One of the most mysterious commits of the class of 2010 has been Dexter Morant. Some of the intrigue surrounding Morant has to do with his distance from Athens – nearly four hours away in small Manning, SC. Morant was considered a player coveted by former defensive ends coach Jon Fabris – so when he was let go there was some speculation about if he would stay with Georgia.
"Georgia secured Dexter Morant's commitment a week ago after hiring Todd Grantham and getting a Defensive Coordinator in place," Scout.com South Recruiting Analyst Chad Simmons said. "When Jon Fabris was released by Mark Richt, he had some questions and began to look at Clemson. Rodney Garner met with him a week before the Grantham hiring, asked him to be patient, and once Grantham was in place, Morant canceled his official visit to Clemson and stayed with Georgia. Him visiting this weekend is just going to allow him to meet some of his future teammates and begin to learn about the new coaches on the defensive side of the ball."
Morant is one of a slew of players who seemed poised to exploit the outside of the defensive line spots in Todd Grantham's 3-4 defense.
"Morant is raw as a player at defensive end," Simmons said. "He has that size and length that can't be taught, but he has to really get stronger and work on his first step at defensive end. Some have mentioned him playing outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme, but he would have to really improve his speed and mobility to line up there. I look for him to red-shirt, add some good weight, and develop into a strongside end when all is said and done."
But Morant is not the only committed prospect visiting. Highly-touted Garrison Smith will be on campus officially for the first time ever. The Atlanta native has been to the Classic City on numerous occasions, but this will be his first official visit as a guest of Georgia. Perhaps it is fitting that his first official visit will be after Grantham was hired.
"Smith will be the leader this weekend when talking official visitors. This kid is a laugh a minute. He has talked about playing linebacker or in the secondary with Alec Ogletree – that is not going to happen," Simmons confirmed. "He is a guy that will put his hand down at Georgia and the change in defenses couldn't have been any better for him. He will be able to slide right in and play defensive end in the 3-4 scheme instead of having to add weight to play tackle in the base 4-3."
Smith has expressed wonder about where he will line up at Georgia. But this weekend will help him answer any questions he might have about his future at Georgia.
"Smith is 100% committed to Georgia, he is signing with Georgia, and Dawg fans should have no worries about him," Simmons concludes.
If you are going to run a 3-4 scheme then you have to have a nose guard to make it work. Warner Robbins defensive tackle Jeffrey Whitaker is prototypical for that spot.
"Whitaker is a big target for Georgia, and they will go after him hard this weekend," Simmons said. "He was a big target for them before the change, but he is even bigger now. In a 3-4 scheme, you need a space-eater in the middle and I have said for years that Whitaker is just that. He is not a guy who is going to make a lot of plays one-on-one, but he will take up two offensive linemen and free up others around him. That is what he does, and that is what Georgia needs in the middle. He is a very strong interior defensive lineman that plays with very good leverage. The Dawgs will make a hard run at him this weekend."
But that does not mean the Dawgs will get him. Georiga is facing stiff competition from an old foe – Auburn.
"It is really down to Auburn and Georgia for Whitaker," Simmons said. "Other schools are in there, but without any major changes, he will sign with one of those schools. Auburn had their chance last weekend and Georgia has theirs starting today. He will announce his decision on February 1st."
That leaves the last visitor – Lowndes linebacker Telvin Smith, who is committed to Florida State. The south Georgia native would be another solid addition to the Dawgs if Mark Richt and company can convince him Georgia is the right fit for him.
"Smith is a linebacker Georgia has targeted since the spring and they had a meeting with him on Thursday down at Lowndes and they now will host him in Athens this weekend," Simmons said. "Smith has been committed to Florida State since the summer, but he has legit interest in the Bulldogs. He is an outside linebacker with great length and instincts that could fit in well at the weakside linebacker spot. He has received a lot of attention from the Georgia staff before and after the coaching changes, so it is easy to see he is wanted in Athens by everyone on staff."
This weekend, it seems, is about solidifying the base of recruits already committed to the Dawgs, and going out to add a couple more solid, and important spots to the defensive side of the ball. If all goes well this weekend could be the one that helps Georgia solidify the 3-4 in the years to come.