dive, pitch and read. It’s just about the same thing. You know, I run the ball a lot in high school, and Georgia Tech’s quarterback runs the ball a lot. So why not?”
4. EARLY SIGNING PERIOD FOR FOOTBALL? I’m not sure it will make a difference to the average person on the street, or really anybody outside of the NCAA, but I’ve been asked to clarify: This summer’s discussion of an early signing period for football “is not an NCAA governance structure decision,” according to Susan Peal, director of the National Letter of Intent Program. The topic will be reviewed by the Conference Commissioners Association (CCA), which is a 32-member panel of NCAA Div. I commissioners. And, most importantly, it doesn’t look like any changes to football’s signing period are imminent. “There will only be discussion by the CCA throughout the rest of this year and continuing next year just as the CCA has discussed early signing for many years to see what the recruiting landscape looks like,” Peal told the AJC. “Engagement in these discussions is necessary to ensure the NLI program continues to be effective for our member institutions and prospective student-athletes.”
3. FLORIDA LEADS FOR 4-STAR LB FROM ATLANTA: “Florida is ahead of everyone else right now,” Central Gwinnett High School linebacker Adonis Thomas told GatorCountry.com’s Andrew Spivey. Thomas made an unofficial visit to Florida last weekend, his fourth trip to see the Gators. He has also been to UGA at least four times, too. “Florida is coming after me the hardest … Georgia is coming after me hard but not as hard as Florida is.”
2. 2016 PROSPECT ALERT: It’s hard to keep up with the state’s rising juniors in high school (class of 2016) because the 2015 class has around 190 D1 prospects and most of them are undecided. There are some exceptions for 2016, and one of those is Riverdale High School quarterback Zerrick Cooper. I watched Cooper at Elite 11 Quarterback Camp, and there’s mixed opinions on whether he will play QB or safety in college. But there’s no doubt that he’s a D1-caliber athlete. Clemson, Miami and Kentucky are some of the latest offers for the 6-2, 203-pound sophomore.
1. TWEET OF THE WEEK: Our recruiting tweet of the week goes to UGA offensive lineman Watts Dantzler — with my opinion added: