ATLANTA -- For the last three years, the Rising Seniors staff has invited the state of Georgia’s most talented juniors to participate in a week-long educational program and camp in late December designed to showcase their talents. Attendees learn academic and social development while preparing for the Georgia Junior Bowl, which is played on the last day of the camp. The roster list for the game reads like a Who’s Who of the top players from the Peach State. Some might be unheralded going in, but emerge after the camp atop many colleges' wish lists.
Knowing that the game has so many of Georgia’s best players in it, we decided to take advantage of having them all in one place and ask them some questions. The answers were anonymous, and represent only one part of the sometimes years-long recruiting experience. We thought it would be interesting to see where Georgia’s juniors stood on a variety of topics. Of course these questions were asked at the conclusion of their junior seasons and the answers will have changed as the spring evaluation period unfolds and more trips are taken, but this shows where they are at the time.
Q. Which, if any, school were you a fan of growing up?
A. The in-state Bulldogs led the way with 13 responses, but “no one” was a close second with 12. The Florida Gators had nine young fans in the Class of 2013. After that the fall off is dramatic, with only Alabama getting three or more votes. Vanderbilt, LSU and Auburn each had two votes, with eight other schools getting one vote each. This demonstrates that while the Bulldogs have an advantage in-state, the benefit is minor. No respondent chose Georgia Tech.
Q. Which schools have offered you a full scholarship?
A. Just weeks after the conclusion of their junior seasons, those who responded to our survey had already racked up 114 FBS scholarship offers. North Carolina led the way with 10 offers. Georgia, Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech had already offered nine juniors while Clemson had offered eight and South Carolina seven. Alabama, Auburn, Ole Miss, Florida State, Florida, and Ohio State had each sent out five verbal offers. Many more offers went out after the Georgia Junior Bowl, but prior to that game, Peach State prospects were already inundated with college options.
Q. Where have you visited?
A. Georgia prospects aren’t waiting on schools to come to them. In fact, the players we surveyed listed 20 different programs they had visited before the second semester of their junior year. The schools receiving the most visits in order were Georgia, Georgia Tech, Alabama, Clemson, Auburn, Florida, Vanderbilt, Florida State, South Carolina, North Carolina and Mississippi State. The in-state and border schools benefit the most especially during the football season, when prospects have a game on Friday night and might not have time to visit distant schools.
Q. When would you like to make your decision?
A. “By the start of my senior year” was the most common response, followed immediately by “December of my senior year.” It appears most recruits either want to have the decision out of the way in order to concentrate on the final prep season, or they would like to take visits during the fall to evaluate their potential destinations. There were eight combined votes for “middle of summer” and “this spring” which, when added to the leading response, show that the recruiting calendar is still moving forward.
Q. Which school’s co-eds caught your eye?
A. Georgia led in this category too based on responses, but Florid State and Florida were a close second and third. The Bulldogs hosted five times as many prospects as either school but narrowly edged out the Seminoles and the Gators. When based on a percentage of visitors, Florida State’s co-eds make the most lasting impression.
Q. Who has the friendliest staff?
A. Vanderbilt and James’ Franklin’s staff garnered the most votes for being the friendliest staff. Georgia. Florida and Clemson came in second through fourth, respectively. Auburn would likely have scored higher but Gus Malzahn was still moving in and hiring his staff when the survey was conducted. Alabama received just one vote, proving that Nick Saban doesn’t rely on big smiles to land recruits, just lots of crystal footballs.
Q. Which staff does the best job at recruiting?
A. Based on the percentage of offers and visits, Clemson leads the way. Georgia again had double the votes of Florida and Alabama, but the Gators and the Crimson Tide staffs had only offered and hosted half as many recruits, so the three schools are in a statistical tie.
Q. Which staff does the worst job at recruiting?
A. Georgia Tech got the most votes, six, in this category with the Bulldogs coming in second with four. The pain was spread around as 13 schools were named “worst,” ranging from Purdue to Texas to Missouri.