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Thursday, February 7, 2013
Lilly a key factor in UGA class

By David Ching

ATHENS, Ga. -- Multiple coaches had a hand in Georgia’s landing another top-10 signing class on Wednesday, but John Lilly might have been the standout in the collaborative effort. The Bulldogs’ tight ends coach played a key role in recruiting at least six of the Bulldogs’ 32 signees, including two of their top early enrollees.

Shaq Wiggins
John Lilly played a key role in getting Under Armour All-American and No. 39 recruit Shaq Wiggins to Georgia.
The leading criticism of Georgia’s overall class is that the coaching staff missed out on the elite prospects who made decisions late in the recruiting process. But Lilly helped lock down two of the Bulldogs’ top overall recruits -- multi-talented receiver Tramel Terry and safety Tray Matthews -- and helped get them into school in January so they could potentially help the Bulldogs this fall.

Terry, No. 89 on the ESPN 150 and the No. 9 athlete, is Georgia’s highest-rated offensive signee. Matthews, No. 129 on the ESPN 150 and the No. 10 safety, trails only cornerback Shaq Wiggins in the ESPN ratings among Georgia’s defensive signees.

Speaking of Wiggins, Lilly was a major player in his recruitment, as well. The No. 39 overall prospect and No. 6 cornerback, Wiggins received the highest grade of any Georgia signee from ESPN’s talent evaluators.

In other words, Lilly had a hand in Georgia landing three of its top four recruits as judged by the ESPN player rankings. But his contributions did not end there.

He also helped land another early enrollee and ESPN 300 honoree, Reggie Wilkerson. Listed as the No. 163 prospect and No. 15 athlete, the Floridian will also participate in spring practice and will have an opportunity to contribute at cornerback this fall.

Lilly also recruited another Florida native, ESPN 300 receiver and kick returner Reggie Davis, out of his old stomping grounds. Davis played at Lincoln High School in Tallahassee, Fla. -- also the home of Florida State, where Lilly was an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for 10 years before joining Mark Richt’s staff in 2008.

Finally, Lilly made one more contribution to the class by helping convince defensive lineman DeAndre “Moose” Johnson to sign with the Bulldogs. The three-star prospect will have a chance to compete for playing time on Georgia’s rebuilding defensive line this fall, but more likely will figure into the Bulldogs’ plans at nose guard in the future.