Reflecting on wild finish to UGA’s 2015 class

Mark Richt (AJC)

Mark Richt (AJC)

Last month’s signing day was the wildest finish to UGA’s recruiting class since Mark Richt was hired as coach before the 2001 season.

In the final two days of the 2015 recruiting calendar, UGA went down to the wire with 14 prospects in some form or fashion.

It was truly intense.

“Yes, it was fast and furious at the end,” Richt told the AJC with a chuckle. “That’s why you’ve got to try to have a plan if things don’t go well. If you lose a guy, you’ve got to be ready.”

The UGA scorecard during those final 48 hours went something like this: The Bulldogs added seven recruits, including three “re-commits” (the term for kids who committed to the same school at least twice). They also had a pair of “public affirmations” (kids who confirmed on signing day that they were sticking with UGA rather than flipping to another school). The Bulldogs also suffered two de-commits, and missed on two other targets.

Richt said he kept one thing in mind with the wild and wacky finish:

“You just work it to the end … in recruiting, it’s never over until it’s over,” Richt said.

When the smoke cleared, the Bulldogs finished with the nation’s No. 8 recruiting class, per the 247sports composite rankings. And they bumped up to No. 6 with the addition of Roquan Smith.

“Oh yeah, I was really pleased at the end,” Richt said.

Here’s the breakdown of UGA’s wild finish (the final 48 hours leading up to signing day):

LAST-MINUTE ADDITIONS (4)

  • Kirby Choates, DB: Got UGA offer when a scholarship opened up after another target went elsewhere. On signing day, Choates officially picked the Bulldogs over UMass and Georgia Southern.
  • Tae Crowder, RB: You want an example on how crazy and unpredictable recruiting can get? After Chris Carson unexpectedly flipped to Oklahoma Sate, Crowder got a call on the Monday evening before signing day and committed by the end of the conversation – without ever visiting UGA’s campus in his life, and without meeting any Bulldog coaches in person. He was previously pledged to Georgia Southern.
  • DeQuan Hawkins, DT: Got a January offer from UGA and reportedly committed while on his official visit, but waited until signing day to announce that he picked the Bulldogs over Missouri, even though he canceled his Missouri trip on the final weekend.
  • Roquan Smith, LB: Smith famously declined to sign his letter of intent after nearly getting burned by UCLA on signing day. Smith will officially become a UGA recruit when he attends his first day of classes this summer.

“RE-COMMITS” (3)

  • Patrick Allen, OL: Committed early to UGA, backed off after OL coach Will Friend was hired by Colorado State, and committed again to the Bulldogs over Tennessee on signing day
  • Rico McGraw, DB: Flipped from UGA to Alabama and back again to the Bulldogs on signing day. Much of the credit goes to defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, who never stopped recruiting McGraw after his switch to Alabama.
  • Shaquery Wilson, DB/WR: This one will make your head spin. Committed early to UGA, flipped to West Virginia a week before signing day, visited Florida on the final weekend, and switched back to the Bulldogs on signing day.

PUBLIC AFFIRMATIONS (2)

  • Terry Godwin, WR: Reaffirmed his pledge to UGA on evening of signing day (rather accompanying Darius Slayton on a flip to Auburn), much to the relief of Bulldog fans.
  • DeAndre Baker, DB: Committed early to UGA, took a late January visit to Texas, and considered flipping to the Longhorns (even tweeting hints). Baker waited until signing day to reveal that he was sticking with the Bulldogs.

DE-COMMITS (3)

  • Chris Carson, RB: After being committed to UGA since the summer, Carson took visit to Oklahoma State in late January. He reaffirmed his pledge to the Bulldogs to reporters on the Sunday before signing day, but changed his mind the next day (flipping to Oklahoma State). That led to UGA signing Tae Crowder
  • Darius Slayton, WR: Slayton was considered by some to be the state’s top WR prospect. He committed to UGA in December but made a surprise official visit to Auburn in mid-January. He flipped to the Tigers on the eve of signing day due to a family connection.
  • Deontai Williams, DB: He took quite a fall in recruiting. Williams committed early to Florida, flipped to UGA over the summer, and then caught everybody off guard on signing day when he was announced as a recruit for Ohio University. There has been lots of speculation to why Williams flipped, but no public explanation by Williams or his coach.

MISSES (2)

  • Nick Buchanan, OL: The former Cal commit basically said he went with his head over his heart, picking Florida over UGA (the home state favorite) on signing day
  • Van Jefferson, WR: This was some serious drama on signing day. Jefferson delayed his ceremony a couple of times even though he was committed to Ole Miss, creating speculation that he might flip back to UGA (his original choice) or pick Michigan. Jefferson signed with Ole Miss.

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