Confusing the Issue

ATHENS – There's nothing like "missing" on a recruit to get people going off on tangents.

Before I start – let me be clear… no player who commits ten months before Signing Day should be considered a lock anywhere. That is doubly true for a player who is committed to a school 3,000 miles away from home (Chuma Edoga to USC). Also, I am not suggesting that there is an "excuse" for not signing a given prospect.

But one has to step back and look at offensive line recruiting (particularly tackles) in a realistic way before throwing your hands up and saying: "Georgia can't recruit offensive lineman. Here they have two of the top three offensive tackles in the country in their state, and they are both committed elsewhere…"

(Why doesn't anyone ever say that about Georgia Tech by the way? Are they not in Georgia, too? Do they not count? Anyhow...)

Georgia gets its fair share of high-level offensive linemen… you just wouldn't know it when visiting a message board a day or two after a prospect commits elsewhere. Want proof? I'm glad you asked.

Every year since 2008, Georgia has signed at least one offensive lineman in the top 11 at their position in the country. So that means each year Georgia is signing at least one – and many times two – premier offensive linemen in the country in a signing class. Sometimes those players become multi-year starters – Ben Jones, David Andrews, John Theus; sometimes they don't – Austin Long, Brent Benedict, Chris Litte. But they were signed with the thinking that they would, in fact, be multi-year starters. Because a high rating doesn't guarantee that a player will be an All-American, but it is an indicator that a prospect should be able to be a multi-year starter – at a minimum.

Last year Georgia signed the #7 offensive line class in the country… the Bulldogs wound up #12 overall – so that means recruiting on the offensive line was actually better than recruiting at all of the other positions, save running back, in the program. And I think we know that Georgia doesn't have much in the way of a problem when it comes to signing running backs (and quarterbacks).

People are confusing the issue… that happens. It is not that Georgia "can't recruit offensive linemen". No, Georgia has a problem signing high-level in-state tackles. Out-of-state? Not as much (Theus, Long, Bennedict – even Trinton Sturdivant).

But Georgia isn't alone on that front; not at all.

The problem with offensive linemen – particularly offensive tackles – is that they are very, very difficult to keep at home. Of the top five offensive tackles in the country the last three years (15 players) only five of them (33%) have gone on to sign with a school in their home state.

One of the ten players who decided to leave home to play in college was John Theus – who will be a three-year starter this fall. Another was Ole Miss's Laremy Tunsil, who seemed destined to play at Georgia before swerving to Oxford at the last minute.

Some colleges are better than Georgia at signing high-level offensive tackles – right? Well, not really. Stanford is the only school in the country to have signed more than one of the top five tackles in the last three years. The Trees have signed two. Everyone else in the country (Oregon, Georgia, Florida, Auburn, Ole Miss, Texas, Michigan, LSU, Ohio State, Alabama, Miami, Notre Dame and Maryland) have only signed one.

Its hard to believe the argument that Georgia "can't recruit offensive tackles" if they've been one of only 14 schools in the country in the last three recruiting cycles to actually sign a top tackle.

It is also hard to believe that Georgia "can't recruit offensive tackles" if they signed the top two offensive tackles in the state last year Dyshon Sims and Kendall Baker.

There are times when people get frustrated, and that's what's going on here. They wonder why a kid would travel 3,000 to play college football – never questioning why Knowshon Moreno would drive 810 miles; Artie Lynch would drive 1,031 miles or Matthew Stafford would drive 853 miles to play in silver britches.

That's the problem. Prospects, no matter where they grow up, owe nothing to anyone. Like quarterbacks, offensive tackles are a rare commodity that everyone in the country is going to pursue no matter their mailing address.

And, more importantly, everyone in the country is going to pursue them no matter their commitment status. Signing day is a further away than Southern California right now.

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