Georgia Bulldogs: Taj Griffin

Sometimes perception can top reality in recruiting.

No. 8 running back Taj Griffin announced Thursday night he committed to Oregon over a final group of Clemson, Florida State, Georgia and USC. The pickup was significant for the Ducks, and Oregon assistants Gary Campbell and Scott Frost should be commended for their ability to swoop into the Southeast and snag the nation’s No. 89 player and Georgia’s 14th-best prospect. For the Ducks, this recruiting victory is about as big as it gets. Griffin is a perfect fit for the Oregon spread offense.



What will likely cause the most discussion among fans, however, is the perception that Georgia lost another quality in-state recruit to a Pac-12 program.

Technically, it’s true.

Getting to know Taj Griffin 

March, 27, 2014
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ROSWELL, Ga. -- When listing the most explosive prospects in the Class of 2015, it does not take long to call on Taj Griffin.

The 5-foot-10, 174-pound, versatile running back was one of the standouts at last weekend's Atlanta Nike Nike Football Training Camp and SPARQ combine, earning an invitation to the The Opening in early July.


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Atlanta NFTC awards 

March, 24, 2014
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The NFTC tour continued to roll on with a stop in Atlanta this past weekend. The event featured a very strong roster of talent, including a pair of top-five prospects in the ESPN Junior 300. No group was lean on talent, with plenty of promising 2015 and even 2016 prospects to evaluate. It's tough to name everyone who competed and did well. Below are some of the event's top and most notable performers in the latest addition of the Recruiting Nation NFTC Awards.


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Atlanta NFTC notebook 

March, 23, 2014
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ROSWELL, Ga. -- The Atlanta Nike Football Training Camp is generally one of the most impressive groups of high school football players you will find in the country. This year’s camp didn’t disappoint. Eight invites were handed out to The Opening, a prestigious invite-only camp held in Beaverton, Ore., in July.


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MARIETTA, Ga. -- The Nike SPARQ combines have grown with each passing year, and on Saturday there was a record turnout. If the 1,993 prospects who attended weren't impressive enough, the performances by several top prospects who came to compete certainly left spectators turning heads.

Here is a rundown of some of the event's top performers.
  • ESPN Junior 300 running back Taj Griffin posted one of the top SPARQ scores of the day. Griffin checked in at 5-foot-10, 174-pounds, ran a 4.41 40-yard dash and a 4.35 shuttle, had a 46-inch vertical leap and a 36-foot power ball toss for a combined score of 124.29. On the recruiting front, Oregon, Clemson, Florida State, Ohio State and Tennessee continue to stand out the most.

