football Edit

Athens South: Bulldogs blanket St. Thomas Aquinas in offers


While Georgia may not have been the first program to unload a truckload of scholarship offers at a singular school, it was still quite surprising to see how often the Bulldogs were linked to athletes from Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) on Wednesday.

At last count, the Bulldogs had reached out to nine members of the St. Thomas Aquinas football program in a single day, with offers spanning three cycles - 2017, 2018, and 2019.

Tennessee may have spurred the idea earlier in the year, as the Vols offered twenty scholarships to players at IMG Academy in February, but, given IMG's highly specialized nature and athletically-geared setup, this was a bit different scenario.

Georgia offers went out to several defensive backs, a running back, a linebacker, a wideout, and several young athletes, and, from speaking to prospects, it appears that Bulldogs' wide receivers coach James Coley may have been leading the charge.

Interestingly, there were several names that fans may be familiar with already, even if they don't know the upcoming class.

Though most people may think NFL football when they hear Asante Samuel, Al Blades, and Benjamin Sapp, it was, in fact, the sons of all three former pros who were on the receiving end of the scholarship offers.

That trio will man the defensive backfield for the Raiders for at least the next two years, but, recognizing how contested the race for these players will be, Georgia was wise to get in early.

But why one school? What makes St. Thomas Aquinas the kind of place that has coaches believing that they are such a hotbed?

LaShawn Paulino, an STA defensive end who found himself as one of those offered by the Bulldogs, believes he knows.

"It's a great program," Paulino said. "It's not just about football. They preach education, and they teach you how to be presentable. There's a lot that comes with it."

Clearly Kirby Smart and company agree with Paulino's take.

Whether or not the Bulldogs land any of the rising stars remains to be seen, but their surprising and somewhat unconventional tactic served to make the St. Thomas Aquinas campus Athens South for at least a day on Wednesday.

If that momentum and buzz carries forward, we could look back at this as one the earlier, savvier moves of the new look Georgia staff.