ATHENS, Ga. - Georgia ranks fifth in the nation in more than just the latest Top 25 polls from The Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN.
Georgia also ranks fifth in the nation in recruiting, according to Jamie Newberg of TheInsiders.com and BorderWars.com.
Bill Hodges of Collegesports.com and ESPN.com also ranks Georgia's class the fifth-best in the country.
With at least 16 verbal commitments, including 15 in-state players, Georgia coach Mark Richt has more pledges than any other Southeastern Conference team. Georgia is well ahead of its normal pace for November.
"I've always heard recruits say, even with (former) Coach (Jim) Donnan, the program is headed in the right direction," Newberg said Monday. "Now with Coach Richt, you actually see it."
Added Newberg: "I believe they are on the verge of doing something special. I'm not talking short term, I'm talking long term, of being a dominant team in the SEC."
It is not yet clear, however, what effect winning the SEC East will have on the signing class.
Georgia already had commitments from such highly regarded players as running back Kregg Lumpkin of Stephenson High, cornerback Paul Oliver of Harrison High and offensive tackle Zeb McKinzey of Parkview before clinching its berth in the Dec. 7 SEC championship game.
Despite the strong start, Richt says there are still crucial needs to fill.
"We feel like we're in real good shape, but we still feel like there are some critical areas that still have not been addressed," Richt said. "I'm kind of holding my breath on that."
Added Richt: "We definitely need some big-time, play-making receivers. We still need at least one more offensive tackle. We need a corner and a safety and an outside linebacker that can run. We've still got a little bit of everything left."
Playing for the SEC championship could help Georgia in its push for some more top prospects, including receivers Chad Jackson and Sean Bailey and linebacker/running back Ernie Sims of Tallahassee, Fla., who is regarded by some as the top overall prospect in the nation.
"Anytime you win and do something that no Georgia team has done in 20 years, it's going to help in recruiting," Newberg said. "(The SEC championship game) will be a three-hour commercial for them. It's great for recruiting."
Sims will make his visit to Georgia Saturday for the 3:30 p.m. game against Georgia Tech.
Thus far, kicker Andy Bailey of Athens, Tenn., is Georgia's only out-of-state commitment.
"Four of the top 10 players in the state of Georgia have made commitments, and all of them have made commitments to Georgia,â€™â€™ said Scott Kennedy of TheInsiders.com, naming Lumpkin, Oliver, McKinzey and offensive lineman Trey Chandler of Buford, Ga.
Added Kennedy: "Georgia seems to be locking down who they want in the state."
With as few as only eight or nine openings left in the recruiting class, by February Georgia may not have room to sign every top player that says he wants to come to Athens.
"That's a good sign, though," Newberg said. "All the teams wish they had that problem."
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