ATHENS, Ga. -- Recruiting battles matter. The results are almost always indicative of what future success a program can expect. Georgia is hoping that the fierce battles it won in 2010 will continue to pay dividends going forward.
On signing day 2011, the Bulldogs received letters of intent from 26 members of the “Dream Team” recruiting class --a moniker that Mark Richt bestowed on that year's signees. Despite having lost seven members of that class to transfers, dismissals and academic ineligibility, the Dream Team is 2-0 against Florida with one SEC East title to its credit and another title within reach this season.
Prior to that class, Georgia had a 14-12 record during the previous two seasons, including the program’s first losing season under Richt. He and his staff hit the recruiting trail hard in 2010 and the results have been obvious.
In Georgia’s 17-9 victory over Florida last Saturday, sophomores Damian Swann, Malcolm Mitchell, Amarlo Herrera, and David Andrews started for the Bulldogs. Senior John Jenkins, a junior college transfer in 2011, also started and will finish his Georgia career undefeated against the Gators.
Swann wants to do the same.
“I talked about that with Christian Robinson yesterday after practice,” Swann said. “I plan on going undefeated against Florida.”
Swann was instrumental in Georgia’s biggest win in years as he had an interception, a sack, a tackle for loss, a forced fumble and a pass break up against the Gators. Mitchell -- who choose the Bulldogs at the last second over Alabama -- led the team in receptions with five catches for 74 yards, including a 45-yard touchdown catch that broke the game open. Andrews and his fellow linemen kept Aaron Murray from getting sacked and Herrera tied for second on the team with six tackles against the Gators.
For his part, Robinson ended his career even against the Gators and as seen the results.
“We were walking out last night and Swann asked me what my record was against Florida,” Robinson said. “I am not going to count my first year (redshirt); I am 2-2. I said, ‘You have to continue that pattern.’ Obviously we don’t hide that we want to win every game. If you continue that pattern you are going to have a chance at the East, to beat South Carolina, to beat Florida and a chance to make this place better. That is what I want as a senior. I want to see Damian win these games every year.”
Senior wideout Tavarres King echoed Robinson’s statements with his advice to the Dream Team signees.
“I would just say to practice the way we did all last week,” King said. “Prepare yourself for those kinds of battles because that was a phenomenal win. It was a team win. Florida is that one game around here you mark on your schedule.”
Richt emphasized the team-win aspect of the game and stressed that the recent results agains Florida are not because of one recruiting class.
“I don’t know that I would attribute it to that,” Richt said. “We have mostly veterans who are making most of the plays and leading the team and all that kind of thing. That recruiting class was outstanding and there are definitely guys from that class that are making a big impact. It is nice for them to know they are 2-0, I hope they want to keep it that way their entire career.”