Dogged teamwork: Georgia uses many recruiting faces with Rodney Garner gone

Dogged teamwork: Georgia uses many recruiting faces with Rodney Garner gone

February 7th, 2014 by David Paschall in Sports - College

Georgia running backs coach Bryan McClendon was named this week as the national recruiter of the year by 247Sports.com.

Photo by UGA photo/Perry McIntyre Jr.

RECRUITING FIXTURE

Since Rivals.com began ranking recruiting classes in 2002, the only schools with top-15 classes every year have been Georgia, Oklahoma and Southern Cal. Where Georgia has ranked:

• 2002 -- 3rd

• 2003 -- 6th

• 2004 -- 9th

• 2005 -- 10th

• 2006 -- 4th

• 2007 -- 9th

• 2008 -- 7th

• 2009 -- 6th

• 2010 -- 15th

• 2011 -- 5th

• 2012 -- 12th

• 2013 -- 12th

• 2014 -- 7th

It was the same setup every year.

For the first 12 college football recruiting cycles of the Mark Richt era at Georgia, the Bulldogs had a national signing day routine of having Richt and recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner share a table to address questions from the media. Garner was the only assistant coach retained by Richt after the 2000 season, and he was the recruiting face of the program until he left for Auburn in December 2012.

The Bulldogs signed 33 players last February and had 28 committed before Garner's departure, so Richt's 14th class that signed Wednesday was essentially the first without the individual most widely associated with Bulldogs recruiting.

"It's always a little different when you have new guys, because different guys have different styles in recruiting," said Bulldogs offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, who is the only assistant to have been with Richt all 14 years. "The day of the recruiting coordinator being severed from a football coach is gone, because now all nine assistant coaches are recruiting the same."

The title of recruiting coordinator has not been bestowed on any Georgia assistant since Garner left, and there doesn't seem to be the need.

Running backs coach Bryan McClendon, who led Georgia's efforts this winter in recruiting running backs Sony Michel and Nick Chubb, receiver Isaiah McKenzie, offensive lineman Kendall Baker and defensive end/outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter, was named Wednesday by 247Sports.com as its national recruiter of the year. He is the fourth to win the award since its inception, joining Bobo for the 2011 class, Alabama secondary coach Jeremy Pruitt in 2012 and Alabama receivers coach Mike Groh last year.

With Groh now coaching with the Chicago Bears and with Pruitt having recently become Georgia's defensive coordinator, the Bulldogs have all three recipients of the award who are still in the college game.

"We're already seeing the impact of Jeremy Pruitt at Georgia," longtime Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Jeremy Crabtree said Wednesday. "It's going to be fun to see how he does when he has a full year to recruit. Pruitt, Bobo, McClendon and [John] Lilly are going to be forces to deal with in SEC recruiting."

Lilly, the tight ends coach, recruits North Carolina for the Bulldogs and landed tight end Jeb Blazevich and defensive tackle Lamont Gaillard in this year's class.

Bobo won the inaugural 247Sports top recruiter award for helping Georgia's "Dream Team" class land receivers Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley, defensive end Ray Drew and cornerback Nick Marshall, who wound up quarterbacking Auburn to last season's BCS title game. Pruitt was credited in 2012 with leading Alabama's charges with tailback T.J. Yeldon, receiver Chris Black and defensive back Eddie Williams.

The Bulldogs and their three top national recruiters already have three four-star commitments for the 2015 class.

"Now most every staff has an on-campus recruiter or somebody who handles kids when they're on campus," Pruitt said. "Everybody has the whole recruiting office deal and their own staff that basically tells us all where to go. I think Coach Richt has done a really good job here in the past.

"Hopefully we can continue to evaluate the right players in and around this state and figure out a plan to go sign them."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.