Recruiting Message to Fans: Stop Panicking, Adjust Expectations, Embrace the Defense
The talent that Georgia is losing on the defensive side of the ball is being talked about a lot more than the young talent that has been waiting to shine. That notion combined with the high number of returning offensive starters has sent Bulldog nation into full-on panic mode as Signing Day approaches. Georgia needs defensive stars, and Georgia needs them now! At least that’s what I’m hearing.
A good recruiting class is always important – especially on the defensive side of the ball, but I think a lot of fans are selling a little too much of their Georgia Defense stock. In reality the only way the 2013 defensive recruiting class should yield utter panic (which it seems to be doing) is the following conditions are met:
- Players from the 2011 “Dream Team” class (contributors like Damian “Black” Swann, Ray Drew, Amarlo Herrera, Ramik Wilson, etc.) begin to stall out and/or regress.
- Players from the 2012 class who have shown a lot of promise (Sheldon Dawson, Josh Harvey Davidson Roger Clemons, Jordan Jenkins, Josh Dawson, etc.) peak entirely too early.
- Both assumptions above come to fruition prompting Georgia to lean heavily on the 2013 class, and this class proves to be untalented/unfit.
I don’t foresee those three things coming to fruition for the following reasons:
- The “Dream Team” class was the “Dream Team” class because it was full of talented athletes with promising Georgia careers ahead of them. That is still the case (with a few more criminal exceptions). Swann and Herrera are ahead of schedule in some regards. I expect Ray Drew to start taking ownership of his position and I expect guys like Ramik Wilson and Devin Bowman to come out like men on fire now that there are finally some openings on the field.
- Jordan Jenkins was a man-child this year. Josh Harvey Davidson Roger Clemons is an absolutely incomprehensible physical specimen (he seemed 12 feet tall when I was on the field during the Capital One Bowl). Both Dawsons are progressing nicely. Again, there is a lot of talent that has patiently waited for a chance.
- This 2013 class has addressed needs. Four-star DB Tray Matthews is regarded as the nation’s fifth best safety; he could play right away. Four-star CB Reggie Wilkerson is one of the nation’s top-25 corners. DT John Atkins is 6’4” and 310 pounds and he spent the last year at Hargrave Military Academy (with 17 other D-1 commits). Reginald Carter is the nation’s 14th best ILB. And those are just the guys who are already enrolled in Athens. If Georgia locks up the prospects that are verbally committed the Dawgs will add five more DBs (two from JUCO, one from Hargrave, one from Plant in Tampa – home of Aaron Murray among others – and two 4-star players from Georgia high schools), a four-star DE from Hargrave, another 310 lb. DT, two more four-star linebackers and a three-star backer who is already 6’3” and 233 lbs.
That’s a lot of incoming talent. Would Reuben Foster be nice? Of course he would (but I have serious doubts about anyone who gets an Auburn tattoo). Would Montravius Adams contribute right away? Most likely. Do I want those guys to come? YES! Again, I hope all those guys sign with Georgia this week.
But Georgia has put together a defensive recruiting class that addresses needs and is filled with talent. Add that to the talent that is already in Athens – the talent that everyone celebrated on Signing Day in 2011 and 2012 before forgetting about – and Georgia’s defense is going to be just fine in 2013.
Georgia fans need to adjust expectations (and this time that’s a good thing). As fans we can’t have it both ways. It makes no sense to celebrate star recruits, celebrate the future NFL Draft picks all over the field and then lack confidence in the talented recruits that we celebrated because they were behind All-Stars on the depth chart.
Think about it in “real world” terms. Your company hires a young regional director, John, to run Southeastern operations. John went to Harvard undergrad before working on Wall Street and completing a Wharton MBA program. His leadership skills are as impressive as his résumé. Are you going to be upset with John in five years if he hasn’t progressed to CEO? I don’t know, you tell me. What if your firm’s CEO is Jeff Bezos – the founder of Amazon.com and the best CEO in America according to Forbes. Should you really be upset that John hasn’t demonstrated his CEO skills at the highest level? No. Should you panic and find a replacement for John? No. Should you continue to have confidence in he notion that what got John to where he is – his skills and prior performance – will ultimately serve him well when the time for more responsibility comes? Yes.
The point is this: I don’t think we need to panic about the guys who are replacing the likes of Jarvis, Ogletree, Rambo, Jenkins and Williams. Not yet. We’ve got some guys whose football résumés are pretty daggum good.
For the first time in years Georgia’s defense in 2012 had enough mature, elite talent to keep budding, developing talent off the field. That’s a good thing. When a true freshman comes in (like Rennie Curran did at the tail end of 2007 for instance) and makes an immediate impact it says a lot about the talent of that young man. But it also says a lot about the lack of depth on the team. I don’t think that Curran would have starred as a true freshman on the 2012 Georgia defense, but that’s not an indictment of him as a player. It’s high praise for the team’s depth.
The pace and physicality of SEC defense takes time to adjust to. I for one am glad that some of the studs mentioned earlier in this article have been given the chance to watch, learn and improve while making those adjustments. That’s a good thing.
Alabama consistently recruits the best class in America. A lot of those guys are buried on the depth chart for a year or two (or three). And yet they come onto the field ready to play. Georgia’s not there yet, but last time I checked the Dawgs were damn close.
Upcoming Recruiting Previews:
- This Afternoon: Defensive line
- Monday Morning: Linebackers
- Monday Afternoon: Defensive backs
- Tuesday Morning: Recap of Recruits
- Tuesday Afternoon: Signing Day Preview
- Wednesday: All Day Signing Day Live Updates
That’s all I got/