The Georgia signing day blog

semerson@macon.comFebruary 5, 2014 

Updates from the Butts-Mehre athletic building on Wednesday, including signings, notes, and updates.

3:45 p.m.: Lorenzo Carter commits

And there you go. Georgia caps off its day the way it wanted, by securing the commitment of five-star defensive rush specialist Lorenzo Carter.

The Norcross High School star announced his commitment on ESPNU, just now, and although we're not physically close to the coaches' offices, they made their feelings clear via tweets:






2:30 p.m.: Andrew Williams to Auburn

Georgia lost out on a major target, when defensive end Andrew Williams of Eagles Landing Christian committed to Auburn.

Mark Richt's press conference was going on at the same time. Maybe it was a coincident, but there was an audible grunt from Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo at the same time that Williams committed to Auburn.

1:03 p.m.: Malkom Parish signs

The 20th commitment is in. Cornerback Malkom Parish of Brooks County High School has sent in his letter-of-intent, Georgia announced.

Parish, a four-star prospect listed at 5-10 and 185 pounds, is one of the more important members of this class, given his position. Parish has a chance to come in and play right away, unless he struggles or the returning players improve from their performance last year.

In any case, Georgia is now waiting on the two remaining unknowns. Linebacker Lorenzo Carter, a top-20 national recruit per ESPN's rankings, is due to announce around 3:40 p.m. The Bulldogs are the favorite. Andrew Williams, a four-star defensive end, is due to announce at 2 p.m. Georgia is in a close battle with Auburn.

12:10 p.m.: Dyshon Sims signs

The 19th commitment is in, as offensive lineman Dyshon Sims has faxed (or e-mailed) in his letter-of-intent. Sims is a four-star prospect at Lowndes High School in Valdosta. Georgia lists him at 6-4 and 278.

That leaves cornerback Malkom Parish, from Brooks County, as the lone remaining committed player whose LOI has yet to arrive. That should happen soon, as there has been no scuttlebutt about Parish wavering.

Then, it becomes all about waiting on Lorenzo Carter and Andrew Williams.

11:45 a.m.: Getting to know you ....

Mark Richt said there was the "possibility" of position switches, though not from one side of the ball to the other. More like from inside to outside linebacker, or vice versa, or cornerback to safety or vice versa, and so on.

But what's limited that decision-making process is that the new defensive staff is still getting to know the players, and have been concentrating on recruiting.

"Our coaches are just getting to know (players). Literally they're looking at pictures of our players from the media guide just to figure out who's who," Richt said. "When we're going through mat drills and trying to grade them, they're like, 'Ah, I don't know who that is right now.'"

11:40 a.m.: Richt and coaches address fans

Mark Richt and each assistant coach - yes, each assistant coach - addressed the fans here for awhile. Most of it was rah-rah stuff, or detailed analysis of recruits that can do.

Here are some of the other highlights from their appearance:

- Richt said the hire of the staff's final assistant coach would come "relatively soon."

When a young boy followed up by asking Richt if he would hire a special teams coordinator, Richt laughed and said: "Who put you up to this?"

Turning serious, Richt played coy but said: "I think when the dust settles you'll be excited about how our special teams is handled."

- Mike Bobo said there were "no plans" to move Brendan Douglas to fullback.

- Richt was asked by a fan whether Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino did him a big favor by hiring away Todd Grantham. Richt walked away and just said he wasn't going to answer that.

But later, addressing the changes on his staff, Richt said: "I'll say this, I'm as excited and as energized as I've been in a long time. This whole thing has turned out to be quite a good thing for Georgia."

10:57 a.m.: End of the fax machine?

Three Georgia recruits scanned and e-mailed their letters-of-intent today, rather than fax them in.

Tight end Jeb Blazevich, offensive lineman Kendall Baker and tight end Hunter Atkinson each did so, according to UGA. The other 15 signees thus far have used the fax machine.

This isn't the first time Georgia has accepted LOIs via e-mail: Two years ago another signee (not identified) did so.

10:32 a.m.

Lamont Galliard has signed. The defensive lineman from Fayetteville, N.C., was rated a five-star prospect by some services, but is a four-star on the 247Sports Composite. He's listed at 6-3 and 310 pounds.

