Signing Day, the first chance for seniors to fax in letters of intent to the college of their choice, has come and gone.
While most schools now turn their focus to evaluating the 2010 prospects across the country, Georgia is still in on possibly its top offensive target for 2009. Plant tight end Orson Charles, has delayed his decision until after his final official visit, scheduled for Feb. 20 to Southern Cal.
Charles, at 6-foot-3, 230-pounds, recently narrowed it down to four schools after eliminating Florida State from consideration. He has already visited Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee, and plans to decide shortly after his return from Los Angeles. The Bulldogs are hoping his future lies in Athens, as the offense sure could use a weapon like Charles.
Playing with top quarterback Aaron Murray, who recently enrolled early at Georgia, Charles put up staggering numbers. With over 1,400 yards and 21 touchdowns, the 4-star prospect was a major factor in his teams march towards a state title in Florida.
A tight end with Charles's abilities may be exactly what the Bulldogs need. With Joe Cox being the probable starter next year, he will probably concentrate on the short and intermediate throws he is so efficient at. The tight end will most likely be targeted early and often as Cox gains experience as a first year starter.
Having established themselves as a premier producer of NFL level players, the Bulldogs have been searching for the next great player at the position. With Ben Watson, Randy McMichael, Leonard Pope and Martrez Milner currently playing in the league, Athens has become a professional pipeline for tight ends. But it seems they may be lacking that elite level talent Georgia fans have grown accustomed to.
Bryce Ros and Aron White are both still learning the nuances of the position, while Bruce Figgins is recovering from shoulder surgery. And with no one on the current roster quite like Charles, he could play a major role this fall. When the ball is in the air, Charles' ability to out muscle defensive backs and linebackers alike could help bring the tight end back to its rightful spot in the Georgia offense, which led the SEC in passing last year.
The coaching staff has been on Charles since he visited Athens almost a year ago. He came away impressed with the school, saying he loved the campus and also the academics. The Bulldog coaches gave the athletic tight end an offer a month later, making him their first and main target at the position. The connection had been made.
He came back to Athens in June, participating in the Mark Richt summer camp. And while there may have been some recent debate as to whether Charles was a tight end or an oversized receiver, there was no question where he is wanted at Georgia.
"I think I did a good job at tight end at the camp," said Charles. "I actually wanted to go work with the receivers some too, but Coach (John) Lilly wanted me to stay with him."
After visiting unofficially for the blackout game against Alabama, the top tight end target made one last trip to Athens for his official visit late in January. He has mentioned before that the Plant tight end is looking to see where he fits in the best. So when he left Athens, his favorite part had to put a smile on the Georgia coaches hoping to have him in the offense next year.
Charles spoke of the visit with FlaVarsity.com writer Michael Langston:
"My talks with the Georgia coaches were my favorite part. I got an indication about how much they want me in their offense and they used a lot of facts to back up why they need me so much," he said. "Coach Lilly mentioned that they don't have a big receiver like myself that can cause some match-up problems and he just talked about how I could fill that need. With Coach (Mark) Richt, I got a chance to get to know him more on a personal level. I'm very comfortable with the Georgia coaching staff in not only how I fit in there but just how much of a family it is there."
Now with at least two weeks until the 62nd best player in the country decides, the Bulldogs can only wait and see if their number one target at tight end ends up in red and black. But they have to like their chances.