- David Ching, ESPN Staff Writer
ATHENS, Ga. -- The 11th-hour decommitment is perhaps the recruiting fan’s greatest nightmare as national signing day approaches. And Georgia has had its share of both the heartbreak that accompanies a prospect’s flipping and the elation that comes when a committed player has a change of heart and instead decides to sign with the Bulldogs.
Let’s review some of the notable players who switched their commitment to or from Georgia at the last minute before signing day:
Da’Rick Rogers (Calhoun, Ga./Calhoun): ESPN gave the star wide receiver a lower grade than most recruiting services -- and he was still the No. 30 overall prospect on the 2010 ESPN 150. Rogers’ last-minute defection to Tennessee was the most painful among a number of blows Mark Richt’s staff absorbed around signing day that year, and yet his series of disciplinary issues in college made the loss a bit easier to take in hindsight.
Rogers was arguably the SEC’s top receiver as a sophomore, totaling 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns on 67 catches, but was suspended in the offseason and eventually transferred to Tennessee State. He totaled 61 catches for 893 yards and 10 touchdowns there in 2012 and declared for the NFL draft after the season.
Dwayne Allen (Fayetteville, N.C./Terry Sanford): The last-minute uncertainty seemed to surround Allen into the morning of signing day. He had long been committed to Georgia before he flipped to Clemson at the last second in 2008.
The No. 83 prospect on the ESPN 150 and No. 3 tight end of 2008, Allen went on to enjoy great success in the Tigers’ passing game. He was a first-team All-American as a redshirt junior in 2011 and won the John Mackey Award as the nation’s top tight end before entering the 2012 draft and going to the Indianapolis Colts in the third round.
Nickell Robey (Frostproof, Fla./Frostproof): Robey is another commitment who wavered late in the 2010 recruiting cycle, not long after Richt fired defensive coordinator Willie Martinez and two other defensive assistants. USC took advantage of the uncertainty at Georgia, with coaches Lane and Monte Kiffin swiping the No. 149 prospect on the ESPN 150 and No. 13 cornerback just before signing day.
Robey was a three-year starter for the Trojans, winning first-team All-Pac-12 honors as a sophomore in 2011 with 63 tackles, nine pass breakups and two interceptions. He declared for the NFL draft after the 2012 season. ESPN Scouts Inc. lists him as the No. 12 cornerback available in the upcoming draft.
Antwane Greenlee (Columbus, Ga./Hardaway): Florida State offensive line coach Rick Trickett struck up a close relationship with Greenlee as signing day approached and ultimately convinced the big offensive tackle to flip from Georgia to the Seminoles at the last minute.
Greenlee endured serious neck and knee injuries as a Seminole and barely played in four seasons on campus. He eventually transferred to North Alabama in 2011 for his final season of eligibility.
Kenarious Gates (Greenville, Ga./Greenville): Perhaps the silver lining to Georgia’s losing Rogers in 2010 is that the Bulldogs instead added little-known offensive lineman Gates to the class at the last minute. The two-star prospect and No. 139 offensive tackle -- who flipped from Kentucky -- certainly did not bring much star power to the class, but he has been a highly serviceable player in college.
Gates started three games as a true freshman and 23 games over the last two seasons, splitting time between guard and tackle. He was the starter throughout last season at left tackle and figures to hold down a starting spot once again as a senior in 2013.
Josh Dawson (Tucker, Ga./Tucker): Vanderbilt coach James Franklin apparently did not take Dawson’s defection lightly, sounding off about how players who decommit are not “men of integrity” after Dawson’s late flip to the Bulldogs last year.
But Dawson, a three-star prospect and No. 44 defensive end, contributed immediately for Georgia’s SEC East championship club in 2012. He appeared in 13 games, totaling five tackles, 1.5 tackles for a loss and three quarterback hurries at outside linebacker.
Chris Little (Jeffersonville, Ga./Twiggs County): The U.S. Army All-American committed to both Florida State and Notre Dame in the final month of recruiting before finally selecting Georgia on signing day. But while his signature was greeted with widespread glee from Bulldogs fans, Little never contributed much at Georgia.
He redshirted in 2007 and broke his foot prior to the 2008 season before opting to transfer in the middle of the fall. He played a season in community college and transferred to Southern University, but was ruled academically ineligible prior to the 2010 season.
1dGreg Ostendorf and Alex Scarborough