Dawgs leading the SEC pack in Recruiting

ATHENS – It has been almost a full calendar year since Cornelius Washington announced his intention to play football for Georgia.

It will be another six months before the defensive end from Burke County can make it official by signing a national letter of intent and another six months after that before he will step on the field as a Bulldog.

"It's already been forever," Washington said.

Welcome to the new era of Georgia recruiting. The Bulldogs are among the leaders of a national trend that has seen major football schools begin to fill their recruiting classes earlier and earlier.

Georgia has verbal commitments from 15 players for the Class of 2008, more than any other SEC school and more than Florida, Kentucky, Auburn and South Carolina combined.

Not everyone is taking the same approach as the Bulldogs.

Florida, which had the nation's No. 1 recruiting class last year and is coming off a national championship season, has just one verbal commitment.

But Texas (20), Ole Miss (11), Florida State (11), Alabama (10), Clemson (10) and LSU (nine) are taking the same path as the Bulldogs by loading up early.

The best news for Georgia is it is not sacrificing quality for quantity, said Miller Safrit, the southern recruiting analyst for Scout.com.

Five of the Bulldogs' committed players – Washington; Summerville, S.C., wide receiver A.J. Green; Statesboro defensive tackle Deangelo Tyson; Cartersville running back Richard Samuel, and Griffin defensive end Toby Jackson – are rated four stars or higher by Scout.com.

"When I look at their commitment list, I'm not looking at the guys you usually see (committed) in June," Safrit said. "The guys they are getting are very much name players that you can really see making a difference in a couple years."

Green and Tyson are considered two of the best players in the nation at their positions.

"I'm excited to get up to Athens," said Fort Lauderdale, Fla., defensive end Jeremy Longo. "I'm excited to come in my freshman year and put it to every other team in the SEC. I don't know about the first couple of years, but once everybody gets involved and we find each other as a team, then definitely with this class I don't see why we couldn't."

GAC linebacker Christian Robinson joined the class in May during a blistering four-week run that saw the Bulldogs land seven players, and he has been following the class closely since to see who is going to join him.

"My mom and I are on (recruiting Web sites) every day to see who is committing," he said.

When Robinson committed, he got phone numbers of a few of his future teammates and gave them a call.

"We talk and stuff like that just to get in touch and get to know the guys you're going to be spending the next four years with," he said.

If all the players currently committed to Georgia follow through, the Bulldogs will be able to add a maximum of 11 more players to this class. With more commitments expected this summer, Georgia recruiting fans should be prepared for a repeat of last season, when the Bulldogs had all but two of their players committed by the end of December.

"The commitments they are going to get in September and October," Safrit said, "are going to be for the Class of 2009."

The List

TE Bryce Ros 6-4, 219
TE Dwayne Allen 6-3, 217
CB Brandon Boykin 5-11, 170
WR A.J. Green 6-4, 190
WR Tavarres King 6-1, 165
S Bacarri Rambo 6-1, 190
LB Christian Robinson 6-3, 190
DE Toby Jackson 6-4, 240
DE Jeremy Longo 6-4, 225
G Jonathan Owens 6-5, 285
CB Makiri Pugh 6-0, 175
RB Richard Samuel 6-0, 190
DT Deangelo Tyson 6-2, 275
K Blair Walsh 5-10, 175
DE Cornelius Washington 6-4, 224

Around the SEC

Georgia is the leader so far in the SEC recruiting race, at least when measured by volume. Here's a look at how many players are committed to the league's 12 schools, according to numbers tabulated by Scout.com.

Alabama 10
Arkansas 7
Auburn 5
Florida 1
Georgia 14
Kentucky 1
Ole Miss 11
Mississippi State 4
South Carolina 4
Tennessee 7
Vanderbilt 4

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