One of Georgia’s most celebrated exports is high school football players. The state produces more than 200 major-college prospects on an annual basis. Georgia and Georgia Tech can’t sign them all.
Here are some of the this year’s winners and losers among the out-of-state colleges who raided Georgia’s crop of football talent Wednesday:
Three on the rise
Tennessee: Lane Kiffin declared a recruiting war on Georgia and left during the middle of the battle. But Derek Dooley finished it. The Volunteers signed six from Georgia, making national headlines by luring away wide receiver Da’Rick Rogers from his longtime commitment to UGA. Rogers, the AJC’s No. 1-rated prospect in Georgia, was part of a “package deal” to Tennessee with his quarterback, Calhoun High’s Nash Nance.
Dooley, the son of UGA coaching legend Vince Dooley, considers recruiting Georgia to be just as important as Kiffin did. "One thing that is certain is that we have to do a good job in the state of Georgia, among other states," Dooley said. "There's a lot of good football players in that state. In the past in all my years watching this program, when they've won, they've had some very good players come out of Georgia."
Clemson: Perhaps no team made bigger strides in a shorter amount of time than Clemson, the ACC school 20 minutes away from Georgia’s northeast border. In Dabo Swinney’s first full season as head coach, he made the state a top recruiting priority. signing seven Georgia players -- the most at Clemson since 2002. Westlake cornerback Darius Robinson stuck with the Tigers after flirtations with Georgia Tech, while Heritage cornerback Garry Peters might contribute as early as this season. Clemson also beat out most ACC and SEC schools for Carver-Columbus defensive end Corey Crawford.
“We’ve overhauled our recruiting process here and after one year, I’m real pleased with the results,” Swinney said.
Auburn: Gene who? Gene Chizik, who finished with one of the nation’s top five classes, bolstered by nine Georgia recruits. Warner Robins defensive tackle Jeffrey Whitaker broke UGA’s heart by signing with the Tigers. Buford linebacker Jessel Curry is the son of former Falcons All-Pro Buddy Curry, while Lowndes offensive tackle Ed Christian switched from Florida State to Auburn. The biggest catch might have been former Westlake quarterback Cameron Newton, who was considered the nation’s No. 1 prospect in junior college. He signed with Florida out of high school.
Three free falling
Vanderbilt: The Commodores had a strong year in Georgia with nine recruits. However, it could’ve been much better, as three longtime Vanderbilt commitments bailed in the final weeks -- Peachtree Ridge defensive back Bradley Roby (Ohio State), Southwest DeKalb’s Sharrod Golightly (South Carolina), and Nance (Tennessee).
Oklahoma State: Coach Mike Gundy pitched a shutout in Georgia, one year after luring three Georgia recruits and saying the state ranked No. 3 among his recruiting priorities after Oklahoma and Texas. The Cowboys even had recruiting momentum after defeating Georgia in the season-opener, but early success with Texas recruits appeared to change Gundy’s focus.
North Carolina: Coach Butch Davis also failed to land a Georgia prospect after signing three last year. Then again, two of last year’s prospects, Cartersville quarterback Donavan Tate (pro baseball) and Perry offensive lineman Johnnie Farms (prep school) never reported to campus, perhaps making the Tar Heels question if it was worth such a strong effort.