Only a few commitments remain

ATHENS — Georgia is probably no more than five or six verbal commitments away from wrapping up a class than many analysts are projecting as one of the nation's top five.

The Bulldogs have 16 commitments for the Class of 2005 with nearly a full month left before national signing day. Georgia won't be able to bring in the full complement of 25 new signees because it is too close to the NCAA-imposed maximum of 85 total scholarships.

Exactly how many players Georgia will sign in February can't be known until all the Bulldogs' juniors make their final decisions about going pro and other roster matters are settled, but most observers think 22 is about as high as this class will go.

That makes it all the more impressive how well the Bulldogs are has Georgia's class ranked No. 2 in the country and national analyst Tom Lemming ranks the Bulldogs No. 4, behind Nebraska, Michigan and Tennessee.

"You can give reasons to be excited about just about every player they've got, and that's a good reason to be No. 2 in the country," said Scott Kennedy, the Southeastern scout for uses an automated ranking formula that takes into account how each player in the class is ranked and how well a team balances each class. For instance, a team would get more credit for having a five-star linebacker, a five-star running back and a five-star quarterback than for having three five-star linebackers.

"There's no regional bias in it at all," Kennedy said.

The most impressive part of the Bulldogs' haul is on the defensive line, which was their No. 1 need area entering the recruiting season. Georgia has commitments from five defensive linemen already. The group is led by Kade Weston, a native of Trinidad who played his high school football in New Jersey.

"If you look at the defensive linemen, you have to be thrilled," Kennedy said, "and they're not done with defensive lineman yet. That's the scary thing."

THE BIG NAMES: According to, Georgia has two players with a five-star rating, the highest point of the ranking scale. They are Weston and defensive back C.J. Byrd.

Kennedy compared Byrd to Chris Gamble, who played both wide receiver and defensive back on Ohio State's national championship team.

"He can run, hit and catch," Kennedy said. "He may play both sides of the ball."

THE PIPELINE: The north Georgia town of Cartersville will continue its generous contribution to Bulldog athletics this year if offensive lineman Ian Scott signs with the team, as he has committed to do. Scott will join another Cartersville native, Josh Brock, in the Bulldogs' offensive line meeting room.

"I think he's going to do well," Cartersville coach Frank Barden said. "When I compare him to the other lineman we have there, I would say he'd do as well as Josh and Josh played as freshman."

Josh Morris, a freshman All-American for the Georgia baseball team last year, also hails from Cartersville High School.

The Purple Hurricanes have helped stock the rosters of other major colleges, as well. Auburn running back Ronnie Brown, who probably will be a top 10 NFL draft pick this year, and Florida State defensive lineman Andre Fluellen also graduated from Cartersville High.

"We've been very fortunate to have some good players come through here," Barden said. "What has been the biggest strength for them and for us is they come from good parents. That's something that as coaches that we are proud of and one thing we like to be a part of. That's what you do it for to give them a chance to go on and get an education."

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