Not Bad for a Three-Star

ATHENS – The news came down on Tuesday that Bryan McClendon would be named recruiting coordinator at Georgia. It might not seem like it, but the move is actually overdue.

Lots of people will say that recruiting "don't matter that much… you just get ‘em in there and coach ‘em up – that's what the Bear would do."

Those people are simpletons. The Bear stacked his teams with as many players as possible – so much so that the rules were changed on him. The Bear did his best to sign as many players as possible out of high school specifically so other programs couldn't have them on their team.

Coach ‘em up; or sign ‘em up? I think we know the answer.

That brings me back to McClendon (who, for the record was the #85 receiver in the country; a three-star prospect out of Mays in Atlanta in 2002).

Witness: McClendon joined the Bulldogs' staff for the 2010 recruiting cycle. Since 2011, Georgia has signed eight five-star players (Isaiah Crowell, Ray Drew, Keith Marshall, Josh Harvey-Clemons, John Theus, Jordan Jenkins, Lorenzo Carter and Sony Michel) – half of them had McClendon as their primary recruiters.

Looking for recruiting skill? McClendon has signed either the #1 or #2 running back in the country three of the last four years. That's pretty impressive, but even more impressive when you consider these two things:

A. Todd Gurley is not included in that list (Gurley was seen as the #13 running back nationally in 2012).

B. Only one of those players – Crowell – was actually from Georgia.

Signing Crowell in itself was a masterpiece in patience and persistence. My how people forget just how critical the signing of Crowell was to Georgia at the time.

Miami isn't exactly known for being a hotbed of Bulldog recruiting, but he yanked Michel out of the 305, and grabbed Isaiah McKenzie while he was at it just for good measure.

One could argue that McClendon might just be a good recruiter of running backs and running backs alone. At which point I would stop and say – um, yeah that is the position he coaches. Does Mike Bobo not get credit for Matthew Stafford and Aaron Murray?


But that would be an oversimplification of McClendon's prowess.

See Lorenzo Carter, Todd Grantham's top recruit until Grantham pulled a Todd Grantham and left Georgia to work for Bobby "Poppa Johns" Petrino and Louisville. Grantham leaves? No problem… just make sure BMac is on the scene to make everything cool during the transition to Jeremy Pruitt (who is a damned good recruiter, too).

Then again, all you need to know about Bryan McClendon is what he did once more this year in signing the top running back in Florida (Michel) and Georgia (Nick Chubb). I don't know if Chubb is better than Michel or the other way around – I don't need to know. But I will venture a guess that either the top running back in Georgia or the top running back in Florida is going to be pretty good. Signing both of them at the same time is nothing short of the recruiting skill we have seen time and again under McClendon.

No offense to Rodney Garner, gone to the plains of Auburn (and apparent man crush recipient of the AJC's Michael Carvell), but McClendon is better. Perhaps Garner was getting a little long in the tooth – recruiting certainly seems to be a young man's game. He wasn't as good as he used to be in the recruiting game, and everyone knew that. That doesn't take away from what Garner did back in the day.

But McClendon is entering his prime over the next decade in terms of what he can do on the phone and by text (or whatever the NCAA will allow in the future). Mark Richt was smart to do what needed to be done to make McClendon whole as he is an outstanding recruiter, and a pretty good coach.

Yeah, something happened with special teams on Tuesday, too, and that's great. But all those guys need to do is catch the ball… that's not rocket surgery. What McClendon is doing is far more complicated than that.

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