football

Signing day come and gone

By: Steve Patterson
Mark Richt signed his first class as the head coach
of the Georgia Bulldogs Wednesday, and a star studded class it is. Ranked in the
top 15 nationally by recruiting services, the signing class of 2001 fills needs
at every position.
"This is a special class for coach Richt," said
Georgia recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner. "Not only is it his first
recruiting class at the University of Georgia, it is his first recruiting class
as a head coach."
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Other Signing Day
Resources
Complete list of
Signees
Garner Introduces JUCOs
Watch
University of Georgia recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner introduce the
Bulldogs' three junior college signees.
href="#Garner Introduces JUCOs">More...
Coach Garner in
RealVideo
University of Georgia recruiting coordinator Rodney
Garner speaks with the press today following National Signing Day in
RealVideo.
href="#Coach Garner in RealVideo">More...
Indeed Mark Richt's first class of signees fills all
the immediate needs of the Bulldogs. Interior offensive and defensive linemen
were the top priority, followed by linebackers, and then skill
players.
None was bigger than the addition of the top
quarterback in the Southeast for 2001.
href="http://ugasports.rivals.com/default.asp?sid=792&p=3&sp=1&pl=-13113">
size=2>D.J. Shockley (6-1, 175-lbs.) of North
Clayton High in College Park, Ga., threw for 1,861 yards and 11 touchdowns on
his way to being named to the Rivals.com All America First Team. Shockley also
rushed for 864 yards and eight touchdowns.
"D.J. is very talented," said Rich. "He throws the
ball very well. He is a very athletic runner. You are always looking for a
quarterback who can make great decisions, hit the target, have the arm strength
to make the throws you want him to throw, and then if you can add athletic
ability to that you might have something very special."
As a junior, Shockley recorded 1,352 yards and 17
touchdowns and rushed for 733 yards and nine touchdowns.
"His potential is outstanding," continued Richt. "You
want a guy with great leadership, you want a guy who is a good student and
citizen, and all the things that you need in a great quarterback. I have always
told my quarterbacks that 'if I have got to motivate you in the classroom, or if
I have to motivate you to be a leader, then I probably have the wrong guy. He is
a great student, leader, and great citizen, and he has great ability. All those
things together should pave the way for a very good career for him."
The skill players, or athletes came in the form of
players like quarterback safety Greg Blue, Bama Adams, and signing day surprise
Tony Milton who came out of obscurity.
"Tony Milton is a kid that played a couple of seasons
ago," said Rich. "He was recruited by everybody in the South, and also teams
like Nebraska, Ohio State, and Syracuse. He did not qualify at the time, but he
is a great athlete. Played running back and defensive back and is a very
multi-talented guy. He has not been in school the last couple of years. He has
had an opportunity to get bigger and strong and continue on getting his test
score."
Milton was a top name on the recruiting trail in
1999. The 5-11, 195-pounder from North Florida Christian in Tallahassee, Fl.,
signed with Syracuse out of desperation when his native Florida schools and a
host of others backed off with academic concern. Failing to qualify, Milton
became determined to make it to college.
"He is extremely fast and has extreme quickness,"
said Garner. "He is a young man that has played several positions as a skill
athlete. So obviously he wants play running back first."
The Bulldogs also needed to get at least one of the
top running backs in the state. In a year when the Peach State featured five of
the top 20 rated running backs in the nation, Georgia did not get a single
one.
In addition to Milton, the Dawgs needed to get at
least one other potential running back from the "sleeper" or "out of state"
catagory.
href="http://ugasports.rivals.com/default.asp?sid=792&p=3&sp=1&pl=-14421">
size=2>Tyson Browning (5-9,
165-lbs.) of Oconee County in Watkinsville, Ga., rushed for 1,904 yards and 23
touchdowns his senior season. He averaged 9.6 yards per carry. As a junior he
rushed for 1,849 yards and 32 touchdowns on Oconee County's way to a perfect
season and the state championship.
"He is electric, makes people miss, a lot of big
plays, and he seems to have no fear for a guy who is not real big," described
Richt. "You have got to have tremendous speed, quickness, and bravery to play
when you are not a real big guy."
"There has been a lot of smaller players who have
seceded in a lot of different programs," said Richt. "It is usually because they
have a lot of heart and it is usually because they are quick."
"I guess I can't say they are always brave," he
chuckled in all seriousness. "Maybe the fear of getting hit keeps them from
getting hit."
href="http://ugasports.rivals.com/default.asp?sid=792&p=3&sp=1&pl=-13691">
size=2>Mike Gilliam (5-9, 176-lbs.) of Lincoln High
in Tallahassee, Fl., was named 6A All State First Team as a senior after rushing
for 2,683 yards and 35 touchdowns. As a junior, Gilliam he rushed for 1,140
yards and 16 touchdowns as his team went on to win the state
championship.
