Georgia has more than Georgia on its mind on signing day

semerson@macon.comFebruary 1, 2012 

ATHENS -- The fax machine, enjoying its day in the spotlight, will pump up Wednesday morning at the Georgia football facility.

Bulldogs coaches will watch it to make sure that signed national letters-of-intent come in from players they expect and hold out hope for players who are holding the suspense until Wednesday morning.

It is certain, however, that those letters will originate from outside the state far more than in previous years, especially last year when the so-called in-state “Dream Team” formed the core of Georgia’s class.

Among the 17 commitments the Bulldogs had as of Tuesday, nine of were from outside the state. And among the major targets announcing Wednesday, about half are from Georgia.

Compare that to last year, when Georgia got 19 of its 25 signees from within its own state’s borders.

Is that a sign of weakness? One national expert says it’s not.

“If they land Josh Harvey-Clemons (Wednesday), that gives them the top two players in the state. And that’s pretty good,” said J.C. Shurburtt, the national recruiting analyst for

Harvey-Clemons is an outside linebacker from Valdosta who will announce his decision at 9 a.m. on ESPNU. The other player to whom Shurburtt referred was outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins, who announced for Georgia in early January.

Georgia also will get an letter from defensive lineman Jonathan Taylor, ranked No. 4 in the state by, and No. 5 by

But among the rest of the in-state top 25, the likes of LSU, Alabama and South Carolina have made inroads.

“Georgia as a state, and Atlanta as an area, just the whole dynamic of it is changing. ... You’re not gonna bat 1.000 with everyone you want anymore,” Shurburtt said. “Now there was a time over the past decade when Georgia did that. I don’t think they’re incapable of doing that. But you’ve got a very attractive Alabama right next to you, and a very attractive Auburn. ... You’ve got a lot more competition now.”

The Bulldogs have also made up for it with an unusually strong year recruiting outside the state:

Tailback Keith Marshall, who is already enrolled, is the top-ranked player in North Carolina, according to ESPN. Todd Gurley, another tailback from the Tar Heel state, is also headed to Georgia.

Offensive tackle John Theus is the top-ranked player in Florida, according to Theus committed to Georgia last summer and could start at left tackle as a freshman.

Defensive back Sheldon Dawson is the top-ranked player in Tennessee, according to 247sports. Dawson committed to Georgia on Monday.

Dawson’s commitment propelled the Bulldogs higher in the ever-changing team rankings. Right now they’re No. 7 in 247sports – but only 19th according to

A strong day Wednesday could change that. Not only Harvey-Clemons, but offensive tackle Avery Young (from south Florida) and junior college receiver Cordarelle Patterson (originally from South Carolina) are considered the key targets.

But Georgia men’s basketball head coach Mark Fox had cautionary words for the importance of recruiting rankings.

“(Kansas State football head coach) Bill Snyder would tell you, ‘Rank my recruiting class when their career is over,’ ” Fox said. “I always thought it was an interesting way of looking at it.”

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