Meanwhile, one of Georgia's verbal commitments, defensive lineman Richard Cook of Washington-Wilkes High, is wavering on his decision as signing day nears. Cook says he is considering Georgia and Tennessee, thanks in part to a late visit from Vols coach Phillip Fulmer.
Georgia started two sophomores at defensive end in 2002 — Southeastern Conference Player of the Year David Pollack and Will Thompson — and top backup Robert Geathers also has two more years of eligibility.
Shedrick Wynn, a junior in 2002, also returns at defensive end, and one of last year's top recruits, Marquis Elmore, will compete for playing time as a redshirt freshman in the spring. Elmore also could compete at linebacker.
Two more defensive ends, Marcus Jackson and Preston Pannell, were redshirted as freshmen in 2002. Due in part to that depth, Georgia has not landed a commitment from a pure defensive end this year. Cook (6-5, 265) probably will develop into a defensive tackle.
"We didn't recruit a lot of defensive linemen because of the kids we have,'' Georgia recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner said Monday. "We're top-heavy at certain positions and we need players at others.''
Two verbal commitments, Trahern Holden of Houston County and Coleman Watson of North Springs High, can play tight end or defensive end. Georgia has commitments from several linebackers but still hopes to add at least one or two new names to the list as it must replace its three starters.
"We need linebackers; there's no secret to that,'' Garner said. "We need linebackers and we need offensive linemen. Those were the two most pressing needs going into recruiting and (linebacker) became more pressing when Chris Clemons announced he was leaving early (for the NFL draft).''
Added Garner: "We feel like we are adding some quality numbers at linebacker, but it's still a dire need.''
Though most recruiting lists have Georgia with 22 verbal commitments, including Cook, Garner said "I feel pretty good that we're at 23.''
Garner said his count of 23 did not any player who will join the program as a walk-on or will count with the class of 2002 signees. NCAA rules prohibit coaches from discussing specific recruits.
Punter/kicker Brandon Coutu of Suwanee, Ga., has said he will come to Georgia as a preferred walk-on. Linebacker Odell Thurman enrolled for spring semester and will count with the 2002 signees.