Dawgs looking to close recruiting out strong

ATHENS – Georgia already has enrolled in its university the high school quarterback that head coach Mark Richt most wanted to have.

The Bulldogs have verbal commitments from the most highly regarded player in Maryland, linebacker Akeem Hebron; the best tight end in California, Na Derris Ward, and a Middle Georgia-grown linebacker who was the apple of every fan's eye last year, Darrius Dewberry of Peach County.

Georgia's 2006 signing class, which will become official Wednesday, is ranked the third-best in the country by Scout.com and probably would finish in the national top five if the Bulldogs didn't add another player. Still, the perception of this year's class by many will be determined by what happens in the next three days.

"I think that's part of the charm of recruiting," said Allen Wallace, the national editor for Scout.com. "You can never get enough great players. It's just another way to inflict injury on your rivals. That's why recruiting is so important to some people. You're winning two times. You're getting a player and you're taking him away from somebody else."

National Signing Day on Wednesday is the first day high school players can make their pledges official by signing a letter-of-intent with their chosen school. Between now and then, the most diehard Bulldog recruiting fans will spend every waking minute pondering the following timeless questions:

Will the Bulldogs be able to beat out rival LSU for the best safety in Georgia, Reshad Jones of Washinton High School? Could Jones' commitment come as soon as Sunday, as his official visit to Athens winds down?

When will New Jersey running back Knowshon Moreno make official what most everyone already knows, that he's coming to join close friend and fellow elite recruit Kade Weston in Athens? Could a late suitor lure him away? It's too horrible even to think about for some.

Who's going to be this year's Tim Jennings, a player who was on no one's recruiting list four years ago, was only offered a scholarship by the Bulldogs the day before Signing Day and went on to become an All-SEC cornerback?

"It doesn't even matter if a guy is highly ranked at the end," said Wallace, who also publishes SuperPrep magazine. "Even if a team gets a commitment from a two- or three-star guy, that's huge news (to fans)."

Poor Brandon Wood. The 6-foot-1, 255-pounder out of Tallapoosa is considered the nation's fourth-best defensive lineman and a five-star player by Scout.com. If he was still considering his options, his every utterance would be analyzed by the recruitniks, and people would swear that future SEC titles swung at the mercy of his decision.

Instead, Wood committed to the Bulldogs in February of 2005. As a result, he's a forgotten jewel, but he doesn't mind.

"I'm good," he said. "I know people haven't forgot about me. I want people to encourage those other guys to come."

There will be no dearth of encouragement in the next three days, whether it comes from coaches to prospects, from fans on message boards or even in prayer. The bulk of the work is what matters most, but the finish is what everyone seems to remember.

"It doesn't really surprise me because recruiting is all about bragging rights," Wallace said, "and all the fans are bragging about kids coming into their program who have not done anything."

Georgia's Commitments

Player Position Size Rating* Hometwon

Asher Allen Cornerback 5-10, 180 Four stars Tucker
Justin Anderson Offensive Line 6-4, 315 Four stars Ocilla
Geno Atkins Defensive Line 6-2, 270 Three stars Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Greg Billinger Offensive Line 6-3, 255 Three stars Lilburn
Quintin Banks Safety 6-4, 180 Three stars Warner Robins
Shaun Chapas Fullback 6-2, 225 Three stars Jacksonville, Fla.
Chris Davis Offensive Line 6-5, 252 Three stars Jefferson
Ricardo Crawford Defensive Line 6-1, 296 Three stars Cerro Gordo, N.C.
Josh Davis Offensive Line 6-6, 315 Three stars Tylertown, Miss.
Akeem Dent Linebacker 6-2, 210 Four stars Atlanta
Darius Dewberry Linebacker Five stars Fort Valley
Demarcus Dobbs Defensive Line 6-4, 247 Four stars Savannah
Kris Durham Wide Receiver 6-5, 189 Three stars Calhoun
Darryl Gamble Defensive Line 6-1, 200 Four stars Bainbridge
Ben Harden Offensive Line 6-3, 295 Two stars Perry
Akeem Hebron Linebacker 6-2, 198 Five stars Wheaton, MD
Michael Lemon Defensive Line 6-5, 255 Three stars Macon
John Miller Offensive Line 6-6, 286 Two stars Cartersville
Prince Miller Cornerback 5-9, 185 Four stars Duncan, S.C.
Fred Munzenmaier Fullback 6-1, 230 Three stars Norcross
Kevin Perez Offensive Line 6-4, 275 Three stars Miami, Fla.
Matthew Stafford Quarterback 6-2, 212 Five stars Dallas, Texas
Kiante Tripp Offensive Line 6-5, 250 Four stars Atlanta
NaDerris Ward Tight End 6-5, 245 Five stars Oakland, Calif.
Tony Wilson Wide Receiver 5-11, 185 Four stars Daytona Beach, Fla.
Brandon Wood Defensive Line 6-1, 255 Five stars Tallapoosa

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