February 1, 2008

Richt talks recruiting

Apparently, the word 'commitment' means just that to Georgia coach Mark Richt.

When asked about his stance on verbal commitments who continue taking official visits to other schools, Richt said those players do so at their own risk.

"Here's what I tell them, if you decide to take visits after you say you're committed to us, then we take that as not being committed," Richt said during a Friday teleconference with beat writers. "If they keep dancing with somebody other than you, then they take a risk of losing that opportunity to play at Georgia. We don't go back on what we say, although sometimes you wonder whether they are really committed or not."

NCAA rules prohibited Richt from mentioning recruits by name until they either sign or enroll in school, although four-star performers Xavier Avery of Ellenwood and Dwayne Allen from Fayetteville, N.C. are two players who visited other programs after saying they will play with the Bulldogs.

Avery visited Oklahoma recently, but has since re-affirmed his allegiance with Georgia.

Allen's apparently still making up his mind.

Although UGASports still lists the tight end as a Georgia commit, Allen continues to listen to Florida State, North Carolina, Clemson and will take an official visit to Virginia Tech this weekend before making a final decision prior to National Signing Day on Wednesday.

Overall, Richt said he and his staff have been extremely pleased with the class the Bulldogs have assembled.

By having predominately the entire class in place, Richt and his assistants have been able to spend in-home visits shoring up relationships with players rather than fretting over the one or two recruits who may or may not sign.

"I really haven't had to do much recruiting," Richt said. "When you get the home visits at this point, pretty much every single one of these young men has already committed. Basically, we use this time as a way to get better acquainted, talk about what they've been doing and get to know each other better.
"This is a time of celebration for these players, their families and for Georgia."

The Bulldogs will sign their full load of 25 players Wednesday, athletes Richt said will greatly compliment those returning for this year's squad.

For one of the first times in Richt's seven previous years, quality depth doesn't appear to be an issue.

"I think we're in a real healthy situation. I'm not saying that something could happen that might put us in dire straights, but we're not in a situation where we needed to sign X-amount of linemen or certain other positions where players need to play now," Richt said. "By the grace of God, not only were we able to get the players we needed, but (in 2007) we got a tremendous amount of good-looking linemen, many of whom got to play for us and helped us accomplish a season that was truly outstanding."

One of Georgia's incoming freshman linemen - Centreville, Ala. native Ben Jones - has already grabbed Richt's attention.

Like former Bulldog David Pollack and current star Knowshon Moreno, Richt said Jones' motor is reminiscent of the duo. Jones, who enrolled in January, is expected to battle for the starting center position following the graduation of Fernando Velasco.

"Ben goes hard all the time, that's just the way he is," Richt said. "Like with David, sometimes guys might think he's trying to show off. Knowshon's a little like that, too. But that's just the way he plays."

Richt also gave high marks for new tight ends coach John Lilly, who has hit the ground running for the Bulldogs since his recent hiring.

"John always did a tremendous job at Florida State, both as a coach and a recruiter," Richt said of Lilly, formerly the Seminoles' recruiting coordinator. "But that (recruiting) wasn't the only reason we brought him here. No. 1, he's an outstanding person who buys into the way we do things around here, and No. 2, he's an outstanding coach. I guess I should say No. 2 and No. 3, because you can't be a coach and not be an outstanding recruiter. He just really takes good care of the guys he coaches, and that's one of the things I really admire about him."

Richt was also asked about the possibility of the NCAA allowing an early signing period for football, much like that in college basketball and baseball.

He didn't think that was necessarily a good idea.

"I think you have to be careful what you ask for. I can see some merit to it. It would be nice with these early commitments to have them sign and not have to mess with any more of the recruiting process. That might be good for him and his family," Richt said. "On the other hand, we'd have to commit a lot more time early on to official visits before the games and before the season. I'd like to pay attention to the guys we have, the start of the season and the start of the game. I'm just afraid there wouldn't be enough time."

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