  • No. 3 junior offensive tackle Chuma Edoga posted an impressive score of 94.65. After measuring at 6-4 and weighing 276 pounds, Edoga ripped off a 5.01 40-yard dash, a terrific 4.69 shuttle and had a 33.8-inch vertical jump and 37-foot power ball throw. Following his impressive effort, he said his top four schools in order are Tennessee, Southern California, Georgia and Stanford with a decision likely on May 25, his birthday. The big news might have been that he currently prefers the Volunteers, but his mother is in the corner of the Bulldogs and Cardinal.
  • No. 252 prospect C.J. Sanders made the trip and did not disappoint. He checked in at 5-9 and 176 pounds, ran a 4.57 40-yard dash, had a blazing 4.09 shuttle run, leaped 36.5 inches and tossed the power ball 41 feet. On the recruiting front, USC, Notre Dame and Georgia are the latest to offer, joining Duke, Northwestern, Stanford, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State and Ole Miss. He visited USC last week, and lists Reggie Bush as his childhood idol. Sanders is the son of former Ohio State and NFL wide receiver Chris Sanders. His mom played basketball at Michigan. He reports his family favors Duke and USC early on with a decision slated for the summer.
  • Class of 2016 prospect Ben Cleveland is already considered one of the top offensive line prospects in the country, and the 6-7, 317-pounder showed why Saturday. He clocked a very impressive 5.22 40-yard dash and 4.87 shuttle, and had a 25.8-inch vertical leap and 41.5-foot power ball throw for a score of 99.78. He has offers from Georgia, Clemson, Florida, South Carolina and Texas with Alabama expected in the near future. He made an unofficial visit to Clemson two weeks ago.
  • Class of 2015 running back Jaylen Burgess posted a 118.44. The 5-10, 214-pounder ran a 4.66 40-yard dash and a 4.38 shuttle, and had a 36.7-inch vertical leap and 42.5 power ball throw. He is receiving interest from Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Clemson, Duke and a number of other ACC schools. Duke and Tennessee are the coaching staffs Burgess talks to the most. He posted more than 1,500 all-purpose yards as a junior.
  • Class of 2016 linebacker and defensive end Charles Wiley checked in at 6-3, 203 pounds. He clocked a 4.68 40-yard dash and 4.45 shuttle, and also leaped 35 inches and threw the power ball 34.5 feet. He has an early offer from Virginia Tech.
  • Class of 2015 athlete Jeremiah Mercer is flying completely under the recruiting radar. While he had to sit out the 2013 season due to transfer rules, he made his mark Saturday posting a score of 97.47. The 5-11, 163-pound running back and wide receiver ripped off a 4.48 40-yard dash and 4.18 shuttle, and added a 36.2-vertical leap and 31-foot power ball toss. He is receiving interest from Vanderbilt and Mississippi State and lists Florida State as his dream school.
  • Class of 2016 inside linebacker Tyler Reed posted a very impressive score of 104.91. After measuring 6-2, 234 pounds, Reed ran a 4.96 40-yard dash and 4.59 shuttle, and had a 35.5-inch vertical leap and 41-foot power ball throw. He recorded 130 tackles as a sophomore.
  • Class of 2015 running back Eric Montgomery posted a 115.47, one of the day’s top scores. The tailback checked in at 5-11, 185 pounds, ran a 4.46 40-yard dash and a 4.19 shuttle, and jumped 36 inches and threw the power ball 38 feet. On the recruiting front, Kentucky, Cincinnati, Ole Miss and Mississippi State, among others, are showing interest.

SEC's lunch links

February, 18, 2014
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Here's a quick look at what is happening around the SEC:

" Alabama said Monday after running back Dee Hart's arrest on drug possession charges that he has not been a part of the program since the bowl game.

" Ole Miss suspended linebackers Denzel Nkemdiche and Serderius Bryant following their weekend arrests in Oxford.

" Several SEC players made NFL.com analyst Nolan Nawrocki's list of the most controversial players in the draft, including Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, who Nawrocki said “carries a sense of entitlement and prima-donna arrogance.”

" Athlon Sports lists the top-10 SEC linebackers of the BCS era.

" Did Georgia recruit too well at running back when it signed Sony Michel and Nick Chubb this year? Highly sought-after 2015 prospect Taj Griffin discusses that and other subjects with the Atlanta Journal Constitution's Michael Carvell.

" USC has removed a signing-day video where an off-camera voice can be heard describing a Tennessee signee as “soft and terrible.”

" Mercedes-Benz won't allow a Birmingham-area car dealership to carry Nick Saban's name, but the Alabama coach is aligned with a proposed dealership that is caught up in litigation ahead of its opening.

" Baton Rouge police arrested three suspects in connection with a weekend home invasion at former LSU athletic director Skip Bertman's residence.

" The Columbia Daily Tribune's David Morrison takes a look at the Tigers' running back depth chart entering spring practice.

" South Carolina's Bruce Ellington followed his mother's advice and opted to enter the NFL draft early.

ESPN Junior 300 analysis: SEC 

November, 19, 2013
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With so many top prospects in the Southeast region there was plenty of movement in the latest ESPN Junior 300 rankings.


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Summer Recruit Wrap: Georgia 

July, 23, 2013
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With the camp season over and the fall season rapidly approaching, DawgNation takes a look back at the biggest recruiting news of the summer.

