Dawgs' JUCO recruiting differs from most

ATHENS – When Rodney Garner sees South Carolina's Jasper and Casper Brinkley making plays Saturday in Columbia, he won't be thinking about the two that got away.

Georgia's recruiting coordinator and defensive line coach will be thinking about the dozens and dozens that may have done the same thing.

The Brinkleys, twins from Thomson High School, came to South Carolina from Georgia Military College, where Jasper was a second-team junior college All-American. Last week against Mississippi State, Jasper led the Gamecocks with 11 tackles from his middle linebacker position. Casper, a natural linebacker, added three stops despite playing out of position at defensive end.

Georgia fans are sure to wonder at some point during the 7:45 p.m. ESPN game why at least Jasper Brinkley is not in a Georgia uniform. There are two reasons, really. The first, and most important in the Brinkleys' case, was that the Bulldogs were willing to offer only Jasper a scholarship, and the brothers wanted to play together.

The second reason, though, is the one that is most important to Garner.

"Here at the University of Georgia we just have a hard time getting junior college kids in school," Garner said. "It's not that easy."

In fact, Garner said, it's tougher at Georgia than at any school in the Southeastern Conference. The Bulldogs haven't signed a junior college player since the Class of 2001, which included offensive lineman Kareem Marshall and defensive back Brandon Williams.

"There are definitely a lot of key positions we wish we could go out and address through the junior college route," Garner said. "It's just hard for us to get them in."

The last player to go to Georgia Military College from high school and then come to Georgia was defensive lineman Nic Clemons in 2000. (Players like Odell Thurman and Randall Swoopes, who were sent to GMC from Georgia for disciplinary reasons and then returned, aren't governed by the same transfer rules as students like Clemons.)

"I know they would like to be able to recruit more, but I know they do have hard time," GMC coach Bert Williams said. "Don't make the mistake of thinking they don't recruit here."

Since the last GMC Bulldog became a Georgia Bulldog, Williams has sent players to Baylor, Georgia Tech, Auburn, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Oklahoma State and N.C. State, among others.

"They can get into Baylor and they can't get into Georgia? That's something that I can't explain to you," Williams said.

Jere Morehead, Georgia's senior vice president for academic affairs and the school's faculty athletics representative, said there is no reason it should be tougher for a junior college student to get into Georgia than into Florida, for example.

"That's the first time I've heard that," Morehead said. "Neither Coach (Mark) Richt nor Rodney has discussed any issues with transfers with me. I'd certainly be glad to sit down and discuss it, but I didn't think that was a concern. I didn't really think we focused on taking transfers in our program. Typically, you like to grow your students from within."

In SEC comparisons, Georgia most often aligns itself with Florida academically because both schools have similar testing scores in their student bodies and similar athletic departments.

"They always talk about Florida," Garner said. "They're supposed to be a very high academic institution, but they get some junior college kids in some kind of way. We haven't been able to do that in a while."

The Gators have six junior college transfers on this year's roster.

Morehead acknowledged that restricted majors at Georgia make it tougher for junior college players to transfer into a particular program at the school, but he pointed out that many non-restricted majors remain at the school.

Also, unlike some institutions, Georgia doesn't allow any reading-only courses to be transferred and counts only one hour of physical education. Georgia also only counts physical education classes as pass/fail, which can hurt the grade point average of a transfer prospect who has As in several P.E. courses.

This week, Garner forwarded the transcripts of three GMC players to an academic official at Georgia in hopes of getting the go-ahead to continue recruitment, he said. In the past, Bulldog coaches have waited until the last minute to forward transcripts of JUCO prospects hoping the players would use the time to add credits or good grades.

"We're going to try a different route this year," Garner said. "It'll be interesting to see what they say."

Those three players are defensive linemen Jarius Wynn and Corvey Irvin and offensive lineman Vince Vance.

"We really want to recruit them, but if they say, ‘Hey they can't get in school here,' we're wasting our time and those kids' time," Garner said.

Wynn is considered the best of the bunch. He's already made an official visit to, that's right, Florida, and is drawing interest from Auburn, LSU and South Carolina as well, Williams said.

Georgia, said Williams, "will be playing against him next year."

And therein lies Garner's frustration.

South Carolina

2006 national statistics
Rushing 83rd 81 ypg
Rushing defense 38th 79 ypg allowed
Passing 55th 193 ypg
Passing defense 12th 82 ypg allowed
Scoring 77th 15 ppg
Scoring defense T1st 0 ppg allowed

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