Thursday, February 3, 2011

Influx of new talent can pay off in both short and long term

With Georgia pulling in one of the top recruiting classes in the nation (which could be a consensus top 5 class should Junior College DT Jonathan Jenkins sign on Saturday), some of the heat has been turned down on Mark Richt and his staff. And, while the majority of the class will only see limited playing time in '11 if any, this class could prove valuable in other ways.

Many expect top RB signee Isaiah Crowell to make a strong push for the starting tailback spot barring any setbacks, and a guy like WR Malcolm Mitchell should vie for significant playing time given Georgia's relatively thin and inexperienced receiving corps. Beyond that, though, it's really anybody's guess as to who will arrive on campus with both the mental and physical maturity to compete at college football's highest level.

That being said, there's little debate regarding the overall talent coming in, and Richt has already said that starting jobs and significant playing time at nearly every position will be opened up this spring and into the fall. Where, in the past, you almost got the sense that if a returning starter had done even an adequate job, he was virtually assured of keeping that spot, now it seems that nobody's job is safe (except probably Aaron Murray's and Blair Walsh's). Just stoking the fire a bit by letting everybody think, "Hey, this guy coming in is pretty darn good, and he'll take my spot if I'm not busting my butt" could prove to be a catalyst for improved effort and play all around.

Nobody REALLY knows who is 'college ready' until they put on the pads and go through drills and practices, but this class seems to have fewer 'project players' or guys that need a year or two to develop. The simple experience factor and learning curve is going to be there for most everybody, but if all these kids can have their academics in order and avoid injuries, it should help to elevate everyone's play, even if just a few make a direct impact on the field next season.