Monday, July 15, 2013
Lessons Learned: Dawg Night
By Radi Nabulsi
ATHENS, Ga. -- The annual Dawg Night recruiting event at the University of Georgia overcame a couple of early setbacks and wound up being quite the success for the Bulldogs’ coaching staff. Right as the campers were finishing up running of their 40-yard dashes, a thunderstorm sent everyone inside the general use room at the Butts Mehre Heritage Hall. When we say everyone, we mean the 500-plus attendees who came to show the coaches what they could do.
There were way too many campers, but the staff managed the large crowd well. They did run the danger of not being able to spend enough time with their primary targets, but the rain delay and staggered arrival times made for a successful weekend. After watching the commitments roll in and talking to some of the prospects in attendance, here are five things we learned.
As expected, four-star WR Shakenneth Williams pulled the trigger on his Georgia offer early on Dawg Night.
Commitment class grows
The Bulldogs started Dawg Night with 12 commits and ended the evening with 15. Wide receiver Shakenneth Williams (Macon, Ga./Rutland) started the festivities by committing during the rain delay. The four-star receiver almost committed when he received his Georgia offer last month. Williams was quickly followed by Florida safety Kendall Gant (Lakeland, Fla./Lake Gibson). Gant immediately went to work on one of Georgia’s top targets, fellow Sunshine State standout Isaiah Wynn. Wynn, an ESPN 300 member and Under Armour All-American game selection, would wait until Sunday morning to make his commitment known.
Offensive tackle Dyshon Sims (Valdosta, Ga./Lowndes) indicated during the rain delay that he was about to commit and would once he found his coach. It took him until the final drills to actually pull the trigger. It helped that Mark Richt called his mother to seal the deal in the meantime.
Georgia did lose one commit over the weekend, as Krenwick Sanders (Jessup, Ga./Wayne County) told DawgNation that he had a “drastic change of plans” and was no longer part of the Bulldogs’ recruiting class.
Offers go out
Three offers went out over the weekend, two at the Dawg Night camp and one the following day. Offensive lineman Chuma Edoga (Powder Springs, Ga./McEachern) blew the coaches away with his 4.78 40-yard dash time and quick feet in the lineman drills. He joined teammate Taj Griffin in having a Georgia offer. Rising freshman Dylan Moses, who has already picked up offers from the likes of LSU, Alabama, Florida and Florida State, camped at Dawg Night and picked up the Georgia offer he recently said he wanted. Moses is the most famous freshman prospect in the nation. His highlights have been viewed close to one million times, and he was recently on the cover of ESPN The Magazine.
On Saturday, offensive coordinator Mike Bobo extended an offer to quarterback Ricky Town (Ventura, Calif./Saint Bonaventure). Bobo had told a number of 2015 signal-callers that he would not extend an offer until after Dawg Night. So the following day after evaluating all those that threw for him, Bobo offered Town.
Not done at safety?
With the commitment of Nick Glass (Suwanee, Ga./Peachtree Ridge) and the Dawg Night commitment of Gant, it would be fair to assume Georgia is done at safety after taking five in last year’s class. Not so. An hour after Gant committed, Richt was seen working on ESPN 300 safety target Cortez McDowell (Locust Grove, Ga./Locust Grove), who attended Dawg Night with his brother. The Georgia coaches also hosted ESPN 300 safety and Ole Miss commit C.J. Hampton (Meridian, Miss./Meridian). Hampton spent the night with his friend, Georgia safety Shaq Fluker, who is also from Meridian. When he left, Hampton indicated he had some thinking to do.
If any one position group stood out at Dawg Night, it had to be the offensive line attendees. Georgia’s Will Friend got to see possibly the best lineman in the country for 2015 in North Gwinnett (Ga.) High School’s Mitch Hyatt. The 6-foot-6, 265-pound tackle has a Georgia offer but is considered a Clemson lean. The talk of the camp had to be rising sophomore Ben Cleveland (Toccoa, Ga./Stephens County), who turned heads not only with his massive 6-6, 330-pound massive frame, but his speed and strength in the drills had everyone talking about the 14-year-old. Other linemen who impressed were Ray Raulerson (Tampa, Fla./Plant), Jermaine Abron (Warner Robins, Ga./Warner Robins) and Tyler Carr (Gadsden, Ala./Southside). Add Sims and Chuma to the mix and the offensive line group was a smorgasbord of top prospects across three signing classes.
Focus on Miller
While Lorenzo Carter might be Georgia’s highest recruiting priority, we didn’t see him much at Dawg Night, as the coaches spirited him away for extensive talks. We did see how much time defensive coordinator Todd Grantham was spending with another outside linebacker target in Christian Miller (Columbia, S.C./Spring Valley). Miller is the No. 1 prospect in the Palmetto State, and he received constant attention from the coaches and other commits. Speaking of which, tight end commit Jeb Blazevich (Charlotte, N.C./Charlotte Christian) has become good friends with Miller and has been recruiting him for weeks. Blazevich worked on Miller at The Opening and continued to do so at Dawg Night.