Theus Headlines Dawgs' Class

ATHENS – Offensive tackle John Theus is generally considered Georgia's top recruit in this year's class and coach Mark Richt is putting him in a special group, too.

Richt on Wednesday mentioned the player ranked No. 7 nationally by Scout.com with the marquee offensive players he's had with the Bulldogs in how he approached them as incoming freshmen.

"You've had guys like the A J Greens you've had in the past, the Matthew Staffords and all that, guys in that position that were highly thought of for a certain reason, well John is in that category to me," Richt said, "so his opportunity is going to be the same as those other guys."

Green and Stafford became starters their freshmen seasons and left as top-five NFL draft picks.

Theus, from the Bolles School in Jacksonville, Fla., will certainly have every opportunity to do the same with both starting offensive tackles departed from last season.

"The biggest issue we felt like we had was at the tackle position and I felt like we did a tremendous job there," Richt said.

Georgia only signed three offensive linemen in this class after Avery Young from Palm Beach Gardens, Fla, picked Auburn and Brandon Greene from Cedar Grove stuck with Alabama.

The other Bulldog offensive line signees are junior college transfer Mark Beard (6-foot-4, 300 pounds) and Greg Pyke (6-6, 315) from Baltimore.

"They are big men," Richt said. "They're physical enough to compete right now."

Beard has three years to play three seasons, Richt said, since he redshirted a season at junior college after weighing 260 pounds out of high school.

"Hopefully I'll still play tackle, but if not I'll play wherever it takes to start," Beard said. "I've been playing left tackle since seventh grade so hopefully I'll still play left tackle."

Beard thinks transferring at midyear and going through spring practice will give him an inside track on a starting job

"I've got a good advantage of finding a starting spot somewhere on the offensive line," Beard said. "There's three open spots."

After `the noise,' Dawson becomes a Bulldog

Georgia got some good news on Wednesday when Tucker defensive end/outside linebacker Josh Dawson signed.

He previously was committed to Vanderbilt.

Richt said Georgia worked on trying to attract players who were looking elsewhere after the 6-7 season in 2010 and the 0-2 start in 2011.

"We all know going into last season there was a little bit of noise that we were calling it as far as how things were going with our program," Richt said. "I think that probably hurt us a little bit on the front end, but once we had the season we had…maybe some of the guys that were kind of in a wait and see decided I feel very comfortable now where Georgia is and where coach Richt and the staff are."

Bringing them in from all over

Ten of Georgia's signees were from in-state and the Bulldogs got players from five other states—three from Florida, two from North Carolina and one each from Maryland, Tennessee and Alabama.

"Some years it's just heavier in Georgia than others," Richt said.

Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley were the top-rated running backs in North Carolina.

"To think you could get the top two running backs from anybody else's state would be very difficult to do," Richt said.

The out of the state haul included the three midyear enrollees that were at the signing day news conference: Marshall, Beard and quarterback Faton Bauta from West Palm Beach, Fla.

"The bottom line is we're trying to find the very best players period," Richt said. "We know we have one of the greatest states in the country to recruit football. …Our philosophy is if you go out of state they better be special."

Tibbs lone WR

Blake Tibbs from Martin Luther King Jr. High was the only receiver to sign with Georgia.

Junior college wideout Cordarrelle Patterson signed with Tennessee and Sandy Creek receiver Jaquay Williams stuck with Auburn.

"We knew we had some outstanding playmakers and I think a lot of the recruits knew we had some outstanding playmakers," Richt said of the returners at receiver. "My guess is next season's recruiting class will be one that a bunch of receivers will see the opportunity in the fact that we only signed one in this class."

This and that

Recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner said he thought "we covered everything across the board," in this class, but added "we also have some things were doing as far as roster management that we may be doing with our current team where we're going to shift some guys around." Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said "We've got to develop some depth in some spots. We're always looking to play the best guys so we may have to move some guys a little bit."

Georgia signed tight end Ty Flournoy-Smith from Colquitt County, giving the Bulldogs three on scholarship in the program after the departure of Orson Charles to the NFL. "We've got Jay Rome, we've got Artie Lynch, not necessarily in that order," Richt said. "I just saw Artie yesterday and he looks slim and trim and athletic."

Marshall said he will wear No. 4.


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