Richt: ‘It’s been interesting, and it’s not over yet’

Q&A WITH GEORGIA COACH MARK RICHT

ATHENS —  Georgia coach Mark Richt discusses the Bulldogs’ 2015 football recruiting class at a little after 2 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon. Obviously there were several open storylines still playing played out at that point.

First, Richt thanked all the people involved in Georgia’s recruiting process, from President Jere Morehead and Athletic Director Greg McGarity to the coaches and their wives to the current players. Then he introduced Georgia’s eight early enrollees, seven of whom were present.

Finally, he got around to answering questions about the Bulldogs’ 2015 class.

Georgia coach Mark Richt poses with seven of the Bulldogs' eight early enrollees after introducing them at a news conference on Wednesday. (UGA photo)

Georgia coach Mark Richt poses with seven of the Bulldogs’ eight early enrollees after introducing them at a news conference on Wednesday. (UGA photo)

Remarks on early enrollees and members of the 2015 class …

“We are absolutely thrilled about these young men and can’t wait to see them do their thing. Some of them are already here doing their thing a little bit, and when this is over, you will have an opportunity to talk to our mid‑year players and ask them anything you want. With that I thought I would open it up to any questions that you might have and we’ll go on.”

On whether this has been one of the crazier signing periods he’s ever experienced…

“It’s been interesting, and it’s not over yet. There’s still things swirling around out there still. Yeah, I think there’s been a lot of emotion in this one, and it’s a large class, too. The more people you sign in the class, the more ‑‑ at times the more drama you have.  But the one thing I do want to say about our mid‑year enrollees, these guys had a plan.  You just can’t all of a sudden snap your fingers and say I’m going to graduate early.  First of all, you’ve got to be smart, you’ve got to be organized, you’ve got to have support from your family and your high school. People have to ‑‑ these guys tend to be a little ‑‑ maybe just a little bit more ready for college because they did the things that they had to do to get here in this time frame, and just really proud of all of them and proud of the families that helped them do it because it is not just something you can all of a sudden decide in August, hey, I want to be a mid‑year enrollee.  You’ve got to do the work on the front end and plan, and really proud of these guy.”

On focusing on secondary…

“Well, there’s no doubt we feel like we needed to bolster what’s going on in that defensive backfield, and we believe we did that.  A lot of talented guys, a lot of guys that are going to compete well, but it’s a situation I think where they saw opportunity, and we’ll probably ‑‑ the goal is to be able to do some things defensively that ‑‑ play a little more man coverage and challenge people a little bit more, and I think we’ve got a great bunch of guys to do that.”

On how losing coaches in the offseason affected recruiting…

“Well, I think when you lose coaches, it does ‑‑ you lose relationships. You lose time spent. So I think that certainly came into play.  But bringing Coach Schottenheimer in here, Brian Schottenheimer, our new offensive coordinator, and Rob Sale, I think those guys did an excellent job of coming in and getting to know everybody and rallying along with the rest of the coaches.”

On recruits who de-commit and then recommit…

“Well, those things happen for different reasons. I think Pat’s situation was more of a coaching change issue. Shaquery’s was probably a little bit different in that regard. You never know why a guy turns around and changes his mind back. But we were happy to welcome them back.  I’m sure they’ll ‑‑ well, I know they’re very happy that they did.”

On Shaquery Wilson’s desires to play receiver…

“No, no, that was a good question because I think a lot of people were going to think that. He said, coach, I’ll do whatever you want me to do. He just wanted to be at Georgia, and he’s put as an athlete for that reason.”

On whether or not there will be any more additions made later in the day…

“There’s a possibility. There’s a possibility. I really don’t know for sure. We just have to kind of wait and see. But there are still some possibilities out there.”