[+] EnlargeSony Michel
Davide De Pas/ESPN.comClass of 2014 RB Sony Michel is one of the many big names in Georgia's class.
1. Summer has been very, very good to Georgia
Heading into June, Georgia had five commitments, after going without one in May. Some analysts had pegged the Bulldogs as being off to a slow start for 2014, but with a class of 33 in 2013, Georgia has had to be very selective with this class. Even with a decommitment last week, the Bulldogs have added 12 commitments in June and July, headlined by the additions of five-star defensive tackle Lamont Gaillard (Fayetteville, N.C./Pine Forest) and ESPN 300 athlete Malkom Parrish (Quitman, Ga./Brooks County). As August approaches, Georgia can realistically pick and choose to fill its remaining spots.


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2015 ESPN 300 targets: Georgia 

July, 16, 2013
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Football offers and commitments are occurring earlier and earlier. To keep in line with this new world of accelerated recruiting, ESPN announced its release of the initial ESPN 300 for the 2015 class on Tuesday.

The list is once again loaded with targets for Georgia. DawgNation takes a look at 10 targets to keep an eye on for 2015, in order of their ranking in the ESPN 300.

1. OL Mitch Hyatt (Suwanee, Ga./North Gwinnett)
6-foot-6, 270 pounds
ESPN 300 rank:
4


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Lessons Learned: Dawg Night 

July, 15, 2013
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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.

Shakenneth Williams
Tom Hauck for Student SportsAs 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.


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ATHENS, Ga. -- The list of visitors for the annual Dawg Night camp at Georgia this Friday reads like a who’s who of the Bulldogs’ top recruiting targets. The coaching staff will be hard-pressed to spend quality time with each of the big-name prospects who have said they will attend. We could write a blurb on the 80 recruits we have confirmed so far, but instead here are the top five storylines to watch.


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Lessons Learned: McEachern 7-on-7 

June, 27, 2013
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POWDER SPRINGS, GA – The annual McEachern 7-on-7 tournament has become a showcase for top talent in Georgia. This year was no exception, with more than 30 FBS prospects among the 14 teams competing for the championship. Here are five things DawgNation learned after attending the event.

Langston Hughes is loaded


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Camp preview: What to watch 

June, 13, 2013
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ATHENS, Ga. -- The Georgia coaching staff hosted 28 teams in 7-on-7 competitions last week and on Thursday they will welcome 20 more to Athens. This third tournament will have some of the top schools in the state in attendance. On Friday, the staff will host an overnight camp where players that signed up will get to experience life as a Bulldog for the day. Looks like another busy week for the coaches so let us look at five stories to watch.


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The next few days are very important for the University of Georgia’s recruiting, as the staff is set to host a 7-on-7 camp Thursday and Friday, followed by a one-day prospect camp on Saturday. Hundreds of prospects will be in attendance, including several top targets. Here are five storylines to watch this week.

Chance to impress Sims

ESPN 150 wide receiver Cameron Sims (Monroe, La./Ouachita Parish High School) might be the highest-rated prospect in the 2014 class visiting this weekend. Expect the Bulldogs’ coaching staff to make sure he feels wanted while he is there. Another ESPN 150 wide receiver target, Josh Malone (Gallatin, Tenn./Station Camp), was on campus last week, and with a smaller class this recruiting cycle, Georgia might only have room to take one more wideout. Sims has visited Auburn, Ole Miss and Mississippi State this week as well, but his coach said last weekend that Alabama was the team to beat. Georgia will do its best to change that Saturday, so expect the 6-foot-4, 190-pound receiver to get a lot of love during the Mark Richt Camp.

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2015 ATH Griffin gets unexpected news 

March, 20, 2013
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Last season, running back Taj Griffin (Powder Springs, Ga./McEachern) says he only had about six or seven carries per game for the Indians, but the 5-foot-9, 175-pound athlete was still able to tally 645 yards and seven touchdowns.

He followed it up with an outstanding showing at the Atlanta SPARQ Combine, posting a 4.43 40-yard dash, 4.15 shuttle, and a 40.9-inch vertical jump. The 40-yard dash and vertical jump marks were the best by a running back so far on the 2013 combine circuit. Since then, he has picked up four offers, including Missouri, North Carolina and UCLA.

Not bad for a sophomore.

Still, Griffin admits he was not prepared when his head coach, Kyle Hockman, approached him between classes Tuesday.


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