October 28, 2011

Rivalry intrigues recruits

Many things are at stake every year when Georgia and Florida meet in Jacksonville. The SEC Eastern division rivals play for standings, pride, and recruits.

While this year's contest could arguably be the defining moment in Bulldogs' quest to get to the Dome in December, Georgia commit Tray Matthews said he thinks the impact on recruitment could mirror the outcome in kind.

"If they win this one, it'll be looking real good for Georgia. It'll pull recruits in. At first, it was kinda shaky with how Georgia started, so hopefully it'll change minds," Matthews said. "I mean, it never changed my mind, I'm ride-or-die, I'm a Georgia fan. But if Georgia wins this one, a lot of people that were thinking about Florida are probably going to start thinking about Georgia."

Matthews only heard from two programs on his birthday this year; Georgia, who sang him a song, and Florida, who baked him a cake. When the two teams battle it out on the field Saturday, Matthews said it'll be a bit of a different feeling than other games he's seen the Dawgs play this year.

"It'll be kind of interesting because Florida is always sending me mail and I've talked to the Florida coaches, so that feels weird with me committing to Georgia and have the other coaches talking to me," Matthews said. "I kinda hope both teams do well in some kind of way but I really want Georgia to win."

The story line is similar for other Bulldog commits, ones who gave their word to UGA but still hear often from UF.

One of the most public battles over a Dawg commit is the tug-of-war over Camden County quarterback Brice Ramsey. Ramsey has said he will remain committed to the Georgia coaching staff but Florida coaches are hoping this game will give them some leverage in their battle for the top 2013 target.

Ramsey said he understands the uniqueness of the situation and said he will be in attendance to watch both teams compete on Saturday.

"Well it's been really interesting being recruited by both schools so heavily, and they both are very good schools, and I will actually be at the game this weekend," Ramsey said. "I believe this is the biggest rivalry in the south, and whatever team goes out there and makes the least mistakes will have the better shot. But I believe it will come down to who wants it more, and who comes out more fired up."

One Georgia commit who will not be at the game, but has been to both Florida and Georgia games this year, is Yulee (Fl.) running back Derrick Henry. He too is being recruited hard by both programs but said that while one school played a big role in his past, the other will play a big role in his future.

"Since I was a Florida fan, I always watched Georgia and Florida. I'm a Gator fan that committed to Georgia," Henry said. "I just want to see how everything checks out this year. Florida is having a downfall season and Georgia has been on a roll the past couple game and I want to see Georgia keep things rolling. Georgia hasn't beat Florida in a while, I just wanna see how their offense matches up and things, how Georgia uses (Isaiah) Crowell and stuff like that."

Henry said that he will be pulling for his Dawgs in the game, and any fandom that could create a mix of feelings has been put to the side.

"It's not that weird, because when you are making a decision you base it on where you are going to spend your next four years at for college," Henry said. "So really, you are just analyzing, just being real smart about it, just watching both teams and, whoever is your side of the ball, the offense, how you'd be used, and see whoever comes out with a win."

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