Galliard was the top commitment under the old defensive coaching staff. There was some thought inside the building that Galliard would waver with Jeremy Pruitt and Tracy Rocker on board, but he's officially in the fold now.

That leaves just Malkom Parrish and Dyshon Sims, who are both from the Valdosta area. As we know, sometimes faxes don't work as well down there, or at least they don't work as well when it comes to faxing letters-of-intent. But hopefully Georgia doesn't have to wait 24 hours this time, as in the Josh Harvey-Clemons imbroglio.

10:27 a.m.

Hunter Atkinson, the out-of-nowhere signing story of the day, has officially sent in his letter-of-intent. Atkinson becomes the 17th player to officially join the 2014 class.

Georgia lists Atkinson as a tight end, and at 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds.

Still waiting on Lamont Galliard, Malkom Parrish and Dyshon Sims. And Georgia is also hoping to get commitments and signings from Lorenzo Carter and Andrew Williams, each of whom announce later this afternoon.

10:00 a.m.

Sony Michel and Isaiah McKenzie did not commit simultaneously. But their letters-of-intent arrived at the same time in Athens on Wednesday morning.

Michel, a tailback, committed last year, while McKenzie committed very early on signing day. Their LOIs were announced as having been received by UGA just now.

Michel and Nick Chubb are the best tailback tandem to sign with one team this year, recruiting analysts agree. That makes whether they play this year, and how much, an intriguing subplot for the preseason. Georgia obviously has Todd Gurley, Keith Marshall (if he's healthy), and now a total of seven tailbacks.

McKenzie, whose late recruitment is a big coup for the Bulldogs, is very likely to play this year, and will be a candidate to return kicks and punts.

9:35 a.m.

Jake Edwards has become the third offensive linemen to send in his LOI. That leaves just Dyshon Sims, the O-lineman from Valdosta, who is expected to sign.

Edwards (6-4, 271) projects right now as an interior lineman who could grow into a tackle prospect.

This puts Georgia at 14 official signees, with six more commitments yet to arrive: Sims, Isaiah McKenzie, Sony Michel, Hunter Atkinson, Lamont Gaillard and Malkom Parrish.

9:20 a.m.

Receiver Rico Johnson has signed with Georgia ... again.

Johnson signed with Georgia last year but didn't qualify academically. So he spent the past year at something called the Georgia Sports Academy, which is in Atlanta. Now he's expected to qualify.

Johnson, a three-star prospect, is listed at 5-10 and 170. He'll be one of four receivers signing in this year's class.

8:50 a.m.

Tailback Nick Chubb has sent in his LOI. He'll be one of two tailbacks signing today, along with Sony Michel.

Chubb is rated a five-star by some outlets, and several analysts believe he can be a Todd Gurley-level talent.

Chubb (5-10, 215) is smaller than Gurley or Keith Marshall, but he has speed and quickness.

8:40 a.m.

Kendall Baker, an offensive lineman from Atlanta, becomes the 11th official signee of the day.

Baker (6-6, 275) is a tackle prospect. Georgia doesn't have any elite (as judged by the recruiting services) offensive linemen in this class. It's hoping that players like Baker, Isaiah Wynn and Dyshon Sims can develop into top-level starters.

8:30 a.m.

The big news the last few minutes is not an LOI, but a commitment: Isaiah McKenzie, a quick and elusive receiver from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., announced a commitment to Georgia. I have a separate story on McKenzie's commitment because it's that important.

Meanwhile, the LOIs continue to pour in: Tight end Jeb Blazevich (Charlotte, N.C.) and safety Shaquille Jones (Palm Bay, Fla.) have sent in theirs.

Blazevich could be the third tight end this year, behind starter Jay Rome and top backup Jordan Davis. Or Blazevich could redshirt while the team uses a walk-on at the third spot. Blazevich (6-5, 230) is rated a four-star prospect, and has been compared to former Georgia tight end Aron White.

Jones (6-2, 175) is rated a three-star prospect, and was another late addition to the class. He was committed to two other schools (South Alabama and then Louisville), but Georgia is where he signs.

8:20 a.m.

Two more offensive players are in:

Receiver Shakenneth Williams of Macon and guard Isaiah Wynn of St. Petersburg, Fla., have sent in their LOIs. Both have been committed for awhile.

