Searels hits the recruiting trail running

ATHENS – Jumping into the crossfire that is recruiting this late in the ball game is not an easy thing.

Georgia's new offensive line coach Stacy Searels knows it, but it trying his best to figure out how to help Georgia get to where they want to be in on Signing Day. As difficult as it may seem on the surface, however, Searles said he thinks he can handle it.

"I am coming into an established staff," he said. "So that is not going to make it as tough on me."

Established staff or not, coming in with only a month to go in the recruiting process makes matters particularly rushed for him. Still, much of the work for this year's offensive line class is already over. Five of Georgia's offensive linemen from the Class of 2007 are already enrolled. Justin Anderson, Trinton Sturdivant, Tanner Strickland, Vince Vance and Scott Haverkamp are working out in Athens right now. Searles was trying to get Vance go to LSU, he said, but that didn't work out – and he's glad.

"I recruited Vince, and we were working on getting him for a visit at LSU just when he decided to go to Georgia. I was disappointed when Vince didn't come for a visit to Baton Rouge back then – I am happy he didn't visit now," Searles said with a laugh.

A trio of other committed offensive linemen, Antoine Greenlee, Clint Boling, Ben Harden, remain, but Harden's status is still a bit up in the air. After all, unlike Anderson, Harden is still working on qualifying while at Hargrave – not enrolled in time for spring practices.

All of the young and inexperienced players makes Searles' job this spring particularly difficult.

"It is going to be a huge challenge," said Searles of Georgia's upcoming offensive line work in spring practice and beyond. "We have five new kids on campus and they are going to have to step in and play now. I wish we could redshirt them, but that's not the way it is. There is not a whole lot of depth on our line. We are going to put the best guys out there so that we can win."

The lack of depth on the offensive line is the main reason this season's offensive line recruiting class is so critical for the Dawgs. Searles said he has a working knowledge of the Dawgs' committed offensive linemen (thanks to outgoing offensive line coach Neil Callaway, who Searles played for at Auburn), and is well aware of Georgia's remaining targets on the offensive line for 2007 and beyond.

"We are after a few more players out there, and I am on the way out the door to see them," Searles said. "I go on the road Sunday and I won't come back until Thursday, so I am hitting the ground running."

Searles' recruiting area of the state is yet to be determined.

"The recruiting area I have has not been finalized yet – I am sure I will go back to Louisiana or Texas for big-name kids," Searles guessed. His strong ties in northwest Georgia may lead recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner, who played with Searles at Auburn, to give the new coach a shot at recruiting in what he called "God's country."

"I have never spent a lot of time up in northwest Georgia recruiting, but I think I would be good because I am from there and have kept up with people," Searles said. "I think you have to go back in and build recruiting relationships, but I think it would be really good to go back up home and recruit again."

Searles said he wants return to the area he calls home for one simple reason: to prevent them from making the same mistake he did.

"I was young and dumb and went to Auburn," Searles said with a chuckle.

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