NCF On The Trail: Mark Richt

The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: Georgia fans have had to watch rivals Auburn and Alabama crow after recruiting victory after recruiting victory the past few months, but Bulldog fans got a chance to thump their chest some after landing two of the nation’s best 2016 prospects Saturday after its Dawg Night camp. But will those commitments stay true for the long haul? Plus, Penn State’s James Franklin remains hot on the recruiting trial.


DESTIN, Fla. -- If the college football recruiting landscape does change, the SEC made sure this week that it will be ready.

A couple of weeks after watching the ACC propose an early signing period to begin on Aug. 1, the SEC on Wednesday offered its own recommendation to have a signing day on the Monday after Thanksgiving.

SEC commissioner Mike Slive said he hopes there won't be an early signing period, but if there is, he wants his league to be prepared.

The league wasn’t happy about the ACC’s proposal for an earlier signing period because of how it would change the recruiting calendar, something the SEC absolutely doesn't want. The league also decided that in its model, it would ban official visits for recruits who want to sign early, therefore lessening the pressure and clutter of having overstocked official visits during the season and on game weekends.

[+] EnlargeDan Mullen
AP Photo/Rogelio V. SolisMississippi State's Dan Mullen believes a late November early signing day would protect both the prospects and the schools.
SEC coaches believe that a signing period that comes after the college and high school regular seasons allows recruits to play out their senior seasons while studying the teams they’re interested in and figuring out coaching staff stability. By banning official visits for recruits who want to sign early, coaches wouldn't have to cram important recruiting visits in during the season and could focus on coaching their teams.

An early signing period would also save money as coaches wouldn't have to invest in recruiting trips to re-recruit already committed prospects.

“I’ve been a proponent of that for years,” Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said. “It’s long overdue.

“It clears the picture up.”

To Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen, it clearly makes sense for the league.

“It’s one that keeps our calendar pretty consistent. It allows the guys that have been committed to their school to sign with that school,” Mullen said. “It also protects the student-athlete as best as possible.”

When Mullen says “protects,” he means that players who don’t want to bother with the recruiting process won’t have to hear from opposing coaches still trying to get their signature before national signing day on the first Wednesday of February. The recruit also would guarantee his spot in the class by signing early.

Mullen also said that the SEC's proposal would protect the schools that don’t want to lose those recruits with months remaining before they sign their national letters of intent.

In the current recruiting culture, you just can’t take every recruit at his word. This way, you take him at his signature before Christmas rolls around.

The SEC’s model would make the Monday after Thanksgiving a one-day signing day and a dead day for communication between coaches and recruits. The Sunday before would become a quiet day, and Tuesday would begin the next recruiting period.

Richt One of the other leagues proposed Aug. 1. We think that would be crazy.

-- Georgia coach Mark Richt, on an ACC proposal for an early signing day
The goal would be to not make this the new national signing day. This is just for the handful of prospects whose minds are made up.

“Obviously, if you’ve got guys that have signed and are with you no matter what, you don’t have to continue to worry, ‘Is this guy going to change his mind; is he going to flip at the last second?” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “Everyone would like some sanity in that regard.”

What Richt does find insane is the ACC’s proposal to have an early signing period before the regular season even starts, which would essentially destroy the current recruiting calendar and rush spring and summer evaluations.

“One of the other leagues proposed Aug. 1. We think that would be crazy,” he said. “We think there would be no summer for anybody, no sanity for anybody.”

The SEC and ACC have plans, but whether this happens is unknown. To Florida coach Will Muschamp, getting enough people to agree on a date could be a mountain of an obstacle because of varying agendas for different schools.

“A lot of coaches, including myself, don't want an inordinate amount of visits during the season because it takes away from your football team and your preparation, your preparation for the next week, so I really think we're going to have a hard time agreeing on something that's good for everybody just because of the regions of the country,” Muschamp said. “A lot of the northern schools don't want kids visiting in January because it's freezing cold and they lie to them and tell them it's really warm year-round. I think that's something you've got to deal with, so I don't know if we're ever going to come to a common ground in my opinion, based on the information I have.”

Judging by what many conference members have said, it appears the sport is creeping closer and closer to an early signing day, with the interest mounting from coaches. What’s a little more change in college football, anyway?
The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: The Class of 2014 will go down as one of the wildest recruiting rides in recent memory. With so many players switching commitments and some elite prospects still left on the board, here are five things to keep an eye on heading into recruiting’s biggest day.

