ANALYSIS: UGA’s Recruiting Management
With Georgia’s fairly recent commitment from yet another highly-touted offensive lineman, I contemplated the Bulldogs’ tremendous success of late at recruiting that particular position group—whether in terms of sheer numbers or prospect ratings, and especially when compared to previous years.
Still, the question may arise, how has Georgia managed in recruiting other, or all, position groups. And not just recently, but over the course of what could be defined as multiple eras or periods of time?
Beginning in 2002, or the start of Rivals’ prospect ratings/stars, and based solely on the Bulldogs’ annual team recruiting rankings, I determined five distinctive time intervals (which just so happen to be tenures of either three or four years):
Period 1) In 2002, Georgia’s class ranked No. 3 in the country, but dropped each ensuing year, closing at No. 10 in 2005.
Period 2) The Bulldogs rebounded in 2006 with a team recruiting ranking of No. 4, and averaged over the four-year period a ranking of No. 6½.
Period 3) Over the last two decades, the low point in Georgia recruiting as the Bulldogs finished No. 12 or lower in three of four years from 2010-2013.
Period 4) A resurgence, of sorts, in recruiting as Georgia ranked No. 7, No. 6, and No. 9, respectively, from 2014-2016.
And Period 5) The last three years, with unprecedented success in recruiting at Georgia, finishing ranked No. 3 in 2017 and No. 1 in both 2018 and 2019.
For every Georgia star-rated signee from 2002 through 2019—all 428 of them—I first charted their position according to Rivals. For prospects distinguished as “athletes,” I placed them in the position group for which they were recruited.
For each of the five time periods, the following is the average number of signees by position for each class, followed by its percentage of the team’s total number of signees. For example, Georgia annually signed an average of 2.3 running backs from 2002-2005, or 9.8 percent of all the Bulldogs’ signees during the four-year period. Also, on the whole, Georgia annually signed an average of 2.0 running backs from 2002-2019, or 8.4 percent of all the Bulldogs’ signees during the 18-year span.
Draw your own conclusions from the table above, but here, in short, are a couple that really stood out to me upon first glance:
● Similarly to the first two periods, Georgia went heavy on offensive linemen during the latest period, following a stretch from 2010-2016 when the Bulldogs seemingly all but ignored the position.
● Keeping in mind that the Bulldogs’ moved to a 3-4 defensive formation in 2010, and also started utilizing a fifth defensive back with frequency, Georgia has gone light on the defensive front in recent years. Still, the surge in linebacker signees from Period 4 to Period 5 is near staggering—an annual increase of two additional linebackers (1.7 to 3.7).
Yet, what probably struck me the most while compiling the data emerged prior to when it was assembled into separate time periods—consistency or lack thereof—but when displayed on an annual basis. For example, whereas Georgia averaged 4.3 offensive line signees per year from 2002-2005, or what is about average for the program during the entire 18-year stretch, 13 of those were signed in 2002 and 2003, but only four offensive linemen were signed in 2004 and 2005 combined. Also, the Bulldogs signed a combined 10 linebackers and defensive backs in 2011, followed by only two in 2012, yet there were a whopping 14 signees at the two position groups the next year in 2013. I could mention several other similar “up-and-down” examples.
By comparison, this roller coaster aspect of the number of signings at certain positions over the course of two or three years from 2002-2016 was minimal beginning in 2017, or for Period 5.
Next, I charted each signee’s Rivals Rating according to position and class. A reminder, a rating of 5.2-5.4 is a 2-star prospect, 5.5 to 5.7 a 3-star, 5.8 to 6.0 a 4-star, and 6.1 for a 5-star.
The following is the average Rivals Rating by position for each of the five time periods, followed by the rating’s star equivalency rounded to the nearest tenth. For example, the average Rivals Rating of the wide receivers signed by Georgia from 2017-2019 was 5.84, or 5.8 when rounded, which is equivalent to a low four-star. Also, on the whole from 2002-2019, the average Rivals Rating of the Bulldog receiver signees was 5.79, or 5.8.
Again, draw your own conclusions from the table above, but here’s what promptly stood out to me:
● First off, the bottom line—whereas the first four periods had an average Rivals Rating for all signees of either 5.76 (three times) or 5.79, the rating for Period 5 was a stellar 5.87, or a mid-four star.
● For each of the first four periods, the average rating of Georgia’s offensive line signees was never higher than 5.75, and as low as 5.69 (twice), or a high-three star. Yet, the average rating of the position group for the latest period was a lofty 5.89, or a mid-four star.
● Finally, when looking at both tables simultaneously, a number of conclusions can be made. For me, one thing seems clear: For a period of seven years from 2010-2016, Georgia lacked in its recruitment of offensive linemen—regarding both the number signed at the position and their average ratings. However, since then, the Bulldogs have undoubtedly made it a priority to sign an ample number along their offensive front—and, overall, sign high-quality upper-tier offensive linemen at that.