ATHENS, Ga. - With such highly recruited prospects as linebacker Ricardo Hurley, defensive tackle Kedrick Golston, safety Brian Crum and wide receivers Mario Raley and Jejuan Rankins topping the list, Georgia welcomed 18 high school players to town for one of its biggest recruiting weekends of the year.
Georgia recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner and other assistant coaches escorted recruits to Saturday night's Georgia-Tennessee game. There were plans to return to Stegeman Coliseum today for Georgia's gymnastics meet against UCLA. Both events were expected to draw sellout crowds to Stegeman Coliseum.
"We have several young men coming in and we would be very excited if they signed with Georgia,'' Garner said.
Georgia has been standing on 12 verbal commitments since last month but could pick up a few more this weekend and early next week.
Another name on this weekend's list of recruits is offensive tackle Antonio Mercier of Washington-Wilkes High School.
Mercier (6-6, 335) is important because offensive tackle is the position of most crucial need.
"We feel like we've got some good players on the board (at offensive tackle),'' Garner said. "We've got to get them in house (signed). That's going to be the No. 1 thing, trying to get them to go on board. We have a tremendous need for several more bodies.''
Hurley (6-3, 235) of Greenwood (S.C.) High, is rated by Rivals.com as the nation's top linebacker. He already has visited South Carolina and has other visits planned to Tennessee, Florida and Florida State.
Raley, rated by Rivals.com among the nation's top 20 receivers, may commit to Georgia this weekend. Raley is from Independence High in Charlotte, N.C. Raley was joined by another North Carolina wide receiver, Jenkins, this weekend. Jenkins is from Bertie High in Windsor, N.C. A third receiver visiting Georgia this weekend is Troy Williamson of Aiken, S.C.
Golston, from Sandy Creek High School, is working his way back from a broken leg suffered in a car accident. The injury shortened his senior season but did not affect his standing as a top recruit. He also is considering Tennessee and Auburn.
Crum, a safety, played with fellow defensive back B.J. Fields at Camden County High. Fields already has committed to Georgia. Crum had planned a visit to Florida this weekend, but with the resignation of Florida coach Steve Spurrier, he cancelled that visit and instead join Fields on his visit to Georgia.
Crum (6-3, 210) may have more interest in Georgia after this week's surprise announcement that junior Terreal Bierria is leaving for the NFL draft.
"Obviously, Terreal's announcement was shocking, to say the least,'' Garner said. "We just didn't have any idea that was something he was considering.''
*Josh Brock OL 6-4, 280 Cartersville High
Michael Cooper RB 6-0, 215 Screven County
Dale Dixson DE 6-3, 265 Garland, Texas
Reshard Dudley RB 5-10, 210 Marianna, Fla.
Marquis Elmore LB/DE 6-3, 220 Charlton County
B.J. Fields CB 5-11, 180 Camden County
Bartley Miller OL 6-5, 275 Marist High
Quentin Moses DE 6-5, 230 Cedar Shoals
*Preston Pannell DE 6-7, 240 Hargrave Military
*Darrius Swain DL 6-4, 295 Hargrave Military
Tony Taylor LB 6-2, 215 Oconee County
*Joe Tereshinski III QB 6-3, 205 Athens Academy
*Already enrolled at Georgia.