HOOVER, Ala. - NCAA rules prohibit coaches like Mark Richt from speaking specifically about specific recruits but there was a certain twinkle in his eye when the subject was broached Thursday morning.
After what was perceived as slow start to Georgia's recruiting season, the Bulldog have been on fire, pulling in 14 verbal commitments, a run that started when Calhoun receiver Da'Rick Roger committed back in early June.
"When I was doing the Bulldog Club tour everyone was like 'Oh my gosh, Georgia just isn't doing very well,'" Richt said during a sit-down with beat reporters at the Wynfrey Hotel. "I was like 'Ok, we're still evaluating, we're offering the right people.'"
But Richt never dreamed the rush would be quite as intense as it's been.
From Brent Benedict to Nickell Robey, Garrison Smith to T.J. Stripling and Kendrun Malcome to Dexter Morant, players have been committing at a furious pace.
"I'm laying on the lounge at the lake and the phone rings; we've got a commitment. I'm working out and the workout phone rings; we've got a commitment," Richt said. "I'm on vacation, we've got all this going on and I'm telling myself this isn't a bad way to go. It did happen fast, it happened furious and really faster than we ever could have imagined."
The Bulldogs aren't done.
Although Richt could not say how many more players he expected to gain commitments from in the coming days and weeks, he agreed with the notion that momentum in recruiting has certainly been a factor as far as Georgia is concerned.
"I don't think there's any question. If you're a player you may know where you want to go, or you want to have some fun (with commitment) but there are only x-amount of commits, so many spots at positions and that's what builds that momentum," Richt said. "A lot of them know if this is where they want to go they'd better go ahead and commit or I may lose my opportunity."
No comment on Carver situation
Richt was asked about the situation with Carver High School after its head coach reportedly banned the Bulldogs from recruiting the school after quarterback Devin Burns was told he would not be allowed to commit.
"I can't really make any kind of statement about that," Richt said. "There will come a day when I can."
The story made headlines throughout the recruiting world and was picked up by several national outlets, including ESPN.
"I can't speak to the specifics but in general I'm not that surprised that it created that much attention," Richt said. "We got it because we're part of the SEC and we are Georgia. Anything any of us do brings more attention to the program than maybe it ought to."
Still waiting on Geathers
Freshman Kwame Geathers still hasn't been able to report to campus while he goes through the NCAA Clearinghouse but Richt said he still expects him soon.
"We still expect him to be here," Richt said. "He's just got a couple of more hoops to jump through and hopefully he's jumping through them right now."
Players are due to report to campus Aug. 3 before beginning preseason drills on the 4th.
Cox scoffs at "hot seat comment"
Quarterback Joe Cox was asked by a reporter whether or not Richt was on the hot seat after last year's 10-3 campaign.
He was not pleased. "I think it's a joke. With his history and a 10-win season, just the talk of it really bothers our team," Cox said. "When you also look at the things he does for the school off the field there is no way you can let a guy go like that."
Richt's eight-year record of 82-22 ranks fourth in the country behind USC's Pete Carroll, Florida's Urban Meyer and Oklahoma's Bob Stoops.
Running backs will be evaluated closely
Richt said he's confident Georgia's running back situation will work itself out.
Caleb King, Carlton Thomas, Richard Samuel, Dontavius Jackson and WaShaun Ealey will each receive an equal opportunity to impress once preseason begins.
"I could probably blindly grab two or three of them and I would have confidence whatever three I picked out," Richt said. "Sometimes when you say no one has separated themselves from the pack, sometimes that's bad if you're pack isn't very good. But if you got a pack of good ones, you know, it's hard to separate also because you have some talented guys around you. I think it's more a situation of that than not having anybody outstanding."
Richt said he and the rest of Georgia's offensive coaches won't rush to any decisions.
"The whole thing is going to be the one who gets it done when it counts the most," he said. "We have 29 practice opportunities to see who it is. If it's one guy carrying the load, the majority of the load, I'm fine with that. If it's three guys sharing it, I'm OK with that, too. But we're going to run the ball."
Owens falls just short of team bench record
Defensive tackle Jeff Owens figured he'd give Ben Watson's team bench-press record a shot.
Watson, currently a standout tight end with the New England Patriots, set the Bulldogs bench mark with a lift of 565. Owens maxed out at 545 after trying to set a new mark at 570.
"I went for it, I went for the jugular," said Owens, who tore his ACL in the season-opener against Georgia Southern. "But hey, 545 is still a lot of weight."
Earlier in the week, Owens maxed out at 600 pounds in the squat.
This and that
Richt was asked about moving the annual game with Florida in Jacksonville to another site but didn't get drawn into any controversy. "I want to focus on wining that game. That's' all I want to focus on when it comes to that game," he said. "That's all I want to focus on when it comes to that game."
On whom he voted for to be the first-team quarterback on the preseason All-Conference team: "It was Tim Tebow," Richt said. "I think that's what everybody else has said so far."
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