Posted: 9:12 pm Tuesday, February 4th, 2014
By Mark Bradley
We all do it. I’ve done it at least twice the past couple days. I’ve noted that Johnny Manziel, who would become the best collegiate football player in the country, was a middling three-star signee. “That just proves those stars don’t mean a thing,” we say, harrumphing.
Know what, though? Sometimes those stars do mean a little something. Not in every case, and maybe not in most cases. But in the case of Georgia’s famed Dream Team, most of the big names have come good. (Though not all of them for Georgia.)
Of the 26 players who constituted Georgia’s signing class of 2011, eight are no longer Bulldogs. Four-star nose tackle Johnathan Jenkins, a JUCO transfer, started two seasons in Athens and was drafted in Round 3 by New Orleans. Tailback Isaiah Crowell was the SEC’s rookie of the year before being booted from the squad in the summer of 2012. He’d been a five-star recruit, one of two — at least according to Rivals — among Dream Teamers. Four-star cornerback Nick Marshall was kicked off Georgia’s team in February 2012 but, as a quarterback, just led Auburn to the BCS title game.
So those three guys could play. Of the 11 other four- and five-star Dream Teamers, all but one became starters or are projected to start in 2014. They are: Receivers Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley; tight end Jay Rome; defensive linemen Ray Drew (the other five-star guy), Sterling Bailey and Chris Mayes; linebackers Armarlo Herrera and Ramik Wilson; defensive backs Damian Swann and Corey Moore.
The exception is four-star quarterback Christian LeMay, who announced in January that he was transferring to Jacksonville State. At Georgia, he was blocked first by incumbent Aaron Murray and then by Hutson Mason, who was a year ahead of LeMay. But you’d have to say that one non-starter out of 14 — although Marshall has done his starting for Auburn — means that somebody did some pretty savvy evaluating.
We should also note that receiver Chris Conley and offensive lineman David Andrews, three-star Dream Teamers, have become starters, too. So that makes 15 of the 26 members of the Class of 2011 who’ve been good enough to start for an SEC team.
No, the Dream Team hasn’t yet lifted Georgia to a national championship or even an SEC title. But that class was assembled in the wake of the 6-7 season of 2010 that culminated in the Liberty Bowl loss to Central Florida, and just its ballyhooed compilation served to re-ignite both a fan base and a program.
The 2011 Bulldogs finished 10-4 and played for the SEC championship. The 2012 team went 12-2 and nearly won the SEC championship. The 2013 team entered the season ranked No. 6 nationally and was, after a testing August/September, positioned to win the East yet again. But a slew of guys got hurt and nearly everything fell apart, and the Bulldogs wound up 8-5.
Still, you’d have to admit that the program is in a better place three years after the Dream Team pledged itself to UGA than in January 2011. And most of the Dream Teamers have eligibility remaining. The famous Class of 2011 still has time to embellish its legacy.
And now a note from our editor:
Start with us at 7 a.m. Wednesday and come back often as the AJC will be your Signing Day Central. No matter the platform or device you prefer, our team will have your team covered in depth.
Go to ajc.com to get four important features:
- We want to display your photos documenting your athlete’s signing. Email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll have photo galleries showing the big day.
- AJC recruiting expert Michael Carvell provides the latest news and a running analysis of the day.
- You can tap into our live updates on our new Current ATL page throughout the day and find commentary from other news sources, the schools involved and updates on anyone who matters on National Signing Day in one-stop shopping for information. You can use #SigningDay or #NationalSigningDay to follow or be part of the conversation.
- We’ll offer a new feature, a region-by-region signing list, that will be updated continuously.
Go to myajc.com to get special premium features:
- You’ll get minute-by-minute updates from our beat writers on site at Georgia, Georgia State and Georgia Tech beginning at 7 a.m., and in the afternoon the same update on the first-ever signing class for Kennesaw State as Vince Dooley visits with new coach Brian Bohannon on the KSU campus.
- You can get deeper insight into the signings for Georgia and Georgia Tech with a complete list of inside information for each player.
- Each beat writer also will provide special video coverage of the day on campus.
- Our photo coverage extends to our premium site as well with multiple galleries.