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February 5, 2008
It may not be an official holiday, but to die-hard college football fans, National Signing Day is certainly worth celebrating.
Take those who follow the Georgia Bulldogs.
Mark Richt's squad is poised to reel in another top-flight class, and barring any unforeseen changes, will sign 25 players to a group Rivals.com predicts will rank as one of the country's Top 5 when the final numbers are counted.
Signed scholarships will start rolling off the fax machine at the Butts-Mehre Building shortly after 7 a.m. Wednesday morning.
Richt said the Bulldogs went almost 100 percent in getting the athletes they were focusing on, many as long as two years ago.
"What we do is almost look out two years in advance. We try to target the number of guys in each position," Richt explained. "We usually go out a couple of years and say two years from now these seniors are going to be gone. What is it going to look like? Then we get a feel for how many guys we need to get to reach a target number."
It's a very involved process, one that's done with meticulous care. But as one can tell with the number of 4- and 5-star athletes joining the Bulldog fold, it's a process that produces results.
"We have a target number, give or take. It's not 100 percent. There is only going to be four quarterbacks or five quarterbacks, whatever it is. We have a certain number that is a goal at each position. That is kind of how we base it," Richt said. "Sometimes towards the end if you hit every number right where you target it, that works out great. Sometimes you didn't get as many as you wanted at certain positions so you start looking at the best available athlete. It is definitely an inexact science. We do have a plan and we try to stay within one or two of a target number at any given position."
Five members of the class - running backs Richard Samuel and Dontavius Jackson - along linebacker Akeem Hebron, offensive lineman Ben Jones and wide receiver Tavarres King are already in school, their scholarships signed.
The rest of the class, including tight end Dwayne Allen, wide receiver A.J. Green, lineman A.J. Harmon, defensive tackle DeAngelo Tyson and defensive end Toby Jackson - is expected to be signed, sealed and delivered by 3 p.m.
Most of Georgia's impending signees, with the noted exception of Allen who affirmed his allegiance to the Bulldogs Monday, have been committed for at least a month, many longer than that.
"It's the way things are going now. You can hardly keep it from happening. High school coaches and players are visiting more," Richt said. "We certainly have great relationships with our high school coaches across the state and in areas out of state. When you begin a cycle of getting your class wrapped up relatively early, at this time of the year you spend a lot more time with junior recruiting. It used to be that in the spring you go evaluate the juniors. Now everybody is evaluating juniors right now. It's not just us."