Recruiting Notebook - Getting Dawgs out of the ATL

ATHENS — For years, Georgia fans have worried that their beloved Bulldogs can't get star players out of Atlanta, particularly star-studded Douglass High School.

The Douglass jinx, at least, could be ending this year. Defensive linemen Roderick Battle and Brandon Sesay have verbally committed to sign with Georgia on Feb. 2. That will mark the end of a disturbing trend that saw elite athletes like Jamal Lewis (Tennessee) and Ahmad Carroll (Arkansas) go elsewhere.

"I guess myself being a former graduate doesn't hurt," said Douglass coach Gary Cantrell, who took over the program in 2002.

Cantrell lettered for Coach Vince Dooley's Bulldogs in 1983 and 1984, but he doesn't think he's the only reason Battle and Sesay are heading to Athens.

"I also think at the time (Lewis and Carroll were in high school) Georgia was struggling a bit," he said. "In the mid-90s, they were kind of up and down. I think that had something to do with it, too. When (Battle and Sesay) evaluated it, I think Georgia has a very good record of success with defensive linemen. Coach Rodney Garner does a very good job so I think that has a lot to do with it."

HARGRAVE NEWS: It looks like Peach County linebacker Darius Dewberry, who is rated as a five-star prospect by, looks to be headed to Hargrave Military Academy. Dewberry is believed to be leaning heavily toward committing to Georgia, but it's doubtful he will meet academic qualifications.

Hargrave recruiting coordinator Joey Sulkowski has let Dewberry know he's more than welcome at the Virginia prep school.

"It's still in the early stages," Sulkowski said. "He's still got until May to qualify. A lot of things can change between now and then, but we're definitely interested in having him come up here and play for us."

Many Georgia signees who are unable to qualify go to Hargrave for one season and then come to Athens. One such player who was expected to join the Bulldogs this year, defensive end Brandon Lang, apparently has failed to qualify to play in the SEC and has enrolled at Troy. Sulkowski said he believed that's where Lang was but added he was uncertain.

CLOSING IN: Without Lang, Georgia has just 15 verbal commitments. Still, they are close to wrapping things up, Garner said this week. The Bulldogs expected about 10 official visitors this weekend and another five next weekend. They probably can add six or seven more to this year's signing class.

HOLDING ON: The departure of defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder seemingly hasn't hurt the Bulldogs' recruiting efforts. tracked down 13 of Georgia's 15 commitments and all of them, including star defensive lineman Kade Weston, said they still plan to attend Georgia.

BASKETBALL RECRUITING: Any Georgia fans with access to Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast can get a glimpse of Bulldogs signee Louis Williams on Monday at 5 p.m.

Williams' South Gwinnett High School will play Oak Hill Academy, which finished last season ranked No. 1 in the nation by USA TODAY, in the Greensboro Coliseum. South Gwinnett is 11-1 and ranked sixth nationally. Oak Hill is 15-1 and again ranked No. 1.

Williams is considered the nation's No. 1 prep player by and will attend Georgia unless he decides to go straight to the NBA. Mike Mercer, South Gwinnett's point guard, also has signed with the Bulldogs.

Walk-on Alex Evans, one of the Bulldogs' top reserves, is out for the season due to a torn patella tendon in his knee, coach Dennis Felton said. Evans averaged eight minutes and 2.6 points per game.

OUTGOING BULLDOGS: Coach Mark Richt isn't the only Bulldog heading to a postseason all-star game this offseason. While Richt will coach the Aina team in the annual Hula bowl on Jan. 22, five of his players also will be participating in showcase games.

Fullback Jeremy Thomas played for the South team in The Villages (Fla.) Gridiron Classic Saturday. Arnold Harrison playec Saturday in the East-West Shrine Game in San Francisco.

Quarterback David Greene and wide receivers Fred Gibson and Reggie Brown will play in the most prestigious of all the postseason games, the Senior Bowl, which kicks off at 4 p.m. on Jan. 29 in Mobile, Ala. The game is coached by NFL coaches and is heavily scouted in preparation for the pro draft in April. The game will be televised by ESPN.

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