Year of the Dawgs

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Since Mark Richt took over as Georgia's coach, the Bulldogs have cleaned up on the recruiting trail.

Georgia has pulled in top-10 classes every year since 2002, but this is shaping up to be the Bulldogs' best haul in recent memory.

With three months to go until National Signing Day, Georgia currently has the No. 2 recruiting class in the nation as ranked by -- trailing only Notre Dame.

The Bulldogs are getting it done in part by keeping much of the Peach State's top talent at home, a staple of their success over the years. Three of the state's top five prospects have already committed to Georgia -- defensive tackle DeAngelo Tyson, athlete Richard Samuel and defensive end Cornelius Washington.

In 2007, Georgia lost out on the state's top two prospects. Defensive back Eric Berry chose Tennessee and quarterback Cameron Newton elected to sign with Florida, but there were extenuating circumstances with each. Berry followed his father's legacy to Knoxville, while Newton elected to learn under Tim Tebow rather than Matt Stafford in Athens.

This year has been a return to the norm, with several of the state's top prospects deciding in favor of their home-state school.

This Georgia class will be heavy on skill-position players and should provide a tremendous boost to the athleticism of the Bulldogs' roster.

Wide receiver A.J. Green of Summerville, S.C., could instantly become a favorite target of Stafford, while Tavarres King provides plenty of speed. Many consider Green one of the top prospects in the country because of his playmaking ability and slick moves in the open field. Few receiver prospects run better, tighter routes than King.

The secondary will be set for the foreseeable future with the additions of Mariki Pugh, Nick Williams and Brandon Boykin. Pugh hails from Charlotte (N.C.) Independence, the school that produced Georgia backup quarterback Joe Cox and wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi.

Part of Georgia's recent recruiting success has involved tapping into North Carolina talent. With North Carolina and North Carolina State taking dips in recent seasons, plenty of talent from the state has been ripe for the picking. There are plenty of North Carolina natives currently making a big impact for Georgia, including linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and freshman offensive tackle Trinton Sturdivant.

Continuing that trend is tight end Dwayne Allen of Fayetteville (N.C.) Terry Sanford. Allen is a big threat to pick up yards after the catch and will be a matchup problem for many linebackers in the SEC. However, the Bulldogs still have to fend off Butch Davis and North Carolina for his services. Allen and Pugh are the Nos. 5 and 6 players in the state, respectively.

Georgia has received commitments from four of the nation's top 36 athletes, and each could provide immediate depth at any number of positions. Richard Samuel of Cartersville (Ga.) Cass is the best of that bunch and looks college-ready at 6-foot and more than 200 pounds. Xavier Avery, Bacarri Rambo and Marcus Dowtin, currently at Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy, are the others.

The skill positions aren't the only spots the Bulldogs have addressed. Four-star linebacker Christian Robinson doesn't have great size but runs extremely well, and defensive end Toby Jackson may prove to be one of the best prospects in this class.

Georgia has looked to states such as Alabama and Florida to add to the depth of this class. Alabama offensive linemen Ben Jones and Jonathan Owens could be impact players down the road. The Dawgs snagged up three commitments from Florida. Running back Carlton Thomas is just 5-7 and 159 pounds, but has tremendous strength for someone his size. He'll be an impact guy on special teams and will line up as a slot receiver. Defensive end Jeremy Longo has a good motor, and Blair Walsh is one of the most highly regarded kickers in the class of 2008.

With 21 commitments thus far, Georgia isn't finished. Defensive tackle Brandon Thompson of Thomasville, Ga., remains on the Bulldogs' recruiting board. Offensive lineman Cordy Glenn of Riverdale, Ga., appears to be down to Georgia, Florida and Alabama. Wide receiver Joshua Jarboe, offensive lineman Omoregie Uzzi and cornerback Neiko Lipscomb are all undecided prospects from the Peach State still holding offers from Georgia.

One more to keep an eye on is Clayton (Ohio) Northmont offensive tackle Zebrie Sanders.

Richt's recruiting strategy has been simple -- keep Georgia's elite talent at home and throw the house at difference-makers regardless of location. A quick look at the Bulldogs' roster shows how Richt's national recruiting efforts have paid off in recent years.

Stafford came to Georgia from Texas, and his partner in the backfield, Knowshon Moreno, is from New Jersey. Last year, Richt signed Columbia (Mo.) Rock Bridge teammates Aron White and Logan Gray. Natives of Florida and South Carolina are sprinkled throughout the depth chart.

Given the success of the program under the Richt and Georgia's current prosperity on the recruiting trails, don't expect that strategy to change any time soon.

Gators add a big one: Florida added to its small 2008 recruiting class with a big linebacker. Bethlehem (Pa.) Liberty linebacker Brendan Beal, a 6-4, 235-pounder, chose Florida over LSU, USC, Boston College and many others last week. Beal is expected to play middle linebacker at Florida and is the 10th commitment for Urban Meyer this year.

Sun Devils capitalizing on success:Dennis Erickson has Arizona State near the top of the polls, and it has helped on the recruiting trail. Wide receiver Kemonte Bateman, who had been committed to UCLA, took a visit to Arizona State and came away committed to Erickson. Bateman was a big part of the Bruins' recruiting class.

Ohio State hits Florida: Once again, Ohio State has pulled a top player from the state of Florida. Cornerback Travis Howard chose Ohio State over offers from North Carolina, Tennessee, Wisconsin and others. He joins Orlando offensive tackle Michael Brewster as a Buckeyes commitment this year and Florida players such as Chimdi Ckekwa, James Scott, Brian Rolle, Maurice Wells, Nate Salley, Santonio Holmes and Chris Gamble from the recent past.