Mark Richt took over as Georgia’s head coach following the 2000 season and has enjoyed a lot of success on the recruiting trail. While Richt was able to secure stars like DJ Shockley as part of the 2001 recruiting class, the class of 2002 was his first full class in Athens. Here’s my opinion of some of the best and worst of recruiting in the Richt era:
Top 5 Players who “Lived Up to the Hype”
1. AJ Green – Any questions?
2. Matthew Stafford – The kid from Texas was expected to lead Georgia to a National Championship. We got pretty close during his sophomore season.
3. Max Jean-Gilles – I remember all the hype about how big this kid was and how we stole him away from Miami. He definitely fit the bill, becoming a multi-year starter and an All-American.
4. Kade Weston – The five star recruit from New Jersey, turned in a great Georgia career.
5. Paul Oliver – Another top 5 player at his position, Oliver really developed during his career. Too bad academics got in the way.
Top 5 “Busts”
1. Akeem Hebron – Originally part of the 2006 class, Hebron went to Hargrave and then came back to Georgia. But the 5 star recruit never materialized into much on the playing field and he finished his time at Georgia this fall having never really made an impact.
2. Brandon Miller – The number on DE in the country in 2004, Miller eventually found a home at linebacker. And while he became a starter and was good on special teams, his career never met the expectations that most fans had.
3. Darius Dewberry – Like Hebron, he also failed to qualify initially but still found his way back to Athens. His impact was minimal at best, but much better than Hebron’s.
4. Kregg Lumpkin – You could probably put the careers of Lumpkin and Caleb King in the same boat. Both were 5 star recruits considered as one of the top 5 running backs in the country. But injuries and a crowded depth chart hampered their development.
5. Marquis “Mud Cat” Elmore – While other players on this list were 5 star recruits, Elmore was not. But his name was so distinctive that he developed almost a cult status before he ever saw the field. He made little to no impact in four years, and failed to have a good career to match his nickname.
Top 5 “Overachievers”
1. Fernando Velasco – “Bubba” was a two star O-lineman but turned into one of the key players on the Dawgs offensive line in 2007.
2. Knowshon Moreno – Yes, he was highly recruited and was considered one of the best running backs in the country out of high school. But the fact that he was redshirted in 2006 means the coaching staff was not really sure what they had. Clearly, if you rated him again he would have been a 5 star recruit.
3. Danny Ware – Ware was originally recruited as a two star linebacker. The fact that he ended up as a successful running back is pretty impressive.
4. Christian Robinson – Robinson will only be a junior this fall, but his development has been fun to watch. I only expect him to get better over the next two years.
5. Brannan Southerland - Fullbacks are rarely rated above 3 stars, but maybe they should be. Southerland was a vital part of the Georgia offense during his four years.
Top 3 "What were the Experts Thinking"
1. Israel Troupe - He was Georgia's highest rated player according to ESPN in 2007. Really???
2. Joe Tereshinski/Logan Gray - Both were rated 4 star quarterbacks, but they are no where near the level of Aaron Murray.
3. Bryan Evans - Don't get me started.
So what are your top 5’s of the Richt era?