Wednesday, February 8, 2012

NSD Recap with Chad Simmons

The 2012 class was inked a week ago and there are still as many questions (or nearly as many) as there were before signing day. To help shed some light on this year's class and to give us some analysis I've asked Scout's National Recruiting Analyst and DawgPost contributor Chad Simmons to answer a few questions for us. He was kind enough to put his phone down long enough to oblige.

First of all, just trying to think of all the names, stats and other information you must have to keep track of with ALL of these recruits year in and year out makes my head swim. What's the hardest part of your job as a recruiting analyst? 

The hardest part of my job as an analyst now is keeping up with prospects in multiple classes.  It used to be one class at a time, now it is at least two, and you better know some elite sophomores too.  So many kids run together and we have to know about or we are not doing our job. 

Georgia's 2012 class is headlined by two great running backs in Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. What can each of these guys bring to the backfield at this level? 

Pierce Co.'s Quayvon Hicks
Marshall brings a lot of speed to the table.  He is a back that accelerates quickly, plays at top speed often, and never slows down when he changes direction.  I like how he returns kicks and catches the ball out of the backfield as well.

Gurley is a physical back, a back that really moves the chains, and someone who can carry the ball well between the tackles.  He has good straight-line speed in the open field and I really like his toughness as well.

Also, one of the more intriguing recruits to me is Quayvon Hicks. He looks like a superb athlete at a position of need with fullback. Do you think he can contribute early? And can he add some versatility to the position we didn't see much of last year?

There is no doubt Hicks is a talented athlete who can contribute early.  He moves well, he is very strong, and he will be able to catch the ball out of the backfield in Athens also.  Hicks is very coachable, he will do whatever coaches ask of him, and once he learns how to be that lead blocker, he will make a big impact at fullback. 

Grantham really racked up last week when it came to OLB/DE. Looks like some will need to add some weight. But who do you think we'll see sooner rather than later?

Jordan Jenkins battles John Theus
at Dawg Night 2011
All of those guys needs to add weight/strength, but Jordan Jenkins could see the field very early, especially on passing downs.  He is a great pass rusher off the edge, he is explosive, and he chases the quarterback well.  He weighs 245 pounds, but he is still thin, and he still needs to add mass to his frame.  

Speaking of Coach Grantham, just how hot is his name right now on the recruiting trails? He snagged Jordan Jenkins from Saban's grasp and stole Josh Dawson from Vandy. Not to mention winning one of the nation's biggest recruiting wars by signing Josh Harvey-Clemons. Is Grantham's name recognition as big as it seems to be and how much of a factor could that be moving forward?

Todd Grantham has really made a name for himself on the recruiting trail.  He coaches with intensity and he recruits with that same fire.  He is a competitor and he has a very good resume, so kids recognize that.  Grantham can relate to the kids well, they know his coaching history in the NFL, and he shows them he can teach with the best of them. 

One of the disappointments on National Signing Day was only signing three offensive linemen. Does it seem like Georgia was more selective in who they went after for offensive line help?  Were they being extra cautious considering the new limit of 25?

You could use the word cautious or even optimistic, but they did not finish well in 2012 at this position.  The loss of Chester Brown hurts them from a numbers standpoint if nothing else.  They went from looking like they would sign five or six offensive linemen to signing three, so they have some work to do in 2013.  They do need to be a little more aggressive on the recruiting trail and I think we will see that in the near future. 

Sounds like Richt and staff may not be done with this class either. Do you think we can we expect to hear of more mutual interest between Georgia and some qualifying junior college players? 

I do not think UGA is finished in 2012.  Whether it be Junior College prospects or even a high school prospect that slipped through the cracks, I think UGA is still searching for those defensive backs or even offensive linemen that are unsigned that they feel could still help them. 

Even when/if all 19 signees make it to Athens this summer, there are still some depth issues at positions such as defensive back in the short term and again on offensive line in the long term. Can Richt and staff address this solely with the 2013 class or should we expect some JUCO help as well?

Junior College kids can bridge a gap, so I feel Georgia will explore their options there, and I would be surprised if there are not a couple of JUCO kids on the UGA roster in the coming years.  Like most coaches, Richt would like all high school signees because he has them for at least three years, but UGA is in a position now where they may need someone a little older, a little stronger, and a little more mature at certain positions to help them build depth. 

Dooly Co.'s Montravius Adams
Speaking of the 2013 class, everyone seems focused on Robert Nkemdiche and Reuben Foster as the gems. And for good reason. But who are some other names fans should keep an ear out for in the next year?

A guy I put my name on very early before he was even in databases out there was Montravius Adams, a 6-4/285 defensive lineman out of Dooly County.  Over the past month or so, Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, and some others have offered him. He is definitely one to watch.

Tyshon Dye (RB Elbert County), Isaac Rochell (DE/OT Eagles Landing Christian Academy), Brice Ramsey (QB Camden County – Committed to Georgia), Tyren Jones (RB Walton), Vonn Bell (S Ridgeland), and Tray Matthews (S Newnan – Committed to Georgia) are some others.

Georgia is always going to be a state that sees a large number of recruiters from top notch programs. To me this makes Georgia's events such as their Junior Day, Dawg Night and the Gala even more important.  Have these events gotten as much attention as they need to nationally? Also, in your mind what other tools can Richt's staff use in their favor to stave off the competition?

The Gala can be national, but the other two events mentioned are tough because prospects have to pay their own way.  It is difficult to get a huge turn out from across the country when it has to come out their own pocket, but from a media perspective, I do feel Dawg Night is getting a lot of attention. 

Georgia is a fertile state, so Mark Richt will never be able to keep all the top talent at home, but if he can keep a good percentage of it, he will be fine.  Timing is so key in recruiting and that is where it all starts.  From offers to first visit to social media, and other things, that is where it all starts for UGA and other programs when recruiting top talent.
Lastly, recruiting has changed tremendously just in the last few years, not to mention since Easter in 1980 when Herschel flipped a coin. In your opinion, does the spotlight these kids receive make their transition to the life of a student-athlete unnecessarily difficult?

I don’t think so.  I think it can make them grow up a little quicker, but if the kid/parents/coaches handle it all properly, I do not think it hurts them in any way.  Some media outlets can cross the line a little when covering these kids, but for the most part, it helps the kids, the parents/family members enjoy the coverage, and it helps them more than it hurts them.

Many thanks to Chad for taking the time to stop by for a visit. We all know the recruiting trail never cools off. I hope we didn't slow his 40 time down too much.


Bernie said...

Great interview Bernie. What do you think about the Dawgs looking at adding Mario Alford? We need JUCO help now with the DB's. I just hope there are 1-2 prize picks out there remaining for this year.

Bernie said...

I think Alford's been on Georgia's radar, but as a returner and slot receiver. Currently the speedster is waiting on the defensive coaches to evaluate him as a potential DB. If they like his upside on that side of the ball we can expect an offer to go out. And if that happens, Alford will definitely accept.