A year later, it’s the not so Dreamy Team

sports@macon.comAugust 16, 2012 

ATHENS -- Ray Drew was asked an open-ended question: When was the last time he’d heard the term “Dream Team?” He smiled, looked away and thought for a moment.

“It’s been a while. It’s been a while,” said Drew, Georgia’s 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 team’s top receiver last year. Nose tackle John Jenkins was a key linchpin in a defense that became one of the nation’s 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 we’re just gonna hold that bond no matter what,” said safety Corey Moore, who is one of the team’s 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. Don’t 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 that’s 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.

“We’ll 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.

Crowell’s 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 Crowell’s high-profile flameout shouldn’t overshadow the class.

“I believe that’s with every class. You’re gonna have people come in; you’re 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 didn’t 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. You’re 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 year’s entering class.

“Statistics say that every year, I’d say out of every class, two people are gonna get kicked out,” Moore said. “But we’re 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 don’t 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

The Telegraph is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service