Chelsea/UAB – Chelsea, Ala.
Stars: 2 No. 259 WR in the country
No. 49 overall player in Alabama
This wasn’t the way Jake Ganus expected to end his college football career. But after a tumultuous December that involved the University of Alabama at Birmingham ending its long-standing football program, Ganus was a free agent of sorts.
He could sign anywhere in the country and play right away. But where? Georgia pounced. The Bulldogs’ coaching staff - aware that its two top tacklers were graduating - wanted to make certain production wouldn’t wane. After taking a look at nearly each player on the Blazers’ roster, Georgia made the push to add Ganus.
But as a prospect coming out of high school Ganus had been a virtual afterthought. Considered a two-star wide receiver, Ganus played quarterback for Chelsea High School just outside of Birmingham. He threw for 1,058 yards and rushed for 1,491 yards as a senior; he also threw nine touchdowns and ran for 22.
Schools were recruiting him as a defensive player - usually a safety. Eventually former Georgia offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Neil Callaway, who had taken over as head coach at UAB, offered him a scholarship to play for his hometown team. Ganus committed to UAB a month later.
He wound up playing linebacker for the Blazers and was very productive in that role, averaging 75 tackles a season in three years. Now Georgia hopes to have similar production from Ganus in his final season of college football.
STATS: 226 total tackles in three years as a starting linebacker at UAB.
SCOUTING: We took a good look at the film, but Jake stood out. He's a guy that we thought could come in and help us. Obviously Jake doesn't have a lot of eligibility left, but he's got a lot of maturity about him, and we really believe he's going to come in and give us some good pop. - Mark Richt
LEGGE’S QUESTION: Production won’t be an issue, but how much will Ganus play in 2015? Will he start at linebacker? Is he only a special teams guy? There’s a lot we really don’t know here.
LEGGE’S THOUGHTS: I don’t have much doubt that Ganus will be productive for Georgia - but I am not sure in what way he will be productive. Needless to say the level of competition from UAB to Georgia is a pretty big leap. But football is football; and tackling is tackling… and that’s something Ganus can do quite well. I don’t know if Ganus is going to start. I don’t know if he’s going to be a special teams star. It certainly seems like his pedigree at UAB was to make tackles - and a lot of them. Georgia lost a lot of production last season with the departure of Ramik Wilson and Amarlo Herrera. I don’t doubt that Ganus can help on the production front. But will he be so productive that he will be on the field at the moment of truth?