There were several no-shows to Georgia's camp including but only a couple were strange to me.
Nick Claytor, the most curious of all the no-shows. Claytor, whose high school coaching staff was in attendace, may well have been extended an offer this weekend had he camped with the Bulldogs, and played well. We'll never know for sure now, but that's what seemed likely. Now I seriously doubt if Claytor will ever be a Bulldog. He's got offers from elsewhere, and it seems that Georgia is not that interested in him - they have moved on. If Claytor winds up in Athens there will have to be a serious turn around on the part of both he and the Georgia coaching staff.
Defensive end or linebacker Allen Bailey is a different story. Bailey's coaching staff and many players from his high school were in town at the start of camp to run their 40-yard dashes, jump their jumps and get weighed in. But Allen was not in on campus. He's jumped all over the map as far as who he favors – its hard to know what he's thinking as far as Georgia is concerned now that he's missed their camp. But at least with Bailey he knows he already has an offer to play at Georgia, unlike Claytor.
Several Georgia commits were in attendance including Charles White, who told me a few weeks ago that he may or may not be able to come to Athens for the camp. But White and is father decided to drive over from Columbia the morning of the event. White was in attendance along with Tanner Strickland, Rennie Curran and Trinton Sturdivant. Sturdivant, who had to travel from North Carolina, and was a bit late to the camp. Curran and White did not play this weekend. Strickland and Sturdivant worked out for the coaches.
On the subject of Bulldog recruits, it seems at least a couple are seriously considering enrolling this December rather than waiting to come in during the summer, which is typically the case. White and his father indicated to me that they were seriously considering enrolling early. White has been passionate from day one about football at Georgia and his role in it. We discussed his options a few months ago, and it now seems he is going to give himself the option – academically – to come to school early. Strickland seems like a lock to come in early. I spoke with his father for some time about the matter Saturday morning, and it seems like coming in early is the best thing for him to do. Many of Strickland's close high school friends are a year, or two older than he is – meaning that he wouldn't mind too much leaving early to enroll at Georgia this December.
Along the same lines, it appears Strickland is the furthest along of the committed campers this weekend. As it stands right now he's the one player I am sure would get a serious look next spring if he decides to enroll early. There are several reasons why that's the canse, not the least of which is the depth on the offensive line. He's big, but not fat, and has powerful-looking wrists and legs. Strickland was the best-looking lineman in the limited time I watched that group work. The thing that I look for is correctly doing what is asked as fast as possible. Most linemen trip over themselves to try to show that they are the fastest at footwork drills, but slaughter the drill while doing it. While I was watching, Strickland did the footwork drills properly; that means something to me. I think he'll be a center at Georgia, but that's years away from happening. Strickland is more of a known commodity than some of the other commitments. His progress in Athens will likely be steay, not sudden.
Newly committed Clint Boiling got plenty of work on Saturday morning against some of the better defensive ends at the camp. He wanted to do enough work to get an offer, and when he did so, he pulled the trigger. Boiling is a little smaller than Strickland – he's not as stout, but he plays pretty low to the ground. Adding some weight would do his body good, but it would be nice for him to keep his lean look when doing so. Boiling did well against the defensive ends when I was watching, so it really looks like he'll play tackle in Athens.
Trinton Sturdivant is chubbier than the other two linemen committed to Georgia, but he's a lot bigger, and it seems he has a lot more upside. He's tall, with a pretty good wing span. Georgia needs offensive tackles that can play soon. Right now, like most high school linemen, Sturdivant is raw – I don't care the accolades he has from this network and others – he'll need to get his footwork down if he's going to be a starting tackle for the Dawgs. Another thing to remember about Sturdivant is how passionate he is about recruiting other players to come to Georgia, or to think about Georgia. He and Rennie Curran seem to be quite good at that aspect of the recruiting game.
Curran did not participate in this weekend's camp, but he is put together well. We were talking about current running back Thomas Brown when Kelin Johnson dropped by, and Curran wanted to meet Brown to see how his body compared. The two are not that far off – both are always going to be saddled with criticism about their height, but what can they do about that? I can assure you that no one will criticize the size of thier arms.
Pulling them in?
Speaking of Johnson, he was walking around with North Carolina prospect Marcus Gilchrest, who the Bulldogs are eager to have commit. Gilchrest is soft-spoken. Putting the jovial Johnson with him was a contrast in style. But Gilchrest, who also plays basketball, was not ready to publicly play his hand – he's not making his mind up this weekend. Still, he got pleanty of attention from the commits as well as the Bulldog players and coaches.
Best camper of the weekend...
The most impressive-looking camper not committed to Georgia was Cliff Matthews – without question. Georgia's coaches were showing him a lot of attention, as they should if they want to get his commitment. Matthews runs his 40-yard dash starting in a four-point stance. He's fast, but his size is impressive. He'll be able to put on serious weight with the frame he has. Georgia would do well to get him to come to school here over Clemson.
Matthews plays basketball, too, and you could see how he could be very scary on the basketball court. His hands are huge – like a catcher's mitt – and those are an indication to me that he still has a ways to go in the growing department. I asked him if he could stant with both feet on the ground and do a two-handed dunk, and he said he could and was eager to show me - I told him that a demonstration was not necessary... I believe him.
