Georgia looking to add several on Signing Day

Forget about Georgia’s 10-game winning streak last fall.

Offseason uncertainty surrounding football coach Mark Richt and the Bulldogs’ 0-2 start in 2011 have led to more recruiting volatility than usual.

Georgia had 17 commitments through Monday night, including the top-rated recruits in Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Florida (according to various recruiting services), but the Bulldogs would like to sign at least six or seven more on National Signing Day on Wednesday.

And that has led the Bulldogs, uncharacteristically, to pursue players who have committed to other schools and go hard after recruits who don’t plan to announce until the last minute.

“Typically, Georgia likes to have the majority of its class committed by football season, if not midway through,” said Chad Simmons, a national recruiting analyst for FOX Sports. “There is, potentially, a third of the class out there, still. If everything goes their way on signing day — and I doubt they’ll get every kid they’ve targeted — they could get as many as seven or eight more commitments.”

The hesitancy of this year’s recruits can be traced back to the 2010 season, when the Bulldogs finished 6-7, their first losing record under Richt.

That led to daily rumors about the job status of Richt and his staff last winter.

Despite that, the Bulldogs finished strong in recruiting with a 26-member class that was rated No. 5 in the country by Scout.com and featured an in-state “Dream Team.”

But then Georgia lost to Boise State and South Carolina to open 2011, losing perhaps the momentum it had gained in the offseason.

“Recruiting happens in spurts,” Simmons said. “You definitely see some momentum (now), but it’s hard (for Georgia) to have a great surge because they are in on so many kids who are going to decide so late in the process. They’ve really just loaded up and plan to go to war on Wednesday and see what happens.

“Their best surge or momentum swing could happen on Wednesday, which is not bad, but you just don’t want it to go the other way. You would be left out in the cold, because there are no more days left in recruiting.”

Georgia’s plan worked perfectly Tuesday night, when Sheldon Dawson, the top-rated player in Tennessee, decided to go with the Bulldogs. Dawson, who could play cornerback, safety or running back in college, had committed to his hometown school, Memphis, but changed his mind when Tigers coach Larry Porter was fired in late November.

Dawson adds to a unique group for Richt, who also has commitments from the top-rated player in Georgia (linebacker/defensive end Jordan Jenkins), the top-rated player in Florida (offensive tackle John Theus) and the top-rated player in North Carolina (running back Keith Marshall).

Georgia also is focusing on a number of players who have committed to other schools. That group of in-state players includes receiver JaQuay Williams (Auburn), defensive end Josh Dawson (Vanderbilt), offensive lineman Brandon Greene (Alabama) and linebacker Kenderius Whitehead (North Carolina State). Memphis cornerback Will Redmond, who has committed to Mississippi State, also is on Georgia’s list, as are uncommitted linebacker Josh Harvey-Clemons, offensive lineman Avery Young and junior-college receiver Cordarrelle Patterson.

The Bulldogs also have taken hits from receiver C.J. Curry, who changed his mind and committed to Oklahoma State, and from offensive lineman Chester Brown, who reportedly de-committed because of a Georgia Board of Regents policy regulating the admission of undocumented students.

Simmons said Richt needs to finish strong to give his class the depth of such programs as Alabama and LSU.

“Georgia can compete in recruiting with anyone when it comes to those top eight to 10 prospects,” he said. “Where some of those other schools separate themselves is what they do with those final 10 to 15 spots. It’s not just filling bodies and all that. You have to get football players, quality athletes and guys with positional need. Definitely at the top, Georgia is doing quite well. Can they finish what they started? That’s the question.”