ESPN 300 prospect Davin Bellamy (Chamblee, Ga./Chamblee) is the classic hybrid outside linebacker for a 3-4 defense. Georgia wasn’t the first school to offer or to get a visit, but once Bulldogs defensive coordinator Todd Grantham got Bellamy on campus, Bellamy had a close look at not only how the evaluation process for Georgia works, but also why Grantham believes his future would be brightest playing between the hedges. Grantham’s hard work Thursday has Georgia at the front of the pack to land one of the Peach State’s top targets.
“Georgia had some catching up to do since they offered me late, but after today Georgia is definitely in the top because the system fits me perfectly -- too perfectly,” Bellamy said. “The location of it, the SEC being big-time football, the system fits me and I can play early there. UGA really impressed me today. I know sometimes that they recruit different players for different roles at outside linebacker, but after seeing the film with Coach Grantham, I know I can do everything for them.”
Grantham worked his magic on Bellamy early during the visit, going through a detailed breakdown of the four-star defender's game and Georgia’s needs at outside linebacker.
“First, the presentation with defensive coordinator Coach Grantham was impressive,” Bellamy said. “He made a cut-up of my highlights on his own, and mashed it up with video from UGA practice and from his time with the Dallas Cowboys. When I first walked in, he showed me a PowerPoint of things I do well and things I didn’t do well. He pointed out things I hadn’t seen or didn’t even know. He compared me to Demarcus Ware from his days with the Cowboys.
"What he does is the real deal and in his two years at UGA he has had a linebacker lead the SEC in sacks with both Justin Houston and Jarvis Jones. He showed me what he did for Jarvis and how lost Jarvis was early in his career in drills. He really knows what he is talking about and I talked to him for an hour. Then I talked to Coach [Mark] Richt for an hour.”
Heading into his trip to Athens, Bellamy wasn’t quite sure where the Bulldogs stood compared to the other high-level BCS programs he was considering.
“Going into the visit, I didn’t know if UGA was just offering me because everyone else was, and I was in the Georgia area and had 27 offers already,” Bellamy said. “Once I talked to the staff and Coach Richt and the defensive coordinator about how they evaluate players and how long and tedious that process is, I was completely wrong about Georgia. I could tell meeting them that they spent a really long time evaluating me.”
The ability to play multiple positions and in multiple situations is one of the things that made Bellamy stand out to the Georgia staff, and that might work in Georgia’s favor in Bellamy’s recruitment.
“Coach Grantham told me that compared to the other outside linebackers they offered I have the flexibility to go to the defensive end spot in the 4-3 set or I can stand-up rush or I can roam because I can cover well. I could tell they did their research and no other school has done their research like that on me,” he said. “That really put in perspective what Coach Grantham had in mind for me defensively.”
The UGA staff's ties to the NFL also helped.
“Georgia had this great chart of what outside linebackers are making in the NFL right now in a 3-4 defense vs. a 4-3. Everything the Georgia coaches said made sense and they had facts to back them up,” Bellamy said. “I also want to play early, and Coach Grantham showed me that on third down they often have three outside linebackers on the field, so that was cool. He told me with my skill set I can play any one of those three positions, and I can definitely play early at that spot.”
Detail and organization were two points that impressed Bellamy from his time with Grantham. The coach's professional approach during his 90-minute session with the recruit, including a list of things to work on, was a high point of the visit.
“Georgia did something different because everyone shows you how they can use you or how you fit in, but Coach Grantham gave me things to work on,” Bellamy said. “He showed me on film how I can rush to a point and use my hands better. We were really in there. In the film room, he has [a] pointer thing and he was dissecting my film like it was Sunday game film.”
Bellamy’s mother accompanied him on the trip and she was pleased with the non-football elements of Georgia’s pitch.
“My mom was really excited,” Bellamy said. “I told her last night I was going to UGA and she said she wanted to come because it is close to home and she felt since it was close to home, UGA would probably be in it until the end. She was asking a lot of questions and she was impressed about how the staff had answers, and facts to back up the answers. We weren’t just going off what they were saying to us. She told me it was very informative and very cordial. She really likes Coach Richt and she really cares for the players. All our questions about UGA were answered honestly by the staff, and a lot of other schools will lie to you. We could feel the trust factor.
“I talked to Coach Richt for an hour with me and my mom and he told us about him. He went ahead and gave me his offer because Coach [Rodney] Garner was the one who offered me before. Really, my whole meeting with Coach Richt was to answer questions about UGA. He told me he was impressed with my film. Nothing seemed rehearsed with him -- it was just a nice question-and-answer session on both sides.”
After Bellamy's day in Athens, the Bulldogs are in his top three, but he has plenty left on his agenda before he will announce an official leaderboard.
“Georgia is in my top three with Auburn and Vanderbilt, but there are still some other schools I need to see,” Bellamy said. “The thing that puts Georgia above the other two schools is the fact those others are 4-3 defenses, and at my size of 225 pounds Coach Grantham said, by the time I add weight and get to 240 or 250, I’ll be the ideal size at 6-foot-4 for outside linebacker.
"I am going to Florida State this weekend, so my top five or seven or eight is forming right now, but I got a great feel for UGA today. I think after visiting Florida State this weekend I will have a real list of top schools, like a top five, and I am going to commit somewhere when it feels right to me. I could feel it at Auburn, UGA and Vanderbilt, and I think there will be one place I really feel it at and I will commit.”