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March 22, 2010

Old School Recruiting

Tim Worley arrived at Georgia in 1985 as one of the South's top recruits.  Despite playing in only 26 regular-season games during his career as a Bulldog, Worley's 2,038 rushing yards currently rank 11th in school history.

For a period of 10-15 years, from the age of about six until I knew better, I would buy every preseason college football magazine that was released, and I mean all of them.

My parents are in the process of cleaning out their home - the house I grew up in - and I just received a huge load of boxes containing my old stuff, including these football magazines, and I mean all of them.

I was looking through several of these, primarily the Lindy's annual edition, and came to a couple of conclusions on recruiting: Based on its magazine coverage, recruiting wasn't nearly as meaningful to college football fans two-to-three decades ago as it is today.  And, Georgia recruited as well then as it has the last decade, at least, according to recruiting rankings.

Apparently, one of the first individuals to cover college football recruiting was Joe Terranova in the 1970s.  By 1982, Terranova's coverage was being featured in Sports Illustrated while he  was "considered by many as the foremost authority on recruiting in the country."  Call him the Jamie Newberg of yesteryear.

It was in 1982 that Terranova's recruiting feature was part of the premier issue of Lindy's SEC Football Annual.  It was that season's Bulldog recruiting class that was recognized by Terranova as the very best in the nation, ahead of Notre Dame, Texas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska.

Less than four years later, this class, on the whole, was considered a bust.  In December of 1986, when fifth-year seniors were what remained of that particular recruiting class, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution ran a story titled, Bulldogs' ill-fated class of '82: The recruits fell short of great expectations.

Just below are the Georgia newcomers of 1982 that were considered then by Terranova as "blue chip" prospects.  The players are listed by position ranking.  For example, Terranova thought of Gerald Browner as the fourth-best lineman prospect (both offensive and defensive linemen were listed together under "Linemen").

It's interesting (and unfortunate) to note that of these eight blue chips, four did not letter a single season at Georgia due to a prompt transfer or poor academics (Browner, Harris, Sorrells, Cornish) while just one (Flack) started for the Bulldogs more than two seasons.

#4 Line- Gerald Browner (Atlanta)
#5 DB- Tony Flack (Greensboro, NC)
#6 QB- Jamie Harris (Danville, VA)
#11 WR- Tyrone Sorrells (Buford)
#20 Line- Cedric Cornish (Warner Robbins)
#26 RB- Keith Montgomery (Stephens Co.)
#26 Line- Keith Johnson (Ocilla)
#27 Line- Jay Floyd (Hartwell)

In measuring Georgia's recruiting over a five-year span, below are the Bulldogs' top newcomers (according to Terranova) for the 1983-1986 classes, as well.

Terranova wasn't consistent year-to-year in the Lindy's annual as far as the significance of the rankings (i.e., in the nation, SEC, the entire South).  I've explained the rankings under each year along with Georgia's recruiting ranking in the SEC.

For what it's worth, the Bulldogs' average recruiting ranking in the SEC from 1982-1986 was 2.4.  In comparison, according to Rivals, Georgia's average recruiting ranking in the SEC for the past five years (2006-2010) is 4.0.

I know that's like comparing apples to oranges...  The SEC had 10 teams then compared to the current 12, two different recruiting services are being examined, and more SEC schools rank towards the top nationally in recruiting in recent years than they did during the 1980s (Georgia's national average ranking from 2006-2010 is an impressive 8.2).

As far as how the 1983-1986 top Bulldog recruits panned out at Georgia, for those Dawg fans who remember the 1980s, decide for yourself.

1983
Player rankings aren't nationally, like '82, but of only the newcomers heading to SEC schools.  Only the top 10 at each position are listed.  Georgia's class ranked 3rd in the SEC behind Auburn and LSU.

#1 LB- Henry Harris (Decatur)
#4 RB- David McCluskey (Rome)
#5 Line- Jimmy Holton (Bainbridge)
#6 LB- Steve Boswell (Warner Robbins)
#9 DB- Elbert Manning (Norcross)
#9 Line- William Tang (Douglasville)

1984
Like '83, newcomers ranked amongst only those heading to SEC schools and only the top 10 at each position are listed. Georgia's class ranked 2nd in the SEC behind Auburn.

#2 RB- Cleveland Gary (Indian Town, FL)
#2 WR- Anthony Clincy (Fullerton, CA)
#3 QB- Wayne Johnson (Columbus)
#3 RB- Lars Tate (Indianapolis, IN)
#3 WR- Cassius Osborn (Statesboro)
#3 TE- Ronnie Smith (Forsyth)
#4 DB- Michael Willis (Garland, TX)
#5 Line- Wycliffe Lovelace (Clewiston, FL)
#6 DB- Aaron Chubb (Rockmart)
#8 QB- Bobby Wilkes (Brunswick)
#10 QB- John Thomas (Milledgeville)

1985
Ten Georgia players are ranked according to position in Tarranova's "Southland Super Seventy-Five."  Besides the SEC, the "Southland" included players going to Georgia Tech and southern independent schools (i.e., South Carolina, Florida State, Southern Miss, etc.).  Georgia's class ranked 2nd in the SEC behind Alabama.

#2 RB- Tim Worley (Lumberton, NC)
#3 RB- Keith Henderson (Cartersville) 
#5 QB- Joey Hester (Cairo)
#5 Line- Curt Mull (Lake Brantley, FL)
#8 DB- Doug Samuel (Sarasota, FL)
#9 Line- Paul Giles (Monroe)
#16 Line- Chris Warren (Dawson)
#21 Line- Nick Fotos (Piedmont, SC)
#24 Line- Eric Johnson (Tulsa, OK)
#25 Line- Todd Wheeler (Rome)

1986
Like '85, Georgia players (5) are ranked according to position in the "Southland Super Seventy-Five."  However, unlike the year before, the top 75 for 1986 were solely newcomers from the South, regardless of what school they were attending. Three of Georgia's Super 75 were also ranked amongst Tarranova's "National Blue Chips."  Georgia's class ranked 4th in the SEC behind Alabama, Auburn, and Florida.

#3 Line- Hiawatha Berry (Winder)
#4 LB- Brent Collins (New Market, TN): #5 LB nationally
#4 DB- Mark Fletcher (Kennesaw): #13 LB nationally
#7 RB- Alfred Rawls (Rochelle): #22 RB nationally
#8 LB- Bryan Magee (Cleveland, TN)

Within a couple weeks, I'll put together and post a similar listing for the five Georgia recruiting classes (1987-1991) that followed. 

2 comments:

Tex Noel said...

It would be interesting to see if a team was the top team in the Recruiting battles...and after molding it with their teammamtes that these "Blue Chippers" ever led their team the National Champions over the next 4-5 years!

Any ideas Patrick??

Time to do what you do best and crunch some numbers?!!

Patrick said...

Tex,
Thanks for your comments. Check out my post from a couple months ago:

http://patrickgarbin.blogspot.com/2010/01/are-recruiting-rankings-meaningful.html

It doesn't necessarily measure if the top recruiting classes eventually won a nat'l championship but does measure if there is a parallel between teams' recruiting rankings and their final, on-field rankings.