ATHENS -- Ray Drew was asked an open-ended question: When was the last time hed heard the term Dream Team? He smiled, looked away and thought for a moment.
Its been a while. Its been a while, said Drew, Georgias sophomore defensive end.
They arrived at Georgia a year ago aiming to revive a program that had sagged. There were five-star recruits and those who had heralded signings, with a watershed puppy-raising moment.
But overall, the collective performance of the Dream Team has been kind of hazy.
There have been immediate stars. Malcolm Mitchell was arguably the teams top receiver last year. Nose tackle John Jenkins was a key linchpin in a defense that became one of the nations best last year.
Starting roles are set this year for cornerback Damian Swann and center David Andrews. Several others are primed for increased time this year.
Twenty-five players signed with Georgia on Feb. 3, 2011. Jenkins, a junior college transfer, signed three days later. Two of those 26 players did not qualify academically, which is about normal. But five more ended up being gone from the program less than a year later.
Most notable was Isaiah Crowell, dismissed during the summer following a felony gun charge arrest. Chris Sanders, Nick Marshall and Sanford Seay were dismissed in February, following a dorm room theft incident. And another, Quintavius Harrow, left the team amid academic troubles.
I still think, no matter what, we came in as one class, and were just gonna hold that bond no matter what, said safety Corey Moore, who is one of the teams top reserves at safety and in line for a starting spot next year. I still stay in contact with some of those guys who got kicked off. They just tell me keep my head up and Play hard for us. Dont make some of the mistakes we made.
Obviously, one year is way too early to evaluate a class. But so far, the dismissals and the performance of those left make the heralded class of 2011 seem like a rather ordinary SEC class: several stars, several starters, some wash-outs and the rest with uncertain futures.
When the Bulldogs open the season Sept. 1, at least four of them are definite starters. Linebacker Ramik Wilson and receiver Chris Conley could make it five and six.
Seven more are guaranteed to contribute: Moore, Drew, tight end Jay Rome, receiver Justin Scott-Wesley, inside linebacker Amarlo Herrera, offensive lineman Watts Dantzler and cornerback Devin Bowman.
But thats still less than half of the original class. Still waiting to prove themselves are quarterback Christian LeMay (battling to be the top backup), defensive end Sterling Bailey and the three other offensive linemen who were part of that class.
Well always be linked together, in some form or fashion. Because the way we came in, throughout the recruiting process, being able to come in and make an impact, Drew said.
Drew was one of the ringleaders of the class, at least during the recruiting process. He committed about a month before National Signing Day and did his best to rope others into the class.
Crowells announcement on signing day proved the most memorable moment of that signing class. The Columbus native famously raised an English Bulldog puppy before he signed. But Drew says Crowells high-profile flameout shouldnt overshadow the class.
I believe thats with every class. Youre gonna have people come in; youre gonna have people go, Drew said. As far as the hype part to it, it gets to a point where too much hype is given, expectations for guys, they get high.
You just go back and look at the Isaiah situation -- if he didnt win the Heisman, he was gonna be a bust. You know, it was just that kind of expectation that people had. Just having to try to live up those expectations can be hard. And trying to balance those expectations as athletes, with academics. Youre dealing with 18, 19-year-old guys. It is a lot as far as expectations.
Moore said he and his classmates already were spreading a message to this years entering class.
Statistics say that every year, Id say out of every class, two people are gonna get kicked out, Moore said. But were trying to say, Forget statistics and beat statistics. You guys stay as a group, hold yourselves accountable in everything you do.
Clearly, there is plenty of time for the Dream Team to turn out as advertised. Plenty of its members can turn out to be a stars and help lead Georgia to victories and championships.
In fact, as some of them pointed out, the Bulldogs did go from 6-7 to 10-4.
We dont feel like that Dream Team was more for us, we feel like it was more for the Bulldog Nation and the fans, Conley said. For us it was more of a team goal. We wanted young guys to come in and contribute to the team. And we feel like we did that.
THE DREAM TEAM?
Player Stars* Current status
RB Isaiah Crowell 5 Dismissed from team
WR-CB Malcolm Mitchell 4 Starter
DE Ray Drew 4 Reserve
TE Jay Rome 4 Reserve
CB Damian Swann 4 Starter
QB Christian LeMay 4 Reserve
S Corey Moore 4 Reserve
NT John Jenkins 4 Starter
CB Nick Marshall 4 Dismissed
WR Justin Scott-Wesley 4 Reserve
ILB Amarlo Herrera 4 Reserve
WR Chris Conley 3 Reserve
OT Watts Dantzler 3 Reserve
S Chris Sanders 3 Dismissed
OT Xzavier Ward 3 Reserve
OL Zach DeBell 3 Reserve
LB Ramik Wilson 3 Reserve, could start
DE Sterling Bailey 3 Reserve
WR Sanford Seay 3 Dismissed
C David Andrews 3 Starter
CB Devin Bowman 3 Reserve
OG Hunter Long 3 Reserve, hurt
LS Nate Theus 2 Reserve
S Quintavius Harrow 2 Academically ineligible
ILB Kent Turene 4 Did not qualify
DE Chris Mayes 3 Did not qualify, will re-sign
*- According to 247sports.com