Richt not limited by FSU mold of recruit

One year ago, Georgia players and recruits had good reason to be concerned about how they would fit as <b>Mark Richt</b>'s brand of players.

Richt was still adjusting to his new job at this time last year, only a few days removed from his final game as Florida State's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Players and recruits knew Richt would bring his Florida State style of offense to Athens, but what did that mean for individual positions?

At running back, for instance, would Richt be more likely to sign a Warrick Dunn-type back instead of a bigger back like Verron Haynes or Musa Smith?

Would Richt have a certain type player in mind for quarterback or wide receiver? Would tight ends be needed?

Because Richt did not arrive in Athens on a full-time basis last year until January, the 2001 class of signees did not answer many questions about his recruiting preferences. Richt basically inherited the work that had been started by his predecessor, Jim Donnan, and had only about one month to salvage the recruiting season. There were a few recruits — including running back Tony Milton — who signed because of Richt, but those were the exceptions.

Now that Richt is building his first full recruiting class of his own, it's easier to see that, like most coaches, he isn't looking for a particular mold of player as much as he is looking for top talent.

"I don't see any correlation (between Georgia recruits and typical Florida State players),'' said Jamie Newberg, an Atlanta-based recruiting expert who is the co-host of Fox Sports South Net's Countdown to Signing Day.

Added Newberg: "To me it's a different sort of need. Georgia needs linemen and they need running backs. I think they're doing really, really good on all fronts with the exception of offensive tackle.''

As Georgia approaches a big weekend of visits from recruits, Richt has 12 verbal commitments and has the Bulldogs listed among the top preferences of several national recruits.

At no time has Georgia's recruiting been limited by attempts to have the Bulldogs patterned after the Seminoles.

At running back, for instance, Georgia has commitments from Michael Cooper (6-0, 215) of Screven County and Reshard Dudley (5-10, 210) of Marianna, Fla. Each boasts good speed but would not be classified as scatbacks like Dunn.

Despite Georgia's late-season dependence on Haynes, Richt's teams stress the passing game, and so he should always be able to recruit good depth at quarterback and receiver.

Georgia already has a commitment from quarterback Joe Tereshinski III of Athens, regarded as one of the South's top players at his position. Richt may pick up one or two receivers within a week, even though Georgia returns good depth at the position.

Now that he is in the Southeastern Conference, Richt equates Georgia's need at running back to an SEC rival, not to Florida State.

"I think we have a very strong need for a tailback or two that can give us some of the types of things somebody like Travis (Stephens) at Tennessee can do,'' Richt said.

Newberg says Cooper can be Georgia's next lead running back, and he says Richt's late-season success with Haynes' running may help him realize he has to alter his coaching style to win in the SEC.

"Richt sort of realized what he can do in the SEC with a back like this,'' Newberg said. "Florida State didn't run the ball like that.''

NOTES: Three Georgia players have officially agreed to participate in postseason all-star games. Center Curt McGill will play in the East--West Shrine Game in San Francisco on Jan. 12. McGill, from Snellville, Ga., was a second-team All-SEC pick who was voted Georgia's permanent offensive team captain.

Safety Jermaine Phillips and linebacker Will Witherspoon will play in the Jan. 26 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. Phillips was named defensive team captain after leading Georgia with three interceptions. Witherspoon missed two games with a knee injury last season and ranked 10th with 43 tackles.

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