As recruiting season steams ahead through the final weeks before National Signing Day on Feb. 6, schools with everything to gain and a lot to lose still find themselves fighting hard to the finish.
But for star players who play in any of the All-American bowl games, or in this case the Shrine Bowl, it’s more like “not much to gain, and everything to lose.”
I’m sure Tramel Terry would agree.
Terry is one of Georgia’s 13 early enrollees this year, an electric four-star playmaker who accumulated 841 yards rushing, 19 rushing touchdowns and 792 yards receiving for Goose Creek High School in 2012.
And he could’ve contributed to the Bulldogs as a true freshman, were it not for the torn ACL he suffered on the opening kickoff of the Shrine Bowl in December. He underwent surgery last Friday and believes he’ll be back as early as “May or June.”
Sorry to burst your bubble Dawg fans, but that timetable is a pipe dream. Barring a superhuman recovery (i.e. Adrian Peterson), Terry should be out at least eight months. And even if he’s out on the field, it often takes players up to two years before they feel truly comfortable making cuts on the injured knee.
Georgia will almost certainly redshirt Terry for the upcoming season, and it will be a long road to recovery for the young man out of South Carolina.
The games are a needless risk, an excuse for companies like Under Armour or the U.S. Army to advertise the living hell out of their brand. I might actually sleep better at night if Georgia didn’t have so many commits playing in these All-American contests. The price of signing talent, I suppose.
Brice Ramsey probably agrees with me, too. His atrocious performance in the Under Armour All-American game — just five completions for 64 yards and three interceptions — probably wasn’t the ideal way to begin the new year or end his time in high school.
But don’t worry: Ramsey’s performance was more a product of only getting a single week to practice with his fellow All-Americans. He’d gotten minimal time to work with his receivers, and situations like that will always favor the defense.
And, you know, these were also the best defensive players in the country. That has to count for something. Another early enrollee, Ramsey will probably forget all about this meaningless game now that he’s on campus in Athens.
Speaking of which, those early enrollees open up spots in Georgia’s recruiting class of 2013 because greenshirting allows recruits to be counted toward the previous year's class.
That number also comes after four-star Alpharetta DE Naim Mustafaa shockingly became the sixth player to decommit from Georgia this season after jumping ship to Oklahoma State.
Mustafaa made the switch for a number of reasons which were almost all football-related. One factor, however, deserves particular attention.
“They have my major in business,” Mustafaa said to Michael Carvell of the Atlanta-Journal Constitution. “I’m going to try to open a sports bar one day. They’ve got a great hotel and restaurant industry program, and I will be learning about how to run a business.”
Okay Mufasa, I know you may have overlooked this little detail while standing wide-eyed in Sanford Stadium, but Georgia has a business program. A pretty good one, in fact. Some may even say it’s the best in the southeast.
But hey, as long as you can run your sports bar in middle-of-nowhere Oklahoma, who cares right?
All that aside, Georgia did lose a quality player in Mustafaa. It hurts, especially when it’s an in-state player. But there’s one special guy out there that can still heal those wounds. That guy is five-star defensive tackle Montravius Adams.
Despite suffering a stress-fractured ankle while practicing for the Under Armour game (another pointless injury), the 300-pound Adams is making his last round of visits before Signing Day, and Georgia is on the itinerary along with Alabama and Clemson. Almost every major scouting service has Adams listed as a top-10 or even a top-five recruit.
The bad news? He was recruited by former defensive line coach Rodney Garner, who took the assistant head coaching position at Auburn this December. Why Garner left exactly, I can’t be sure. It was technically a promotion, true, but I for one would not want to coach a team known for dead oak trees, recruiting violations, or more recently, losing football games.
Adams has claimed that Garner’s absence won’t really affect his decision, but in reality it most certainly will. He is one of the best defensive line coaches in the nation and was a top recruiter for Georgia. Players could follow him to Auburn and I wouldn’t even blink. The Bulldogs could really hurt from this down the line.
Should an Adams commitment fall through, Richt and staff will still be in a dogfight for several other talented recruits that remain uncommitted, highlighted by four-star running back Alvin Kamara and five-star linebacker Rueben Foster, both Georgia natives.
Those two players, along with Adams, could easily shape Georgia’s recruiting class in the weeks leading up to Signing Day. What many now consider to be a class among the best in the nation could be elevated to actually being the best in the nation if all the chips fall into place.
Of course, it wouldn’t be recruiting without all the last-minute switches and high-profile shockers that inevitably happen every year. Buckle up.
— Alec Shirkey is a junior finance and English double-major from Dunwoody, Ga.