Does Bama have the best class ever?


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Early Offer: Future is now 

February, 3, 2014
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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Monday's offerings: With signing day two days away, most schools are already targeting 2015 recruits and having junior days, but some coaches question whether these early commits stick in the long run; and who would have thought we would see Mark Richt posing for selfies with recruits?

Juniors take center stage


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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: If USC is going to close strong, landing some of this weekend’s 11 official visitors are key; even though neither are going to land him, Alabama and Oregon earned high praise for their recruiting efforts with offensive lineman Braden Smith’s coach; and Lorenzo Carter has become priority No. 1 for several of the Southeast's top teams.

11 recruits set to visit USC


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Daryl Jones takes recruiting role

August, 9, 2013
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When Georgia’s longtime defensive line coach Rodney Garner left at the end of last year to take a job at Auburn, Bulldogs fans naturally wondered which assistant Mark Richt would choose as Garner’s successor as recruiting coordinator.

What they didn’t realize was that Richt already had someone on staff who, in addition to his on-field duties, was handling many of the administrative responsibilities that once occupied Garner.

Meet Daryl Jones, Georgia’s director of on-campus recruiting.

Daryl Jones
Miller Safrit/ESPNDaryl Jones was a coach and event manager before taking over the on-campus recruiting duties at Georgia.
“The animal of recruiting has grown so large that it’s not reasonable for a position coach to try to train his position, to be involved in scheme, to sit in staff meetings and then handle the minutiae that’s involved in recruiting -- the logistics, the budget consciousness and all those types of things,” Jones explained.

“So there needed to be someone in place that could handle the logistics while the recruiting coordinator could hover above and see that everyone was tied in staff-wise. … The need was, because of the increased amount of unofficial visits, official visits and other compliance issues, somebody needed to be home making sure the details were taken care of. So that was the need for my position.”

It helps that Jones held a wide range of positions before joining the staff last May. In approximately 20 years as a coach, he worked at both the college and high school level in Georgia. He also was a football camp manager with Under Armour and its All-America game, which typically features some of the nation’s top high school football seniors.

“I’ve touched all those bases,” Jones said. "… But when I was working for a sports marketing group, for an apparel company in the sports marketing department, I still took a coach’s approach to things.”

However, Jones is not able to do everything that a full-fledged assistant coach like Garner could.

For instance, he can’t visit prospects and evaluate their performances away from Georgia’s campus. Instead, his main purpose is to tackle logistics and recruiting strategy -- he is specifically responsible for arranging the Bulldogs’ many official and unofficial visits -- a position that most major programs need.

“I don’t know of a single SEC school that doesn’t have someone with some type of title doing what it is that I’m doing,” Jones said. “And even more importantly, I don’t know of a single SEC school that doesn’t have a department like ours that does that. You’ve got to understand, the position is the position, but the important part is the group that is handling recruiting.”

Jones helms a small group of three full-time staffers, plus an intern and a team of 8-10 student assistants. Their duties include facilitating prospects’ visits, mailing recruiting information, coordinating the coaching staff’s recruiting travel plans, developing Georgia’s social networking strategies and acquiring, organizing and distributing prospect videos.

A never-ending array of minutiae falls into the recruiting staff’s laps, and it’s their job to keep the operation running efficiently.

“There are things that this office has to coordinate so the coaches can use it as a central warehouse. ... There’s natural coordination that occurs that we do in this office,” Jones told ESPN.com in an interview shortly before national signing day.

And it's that logistical management that is truly helping UGA's coaches.

“It’s not fair for a coach to know as he’s checking off boxes on our 2013 class where every 2014 prospect in his area is, so that’s where they tie us in," Jones said.

“So, for example, a coach may say, ‘Hey I’m heading from Tifton to Warner Robins. On the way there, where do I need to pop into where there’s 2014 guys?’ And then our department, we say, ‘Get the D-lineman that’s here, the wide receiver that’s there and the one that’s over here on the way to Warner Robins.' "

Richt said at the end of last season that “there’s no rule” dictating that he name one of his nine on-field assistants recruiting coordinator. So he may some day pass Garner’s former title along to an assistant ... or he may never have an assistant hold that title again.

