Georgia football recruiting: passing Bama

At the end of National Signing Day, the 2018 Georgia football recruiting class will rank number one or number two nationally. What happened to Alabama?

Next week, Georgia football will claim one of the top two spots in the 2018 recruiting rankings.  Alabama’s class will rank number five or lower, the lowest rank of a Tide recruiting class in a decade.

So what happened to Bama?

What happened to Bama was Georgia. Recruiting the same southeast territory, Georgia football recruiting will outpace Alabama’s for the first time in memory.

The rise of the Georgia recruiting machine didn’t happen all at once. In the ten years from 2008 to 2017, Georgia’s recruiting classes finished ranked in the top ten nationally eight times. In those ten years, only five other schools have done as well or better – Alabama,  Auburn, LSU, Ohio State, and USC.

While Georgia enjoyed top ten recruiting consistency beginning in 2001, the Dawgs finished out of the top ten in 2010 and 2013.  Then after the 2013 recruiting cycle, Georgia finished with classes nationally ranked number eight in 2014, number seven in 2015, number seven in 2016, and number three in 2017.

So what happened to Georgia?

What happened to Georgia  in 2017 and 2018  was Kirby Smart. On the other hand, Georgia football recruited against Smart in 2014 and 2015, so what else happened?

There were also big changes at the top of Georgia’s athletic program in this decade with the departure of Athletic Director Damon Evans and the hiring of his replacement, Greg McGarity.

McGarity arrived in 2010, and Georgia rebounded to claim top ten recruiting finishes in 2011 and 2012. But, Georgia did not sustain the success in 2013 when Georgia received a national rank of 12. It was Georgia football’s lowest recruiting ranking since 2000, so what else happened?

Another key hire was made at the University of Georgia in this decade, this one by the state’s Board of Regents. It was the biggest change of all.

Glory, Glory and Hail to the Chief

In 2014, Jere Morehead succeeded Michael Adams as President of the University. A Bulldog his entire life, many members of the Bulldog Nation still feared a continuation of the Adams regime.

Bulldog blood is thick, however, and Morehead wanted to see his Bulldogs win. Part of the reason he wanted to win is that winning football drives the big red and black fundraising machine.

After Morehead re-opened the President’s residence on Prince Avenue shunned by Michael Adams, Georgia football recruiting class rankings went straight up. When Morehead hired Kirby Smart, the Bulldog Nation filled the big red machine’s tank with rocket fuel, and Smart shot it into orbit.

Can Kirby Smart and President Morehead sustain the current level of support for Georgia football, or even increase it? That will be up to the members of the Bulldog Nation. Alabama sustained the effort for a decade, and the Tide is still going. Georgia is different, but it’s different at the top, too, and Dawg people might like it there.

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