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.