Bulldogs enjoy relaxing recruitment this time around

ATHENS, Ga. --- Hugs replaced the hard sell in the homestretch of recruiting for Georgia's 2008 class.


"I don't miss it one bit," coach Mark Richt said.

With nearly all of its 25-player recruiting haul secured months ago, there isn't expected to be much drama for the Bulldogs heading into Wednesday's national signing day.

Aside from Jefferson County lineman A.J. Harmon, who pledged in January, Georgia's non-binding commitments were all in four days before Thanksgiving, and 15 were on board before July 1.

Contrast that to 2004, when 10 of Georgia's 19 signees committed in January and two -- Dannell Ellerbe and Brandon Miller -- waited all the way until signing day to make their decisions.

"I really haven't had to do much recruiting when you get into the home visits at this point," Richt said. "I think every single house that I went to, the young man had already been committed. We were not really recruiting as much as celebrating the decision that had been made already. ÂIt is a time of celebration for these families, these young men and for Georgia."

While several of the top prospects nationally have yet to reveal their college choices -- including Alabama receiver Julio Jones, Pennsylvania quarterback Terrelle Pryor and California running back Darrell Scott -- recruits are making their decisions earlier and earlier.

"A lot of the power schools have 85 or 90 percent of the recruiting done by the last couple of weeks before signing day these days," said Bobby Burton, national analyst and publisher for Rivals.com.

Burke County defensive end Cornelius Washington committed to Georgia on July 10, 2006 -- before his junior year. That's 576 days before he actually could sign.

"There's just a scramble for the athletes, and people are offering earlier and making earlier decisions," said Allen Wallace, publisher of SuperPrep magazine and national recruiting editor for Scout.com.

Georgia already has extended scholarship offers to several of its targets in the 2009 class, and four have recently said yes, including Emanuel County Institute running back Washaun Ealey and linebacker Dexter Moody.

Bulldogs coaches got a chance to see both in Athens up close at a summer camp, offering a chance to eyeball and evaluate talent.

"You hold multiple camps throughout the summer, kids from the '09, the '10, the '11 classes, you bring them on up each and every year and that's how you start recruiting legally the classes beyond the one that you're currently recruiting," said Tom Luginbill, national recruiting director for ESPN Scouts Inc. and a former Georgia Tech quarterback.

Georgia didn't even need to take its full allotment of official visits.

The NCAA allows schools up to 56 official visits every year. Recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner estimated that Georgia used 36 for this class.

With 15 seniors on scholarship in 2008, Georgia will have a smaller class next year.

Richt said Georgia is being selective in the offers it makes to ensure that it casts a wide as net as possible.

"We're not going at breakneck speed," Richt said.

Reach Marc Weiszer at marc.weiszer@onlineathens.com.



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