After a few seasons of success, Jim Donnan was on the verge of what many thought would be his best football team since he arrived in Athens. It was the team Donnan had ‘waited 55 years’ to coach. Alas, at the end of the season he was gone, but the spring before it, Donnan’s final recruiting class took shape.
Here is a look at the Class of 2000:
Reggie Brown – Wide Receiver from Carrolton High
The hype – Brown was named as one of the top wide receivers in the country by many scouting services. He failed to qualify, initially, however, and sustained a slew of injures that slowed his progress at the start of his career.
Impact on program – Brown started off hot, but went through some trying times in Athens before his best season in 2004. He played in ten games in 2000 as part of a group of four freshmen wide receivers that was supposed to set the world on fire. But that never happened that season. In 2001, Brown did well at the start of the season in Mark Richt’s new offense, but tore his ACL in the Bulldogs’ game against Arkansas that year. As a result, 2001 served as Brown’s redshirt season. In 2002, Brown started five games and made his biggest play of the season against Tennessee when he blocked a punt that led to a safety. In 2003, Brown was a starting wide receiver and led the Dawgs in receptions with 49 that season. But critics said most of those catches came in unimportant contests. Things changed, however, and in his final season at Georgia, Brown pounded opponents with six touchdowns on 50 receptions with tons of big plays. Brown stepped up for his best performance of the season against LSU. That day he slammed the Tigers for five catches, 110 yards, and two touchdowns, helping the team get to ten wins for the third consecutive season.
Final say – After a relatively slow start, Brown finished his time in Athens living up to the hype that surrounded him in high school. He was a consensus All-SEC performer in 2004. Now with the Eagles, Brown is filling in for an expelled Terrel Owens.
Chris Clemons – Linebacker from Griffin High
The hype – A four year letterman and three year starter at Griffin, Clemons was one of only two linebackers the Bulldogs signed in 2000.
Impact on program – Clemons’ impact was immediate in 2000. He was a surprise starter in Georgia’s first game of the season against Georgia Southern. But after that game he played only four more, and he suffered a shoulder injury that kept him out much of the 2000 season. In 2001, Clemons played the whole season and had a monster game against Florida. Against the Gators, Clemons had a season-high eight tackles. He racked up six tackles against Tennessee, Auburn, and Houston, and managed seven in the Music City Bowl. In 2002, Clemons had his best game against South Carolina. He recorded eight tackles against the Gamecocks. He started all but three games on Georgia’s 2002 SEC Championship team. In a surprising turn of events, Clemons left Georgia early to the NFL Draft, but went undrafted. Then, on April 28, 2003, he signed a free-agent contract with the Washington Redskins. Clemons has played six games in the NFL in two seasons.
Final say – Leaving for the NFL was a surprise to more than a few. Clemons’ legacy at Georgia, therefore, left very little in the cupboard considering how good his final season in Athens was shaping up.
Nic Clemons – Linebacker from Georgia Military
The hype – An honorable mention All-American at Georgia Military, Nic was supposed to shore up the Bulldogs’ defensive line for two years.
Impact on program – Not much. He spent much of his first season in Athens with a hip injury. He played in only seven games during his Georgia career at defensive end, as several injuries kept him sidelined while in Athens.
Final say – Even though he did not play much in Athens, Clemons signed a free agent contract with the Washington Redskins in April of 2003.
Rod Davis – Athlete from Rockdale County
The hype – Davis was a talented quarterback from the Atlanta suburb who was going to try to give it a go at safety in Athens.
Impact on program – Never played at Georgia due to injures.
Final say – No impact.
David Greene – Quarterback from South Gwinnett
The hype – Not as much as you might have thought – a list of quarterbacks rated higher by the “experts” than Green included: : future South Carolina quarterback Dondrel Pinkins; future Arizona State quarterback Andrew Walters; future Michigan State quarterback Jeff Smoker; and Craig Ochs (Who?)
Impact on program – Greene’s impact on the program is too great to place in one or two paragraphs. He gave Georgia its first SEC title in 20 years, broke nearly every passing record in the school’s record book, and left college as the winningest quarterback in Division I football history.
Final say – Just think – many Georgia fans thought Quincy Carter would lead them to the promise land. Greene had the greatest career in Georgia school history. Now he is a backup for the Seattle Seahawks.
Arnold Harrison – Defensive End from Josey High
The hype – Not much hype surrounded Harrison even though he was a three-year starter for Josey.
