Harding Academy's Marlon Brown Picks Georgia Bulldogs - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Jarvis Greer

Harding Academy's Marlon Brown Picks Georgia Bulldogs

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

all good."

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.

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