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May 13, 2005

Done deal: Stafford makes his choice

The class of 2006 features numerous top quarterback prospects, but schools in the market for an elite signal caller can scratch one name off their wish list.

Matthew Stafford, a standout at Highland Park High school in Dallas, pulled the trigger Friday, giving a verbal commitment to Georgia during a press conference at his high school.

Stafford had more than 40 scholarship offers in all. Texas, Michigan, Oklahoma and Florida State were his other finalists.

The 6-foot-3, 210-pounder had plenty of reasons to pick the Bulldogs. His girlfriend is already a student in Athens, while his father earned his MBA from Georgia. Stafford also maintained throughout the process that he enjoyed a special relationship with the Bulldogs' coaching staff.

"They have a great coaching staff and I've always felt really comfortable with them," Stafford said. "I liked everything about Georgia."

In Stafford, Georgia is getting one of the top quarterback prospects in the nation. He was part of the Rivals.com pre-evaluation list of the nation's top 100 players in the class of 2006 and the first-team choice at quarterback on the Rivals.com 2006 All-America Team.

"You're talking about one of the elite quarterbacks in the country," Rivals.com Editor Bobby Burton said. "He has all of the skills, he's been well-coached. He's a guy who, because of their situation at the quarterback position, will have a chance to be the starter early in his career."

Stafford, an all-state selection in Texas in each of the last two seasons, burst onto the national scene after throwing for more than 3,000 yards and 35 touchdowns as a sophomore. Those numbers dipped slightly as a junior, as he finished with 1,800 yards through the air and 18 scores.

But those close to Stafford believe he's primed for a big senior campaign. He recently completed an impressive series of spring practices with his team, a performance that was highlighted by a strong showing in Highland Park's spring game last night.

"Matthew threw two or three touchdowns last night in the game and did very well," Highland Park coach Randy Allen told UGASports.com. "This has been a good spring for him, having really improved on his running ability."

Now that his college decision has been made, Stafford is also looking forward to having a huge senior season.

Senior D.J. Shockley is expected to guide the Georgia offense this season. Beyond that, Stafford is likely to compete against Joe Cox, the Bulldogs' only quarterback recruit in the class of 2005, and Blake Barnes, a highly regarded 2004 recruit.

Stafford becomes Georgia's sixth verbal commitment for the class of 2006, and adds to what is shaping up as another outstanding recruiting effort for Bulldogs coach Mark Richt.

Matthew Stafford highlight video


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