December 28, 2008

Filling out the class

ORLANDO, Fla. - With National Signing Day now just over one month away, the seats on Georgia's recruiting train are filling up fast.

In an exclusive interview Sunday with UGASports, Recruiting Coordinator Rodney Garner said the Bulldogs "currently have 18 scholarships, maybe 20" available to offer the class of 2009.

With 16 verbal commitments, that doesn't leave much room.

"Realistically, I think that number is around 18, 18-20, that's factoring in some attrition," Garner said. "You're going to have some attrition so you try to factor that into the equation when you're trying to figure anything out."

The 18-20 scholarships currently expected to be available does not include those belonging to quarterback Matthew Stafford and running back Knowshon Moreno, should they decide to enter the NFL Draft.

Currently, the Bulldogs appear to be focusing on seven players (in no particular order) - wide receiver Marlon Brown (Harding Academy), linebacker Jarvis Jones (Carver), wide receiver Cameron Kenney (Garden City Community College), defensive back Branden Smith (Washington High), defensive endPernell McPhee (Itawamba CC), defensive back Jawanza Starling (Tallahassee-Lincoln) and athlete Ray Ray Armstrong (Seminole, Fla.).

Smith is expected to announce his decision on Jan. 4 prior to the Under Armour All-American Game here in Orlando.

Others, including Jones and Brown have publically stated that they plan on waiting until Signing Day before making their decisions known.

While NCAA rules prohibit college coaches from speaking about specific recruits, Garner said he's pleased with the efforts that have been made, and the school does have a backup plan in place if the program is for whatever reason unable to land the final pieces being focused on.

"We've always got backup plan but that doesn't always mean it works out 100 percent. You try to do the best you can and hope you get the guys you have targeted," Garner said. "But in this recruiting business, this isn't an exact science, especially when you're waiting on 17-18 year old kids to make a decision. Unfortunately, they go back and forth, back and forth. Hopefully it will all work out. Hopefully we'll get the ones we need at Georgia."

Head coach Mark Richt has his fingers crossed.

"Usually, by this time the great majority of our class is in," Richt said before Sunday's workout. "Usually, those guys (who are late signing) are icing on the cake. The cake is pretty solid and real healthy right now. But if we can nail one or two more here at the end, it's going to be a little extra special, a cherry on top."

Garner said he's positive that the Bulldogs have targeted the right players to round out their 2009 signing class.

"I think we feel like we're doing a good job and we've targeted the right guys. But ultimately you'll understand your success on Signing Day," Garner said. "That's the first measuring stick and in August when they report. We can win the battle on Signing Day, but until they report in August is still doesn't matter."

NOTE: Garner said there's still a chance that the Bulldogs could sign a junior college player in time for that person to be eligible to participate in spring drills. "There's a possibility. There are some things that have to work out. There are some things that have to go exactly right," he said.

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