June 12, 2012

Recruiting a number's game



MACON - With 20 verbal commitments, Georgia has already surpassed the number of players who eventually signed to make up the current class of 2012.

Head coach Mark Richt isn't complaining about that.

Although NCAA rules prohibit Richt - or any college coach - from speaking publically about recruits, the Bulldog coach told reporters at Tuesday's Pigskin Preview at the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame that he'll never complain about prospects committing as early as they can.

"We were getting in the habit of that, I think, prior to last year's class," Richt said. "I think if we do our homework and the faster that we can make evaluations and decisions on whom to offer, go after these guys, I would think we could get some early commitments, unless something changes culturally where no one's doing it."

Of the Bulldogs' 20 verbal commitments, 13 have indicated that they will enroll early and start classes in spring semester of 2013.

So how many could Georgia ultimately sign?

Richt used last year's class as a hypothetical example to explain what could possibly happen.

"Last year we signed 19. Three of them (Keith Marshall, Faton Bauta and Mark Beard) were mid-year enrollees and all three of them could count back. Now you've got 16. Sixteen come in and you still have room for nine in that (2012) class to get to the 25, so with this group of guys (2013) at the mid-year, they can count forward or back," Richt said. "Mathematically, nine could count back if you've got room for nine mid-years and nine could come in and we'd still have the ability to sign 25 forward. Technically, that's 34 (that Georgia could sign for 2013), but you still have to have room under the 85."

That's where things can get tricky.

"That's the bottom line that you can't predict. People ask me all the time how many kids are we going to sign, and I tell them I don't know," he said. "I don't know how many juniors are going pro, I don't know how many guys might get injured and I don't know who might not do well academically, I don't know how many guys might misbehave where I've got to make a decision. You just don't know what kind of attrition you're going to have."

Speaking of attrition, Richt was asked about signees John Atkins and Leonard Floyd, both of whom have yet to arrive in Athens due to academic reasons.

"I've always said I 'expect' them all to be here," Richt said. "I'll stay with that quote."

Still no word on possible suspensions

Richt said he's still not ready to say anything publically regarding any possible suspensions to cornerback Branden Smith, linebacker Alec Ogletree and safety Bacarri Rambo.

"We're not ready to say anything publically, so I guess that's all I'll say," Richt said.

Senior safety Shawn Williams said he was in the dark as anybody.

"I really don't like to get into all that right now because I don't really know," Williams said. "No one really knows right now, to be honest. People are making their own assumptions, but I don't know."

As for Williams, the senior said the sprained MCL he suffered in the spring has completely healed and he's ready to take part in all of the team's summer drills.

"It's good to go," Williams said. "I'm back doing everything, running and conditioning-wise. I feel good."

New name atop depth chart at fullback

Georgia finally released its post-spring depth chart Tuesday and two names jumped out above the rest.

Walk-on Merritt Hall (RFr., 5-11, 216) is listed as the starter at fullback, followed by Richard Samuel and Zander Ogletree, while redshirt freshman Justin Scott-Wesley is listed along with Rantavius Wooten as the top backup to starting flanker Tavarres King.

"Merritt had a great spring. He's learned what to do and he was striking people with a lot of enthusiasm and he would have earned the right to be the starter at the end of spring, so we put him on the board that way," Richt said. "It's a very high-contact position and a guy's got to be really tough to do that. Richard Samuel has gotten some reps and is a guy who can do it. Alexander has been playing the fullback position and Quayvon Hicks is coming on."

Richt had some kind words for Hicks, who reported to school a solid 255 pounds.

"He's really well put together and you can see it in his eyes - he can't wait to get after it," Richt said. "But he's got to learn what to do, but I'd love to see that and have him put his hat in the ring."

Quarterback Aaron Murray said Hall earned his stripes with a solid spring camp.

"He's a crazy dude, a crazy football player. He just likes to put his head in a pile and knock people around," Murray said. "That's the kind of fullback you want, someone who is not afraid of contact, and whoever that first linebacker is who shows up, he's taking his head off. I'm excited about him."

Richt likes what he's seen from Scott-Wesley, too.

"Justin had a great spring in my opinion. When he got to Georgia, Justin was like a lot of kids in that he wanted to get big and strong, and he did. But he probably got too big," Richt said. "But he's trimmed back down, really became a much smoother route runner, got his initial quickness and speed back and he caught the ball well. There's no reason in my mind why he can't be real productive for us."

Richt insinuated the receiver's ceiling could be relatively high.

"I'm not going to tell you exactly how I feel about that, but I think he does," Richt said. "He's tall enough, he's strong enough, he's fast enough and I think he's serious about wanting to be a very good football player and a good person. I don't think there's any kind of limitations that you can put on him."

This and that

Richt still couldn't give a specific answer regarding the status of first-team right tackle Kolton Houston, but believes the former Buford standout should be cleared to play after missing all of last year due to what's only been termed officially as an NCAA issue. "I would still say I'm optimistic that he will be able to play," Richt said. … Richt was asked about whether or not the Bulldogs might eventually schedule a game with Georgia State. "That's certainly a possibility. Lately, it's been kind of an unwritten rule that we play Georgia Southern every four years but I don't think there's any contract that holds us to that," Richt said. "I don't know how far we've scheduled, but I would think that's a possibility." … Richt joked that he only offered to buy Mark Fox breakfast at Waffle House as part of an agreement between the two once his new contract extension became official. But when Fox's entire basketball showed up Monday, Richt laughed that he was caught off-guard. "There must've been nine people there," Richt said. "I thought the Waffle House was still an all-cash business and I only had like $60 with me, so I was worried there for a little while. I was happy to find out they took credit cards."