ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia expected to land one of the largest football signing classes in school history on Wednesday.
But some big names got away.
The Bulldogs were bolstered by 13 players who already enrolled in college after graduating early from high school, giving them a chance to go through offseason training and spring practice. By noon, the school had announced a total of 29 signees and was awaiting word from at least two more commitments, plus some potential last-day surprises.
This class was expected to be more about depth than five-star recruits. Georgia missed out on top-rated prospect Reuben Foster, who picked defending national champion Alabama over Auburn and the Bulldogs. Also, the No. 1-ranked player in the state and the nation, defensive end Robert Nkemdiche of Grayson High School in suburban Atlanta , followed his older brother to another Southeastern Conference school, Mississippi.
In fact, some Georgia fans were already grumbling about Ole Miss, which went 7-6 last season, landing more top prospects than Georgia, a perennial powerhouse coming off its second straight SEC East championship. The Bulldogs lost to Alabama 32-28 in a thrilling SEC title game, coming up 5 yards short of playing for the BCS crown.
Coach Mark Richt and his staff recruited heavily at several key positions, especially on the defensive side: five linebackers, seven defensive backs and three tackles.
Offensively, the Bulldogs picked up four receivers and four linemen.
The lead-up to signing day was marred by off-the-field issues. Richt was laid up after undergoing hip-replacement surgery last weekend, while defensive coordinator Todd Grantham was mentioned in several reports as being in line to interview for the same job with the New Orleans Saints. The NFL team has seems to have turned its attention to Rob Ryan for the job.
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