Impact on program – At first it seemed Harrison was a bad apple. He was being criticized and yelled at consistently for bone head plays at the start of his career. After switching from tight end to linebacker, Harrison started maturing quickly. In 2002, he filled in admirably when Tony Gilbert was hurt against Clemson. He built on that game, battling for the starting outside linebacker job in 2003. By 2004, Harrison was a team leader and was the example of the way a player can turn his career around in Athens. He finished his career with 15 starts and 103 tackles.
Final say – He turned out to be a great role model for players who start their years in Athens on the wrong foot. By the time Harrison left, he was a starter and had his degree. He was cut by the Steelers earlier this season.
Albert Hollis II – Running Back from Christian Brothers (CA)
The hype – Almost too much hype surrounded Hollis when he arrived in Athens. He was a Parade Magazine All-American and a USA Today All-USA First team selection. Expectations for Hollis could not have been higher.
Impact on program – None – so far. Hollis was the victim of several freak knee injury that has him rehabbing for more than two years. He went back to full contact drills for the first time in three years in the spring of 2004. The milestone of his career so far is that he carried the ball four times for 11 yards in the 2004 G-Day game. Hollis did not play a down in 2004.
Final say – Hollis never played a down at Georgia.
Derrick Holloway – Linebacker from East Coweta
The hype – Holloway came to Athens with not too much hype.
Impact on program – He played in 27 games as a Bulldog, but never had a start. In 2003 he was the backup Will linebacker, but after nine games he was sidelined due to an injury. Injuries forced him off the football before his senior season, and he ended his career with 25 total tackles in three seasons.
Final say – Just another example of what injuries can do to a player.
Sean Jones – Quarterback from Westlake
The hype – Jones was supposed to play quarterback at Georgia, but figured out quickly that he was better suited for the defensive side of the ball. At Westlake, Jones passed for 2,490 yards and 31 touchdowns. His senior season he ran for 806 and had 11 touchdowns.
Impact on program – Jones was a big time player for the Bulldogs. Jones ended his career at Georgia as one of the premier secondary players in the country. He first made his mark in Georgia’s SEC East clinching win over Auburn in 2002. That game Jones had two interceptions, one fumble recovery, four punt returns for 75 yards, and 11 tackles. He was named SEC Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance.
Jones was named to the American Football Coaches Association All-America first team and was named third team All-American by The Associated Press. He was elected permanent defensive team captain by teammates.
In 2003, he started all 11 games in which he played and finished the season as the team's second leading tackler with 111 stops. He also blocked three kicks and recovered two fumbles in 2003.
Final say – One of the greatest safeties in Georgia history, Jones left his mark more than any other player from the Class of 2000 not named Greene.
Demetric Moore – Athlete from Georgia Military
The hype – With only two years of eligibility remaining, Morgan was expected to come to Athens and immediately help out most likely at running back. He racked up 1,429 yards on 166 carries with 16 touchdowns in two seasons at GMC.
Impact on program – None. He never lettered at Georgia.
Final say – A good example of a junior college player bust.
Tavarus Morgan – Athlete from Hargrave
The hype – A three-year starter for Jackson, Morgan passed for 4,264 yards and rushed for 1,437 yards. He threw 35 touchdowns and ran in nine. At Hargrave he moved to receiver and seemed to be progressing well. He finished the year in Virginia with 31 catches for 550 yards and five touchdowns. He also looked like a candidate to return punts at Georgia when he arrived.
Impact on program – Minute. He played only one season at Georgia, and that was his redshirt season in 2000. He then transferred to South Carolina State where he has become the top receiver in the MEAC.
Final say – Morgan tried unsucessfuly to get onto a NFL team this fall.
Ronnie Powell – Defensive back from Sandalwood (Jacksonville, FL)
The hype – A big time running back in North Florida, Powell ran for nearly 5,000 yards in three seasons at Sandalwood. He rushed for 1,700 as a senior in high school. Although he had played only his freshman season as a defensive back, Donnan and company felt comfortable recruiting Powell as a cornerback.
Impact on program – Powell’s impact was modest. It seemed that he was always buried in the depth chart. His best year came in 2003 when he was the team’s third leading rusher with 276 yards. But almost half of those yards came against Clemson and Kentucky. Powell ended his career with 304 yards on 62 attempts with three touchdowns.
Final say – Powell did not return to play his senior season in Athens.
Matt Redding – Quarterback from Madison County (FL)
The hype – Redding was named to the Florida Sports Writers All-State First Team. He passed for 1,167 yards in an offense that rushed for 3,600 yards his senior year, and he himself rushed for 930 yards that season. Redding had a record of 26-2 as a two-year starter and led Madison County to finals of the Florida state playoffs during his senior season.