Williams (6-1, 195) is rated a three-star prospect ... but so were Chris Conley and Michael Bennett.

Wynn (6-2, 269) is rated a four-star prospect, and the team hopes he can eventually help at guard or center. Georgia does have depth on the line, so Wynn won't be pressed into duty right away ... unless he's good enough right away.

8:15 a.m.

A bit of news on a preferred walk-on: Kicker William Ham of Stratford Academy plans to sign with Georgia this morning, according to the school, which says Ham will be a preferred walk-on.

Georgia is not signing a kicker in this class, with Marshall Morgan having two more years of eligibility. But the team likes to have a couple or more walk-ons on hand, and their importance has been shown through the years: In fact Patrick Beless and Adam Erickson each contributed last year, and Erickson is pushing Collin Barber at punter.

8:05 a.m.

Here's a defensive back that Georgia missed on: Kendarius Webster of Stockbridge has signed with Ole Miss. Webster, rated a three-star prospect, had been committed to Ole Miss for some time but Jeremy Pruitt made a run at him.

8:00 a.m.

Receiver Gilbert Johnson has sent in his LOI, making him the first offensive player to do so today - unless you count quarterback Jacob Park, who has already enrolled.

Johnson, a three-star prospect from Homestead, Fla., has good size (6-2, 190). The Bulldogs are deep at the receiver position, so Johnson would seem likely to redshirt this year, but you never know.

7:51 a.m.

Several more signees to report, both on the defensive side of the ball, with one new name. Well, an old name, but with a twist.

Linebacker Detric Dukes has sent in his LOI. Dukes has been committed for some time. And it's possible there's a name change in store: UGA announced him as Detric Bing-Dukes. So now we'll have to check to see if that's how we'll refer to him over the next three-to-five years.

Defensive back Dominick Sanders, who committed last week, has sent in his LOI. Sanders is the younger brother of former Georgia safety Chris Sanders, who left the team under less than ideal circumstances this week two years ago.

Dukes and Sanders have each been rated three-star prospects by the recruiting sites. Dukes was labeled a sleeper by one analyst, J.C. Shurburtt of 247Sports.com. Sanders was listed as an athlete by UGA, which probably just means he'll either be a cornerback or a safety, and possible special teams. There's been no talk of him playing offense.

One other note: Quarterback Jacob Park has also signed his LOI, but Park enrolled at Georgia earlier this semester, so he was already in the fold. Park is the only early enrollee this year for Georgia, which had 13 last year.

7:23 a.m.

Georgia's first letter-of-intent has arrived: Keyon Brown, a linebacker from Wauchula, Fla., has faxed (or e-mailed, who knows) in his LOI.

Brown is a consensus four-star prospect who has been committed for some time, so it's no surprise he didn't wait long to make it official. There hasn't been much buzz about Brown, because his recruitment was low-key. But several analysts I've spoken to think Brown has a chance to be a pretty good player.

Where Brown (listed at 6-3, 230) plays is up in the air with the change in defensive staffs. He's actually listed as a defensive end by several outlets, but could play outside or inside linebacker.

7 a.m.

I'm here, and I'm not sure how many of the coaches and recruiting staff ever left. Now is also the time that recruits can begin sending in their letters-of-intent, so expect the news to come fast and furious over the next few hours.

The current members of the team, meanwhile, have been in the building for a few hours, conducting mat drills. Then they were asked to leave so there could be room for parking. (As someone who lucked into one of those spaces, I was thankful.)

The first bit of drama for Georgia today is Isaiah McKenzie, the receiver and kick returner from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. McKenzie, who was offered late by Georgia, hasn't made official whether he'll sign early in the day or not. But if he does sign early, then it's quite a coup for Georgia.

The next bit of drama this morning is whether there is any drama: It seems that other Kenneth Gant, who for academic reasons is headed to Marshall, that Georgia is likely to hold onto its stated commitments.

And then Lorenzo Carter, big in size and importance, is set to announce at 3:40 p.m. That's after Mark Richt, Jeremy Pruitt and co. are set to speak to the media, which is a bit unfortunate. But oh well. (The coaches' press conference is scheduled for 2 p.m.)

We'll have updates all day. Strap in.





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