ATHENS, Ga. (AP) - Georgia was in full spin mode Wednesday,
insisting that its signing class was as strong as ever - even as
some fans grumbled about the big ones who got away.
The Bulldogs weren't done, though.
Hitting the jackpot right at the end, Georgia landed one of the
nation's top receivers, Marlon Brown, who went on television at
mid-afternoon to announce he was picking the Bulldogs over Ohio
State, Tennessee and Mississippi.
The signing of Brown gave Georgia another consensus Top 10
class, according to the top recruiting services. Scout.com ranked
the Bulldogs No. 8, while Rivals.com bumped up them up to ninth.
"I'd much rather have everybody committed and done with, but
it's fun to nail one the last day," coach Mark Richt said. "I'm
sure the Bulldog fans are enjoying that and we are too, believe me,
because Marlon is a fantastic kid and a great player."
Indeed, Brown's decision bolstered the mood around Athens. While
Georgia locked up 17 signees before noon, there was a sense that
many of their top targets had gotten away.
Linebacker Jarvis Jones and safety Juwanza Starling both signed
with Southern Cal. Offensive lineman Bobby Massie went with
Mississippi. Georgia high school player of the year Greg Reid
picked Florida State.
When Brown made his announcement, a roar could be heard
throughout the athletic building. But Richt insisted he was pleased
with the class he already had, including a couple of pair of
quarterbacks who've already enrolled at Georgia: Aaron Murray of
Tampa, Fla., and Zach Mettenberger of Watkinsville, Ga.
"If those two guys had decided this morning they were going to
Georgia, the building would have exploded and everyone would have
been all jacked up to have two of the best quarterbacks in America
coming to Georgia," Richt said. "But I'm not about all that
drama. I'm about taking care of business the right way and getting
the right kind of people."
But Brown's decision provided plenty of drama.
Richt had gotten a call late Tuesday from the receiver, who told
him Georgia was the choice. But the coach took no chances, keeping
his cell phone handy while meeting with the media on Wednesday.
Then, while still being interviewed, he looked down to see it
"I've got to take this call," he said, hustling out of the
room to talk again with Brown.
About an hour later, the 6-foot-5, 205-pounder made it official
during a news conference at Harding Academy in Memphis, Tenn. He
sat at a table along with four friends, each wearing a cap
representing the schools he was considering.
On cue, Brown grabbed the red-and-black hat with a "G" above
the bill, and the school band began playing Georgia's fight song.
He'll join A.J. Green, who starred for the Bulldogs last season as
a freshman, to give the Bulldogs a dynamic 1-2 punch.
"The reason I chose the Bulldogs is they have a good head coach
and a good system for a receiver to come in and play early," Brown
He was a Parade All-American who starred in both football and
basketball at Harding. Brown will focus on football with the
Bulldogs, so it wasn't a problem that Georgia recently fired Dennis
Felton and is finishing out the basketball season with an interim
"That was not a factor in my decision," Brown said, "so it's
Georgia landed a balanced recruiting class that included three
offensive linemen, three linebackers, three defensive backs, two
quarterbacks, two receivers, two defensive tackles, along with a
running back, a tight end and a defensive end. Eleven signees are
from within the state.
"We feel like we were able to meet all our needs," said Rodney
Garner, the recruiting coordinator. "Every position is covered
except for the (kicking) specialists. We were able to go out and
address the needs of our team."
Other than Brown, everyone who signed with the Bulldogs had
already committed well in advance. In fact, Murray, Mettenberger
and offensive lineman Dallas Lee of Buford, Ga., graduated from
high school early so they could get a head-start on their college
All three have already enrolled at Georgia and will be able to
take part in spring practice.