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February 8, 2007

Recruiting: Filling our Needs at Offensive Line

Bubba Velasco leads the 2007 OL

Offensive Line: Paying for the Sins of the Past

The Bulldogs return only six offensive linemen for 2007:
    Chester Adams (OG/OT) - SR (quality starter)
    Fernando Velasco (OG/C) - SR (quality starter)
    Seth Watts (OG) - JR (struggles to contribute as a backup)
    Ian Smith (C) - So. (facing 5-6 game suspension next year)
    Josh Davis (OT) - RFr. (redshirted last year)
    Chris Davis (C/OG) - RFr. (redshirted last year)
    Kevin Perez (C/OG) - RFr. (injured during redshirt year)
It's not the most comforting / confidence inspiring list to be sure...especially at OT. How did the roster get so thin? Lots of whiffs on the recruiting trail the past three years put us here. Also, heavy losses via injury and defections in the two prior years.

In 2004 and 2005, we only signed three offensive linemen total. Of those three, only 1 (Chester Adams) has made an impact outside of the Fulmer Cup standings.

In Feb. 2006, it looked like we had signed a class to resolve some of those past issues as the Dawgs inked eight offensive linemen. However, a funny thing happened on the way to Fall Practice:
  • Justin "Bean" Anderson didn't qualify (Hargrave)
  • Ben Harden didn't qualify (Hargrave)
  • Clifton Geathers didn't qualify, went to Hargrave, became a back-up defensive end, quit hargrave and became a Gamecock.
  • Kiante Tripp did qualify; however, he became a defensive lineman
  • John Miller qualified, but had shoulder problems and left school.
The Dawgs eight man OL recruiting class turned into a three man group pretty quickly.

The mistakes of the prior three recruiting classes finally caught up with the Dawgs, and the coaches went after offensive linemen with both guns blazing. This year.

We again signed eight offensive linemen for 2007, and several of them are already on campus. Just as importantly, the eight offensive linemen will be spread across four graduating classes. We have 1 junior, 1 sophomore, and roughly half of the freshmen will redshirt. That gives us the class separation we desperately need, while addressing our need for

The class is also filled with players that can suit up at a variety of positions:
  • Scott Haverkamp (OT/OT/C) - Jr. transfer (ENROLLED!)
  • Vince Vance (OT) - So. transfer (ENROLLED!)
  • Justin Anderson (OT/OG) - Fr. (ENROLLED!)
  • Tanner Strickland (OG) - Fr. (ENROLLED!)
  • Trinton Sturdivant (OL) - Fr. (ENROLLED!)
  • Ben Harden (OL) - Fr.
  • Clint Boling (OL) - Fr.
  • Chris Little (OL) - Fr.
Of this group, only Harden looks to be an academic risk of not qualifying.

Vance, Haverkamp and Anderson (Image: ABH)

When you look at our overwhelming need vs the quantity and "on paper" quality of these players, it's almost impossible to say that we didn't fill our needs.

However, it's also impossible to look at our needs and not talk about the ones that got away. We lost two of the top three offensive linemen in state to GT and FSU. Most puzzling was the decision to not recruit Nick Claytor. Claytor signed with Tech over offers from Auburn, Ohio State, FSU, and LSU. Georgia never even offered. Hopefully, the days of baffling in-state OL recruiting went out the door when Coach Callaway left.

That said. Even though we got beat on some key OL that we needed/wanted, we STILL signed solid prospects at an area of extreme need. If the Jucos pan out, we'll be fine in 2007.
Grade vs. Need: B+ (with the potential to be an A)

See Also:
-- Filling Our Needs: Skill Positions on Offense
-- Filling Our Needs: Offensive Line
-- Filling Our Needs: Defensive Line



Anonymous said...

Maybe it's just wishful thinking on my part, but when I looked at this #1 recruiting class that UF inked, I see only one listed as an OL a kid out of Ponte Vedra, and of others whose position is notm listed in the AJC only two could have the size that you expect of an OL. Maybe their class isn't as great as it seems.

Anonymous said...

One of the gurus (rivals, I think) said that of the whole class, Vince Vance was the least impressive guy he'd seen on film.

Who knows? I'd love to believe that big 'ol guy is going to be ready for OSU, and it looks like he's got an NFL body now, but who knows. We'll see soon enough.

Anonymous said...

[to the tune of Bohemian Rhapsody]
"I see a big-ass silhouete of a man . . ."

Michael Pigott said...

The happiest person on your team is Matt Stafford.

Coach Richt sure knows how to address a need.

C. Paul said...

I agree about our habit to "selectively ignore" talented offense lineman here in state under Callaway. It was strange.

Of course, I'd offer a scholly for anyone here in state that was 6'5 and 290lb+ - so it's probably good I'm not a coach....

Nathan said...

There was no reason for Georgia to not get in on Claytor's recruitment. No grade concerns, no character questions and he's a monster talent.

Unless the Claytor family just told the Georgia staff to pound sand (which I have never heard) - Callaway just flatout didn't do his job with him.

Not that I'm complaining or anything, he's going to look really good in white and gold.

peacedog said...

There were reasons for us not to get in on Claytor's recruitment. Ultimately, he didn't want to come and camp for us, so we could properly evaluate him.

We won't regret not offering.

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