RECRUITING: Update on Georgia's Top Ten

Since the Border War began and even through its evolution into the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, the University of Florida has depended on recruiting success north of the Suwannee River to stay ahead of the University of Georgia. Quite often, Florida's success or failures against UGa can be linked to how well the Gators tapped into the wealth of talent in the state of Georgia.

Players like Ben Troupe and Skyler Thornton on the more recent teams have made (and will make) tremendous impacts for the Gators. Here is a breakdown on the top players in the state of Georgia and where they are headed or leaning.

GEORGIA'S TOP TEN:

1. TRAY BLACKMON: (LB, 6-0 190 4.5 LaGrange, Georgia 5 Stars, Committed to Auburn) Blackmon was recently bumped up the national list of linebackers to the number one overall position. He is a bit smallish by most standards for a linebacker at just 6-0, 190, but his great speed and overall hitting ability put him over the top. I'm not sure he should be the number one overall linebacker but there is no denying his talents. Florida tried and tried to catch his eye, to no avail. While many (myself included until very recently) thought Blackmon was a near lock for Georgia, Tray has just recent committed to Tommy Tuberville and the Auburn Tigers. Rest assured that the Georgia Bulldogs will not let up on him and will fight all the way to National Signing Day.

2. DARIUS DEWBERRY: (LB, 6-4 225 4.65, Fort Valley, Georgia 5 Stars, Leaning to Georgia) Dewberry is a frightening prospect at linebacker. His size is menacing and from watching his game tape, so is his attitude on the field. Dewberry could likely play defensive end but most, if not all programs are recruiting his as a linebacker. Dewberry shows a remarkable ability to pursue the ball and finish the play. His has excellent quickness for his size. What is impeding Dewberry is his scholastic record. It is widely thought that Dewberry is a sign and place (into a junior college) candidate. That has somewhat affected the number of scholarship offers he has received. Even so, he is definitely a player on whom schools find worthy of taking a chance. Dewberry is a game changer. Florida is very interested in the crushing linebacker, but he seems to have his interests in other areas, namely Georgia and Auburn.

3. JUSTIN MINCEY: (DE, 6-6 240 4.85, Folkston, Georgia 4 Stars, Leaning to Florida State) Justin Mincey is another superstar from Georgia. The huge defensive end has made waves for a couple of years now. He became one of the hottest prospects for 2005 the moment signing day 2004 ended back in February. For the longest time, Mincey was considered a solid lean to the Florida Gators (followed by Georgia) but things at Florida have changed and so have Mincey's choices. There was a recent flurry over whether or not Mincey had committed to the Florida State Seminoles. Mincey maintains he is a strong lean to FSU and is not committed. Will he come back around to Florida? As of now it sound unlikely, but as we all know, things change.

4. CHRIS SCOTT: (OL, 6-4 315 5.3, Lovejoy, Goergia 4 Stars, UGA, UF, NEB, UT, LSU) Scott is a very intelligent and powerful offensive lineman who has his pick of national powers. He has the size and skill to play inside or outside on the line. He has dominated the competition this season and has become one of the most solid prospects on the offensive line anywhere. Many think that Georgia has the inside track, but when I spoke to him last month he insisted that he was open and that the academic institution would carry a lot of weight (engineering). He is much needed by the Gators who will lose three to four starters on the offensive line next season including three tackles. 5. CARLOS THOMAS: (WR/DB, 5-11 170 4.4, College Park, Georgia, 4 Stars, Committed to Georgia Tech) Carlos is an excellent wide receiver. I have thought so from the first day I saw him catch a ball at a camp in Atlanta in April. He gets separation, flies to the ball, and makes acrobatic catches. He will make an immediate impact at Georgia Tech next season. Some think he is better suited for cornerback, especially since he's a tad under 6-0. However, after watching him at several camps playing both positions, I fully believe he's a wide receiver all the way. Carlos was very high on Florida early this summer and many thought he might have been a silent commitment to the Gators, but after the UF summer camp, Carlos seemed to cool on UF and eventually chose the Yellow Jackets. I do not believe UGA was ever in his plans. Things can change, but I look for this commitment to stick.

6. TONY WRIGHT: (RB, 6-0 195 4.45, Fort Valley, Georgia, 4 Stars, Committed to Florida) Peach County high school is absolutely loaded with talent this year. Wright is a bruising inside-the-tackles type runner, but he is very smooth and fast as well. He's been leaning to UF for some time and his commitment is no real surprise. The biggest impediment to Wright is his qualifying status. He may be forced to take the junior college route, however after talking to some familar with his recruitment, he is closer to qualifying than some think. We will find out soon enough.

