ATHENS, Ga. — College football recruiting has hit the homestretch before Wednesday’s National Signing Day, when players can officially sign with schools.
Georgia’s remaining targets include more than its usual share of recruits already on commitment lists at other schools – Sandy Creek receiver JaQuay Williams has pledged to Auburn, Tucker defensive end Josh Dawson to Vanderbilt, Cedar Grove offensive lineman Brandon Greene to Alabama, Martin Luther King linebacker Kenderius Whitehead to North Carolina State and Memphis, Tenn., defensive back Sheldon Dawson to Memphis.
Those verbal commitments are nonbinding. Georgia can only hope that the ties that ultimately bind will belong to the Bulldogs.
Dawson gave his commitment to the Commodores last summer.
“Georgia never gave up on him,” said Franklin Stephens, who coaches Dawson at Tucker.
Georgia typically doesn’t continue to try to recruit players committed to other schools unless the player lets the coaches know they still have an interest, according to Chad Simmons, a recruiting analyst for Scout.com.
“All those guys have left that door cracked a little bit for Georgia to come in, and they’re trying to capitalize on it,” Simmons said.
It’s a two-way street, of course.
Georgia lost tight end commitment Dwayne Allen to Clemson in 2008 and receiver Da’Rick Rogers to Tennessee in 2010, the same year offensive lineman Kenarious Gates switched late from Kentucky to Georgia.
“It’s a competitive business that we’re in,” Garner said on signing day in 2010. “It’s like gameday. They’re not going to give up until the process (ends). You have to have respect for that.”
Sheldon Dawson committed to Memphis before last season, but the school fired coach Larry Porter in November.
“He was pretty solid when Porter was there, but once they fired him, he just opened it back up,” Ridgeway High coach Duron Sutton said.
Georgia made an offer to Dawson before the season and started pursuing him again after learning he was looking elsewhere, Sutton said. He is also considering Ole Miss.
“I think these guys are their A-list guys,” Simmons said. “Brandon Greene was always a priority. Josh Dawson had an early offer. Jaquay Williams was never a Plan B. He didn’t get the offer (earlier) because he had academic questions.”
Dawson told Scout.com after a Saturday night visit from Georgia coaches: “It is really split down the middle between Vanderbilt and Georgia right now.”
Georgia is also in the running for uncommitted targets. Lowndes linebacker Josh Harvey-Clemons; offensive tackle Avery Young from Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.; and junior college receiver Cordarrelle Patterson are on the Bulldogs’ radar.
“If you’re a coaching staff worth your salt, you are recruiting to the bitter end,” ESPN recruiting analyst Tom Luginbill said. “Whether you are recruiting players that have yet to commit, players that have already committed to you or players that are committed elsewhere, the good ones are recruiting everybody.”
Coaches know that if they push enough, a player might swing their way.
“I think it has a lot to do sometimes with the kid,” Stephens said. “Sometimes schools will back off. Sometimes schools will continue to pursue kids. I think you know more about it now just because it’s reported.
“In the past before we really got deep into the Internet age, kids would take their final official visits in late December or January and make a decision then. Now you have kids committing sophomore year, junior year. That’s a long time to hold a commitment.”