ATHENS, Ga. -- When you’re already an elite high school prospect with a long list of scholarship offers, it’s not terribly important to turn in a dominant performance at a summer camp like the ones Georgia is preparing to host.
But when you’re a player like Bulldogs running back signee Brendan Douglas, sometimes a standout effort in camp is the difference between receiving the offer you covet and having to settle for a secondary option.
Douglas (Augusta, Ga./Aquinas) used excellent showings at Georgia coach Mark Richt’s summer camp and the Dawg Night showcase last year to jump squarely onto the Bulldogs’ radar -- something Richt admits was unlikely to have happened otherwise.
“If Brendan didn’t come to our camps, I don’t think we’d have offered him a scholarship then,” Richt said. “We saw him in camp, we saw what he could do, we saw what kind of person he was. We obviously followed his career and recruited him along the way in case something was going to come available, which it did. But if he didn’t go to camp, I don’t think it would’ve happened.”
Douglas is in good company in that regard.
Richt loves to recap Michael Bennett’s camp performances against elite cornerback prospects whose inability to cover the Alpharetta (Ga.) receiver earned Bennett a scholarship offer from the Bulldogs. Former Bulldogs center Ben Jones developed a Paul Bunyan-like reputation in recruiting circles following intense and dominant blocking performances in camp. And former receiver and kick returner Mikey Henderson likewise used an impressive camp to grab a Georgia offer.
“I don’t think there’s any way we’d have taken him unless he came to camp and lit it up like he did,” Richt recalled of Henderson.
An official offer didn’t come Douglas’ way until the 11th hour leading up to national signing day, once Georgia’s coaching staff knew that top tailback option Alvin Kamara (Norcross, Ga./Norcross) would sign with Alabama, but Douglas was the next back on the Bulldogs’ board thanks to his impressive camp showings.
Richt’s staff had previously spelled out the situation to Douglas and asked him to keep Georgia in mind, even while he was committed to rival Georgia Tech. And when the spot they had reserved for Kamara came available, they made the offer and Douglas accepted.
“It was [a whirlwind],” Douglas said with a laugh. “Everybody always told me recruiting is a crazy process. I think I got the best of it with the late offer and everything. But it was good. I’m happy with where I’m at right now and happy to be going to Georgia.”
Aside from Georgia Tech, Douglas had scholarship offers from schools like Georgia Southern, The Citadel, Samford and Wofford. Typically that’s an outstanding offer list for someone from a school as small as Aquinas, but Douglas had designs on playing at the highest level of college football. He earned himself the Georgia offer with tough running and a surprisingly quick 40-yard dash time (4.5 seconds) for a player whom ESPN listed as the nation’s No. 4 fullback prospect.
“He had tremendous effort in camp,” Bulldogs offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. “I always felt like he wanted to be at Georgia, and guys tend to do really well when they want to be there and take pride in wearing the G. Guys like that have always been successful at Georgia in my time as a player and a coach, really.”
Jones and Henderson went on to productive careers at Georgia once they accepted the Bulldogs’ offers. Bennett is in the middle of authoring an impressive résumé of his own, having ranked among the SEC’s most productive receivers last season before suffering a season-ending knee injury in October.
Now Douglas will join them as a scholarship football player at Georgia. And like them, he has an impressive showing at the Bulldogs’ summer camps to credit for the opportunity.