7. BRANDON SESAY: (DT, 6-6 245 4.75, Atlanta, Georgia, 4 Stars, Committed to Georgia) For those consumed by the world of recruiting there aren't many top notch players along the defensive line this year, but Sesay (and his teammate below) is one of them. He has had a very quiet recruitment. What hasn't been quiet has been his play on the field. Along with Battle, Sesay and his defensive squad at Douglass High School have menaced opposing offenses all year. While Sesay is likely looking at a redshirt next season to add some bulk, there is no doubt he will be an impact player for Georgia. His technique and determination have been are huge factors in why he is considered such a special player. Florida was not a player in his recruitment at all.

8. RODERICK BATTLE: (DE, 6-4 243 4.75, Atlanta, Georgia, 4 Stars, Committed to Georgia) The situation with Battle is nearly identical to that of his teammate Sesay. The primary difference is that Battle is ready to play now. His size and speed make him nearly ideal for a pass rusher and with UGa graduating its two starting defensive ends, Battle has a terrific opportunity to hit the field very early in his career. Also like Sesay, Florida was not a player in his recruitment.

9. ANTONIO CLAY: (LB, 6-1 207 4.7, Jeffersonville, Georiga, 4 Stars, Leaning FSU and Miami) Clay has been widely talked about as one of the best linebackers in the nation, but with all due respect, I am not sure I agree. Obviously there are many who see plenty of potential as evidenced by the sheer number of scholarship offers. My main points of contention with Clay lie with his size and speed. At 6-1, 207, he's not horribly undersized and he could probably gain more weight. However, he seems a step slow even for 207. After watching his film, I was again left scratching my head. He's talented obviously, but I believe perhaps a little too highly rated. I hope he proves me wrong, because I certainly love to see kids succeed. As far as recruiting goes, Clay had made an early commitment to the University of Oklahoma. He has since backed off that commitment and is now focusing on Florida State and Miami. Florida did not play a role in his recruitment.

10. MATT DUNHAM: (LB/RB/S, 6-2 220 4.6, Columbus, Georgia, 4 Stars, Committed to FSU) Dunham is an outstanding talent who made a very early commitment to the Seminoles. He is a very talented player who plays several positions for his team at Pacceli High School. From running back to safety to linebacker, Dunham has been a jack-of-all-trades and a vital cog to his team's success. Right now, Dunham has committed to playing running back at Florida State but I understand that could change once the staff gets him on campus to make a more thorough determination. Dunham was highly sought after as is obvious by watching some of his highlight reels. His ability to affect the outcome of a game from several positions makes him a valuable prospect. He was offered very early by the Florida Gators, along with two of his teammates, LB Kalvin Baker (Florida commit) and OL Mike Harness (Auburn commit).

There are quite a few players in Georgia who have slipped through the cracks also. The following players are some to keep an eye on as they have moved up in the ranking steadily as their senior seasons have progressed.

1. MAM NYANG: (DT, 6-2.5 250 4.75, 4 Stars) Nyang is a powerful defensive tackle who was overlooked early on primarily due to his size (lack of weight to be precise). However, he has really turned some heads with dominating performances in his senior season. He currently holds offers from Florida State, Louisville, and Georgia among others. Florida has not been a player in his recruitment.

2. COREY MOON: (DE, 6-4 240 4.85, 4 Stars) Moon is another player who has moved up the recruiting ranks this season. He's always around the ball and finishes the play to the whistle. He might be a tad slow for an end, but he will be a presence on the field. Georgia is the dominant leader for Moon, but the Bulldogs already hold two defensive end commitments. Florida is not a player in his recruitment.

3. FRED BUSSEY: (LB, 6-1 225 4.7, 3 Stars) Bussey's name is on the rise in recruiting circles. He is a linebacker prospect that is a utility player for his current team in Thomaston. He plays quarterback, linebacker, and some safety as well. He sports offers from Florida, Auburn, and Gerogia Southern and the Gators have had an active role in recruiting Bussey.

4. TAALIB TUCKER: (LB, 6-0 230 4.6, 3 Stars, Committed to Georgia Tech) Tucker is a standout linebacker from Westlake High School in Atlanta who is physically ready to play college ball right now. Early in the recruiting process the Gators were making a move for Tucker, but he decided to verbally commit to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets from his home city. Tucker should make an impact for GT as they are in need of solid linebackers. If a higher profile program finds itself in need of a physical guy, Tucker could be that guy. He's definitely one to watch at the next level.

5. TONY CLARK: (CB/S, 6-1 185 4.5, 3 Stars, Committed to Georgia Tech) Clark began the season as a virtual unknown, but he's made plenty of noise this season and he's getting noticed. He runs track and he has excelled in the classroom. A physical player with good hands and concentration, Georgia Tech may have found a surprise player in Clark.


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