Wide receiver
href="http://ugasports.rivals.com/default.asp?sid=792&p=3&sp=1&pl=-13151">Fred
Gibson (6-4, 180-lbs.) of Ware County High in Waycross, Ga., was a last
minute surprise for the Dawgs. The Rivals.com All American committed to the
Florida Gators just last week, but suddenly changed his mind and opted for
Georgia just 24 hours before submitting his letter of intent.
Gibson recorded 50 receptions for over 1,000 yards
and 12 touchdowns as a senior. As a junior he caught 63 passes for over 1,200
yards and 13 touchdowns. Also a standout in basketball, Gibson averages 21
points per game for Ware County. Richt said he had no doubt that Gibson would
play both football and basketball for UGA.
size=2>Gibson's teammate
href="http://ugasports.rivals.com/default.asp?sid=792&p=3&sp=1&pl=-13153">Gerald
Anderson (6-3, 300-lbs.) was originally committed to Georgia Tech, but
had his scholarship offer withdrawn by the Yellow Jackets last weekend.
Anderson could end up playing on either side of the
ball for Georgia but projects as a defensive tackle. As a senior, Anderson
recorded 77 tackles (42 solo), 16 of which went for a loss of yardage, five
sacks and two caused fumbles. The preseason all star by several publications had
75 tackles and two sacks as a junior.
Anderson is perfect for a team that is in search of
as many offensive and defensive linemen as it can sign.
"We needed some more linemen in the program and just
about half of the class is linemen," said Richt. "We defiantly wanted to make
sure that we did not come out of this without enough big people up
front."
href="http://ugasports.rivals.com/default.asp?sid=792&p=3&sp=1&pl=-15686">Reggie
Weeks (6-4, 280-lbs.) of Smiths Station in Smiths Station, Al., could be
the sleeper of this class. As a senior, Weeks won the Smith Station Man of Steel
Award for being the team's most dedicated lifter. A slender 280, Weeks could
easily get up to the 310-320 pounds by the end of his career with the
Dawgs.
Weeks missed half of his senior season with an MCL
injury. The defensive tackle recorded 25 tackles, six for a loss, and three
sacks as a senior. As a junior he had 39 tackles and caused three
fumbles.
He plans to move to Athens as soon as he graduates to
be involved in the summer "senior led" drills. He is fully qualified with an SAT
score of over 1400. He could play either offensive or defensive line for the
Dawgs.
href="http://ugasports.rivals.com/default.asp?sid=792&p=3&sp=1&pl=-15983">Dennis
Roland (6-7, 270.) of Bolivar High in Bolivar, Mo., is a solid offensive
lineman and is the only player from the Midwest in this signing class. The
All-Ozarks First Team standout recorded 65 tackles, 19 of which we for a loss of
yards, and seven sacks as a senior on defense.
href="http://ugasports.rivals.com/default.asp?sid=792&p=3&sp=1&pl=-13349">
size=2>Russ Tanner (6-4, 260-lbs.) of Johnson County
High in Wrightsville, Ga., could get a shot at center with the Bulldogs. As a
senior he averaged 97 snaps per game.
href="http://ugasports.rivals.com/default.asp?sid=792&p=3&sp=1&pl=-15886">James
Redmond (6-7, 260-lbs.) of Booker T. Washington High in Atlanta, Ga.
will play in the 2001 Georgia-Florida High School All Star game.
Georgia also signed a bevy of defensive linemen. They
are:
href="http://ugasports.rivals.com/default.asp?sid=792&p=3&sp=1&pl=-15186">
face=Arial size=2>Darrell Holmes
(6-3, 260-lbs.) of Crim High in Atlanta, Ga.,
recorded 381 tackles in his high school career. The future defensive tackle also
racked up a school record 64 sacks. As a senior he recorded five fumble
recoveries and one interception.
href="http://ugasports.rivals.com/default.asp?sid=792&p=3&sp=1&pl=-13579">David
Pollack (6-2, 260-lbs.) of Shiloh High in Lithonia, Ga., will likely get
a shot at both fullback and defensive tackle for the Dawgs. The Class 5A First
Team All State star was voted Defensive Lineman of the Year by the Atlanta
Touchdown Club. Pollack recorded 86 tackles, 30 assists, two sacks, 23
tackles-for-loss, and three forced fumbles as a senior.
href="http://ugasports.rivals.com/default.asp?sid=792&p=3&sp=1&pl=-12784">
size=2>Marquis Elmore (6-3, 220-lbs.) of Charlton
County High in Folkston, Ga., recorded 70 tackles, three sacks, and two fumble
recoveries as a senior linebacker. On the offensive side of the ball he grabbed
22 receptions for 424 yards and six touchdowns at tight end.
