Thursday, May 04, 2006

Hyperbole on SI.com

In this piece on Matt Stafford, SI.com's Cory McCartney proclaims Stafford to be "the most important recruit to enroll at Georgia since Herschel Walker." Something tells me that he hasn't been following Georgia recruiting for the past 25 years to be able to make that statement intelligently, but it got me to thinking: I've been following the Dawgs ever since moving to Macon in 1984 (admittedly, for those first ten years or so, I was following them with utter disgust, but north Macon will do that to you), so who are the most hyped recruits that Georgia has ever pulled in. In my humble opinion:

1. Garrison Hearst/Andre Hastings/Eric Zeier - It's hard for me to separate these three since Hearst and Hastings came in together and then Zeier followed the next year. (Did I get that chronology right? I'm too lazy to look it up, but it sounds right to me, especially since Zeier was at Georgia two years after Hastings and Hearst, both of whom left after their junior years in 1992.) Hearst was especially hyped, coming from Lincoln County where he had set all sorts of records. I still remember Mr. Kelley in 10th grade AP American History class proclaiming that his arrival at Georgia was similar to Herschel's ten years previously and that he would lead Georgia to glory as a freshman. Georgia's record in 1990: 4-7. Composite score of the games against Florida, Auburn, and Georgia Tech: 111-40.

2. Jasper Sanks - He arrived in Athens as a Parade All-American from Carver H.S. in Columbus at a propitious time. Georgia was coming off of a 10-2 season and were looking like a legitimate challenger to Florida and Tennessee. Meanwhile, Tennessee freshman and Atlanta native Jamal Lewis was coming off of a monstrous year for the Vols and Georgia needed an answer. Enter Mr. Sanks. Sanks exited with 1,651 yards in four seasons (or about what Lewis gained in his freshman year in Knoxville), not to mention untold numbers of joints and munchie runs to Taco Bell. Sanks ended up losing his job to unheralded Verron Haynes, who finished with a bang at Georgia and is probably somewhere shining his Super Bowl ring right now.


If "Beyond the Glory: Jasper Sanks" ever airs, this will be the last image before we cut to commercial with the narrator intoning "but life would never be as good again for Jasper..."

3. Charles Grant - Charles arrived from Miller County one year after Sanks and came with a reputation of being able to disembowel opposing quarterbacks merely by grunting at them. Jim Donnan then ruined his freshman year with ham-handed attempts to play the 265-pounder at tailback. Grant had a forgettable 2000 season (as did the entire Georgia team), then came on with a vengeance at the end of 2001 and parlayed a half-season run into becoming that rarest of commodities: a first-round pick of the Saints that has actually panned out.

4. Reggie Brown and Durrell Robinson - Notice how many of these recruits are from the Jim Donnan era? Prior to Mark Richt getting Georgia to, you know, meaningful Cocktail Parties, SEC Title Games and Sugar Bowls, the biggest days for Georgia fans previously were Signing Days under Donnan. Speaking of which, anyone know what Durrell is doing these days?

5. Cleditus Hunt - OK, he never played a down for the Dawgs because of those pesky academic issues (a good summary can be found here - basically, Cleditus signed with Georgia, couldn't get the requisite ACT score, then couldn't get the right grades at the Harvard of Senatobia - Northwest Mississippi Junior College - and ended up at Kentucky State), but if you had heard "Tales of Cleditus" by Peacedog, you too would have viewed him as the ultimate solution to all of Georgia's defensive woes. Few humans, let alone defensive tackles, have ever had the ability to teleport themselves into the backfield to take handoffs or shove water moccasins into the pants of opposing running backs like Cleditus. Incidentally, a Google search for "Underachieving Cleditus Hunt" pulls in 31 hits.

Garrison Hearst being tackled by Cleditus Hunt. Ah, the irony.

I'm not sure where I was going with all of this, other than to say that Georgia fans are just as capable of overhyping Georgia recruits as the national media is for hyping Notre Dame quarterback recruits and the Matt Stafford hype is nothing that unique. He's important, but it isn't as if Georgia has never pulled in big recruits before.

7 comments:

peacedog said...

Cleditus Hunt didn't have *anyting* on Lackey Travlose. And Bobby Terrific was more of a Cleditus fan than I back then. Historically, he's important to me because he more or less sums up the 90s for the dawgs. Lots of talked about promise, little to show for it.