Impact on program – None. After seeing that Greene was there to stay at quarterback and D.J. Shockley was the backup, Redding moved to defensive end at the end of the 2001 season. In the spring of 2002 Redding moved to linebacker.
Final say – Redding never lettered at Georgia and left before his eligibility was up.
Musa Smith – Running back from West Perry (PA)
The hype – Smith, along with Albert Hollis, was supposed to come in and seriously challenge for playing time at the running back spot. Smith was named USA Today Honorable Mention All-USA and Superprep All-America. He was a three-year starter who rushed for 4,117 career yards on 478 carries (8.6 yards per carry) and 54 touchdowns.
Impact on program – Huge. Jasper Sanks, who most Georgia fans point to as the biggest recruiting bust ever, was not churning away on the field like most hoped. However, Smith was dealing with on the field issues of his own. Injuries slowed Smith significantly in the early part of his Bulldog career. As a true freshman, Smith was Georgia’s third leading rusher even though he missed two games with a knee injury, and was named to the Sporting News’ 3rd team All-Freshman Team. Smith, however, missed all of 2001’s spring drills with a broken bone in his foot. During the 2001 season, Smith was going well at the start of the year, but fell off at the end of the season because of a hip flexor/groin injury suffered in the Vanderbilt game. He finished the season second in rushing behind Verron Haynes. He missed spring practice once more in 2002, putting his durability seriously into question. Smith’s 2002 season was the best since Garrison Hearst’s in 1992. He carried the ball 237 times for 1,179 yards and six touchdow
ns. His 98.2 yards per game ranked second in the SEC that season. After an MVP performance in the 2003 Sugar Bowl, Smith turned pro and was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2003 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens. Smith was the 77th overall pick.
Final say – Smith’s impact on the program was huge. Georgia, considered Tailback U by many, hadn’t had a quality running back since Robert Edwards and Orlandis Gary in the late 1990s. His play in 2002 was critical to Georgia’s championship season. The one play that turned the tide in the 2002 Auburn game was when Smith took a draw on third and long and converted it for a first down. The play killed the Tigers’ momentum and gave the Bulldogs room to breath again. Smith was an outstanding player at Georgia. Injuries have killed Smith in the NFL.
Johnathon Sullivan – Defensive lineman from Hargrave
The hype – The original hype surrounding Sullivan was not as great as it would be when he left Athens. He recorded 130 tackles with 19 of them for a loss as a senior at Griffin High School. At Hargrave Sullivan had 43 tackles with 11 sacks in one season.
Impact on program – Bigger than most know. Sullivan was asked to move around, from defensive end to defensive tackle while at Georgia. He performed best at tackle, often stuffing the opposition’s running game by himself. Sullivan never did anything earth shattering that TV crews would catch, but he was very noticeable to the opposition. Sullivan ended his career at Georgia with 154 total tackles, nine sacks, 29.5 tackles for a loss, and an amazing 53 quarterback pressures.
Final say – NFL staffs were certainly taking note of Sullivan’s performance in Athens. He was the first round draft pick of the New Orleans Saints in the 2003 NFL Draft. Sullivan was the first Bulldog taken in the draft and was the first defensive lineman overall at the 6th overall pick. He has 48 career tackles for New Orleans in 21 games as a Saint.
Horace Willis – Defensive Back from Pebblebrook
The hype – Willis looked ready to roll for the 2000 season in terms of helping the Dawgs at cornerback.
Impact on program – Negative. Willis never stepped foot on Georgia’s campus. Three days after freshmen were to report to Athens, Willis was arrested for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. He later ended up at Auburn. Willis was the Tiger cornerback beaten by Michel Johnson on the game-winning touchdown in the corner that gave Georgia a 24-21 win over the Tigers on the way to their 2002 SEC Championship.
Final say – Willis has played on and off in the NFL, mainly with the Minnesota Vikings.
Andre Zellner – Tight end from Mary Persons
The hype – Zellner, much like his older brother, was well-hyped as a high school star. He was supposed to be the next great tight end at Georgia.
Impact on program – None. Zellner never played a down at Georgia. He never got his grades in gear enough to get into school.
Final say – Zellner signed with the Georgia but couldn't qualify academically. He enrolled at Hargrave Military Academy and after a year there he still couldn't get into Georgia, so he ended up transferring to Valdosta State.