What a night it was. Can something like that ever be topped? Sure, I suppose, but I'll go on record as saying 2011's Dawg Night won't be surpassed this year.
In any case, here's a (semi-realistic) Best Case for this year's event:
-- Reuben Foster shows up. The top linebacker in the nation has already visited Georgia twice this summer. There have been conflicting reports about whether the current Alabama commitment plans to be in Athens this weekend or not.
Foster has already seen everything Georgia has to offer. He's seen the facilities, the coaches, the hyped up videos showing linebackers killing people in the past, downtown creeping – all of that is all well and good, but he's already seen it many times. What would be more important, however, is Foster getting the opportunity to hang out with his buddies Tray Matthews, Shaq Wiggins, Alvin Kamara and whoever else is repping this crew on Twitter these days. Foster's relationship with coach Mark Richt may be what's keeping Georgia on his mind. But if he's ever going to switch his commitment, it will probably be because of his friends who plan to play for the Bulldogs in the future.
-- Speaking of Kamara – Alvin Kamara commits to Georgia. The Norcross running back is nearing a decision (he said so recently on Twitter) and is down to Georgia, Alabama, Clemson and Florida State. Many give the Bulldogs the edge, and with the wealth of talented friends of Kamara's who plan to be on hand, he could make his move Friday night.
-- Derrick Henry goes all nostalgic on it.. Remember when Henry committed to Georgia? Sure you do. He committed at the same time Ramsey and Terry did. The trio was supposed to provide the Bulldogs with an offensive explosion for the 2013 class. Henry the RB, Ramsey the QB and Terry the WR – an offensive coordinator's heavy recruiting lifting done in one fell swoop.
What happened to those good vibes? Well, Alabama happened. Henry since de-committed and is said to be a Crimson Tide lean at this time. But he'll be back in Athens this weekend… With Ramsey and Terry and others… Talking about whatever in the world kids talk about which leads to good things on the recruiting front… Could that push Henry toward re-aligning himself with the Bulldogs? Its not out of the question.
-- A wide receiver leaves feeling good about the Bulldogs. It doesn't have to be a commitment, but Georgia needs to make a move with at least one more elite receiver in the 2013 class. Terry, Reggie Davis, Uriah LeMay and Rico Johnson (who could play WR or CB) comprise a good group. Terry is a guy who should be able to hold his own from Day One, but Georgia needs one more instant impact type guy at this spot.
Hey, it just so happens… Demarcus Robinson is set to visit. He has yet to really gel with the Georgia coaches (for whatever reason), but he's giving the Bulldogs another shot. All signs point to the Peach County star leaving the state, but he's not ruling Georgia out just yet.
Those are some of the elite storylines that will/could play out… Here are a few things that would be a Welcome Sight…
-- Quincy Mauger commits. The Kell safety is an important player in this class. He's a sleeper who may be a bit underrated at this point. He earned his offer after impressing the coaching staff at the Mark Richt Camp in June. He's legit, but could be even more valuable due to his connection to high school teammate Brendan Langley. The Bulldogs trail Alabama for Langley, who is one of the South's premier defensive backs. Langley is said to be visiting for Dawg Night also… If Mauger decides to commit, how will that change Georgia's standing for Langley? Wouldn't you like to find out? I thought so.
-- Targeting the quarterback of the future (the far out future). Ramsey will be there come January – he's the guy Georgia could turn to after Aaron Murray leaves (pending Hutson Mason's availability/patience and Christian LeMay's development). But the recruiting game is never settled. It's now time for Georgia to forecast further… much, much further into the future. A handful of young signal callers will be competing Friday. Just like Ramsey did in 2010 and 2011, these youngsters will be working toward gaining an offer and/or becoming the top target of Richt and Bobo moving forward. Burke County's Tyler Harris (2014) has the lead entering the camp. He'll have plenty of competition in Wheeler's Elijah Staley (2014), D.J. Gillins (Eagle's View Fla., 2014), Tyler Queen (North Cobb, 2015), Ian Berryman (Mt. Paren, 2015), among others.
-- Georgia offers Milan Richard. The 2014 tight end from Calvary Baptist Day is a good player. That would make the offer a decent enough move. But he's also Herschel Walker's nephew, which, of course, speaks for itself within the Bulldog Nation. Richard plans to be at Dawg Night and an offer from the staff would be a good call regardless of the angle for the reasoning.
-- Get 2014 flowing early. Georgia already has three verbal commitments (Stanley Williams, Demarre Kitt, Nick Glass) in the 2014 class – that's three more than the Bulldogs had going into Dawg Night last year.
So that's a start.
But Georgia could really get the class moving with a strong weekend, and I'm not talking solely about commits here either. This will be a great opportunity for the coaches to evaluate kids, offer players early and start developing relationships. There's a reason the 2013 class already has the numbers it does at this point. Georgia should continue to work toward establishing class numbers as early as possible.
There will likely be more 2014 kids at this camp than any other class, so it's time to get to work.
-- Surprise! Not many people knew about Williams before last year's Dawg Night. The running back from George Walton Academy burst on to the scene early on during the camp last year, receiving an offer after his strong and solid night. Adding to the feel-good story, he was just a sophomore at the time. He committed on the spot and in one successful evening Stanley Williams became… STANLEY WILLIAMS.
There are plenty of talented kids nobody has ever heard of planning to attend Friday's action. Who will emerge on the scene? Who will earn an offer? Who will make a name for themselves? These questions are some of the best things to track throughout the night.
It's hard for anything negative to happen at these mass events, but unconstructive "stuff" can spring up when it's least expected. This is what Georgia Needs To Avoid…
-- Brandon Kublanow kills someone. The big, nasty offensive lineman from Walton High has already made it known, both with his play on the field and remarks made to the press, that he tries to kill the opposition on each down. Literally. Kill. Dead. Gone. Send flowers. He wouldn't.
While second degree murder at Dawg Night might make for a great story for Brandon to one day tell his grandkids, it probably wouldn't make for the best situation for Georgia to have to deal with.
-- Devin Burns 2.0. By now most of you are probably familiar with the Devin Burns scandal that took place in the summer of 2009.
If you haven't heard about it, first crawl out from under that rock you've been renting out for the past three years. Second, I'll give you a fast-paced Twitter style recap.
- UGA offers Devin Burns, a dual-threat QB out of Carver-Columbus, in the spring. The offer is important bc Carver is loaded with talented players, #duh!
- Burns decides he wants to go to UGA and plans to commit at Dawg Night. He travels w/ his fam to Athens. #bigdecision
- Confusion hits when Burns declares his intentions to commit to a UGA coach. Apparently the offer had been rescinded without Burns knowing. #oops
- This is obv really embarrassing for Burns & UGA. Carver coach Dell McGee bans UGA from recruiting at Columbus for a short time. #tompetty #dontcomearoundherenomore
- McGee later let UGA back in (as you know). But it was a bad hit in pr and kinda made the UGA coaches look unorganized. #getittogether #wakeupcall.
So, the lesson in the Devin Burns incident is to always have your (stuff) together. Know who has an offer, who could be close to committing, who is coming, going, leaving, arriving or anything else. Details, details, details – c'mon people!
Something like this can't happen Friday. It's inexcusable.