Recruitng Offensive Linemen a Big Concern

ATHENS – It's about this time of year, particularly in a year like this, when recruiting questions start popping up.

After losing to Florida last weekend, Georgia finds itself out of the SEC championship race earlier than any other season Mark Richt has coached the Bulldogs. That reason, and the Dawgs' depth issues for next season and beyond, makes recruiting an especially-important topic for the Bulldogs this season.

The Bulldogs knew they would have personnel holes on the offensive line next season, but signed only four players – Chris Davis, Josh Davis, Kevin Perez and John Miller – that made it on campus. Miller, who sat out spring practices with a shoulder injury, has been thrown out of the program for violation of team rules, which leaves the Bulldogs with only Perez, Chester Adams, Seth Watts, Ian Smith, Fernando Velasco and the two Davises as players that have experience playing or practicing in college. Zeb McKinzey is also still elegable, but he may or may not play next season due to his shoulder injury.

Three other offensive line candidates for 2007 – Clifton Geathers, Justin Anderson and Ben Harden – did not academically qualify and have spent the fall at Hargrave playing while trying to get their grades in order. It remains to be seen if Geathers, who played offensive line in high school, will be on the line as he has been lining up at defensive end in prep school.

Even with the problems on the offensive line, Mark Richt said this season has been a normal one as far as recruiting is concerned.

"It's been a fairly typical year," he said. "There are guys that are solid as a rock and some that waiver. There are some guys that waiver a little bit, and some guys don't. I think we have a number of names on the board that we are comfortable with, and I think that we will be fine."

Richt can not discuss recruits by name, but his reference to "guys that waiver a little bit" must be directed at offensive lineman Trinton Sturdivant, who has been injured most of the fall.

Sturdivant committed to the Bulldogs this spring. He then camped in Athens during the summer. But this fall Sturdivant has visited Penn State, Notre Dame and Florida.

"The guys that are listening to what everyone has to say are the guys that you get worried about," Richt said.

The Bulldogs also have offensive line commitments from Tanner Strickland, Antwane Greenlee and Clint Boling this season. Georgia has even started recruiting junior college offensive linemen to help with their immediate need on the line next season. Coffeyville (KS) Community College offensive guard Joe Blaes will visit Athens in November.

"We knew going in that we were going to need a bunch of offensive linemen," Richt said. "We were not able to get some guys that we signed last year because they had to go to prep school. But those guys and the ones we are recruiting now means that we are going to have a big offensive line class."

If the Bulldogs sign all players that are committed to them (including Sturdivant) they will sign at least seven offensive linemen in 2007.

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