And we CANNOT bring up Hunt without mentioning BOTH Zellner brothers. Dude, Pepe would have won a flipping Heisman. Combine Derrek Brooks and Vin Deisel, that was Pepe Zellner. Pepe won the state shotput when he through a discuss judge 112 yards for an improperly called fault at the state track finals. He actually ran the fastest 100 yard dash in the history of the universe but the technology couldn't properly register it at the time. He used to eat concrete for breakfast.

Here's some you might not have known about:

1. Jamie Harris. A QB we signed in the mid 80s (like you, I wasn't a fan just yet), post Herschel era. Called the #1 recruit in the nation by the far more limited coverage at the time, I understand it. I'm not sure he ever took a snap in a game. I don't know if the lesser amount of scrutiny back then helped dictate his flop - people "heard about it", hyped him, but didn't necessarily know how good he was. He got recruiter by a number of schools though, I think, so at least some coaches thought he was good and everyone took their cue from there.

2. George Lombard - worthy of mention because he to was a highly touted, parade AA, guy. Chose baseball over the Dawgs, and many blame the entire decade on this. Fun fact - he was part of a class where the Dawgs signed something like 7 of the AJC super 11. Not a single one ever actually got into school.

Note that Hunt and numerous others were a sign that UGA was having serious trouble under Goff (who by all accounts is a good guy, just wasn't a good head football coach). The classes contained numerous stars, many of whom, we got because everyone else backed off and we never saw them on campus.

3. Jessie Miller - he was a mega recruit that was of the same age as CXharles Grant. Plaed on some of those amazing WaCo teams that just dominated in the mid to late 90s. He drew inevitable comparisons to Takeo Spikes (theyw ere teams one year; that is Spikes' mater). Didn't last a year on campus.

4. Sterling Boyd - he was heralded but not as much as some of the other peopel on the list. I bring him up because he'll draw a grin from any of your Dawg readers. Without question the greatest red-zone practice tailback of all time. Dude scored every tiome he touched it inside the 20, no shit. I'm also still not sure, but I might have actually seen him play on TV in a Texas highschool championship game. This is probably not true, but I like to think it is because it makes it a better story. Man, he was good in that game too.

5. Marquis "Mudcat" Elmore - he was big time and has done nothing. I hate it for him - according to most of what I read/hear he's a good guy and the effort is there. However, he cant' stay healthy, and it isn't just a "knicks and bruises and he's a wussy" issue. He's been in Garner's doghouse before but Garner generally speaks highly of him. I think it's geniunely bad luck - it happens. GATA Mudcat.

6. Travis Stround - now, Bobby T and I *really* used to drool over him. His highschool stats were insane. I remember when the paper printed them. Something like 20ish sacks his senior year, zillions of TFL, he'd forced like 17 turnoovers. Just stupid. Had a mediocre career. Really nice guy though - we sat next to each other in a lab once.

One note on Sanks - you must remember that we chose Sanks over Lewis. We had a shot at Lewis in highschool. And then Sanks didn't get in school, and was off to Hargrave, while Lewis was exploding as a freshman. That went wrong in so many ways. . .

Robert Edwards was *still* the best back on the field against UT in 97 though. I will not argue this.

Your Hearst, etc, timeline is correct. Hearst was the real deal, though Kelly's prediction was problematic as we see. Spurrier's strategy to coax Goff into allowing Hearst to touch the ball so little in the 92 UF game was brilliant. Pundits still don;t know how he did it. Hearst is a great guy from what I've heard, and bleeds red & black.

Michael said...

I do remember George Lombard, but because of the busts that Sanks and Patrick Pass became, in retrospect, I'm not inclined to think that he would have been a great running back. I know that isn't iron-clad reasoning, but we'll never know about him.

I would lump Mudcat in with Darius Swain and Kedrick Golston because it seemed that UGA was bringing in one enormous DT recruit every year for a significant period of time and, while Golston eventually turned out to be very good, both Swain and Elmore have disappointed.

Travis Stroud was never going to be able to live up to that SI cover. He did have a good career and is probably not thought of as highly as he should because he happened to play next to a future all-pro and the team was so disappointing in 2000 that everyone on the team was forever branded as being suspect thereafter.