On how recruiting tests coaches’ patience …

“I don’t know if I’m patient or any coaching staff is patient. I mean, you don’t have a lot of control. I guess you don’t have a choice.  You don’t have any other choice but to be patient.  I guess we are patient because we don’t have any control. But I can’t say that there’s not a lot of emotion that goes in it from us, too, because like I mentioned to start out, there’s a lot of time invested, a lot of travel, a lot of time away from home, a lot of phone calls, a lot of ‑‑ just the building of relationships over time. You get to know people and really ‑‑ you like them a lot and you want them to be a part of your program, and you can see where things would work out for them at your University. Sometimes you get them and sometimes you don’t, but I don’t think anybody goes through recruiting season without having that excitement of getting the ones that you want to get, a high percentage of those, but then there’s always some tough things, too.”

On what a commitment means …

“I think nowadays in recruiting, the minute somebody commits somewhere is about when recruiting starts. You know, a lot of times you’re thinking, well, once you’ve got a commitment, you’ve got it. But I think ‑‑ I don’t think anybody in the country thinks just because a guy says he’s coming doesn’t mean you still ‑‑ you can’t just stop calling and stop recruiting and stop taking care of business. You need to escalate that.”

On his feelings about proposed early signing period in December …

“I don’t know about the early signing date. You know, it’ll be interesting to see if it happens, and if it does what kind of effect it’ll be.  Will it calm things down or will it be two days like this? You know, I don’t know what’s going to happen in that regard.  But it’ll be interesting to see.”

On landing No. 1 –ranked recruit Trent Thompson…

“Yeah, Trent is a big, massive man who has got great agility. If you meet him, he’s just the nicest guy you ever want to meet, but when he’s playing ball, he gets after it.  He’s just got tremendous quickness for a big man, changes direction, plays very hard, and I think probably the reason why he got rated as high as he did is when you start taking these guys and bringing them to all‑star games or combines or whatever and you start letting them compete with some of the best, the word I got from some of those kids in those situations were like, the guy just was very difficult to handle by anybody. He’s a fun kid to be around. He really is.”

On this year’s defensive line class…

“Well, you definitely want to ‑‑ you’ve got to have the beef up front, both sides of the ball. You’ve got to have guys that can command double teams. You’ve got to have guys that can hopefully put pressure on a quarterback without having to bring blitzes and things of that nature, guys that can be stout in their run gap responsibilities and not get pushed around. It’s truly important to have the big men up front. I think we did a good job there.”

On finally getting OL Devondre Seymour into the program …

“Yeah, Devondre Seymour, it says 6’6”, 310, I’m not sure if it’s 310, it might be bigger than that.  We call him “Scooter”. But very talented guy, and a guy that if I’m not mistaken will be coming in with three years to play three, and that’ll be great for us.  You know, it’s been a little while, waiting for him to get in position to come back on campus, or to come to campus, but we’re very happy that he decided to stick with Georgia and is taking care of his.”

On linemen Pat Allen and Sam Madden…

“Pat was one of the guys that committed early and changed his mind and then recommitted. And then big Sam Madden coming in, really liked what we saw with him on film, and after meeting him really enjoyed him and his father on that trip and had a lot of faith that we were going to have a pretty darned good ball player. He’s a massive guy, too. I mean, he probably was in the 345 to ‑‑ well, he probably showed up 345, probably left about 355 after all the food he ate on the trip. But we did get some big, solid men. Sage Hardin, very ‑‑ he’s tall, long, tough, athletic, smart kid.  He’s going to really help us, as well.”

On Daquan Hawkins and Kirby Choates…

“Guys that have been on the radar for a while. You know, Daquan, really when you look at him, he’s as good looking as any of them, you know, a guy that in the very beginning we’re thinking maybe this guy can play offense. There’s no doubt he could play offense.  But then the more time you spend watching him do his thing, you could see that he’s going to be a tremendous defensive lineman for us.  But he was a guy that both sides of the ball liked.  He was on the board the whole time through, and in the end it worked out at defensive line because that’s where his heart is and where we think he’ll give us the best impact. And then Kirby, very ‑‑ he’s a tough, athletic kid, a guy that loves Georgia, within loving Georgia a long time, and when the opportunity came to get him, he accepted that offer, and we’re glad that he did.”

