Richt talks Recruiting

AUGUSTA – Mark Richt wasn't quick to bring it up, and he didn't make a big deal about it when asked, but something has gotten easier for him and his staff in the last five years.

Recruiting is the life blood of college athletics, and nowhere is it made a bigger deal than in college football. All year long college football coaches are looking at ways to get the best players around the nation to come to their schools. Even in so-called "dead" periods the plotting and planning continues. Recruiting season culminates on National Signing Day each February, but the year-round battles never really end.

But Richt's program at Georgia has had an easier time recruiting of late. Winning two SEC Championships and four consecutive ten-win seasons will do that.

"In some ways recruiting is easier," Richt confirmed. "There was a time when we had to try to convince in-state guys that we could compete in the SEC."

Those days are long gone.

Since Richt's first full recruiting class, Scout.com has ranked Georgia in its top 11 every season. Georgia finished 2006 with the fourth best recruiting class according to Scout.com.

Richt's first class was nowhere near the top ten. He and his new staff scrambled to get as many players as possible in the small amount of time they had. Richt was hired the day after Christmas in 2000, leaving him less than five weeks to nail down players.

"There was some serious doubt the way I saw it. There were some guys that we had to kind of sell: this is what Georgia could be; rather than: this is what it is," Mark Richt admitted.

"Now in-state guys know we have a chance to win the SEC. Around the country I think most kids know who Georgia is, and know that we have a chance to make a run at the national title," he continued.

Now out-of-state players seem increasingly interested in the Bulldogs. Two of Georgia's five commitments for the Class of 2007 are from the Carolinas. And to the most recent commit, Blythewood, South Carolina's Charles White, explained why Georgia is so attractive these days.

"You see Georgia and the types of players they take in and develop," said White, "and that's hard not to notice."

The final frontier, and the most challenging by far for the Bulldogs, is the national recruiting scene. While Georgia's exposure through the SEC's national television contract is with CBS, and the team's overall success had turned heads lately, competing for top-tier national recruits is still difficult to do according to Richt.

"I think on a national level, too, it's easier to get people interested. Is it easier to recruit? I would say probably not," Richt said.

The head coach said, too, that Georgia must beware of national powers like USC and Texas coming to the Peach State to recruit as well.

"I think some of the big schools out there are coming to realize the amount of talent in Georgia," Richt said.

The Bulldogs have kept all but a few big-name in-state recruits to themselves lately with virtually none leaving Georgia to play for other schools far away.


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