I forgot that Georgia took Sanks over Jamal. A fine decision that was.

I completely agree on Robert Edwards' performance against UT, although you're mixed up on your timeline. Edwards went nuts against UT in '95 before breaking his foot (and ending the Goff regime, so it wasn't entirely a bad thing). Lewis was a freshman in '97 and ripped the Dawgs a new poopshoot in the game most remembered for the Donnan-Fulmer spat at midfield after the end of the game. I watched that one at Damon's in Charlottesville while fasting on Yom Kippur. Lots of fun.

peacedog said...

I'm talking about Travis Stroud, [b]not[/b] [i]Marcus[/i]. Travis was a circa 93-94 recruit, IIRC. Very highly recruiter, one of the top DT in the country. It's true that Marcus got the SI cover and that is pretty rare, especially then. Funny thing was I believe it was an article about recruiting in general and since he was a late, pitched, battle he drew attention (as all late commits do). I don't think the article was a testament to his talent level. You ask Bob about him next time you get a chance. And then ask about the time that Me, Bob, The Diamond Cutter, and Todd Patman were sitting over at #13 players club getting absolutely *STOKED* about the comming season (then: 95). The D was going to be so stout, lead by the afforementioned Travelose I believe.

Oh boy. . .

You are right that he (Marcus) was overshadowed. It's also noteworthy that Donnan kept trying to play him at DE for awhile. Disaster. He also loved to party though, and perhaps wasn't always as focused as he could have been.

As for Edwards- he was actually great in the 97 UT and that is the game I was thinking of. No, it wasn't as good as his freakish performance in 95 - in a quarter and a half he made it look like we were on offense against a highschool team, before the injury. But he was terrific in 97 too. I believe he went for over 150 yards, and UT was very much stacked to stop the run that game. The OL couldn't keep them out of the backfield or off of Bobo, and Edwards *still* tore them up. Contrast that to us: Lewis was fantastic in that game but we couldn't stop the run *or* the pass, *and* Lewis had at least 130+ yards *After* a couple of gross Kirby "ole" tackles. That UT defense was good. Lewis was great. But if you put Edwards on a better team that day, I think he does amazing things. Put him against our defense, behind that UT offense, and I'll take my chances at Lewis' 232 yards.

Hell, I remember Kirby's attempt to tackel Lewis on the long touchdown. I was playing backyard football at Draughon's once. This is like summer going into 11th grade maybe. The setup: Wade Williamson is the QB. I'm defending the right enzone, "short" (the Draughon yard had that big tree in it remember, which made for lots of interesting strategy).

Wade rolls the other way, the playt fails, someone blizes (they're about 5 yards from the zone). I've picked up someone, and I hear my name yelled. I turn around and see Wade barreling towards me at *full* steam, not 3 yards from the line (he's coming at an angle). I'm about 2 yards deep. I step up and totally let him go by and get yelled at.

Wade busted some kid's spleen in a football game. No fucking way I was going to try and tackle him there. Kirby on that long run was much worse though.

Lombard - I hear you. I don't buy for a second he would have been great. Or rather, I don't think there was any inherent certainty to it. Lots of people had him penciled in as "the next Hearst, or maybe better!" and honestly you just cant' do that to a kid. You never know. Any number of things can derail a career, and the hype is often not a reasonable or accurate leading indicater. He could have just as easily been a bust as a star.

Swain has been a dissapointment. Not as highly regared as Marcus or Golston. But a big prospect.

Hobnail_Boot said...

That Marcus Stroud SI cover is quite possibly the greatest picture these eyes have ever seen.

I know it already has a meaning, but couldn't we arguably use the term 'q-Factor' when talking about the 2000 Dawgs? Let's face it, that team will always be remembered as underachievers. Something like 9 out of 11 starters are now starring in the NFL.

It wasn't their fault.. it was the 'q-Factor', iykwim.

Ghostdawg said...