On what position Tae Crawford might play…

“Well, he does have the ability to do a little bit of what Quayvon Hicks is doing as far as an H‑back type guy, even possibly tight end type guy, enough of a body to do that. But he’s a pretty good runner in his own right.  He is a very physical guy, big tackle breaker, guy that we think could hold up well in our league, got a great stiff arm, just down after down after down, just stiffing guys into the ground and running them over. Very impressed with him.”

On balancing relationships in the recruiting process…

“Well, you’ve just got to keep recruiting I think is the best answer to that. You’ve just got to keep recruiting, you’ve got to keep evaluating, and gosh, I can’t tell you how many times we got guys late and they did great. Kenarious Gates I think was at least a three‑year starter for us if not a four‑year starter. Timmy Jennings I think we offered the night before. Timmy was the last guy brought in the class and he was the first guy drafted that year, and he’s been an all‑pro corner. You just keep recruiting.”

On any possible flaws in this class …

“Well, I would just say that the day is not over and we’ll see what the next few hours bring. You just don’t know and I don’t know for sure what it’s going to bring. Maybe you can ask me that tomorrow.”

On how Brian Schottenheimer has adjusted in the early weeks…

“Well, Brian has got a ‑‑ I think he’s a very good communicator, and I think that he’s got a spirit for young people, and I think they see that in him, and I think they can hear it in his voice, and I think he’s going to end up being a really outstanding recruiter.”

On early-enrollees and whether it’s becoming a trend…

“I think more and more young men are wanting to be mid‑year guys. I think a lot of them realize it’s a little bit harder than you think.  It’s not a slam dunk, like I said before.  And even if you’re way out in front of it, it’s not always going to happen. But again, it’s a great tribute to these guys and what they did to get themselves in position to do that, and their families, there’s no doubt about it.  And there are some schools that just don’t allow it. Some guys want to do it, and some schools, some school systems don’t even allow them to do that.”

On how many UAB players Georgia looked at when the Blazers’ program was dismantled…

“We took a good look at the film, but Jake stood out. He’s a guy that we thought could come in and help us. Obviously Jake doesn’t have a lot of eligibility left, but he’s got a lot of maturity about him, and we really believe he’s going to come in and give us some good pop.”

On whether or not the full cost of attendance issue came up…

“We didn’t get into it much at all because it’s so hard to define at this point. I’m sure next year’s class it’ll be a big deal.”

On how big a deal he thinks the cost of attendance will be in future years…

“Oh, I think it’s going to be a big deal. Again, it’s not defined yet, so until it’s defined we won’t know how big of a deal it’s going to be.”

On the difference between today’s recruiting and recruiting in the past…

“I think just how fast information travels. I think, again, the attention and the hype that the recruiting gets tends to be a big deal. I don’t know, just I guess information and how fast it travels obviously is a big part of it, how you communicate with young men has changed. We’re not supposed to text, but you can DM them, direct message them on Twitter, and there is a difference between texting and direct messaging because the young man has to accept you, like if it’s your phone you could text a guy on his phone all day long but if he doesn’t want to communicate with you on Twitter, he doesn’t have to. So there is a little bit of difference there.”

On whether recruiting through social media is good or bad…

“I don’t know. I think in some ways it’s good. I think it’s hard for anybody to do things that a kid won’t report as far as, hey, I’m here doing this, I’m here doing that, and then so ‑‑ I think it might have cleaned some things up, but it also maybe complicates things a little bit, too.”

On additions to the support staff…

“Well, the support staff, some of the additions is just to bless these young men and help them take care of business on a day‑to‑day basis. Some of it is just positions that we’ve had in the past that we’ve just amped up a little bit. That’s really all there is to it.”

On much of the class being from out of state…

“Well, we just want the best players. If we go out of state we’re looking for some special people. But we’re still probably 60 to ‑‑ we’re normally around two thirds Georgia. That’s about where we’re at this time around.”


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