As a junior, Elmore recorded 100 tackles, 4 1/2
sacks, and three interceptions. He holds school records in receptions with 51,
career receiving yards (875), career tackles (252) and single-season tackles
(100).
href="http://ugasports.rivals.com/default.asp?sid=792&p=3&sp=1&pl=-12733">
size=2>Darrius Swain (6-4, 295-lbs.)of Tucker
was another late surprise. The top rated tight end/defensive end committed to
Georgia earlier this week.
Georgia signed three high school defensive
backs.
href="http://ugasports.rivals.com/default.asp?sid=792&p=3&sp=1&pl=-13799">
size=2>Greg Blue (6-2, 185-lbs.) of Banneker High in
College Park, Ga., recorded 89 tackles, forced six fumbles, had four
interceptions, and broke up 14 passes as a senior. On special teams he returned
on kick 88 yards and a punt for 65 yards, both of which were
touchdowns.
href="http://ugasports.rivals.com/default.asp?sid=792&p=3&sp=1&pl=-12782">
size=2>Bama Adams (5-8,
170-lbs.) of Charlton County in Folkston, Ga., was voted All Region quarterback
and defensive back senior season, and his stats tell it all. Rushing, 709 yards
and 15 touchdowns, completed 140 passes for 1,185 yards and 14 touchdowns. He
currently holds seven school records: career passing yards (1,845),
completions (108), passing touchdowns (24), and passing percentage (50%),
kickoff return yards (915), touchdowns (3), and punt return yards
(558).
href="http://ugasports.rivals.com/default.asp?sid=792&p=3&sp=1&pl=-13914">
size=2>Reggie McFadden (5-8, 160-lbs.) of Shaw High
in Columbus, Ga., recorded 24 tackles, five tackles, and caused one fumble. As a
junior he recorded 44 tackles, 13 interceptions, and recovered two
fumbles.
The Bulldogs brought in three new
linebackers.
href="http://ugasports.rivals.com/default.asp?sid=792&p=3&sp=1&pl=-15363">Derrick
White (6-3, 205-lbs.) of Creekside High in Union City, Ga., recorded 129
tackles, 15 of which were for a loss, 12 sacks, four interceptions, recovered
three fumbles, blocked three punts, and returned one for a touchdown. For this
he was named the the Class 4A First Team at linebacker.
href="http://ugasports.rivals.com/default.asp?sid=792&p=3&sp=1&pl=-15811">Odell
Thurman (6-1, 210-lbs.) of Monticello High in Monticello, Ga., played
both fullback and linebacker this past season and posted 1,187 yards rushing and
153 tackles.
href="http://ugasports.rivals.com/default.asp?sid=792&p=3&sp=1&pl=-14685">
size=2>Thomas Davis (6-3,
205-lbs.) of Randolph-Clay High in Shellman, Ga., played several positions in
high school. He rushed for 1,023 yards as a senior and hold the school record
for touchdowns in a single game with five.
Tight end Andre Zellner (6-4, 225-lbs.) of
Forsyth, Ga., signed with Georgia last year but failed to qualify. He resigned
with the Dawgs today after spending a year at Hargrave Academy in
Virginia.
Regardless of the rankings that the various
recruiting services are going to assign to this class fans should feel good. The
team addressed its needs, has a full cabinet of talent returning, and is highly
motivated with a new coach.
"Everyone wants to be ranked as highly as they can in
anything they do," said Richt. "We are competing for great players and we are
competing on the field. The goal is to win."
"I think it takes years to assess where a class is
really at," said Garner. "I think that when we stand up here three or four years
from now, if we are in the SEC championship on in contention for a national
championship I think that everybody will consider the class a pretty good
class."
"In recruiting you can never really now who won until
later on in their careers," Rich said. "You can go over the national
championships of the last 20 years and see where those classes ranked four or
five years prior to that. Sometimes those classes are not even ranked in the top
20 and sometimes they are ranked number one or number two. So, I think it is
very hard to judge what kind of impact a class will have until you spend some
time with them."
One thing is for certain, the Georgia coaches did a
lot in a short period of time.
"We didn't get the whole staff together until around
the 6th or 7th of January and everyone came and chipped in really hard together.
There is a lot of pride in this class."