Matthews, too, is not very loud – maybe a lot of these guys are a bit overwhelmed by the weekend, the coaches and the attention – but it seems Matthews likes to keep quiet. Defensive ends coach Jon Fabris, who has coached his fair share of NFL defensive ends (David Pollack, Robert Geathers and Charles Grant) was talking with Matthews all weekend. Fabris has responsibility for the state of South Carolina in Georgia's recruiting geography, and he's the defensive ends coach. People may start realizing how well Fabris does recruiting if he can pull Matthews in. The Cheraw, SC native still listed the Bulldogs first over Clemson and South Carolina after the camp. Mark Richt ended the camp by letting Matthews get the final rep of the camp. Matthews beat his counterpart to the dummy quarterback to end the day – not bad. The thing to remember about Matthews is that he's not fully developed yet. I hesitate to call him a project, but he really seems like Quinton Moses to me. He's not as tall, but man he is going to be hard to stop - just like Moses.
The tall drink of water that is Neland Ball won't make his mind up about where he is going soon. He did not participate in the camp (cold), but was a fixture beside Georgia commits Charles White and Rennie Curran. Curran and White thought a few players were closer to committing than in the past, but they weren't naming names. Ball is down to Auburn and Georgia it seems.
Columbia, SC's Tye Wright was the most impressive senior wide receiver of the weekend, but that's not to say that it was a deeply talented group. There were some players that could run like the wind, but not catch the ball. Wright has all the moves needed to burn up high school corners, but that's only saying so much. He does not have any offers yet, but it seems like he will soon. It's hard to know definitively if he is a top-level receiver, or the beneficiary of some poor coverage at the camp. What seems to be hurting Wright is his height. If he were three inches taller he would have offers right now. Not only that, but Wright plays a healthy amount of quarterback for Richland Northeast – his high school team.
Aaron Thomas is a defensive back from Stephenson – yes another one. This school can churn out the talent – Kregg Lumpkin and DeMario Minter immediately come to mind when thinking of the Jaguars. Thomas looked like the best cornerback, at camp but, again, the level of players this year was not nearly the same as it was last year. Still, Thomas was impressive. He's fast and aggressive – he did not mind tossing players to the tuff in pass skeleton drills.
D.J. Donley might be the most hard-to-keep-up-with player out there. What complicates matters at these camps is that players don't have numbers on like at games. So when Donley started the camp at wide receiver (and did quite well) it was hard to keep up with his switch to outside linebacker the next morning. Donley is long – his legs and his arms. He's right above 200 pounds, but it's hard to see that because of how lanky he is. I wondered about the move to outside linebacker, but after watching him work with the first team defense during drills I could understand Georgia's reason for moving him there. Donley really deserves the dreaded "athlete" title. Donley can run and cover with his long arms, which is the perfect skill to have at outside linebacker in the SEC. I would have been more interested to seem him run and hit in pads, but that won't happen until this fall.
Roddy Jones probably won't go to Georgia, but he's going to be a pretty good running back for someone. Jones is small, but he can run the football – just ask Tucker, who he ran all over last fall. Jones will probably go where Caleb King doesn't go, which means Georgia Tech is a real possibility. He was not at camp Saturday.
Linebacker Marshall Williams went from Parkview to Southwest DeKalb mainly because of grades. He's not a bulky guy, but he looked good during many of the drills, including the ball handling skills of which he was one of the better defenders. He left Athens without an offer, so Auburn might now be in the driver's seat. But with the amount of linebackers the Dawgs already have in and committed Williams may have been on the outside looking in from the get go.
Just around the corner...
Two rising juniors might have been in the top five in overall talent at the event. Habersham Central's Tavarres King, a skinny wide receiver with sticky hands, and newly committed Cornelius Washington, a defensive end from Burke County and cousin of current Bulldogs Marcus Washington, were eyeball grabbers. Both got verbal offers, and one has already pulled the trugger.
King is thin, very thin, but he just could not be stopped this weekend. No matter which cornerback was put on him, King slid his way around or over him to score a touchdown in one-on-one drills every time a good football was thrown. It was obvious he was very talented, and it was clear that Georgia was indeed very happy to have in him Athens. King has two years to get bigger – he looks like he will be taller, too. He's got to add mass, but that won't take away from his hands.
On the whole this year's camp was not nearly as deep as last year's. The top-level talent was a notch or two below that of last year's. It's hard to know all of the details of the reasons why, but one reason was the amount of in-state talent in Georgia last year. In-state players like Figgins, Little, King, Eric Berry, Morgan Burnett and Josh Nesbitt were not there or did not participate in the festivities. Had that group been around the camp would have been full of more fireworks.
Nonetheless, Georgia extended offers, and got no less than two commitments out of the camp, which is not bad considering the amount of players there. There were only a few campers on the borderline of committing, and one pulled the trigger. Now Georgia's recruiting will tone down in the public eye until December. The focus will be on defending the SEC title from now until then with many of the campers visiting Athens on home-game weekends.