Bulldogs prepare to sign balanced class

kendall_j@bellsouth.netFebruary 6, 2008 

ATHENS - Last year’s signing class worked out well for Georgia, but head coach Mark Richt hopes never to have to go through something like that again.

The Bulldogs found themselves desperate for offensive linemen heading into the 2007 season and had to sign eight in last year’s class. Not only that, they knew they would have to count on several of those to play right away.

“By the grace of God we were able to not only get the players we felt we needed, a tremendous amount of good-looking linemen, but guys who were able to come in and play,” Richt said. “I never would have predicted that it could have ended like that.”

Georgia, which finished No. 2 last year despite starting three freshmen on the offensive line, arrives at today’s National Signing Day with its roster smoothed out and no pressing need at any one position.

“Right now, I think we’re real healthy,” Richt said.

That health is allowing the Bulldogs to bring in a class of 24 players spread evenly across their team — five defensive backs, four running backs, four offensive linemen, four defensive linemen, two wide receivers, two tight ends, two linebackers and a place-kicker. The class is projected as the nation’s third-best by Scout.com and fourth-best by Rivals.com.

Arriving at that balance is a challenge, Richt said. The Bulldogs recruit based on their projected needs two years down the road and head into each recruiting season with a target number of players they would like to sign at each position.

“If you hit every number right where you target it, that works out great,” Richt said. “Sometimes you don’t get as many as you wanted at a certain position, so you start looking at the best available athlete. It’s definitely an inexact science, but we do have a plan and try to stay within two or three of that number.”

The balance of this year’s class is always the goal, Richt said, but he’s not promising there won’t be any more years when the Bulldogs have to load up on players at a specific position.

“I’m not going to sit here and say that something couldn’t happen at a position to put us in a dire straight again,” he said. “It’s one thing to feel like you need a certain amount of guys at a certain position. It’s another thing altogether to feel like they have to go out and play with you right away. That’s the position I hope we are never in again.”

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