2001 SIGNEES
bgColor=#ffffff borderColorLight=#ff0000 border=2>
color=#ffffff size=2>Pos. and Name
color=#ffffff size=2>High School
WR
href="http://ugasports.rivals.com/default.asp?sid=792&p=3&sp=1&pl=-12782">Bama
Adams
Charlton Co., Folkston
GA
OL/DL
href="http://ugasports.rivals.com/default.asp?sid=792&p=3&sp=1&pl=-13153">Gerald
Anderson
Ware Co., Waycross
GA
S
href="http://ugasports.rivals.com/default.asp?sid=792&p=3&sp=1&pl=-13799">Greg
Blue
Banneker, College Park
GA
RB
href="http://ugasports.rivals.com/default.asp?sid=792&p=3&sp=1&pl=-14421">Tyson
Browning
Oconee Co., Watkinsville
GA
LB
href="http://ugasports.rivals.com/default.asp?sid=792&p=3&sp=1&pl=-14685">Thomas
Davis
Randolph-Clay, Cuthbert
GA
DE
href="http://ugasports.rivals.com/default.asp?sid=792&p=3&sp=1&pl=-12784">Marquis
Elmore
Charlton Co., Folkston
GA
WR
href="http://ugasports.rivals.com/default.asp?sid=792&p=3&sp=1&pl=-13151">Fred
Gibson
Ware Co., Waycross
GA
RB
href="http://ugasports.rivals.com/default.asp?sid=792&p=3&sp=1&pl=-13691">Mike
Gilliam
Lincoln, Tallahassee
FL
DE
href="http://ugasports.rivals.com/default.asp?sid=792&p=3&sp=1&pl=-13861">Robert
Geathers
Carver's Bay, Georgetown,
SC
DT
href="http://ugasports.rivals.com/default.asp?sid=792&p=3&sp=1&pl=-15186">Darrell
Holmes
Crim, Atlanta
GA
CB
href="http://ugasports.rivals.com/default.asp?sid=792&p=3&sp=1&pl=-13914">Reggie
McFadden
Shaw, Columbus
GA
RB
href="http://ugasports.rivals.com/default.asp?sid=792&p=3&sp=1&pl=-16710">Tony
Milton
North Florida Christian,
Tallahassee, Fl
DT
href="http://ugasports.rivals.com/default.asp?sid=792&p=3&sp=1&pl=-13579">David
Pollack
Shiloh, Snellville
GA
OL
href="http://ugasports.rivals.com/default.asp?sid=792&p=3&sp=1&pl=-15886">James
Redmond
Booker T. Washington,
Atlanta GA
DT
href="http://ugasports.rivals.com/default.asp?sid=792&p=3&sp=1&pl=-15983">Dennis
Roland
Bolivar, Bolivar
MO
QB
href="http://ugasports.rivals.com/default.asp?sid=792&p=3&sp=1&pl=-13113">D.J.
Shockley
North Clayton, College
Park GA
TE
href="http://ugasports.rivals.com/default.asp?sid=792&p=3&sp=1&pl=-12733">Darius
Swain
Tucker, Tucker
GA
OL
href="http://ugasports.rivals.com/default.asp?sid=792&p=3&sp=1&pl=-13349">Russ
Tanner
Johnson Co., Wrightsville
GA
LB
href="http://ugasports.rivals.com/default.asp?sid=792&p=3&sp=1&pl=-15811">Odell
Thurman
Jasper Co. Comprehensive,
Monticello GA
DT
href="http://ugasports.rivals.com/default.asp?sid=792&p=3&sp=1&pl=-15686">Reggie
Weeks
Smith Station, Smith
Station AL
LB
href="http://ugasports.rivals.com/default.asp?sid=792&p=3&sp=1&pl=-15363">Derrick
White
Creekside, Fairburn
GA
TE
href="http://ugasports.rivals.com/default.asp?sid=792&p=3&sp=1&pl=-15720">Andre
Zellner
Hargrave Military
Academy, Chatham VA
The following junior college transfers players signed with
Georgia in December and are currently enrolled at UGA. Scholarships count
towards 2000's numbers.
bgColor=#ffffff borderColorLight=#ff0000 border=2>
color=#ffffff size=2>Pos. and Name
color=#ffffff size=2>High School
DE
href="http://ugasports.rivals.com/default.asp?sid=792&p=3&sp=1&pl=-16200">Nic
Clemons
Georgia Military
College
OL
href="http://ugasports.rivals.com/default.asp?sid=792&p=3&sp=1&pl=-15288">Kareem
Marshall
Mississippi Gulf Coast
Col.
CB
href="http://ugasports.rivals.com/default.asp?sid=792&p=3&sp=1&pl=-15422">Brandon
Williams
Mississippi Gulf Coast
Col.
Coach Garner in
RealVideo
href="http://ugasports.net/media/video/01020701.ram">Click
here to watch University of Georgia recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner
speak with the press today following National Signing Day in
RealVideo.
src="http://ugasports.net/media/photo/01020710.jpg" width=400
border=0>
Garner
Introduces JUCOs
href="http://ugasports.net/media/video/01020703.ram">Click
here to watch University of Georgia recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner
introduce the Bulldogs' three junior college signees.
src="http://ugasports.net/media/photo/0102074.jpg" width=200
border=0>
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