“It was just too much for a guy to coach ball, recruit and be the recruiting coordinator in the true sense of the word where he was doing everything,” Richt said. “There are some things done organizationally that don’t have to be by an on-the-field coach, plus all coaches recruit.”

For now, at least, Jones and his staff will handle the in-house aspects of Georgia’s recruiting enterprise by helping the coaches’ efforts unfold as smoothly as possible.

Seeing the end product of their work is what makes their jobs particularly satisfying -- when on fall Saturdays, the players they helped the coaches identify and attract to Georgia help the Bulldogs achieve a victory.

“I take enjoyment after success of being successful. I enjoy putting in a good day’s work and seeing it at some point in the future become successful,” Jones said. “I have a sense of accomplishment with that, and I think all of us are that way.”


ATHENS, Ga. -- The recruitment for offensive lineman Dallas Warmack (Atlanta/Mays) might be over before it really begins. Last month he picked up an offer from the Bulldogs after working out with offensive line coach Will Friend. Alabama offered the following week, and Tennessee offered on Tuesday. Warmack may not give anyone else a chance.


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ESPN 300 DE has UGA in front 

July, 2, 2013
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ATHENS, Ga. -- The potential logjam at outside linebacker in Georgia's recruiting class just got a little tighter. There are no commits at the position so far, but the Bulldogs lead for Rashaan Evans (Auburn, Ala./Auburn), are tied at the top for Lorenzo Carter (Norcross, Ga./Norcross) and are among the top three that Christian Miller (Columbia, S.C./Spring Valley) is considering. In addition, a fourth ESPN 300 target just completed a weekend visit with the Bulldogs, and Keyon Brown (Wauchula, Fla./Hardee County) still has Georgia out front as well.


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ATHENS, Ga. -- Christian Miller (Columbia, S.C./Spring Valley), the nation’s No. 2 outside linebacker, was in Athens on Wednesday, talking with Mark Richt and Kirk Olivadotti. Miller liked what he heard. In fact, he left campus thinking he could easily see himself suiting up for the Bulldogs.


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Watch List TE takes in Georgia 

March, 13, 2013
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ATHENS, Ga. -- ESPN Watch List tight end Jeb Blazevich (Charlotte, N.C./Charlotte Christian) is known for his eloquence and thoughtful answers when discussing his high-profile recruitment. Always respectful and diplomatic, Blazevich responds to inquiries with a skilled precision that any politician would envy. But when asked whether he could sum up his recent visit to Georgia in a hypothetical tweet, Blazevich shifted gears and demonstrated his knack for brevity.


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ATHENS, Ga. -- ESPN Watch List wide receiver Demarre Kitt (Tyrone, Ga./Sandy Creek) recently cut his mammoth offer list down to a top-15 group of schools that he will consider.

“It got crazy at one point with almost everybody that offered me trying to talk to me,” Kitt said. “So I had to cut my list down to 15 schools. After spring practice I will cut it down to eight or 10. At the end of summer I will do five and then go from there.”


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ESPN Watch List cornerback Nicholas Ruffin (Atlanta/St. Pius X) visited the University of Georgia on Saturday for the Bulldogs’ second junior day of the 2014 recruiting cycle.

Ruffin has verbal offers from programs such as LSU, Alabama, Florida State and South Carolina, among others, on his growing list. Georgia tried to pull ahead of the pack with the in-state athlete while Ruffin was in Athens.

“It went very well.” Ruffin said. “They definitely helped their cause. I liked the sense of family -- I felt at home. All of the coaches seemed genuinely interested. For me there was a sense of welcome and I liked their great facilities. And on top of that Mark Richt is a phenomenal coach.”

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Sophomore DT picks up first offer 

February, 16, 2013
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The state of Georgia is known for its defensive linemen. With three of the top defensive prospects in the nation for the class of 2013 and seven more on the ESPN Watch List for 2014, the Peach State is a first stop for coordinators that want to win in the trenches.


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Lilly a key factor in UGA class 

February, 7, 2013
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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.


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ESPN Watch List offensive tackle Mason Cole's (Tarpon Springs, Fla./East Lake) recruiting tour added another stop on Friday. And much like the others, it was a productive one.


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