OK, first thing first....Hastings and Hearst were two of the top 3 HS players in America....that was a all-time class....it also had #1 player in 10-i-c Bernard Williams who was a top 5 NFL pick but had problems with drugs! He fortunately turned his life around and is a star in the CFL! He married a judge and now has a nephew named Eric Berry who is the very best WR/CB ath in the country...his daddy was a Vowel, he is a Dawg lean and many say while he is a sick Corner maybe the best in the country, he is so dynamic with the ball in his hands that he will go down as a All-time great both ways....the hype will begin...watch.....I think UGA gets him! As for Hearst and Hastings, had they come back they would have been amazing...them with Zeier and a All-SEC TE in Shannon Mitchel(kicked of TE.U) along with AA FB Mack Strong(Die hard Dawg and 5 time probowler and a backup by the name of Terrel Davis an 2 Time MVP and Super Bowl winner who averaged like 7.3 ypc behind Hearst and Strong and it is a wounder that we lost two games by 3 pts....the 2 to UT on a 4-23 where Shuler made everyone miss twice and the 1 pt loss to UF! Son of a whore SOS will rot in Dawg hell one day!

The next year we lost out on signing day to the #1 WR in the country named Cooper from Fla who went to Fla st when his boy Hastings went to the NFL! Also, the top DL in the SE by the name of Trevor Pryce .....who went to Michigan transferred to Clemson and has made a great career in the NFL! Oddly we added a late signee by the name of Robert Edwards who went on to be a all-time great the '95 game vs UT was the single greatest performance ever by a Dawg not named Herschel imo and Wayne Mcduffie had the vuanted Vowel D on its heels the whole game but as doomed as we were from the Curse of the 'G' we still lost!

'94 saw us rebound...we signed the best RB in Lombard...who would have been great, the best ATH by the name of Hines Ward-yeah that Hines, the best DT named Travis STroud from the great Dunwoody teams who had a descent career but was often hurt, he did real in 2nd cousin Marcus though who was all-time the single best bull rusher ever at the mighty 'G'! We also signed two of the top S in the country....one Mitchel was Hunts teaate and USA Todays #1 DB...who hurt his neck the first day and was best remembered for beating down Rod Perrymanin a hazing incident at Edwards and Hines apartment and of course Hunt who made millions in the NFL! Damn shame for he was a great kid and true Dawg but never could get it together, also we signed a top MLB named Mario Nolan the best LB ever out of 10-i-c by one publication, but he too had drug problems! '94 should best be remembered for the two we flailed on and had but Goof...true to his word told a top RB from Fla no son we promised George we'd sign one...sorry...that RB was Fred Taylor who's teamate Redial Anthoney was commited to UGA for a weekend because we signed his cousin Gilbert Grantlin a top juco WR but he to couldn't get in so Anthoney and Taylor went to Florida....oh yeah we also were in the final 2 for a sleeper 6.5 220 S from J-ville named the Freak...yes sir that Freak! He chose UF late but we got the other top D-player from J-ville a 6.6 260 DL named Chris Terry who was a late 1st or early 2nd round pick and had a good career in the NFL with the Panthers and the Seahawks but had demons as well...too bad for he was a great kid! We also signed the #1 Juco RB not once but twice.....one Larry Bowie made the league for a few years but is best known for a fumble at Bama that cost us the game and in '95 Odell Collins who went from a 6.1 215 4.55 slasher to a 6.2 255 FB with 4.7 speed! Good news is his nephew is gonna be a jr at Jefferson High School and is already 6.5 305 soon to be a jr and a sure fire top DT in the country in '08 who UGA,UT,UF,Miami and everyone is after, he wore UGA shorts to a Scout camp and is said to be a Dawg lock, looks alot like a young M.Stroud or Kade'the beast from the NE'Weston! That's it for now....I'll continue if you like...I'm Ghost co-founder of Dawgpost long ago(have nothing to do with it now) but a diehard Dawg who has followed recruiting like a bible since '90 when the recruitment of Hearst,Davis and Hastings captured my imagination!

Email me at gturnbull77@yahoo.com if you'd like me to continue!

Anonymous said...

OK U am from columbus and played for Spencer High we have a big game with Caver and I saw Mr Sanks put up some incredible numbers back then. How could anyone have known that his time would play out like this. I mean not only did the bulldogs go wrong but most of the nation since he was player of the year in the nation for just about every high school football ranking authority.

Bigdawg said...

Anyone know what happen to Sterling Boyd? He was the best Running Back I have ever seen? I saw were he signed with the San Diego Chargers in 1997. I heard that he is playing in Europe. I wonder if he still playing