If you've been frustrated by the regression of Georgia's pass defense over the past few years, the Dawgs' 2011 recruiting class brings good news -- no fewer than seven recruits are poised to inject some new blood into the secondary. Actually, the better news might be that all seven are at least six feet tall, bringing an apparent end to the Willie Martinez philosophy of recruiting defensive backs who could barely see over their front seven to get a look at the opposing QB.
The headliner of the class, of course, is Valdosta speed demon Malcolm Mitchell (6'1", 187 pounds), who picked the Dawgs over Alabama in a drama-filled announcement just last week. But there are three other four-star DB prospects in Georgia's 2011 class, one of the biggest gets being Nick Marshall (6'2", 185), a converted quarterback out of Wilcox County High in Rochelle, Ga. Marshall represents a major coup on a couple levels -- for one, he intends to play on both the football and basketball teams at UGA; for another, he switched commitments from a silent verbal to Georgia Tech last June. Yes, Dawg fans, Marshall would rather play DB in Athens than quarterback for the Bugs. (Though, it should be said, he's got plenty of reasons to think he can flourish as a DB, as evidenced by his 99-yard pick-six in the above video.)
The other top commitments include Damian Swann (6'0", 175), who played cornerback for Atlanta's Grady High School. Ranked the No. 5 prospect in the state of Georgia by Rivals, he turned down a laundry list of schools ranging from Alabama and Florida to Oklahoma and Southern Cal to sign with the Dawgs. He'll need to bulk up a bit and fine-tune his tackling a bit upon his arrival in Athens, but his speed and agility are already elite-level. Rounding out the list of four-star DB prospects is Corey Moore (6'1", 195), a safety with blazing speed and an impressive work ethic, according to his coaches. Moore also represents Griffin High School's first-ever selection as an Army All-American.
A couple intriguing prospects show up as "ATH" on Georgia's commitment list, one of them being Georgia's first commitment of the 2011 class: Chris Sanders (6'1", 176), who actually committed to the Dawgs four days before National Signing Day 2010. Sanders, who hails from Tucker, Ga., also entertained offers from Auburn and FSU; he played offense, defense and special teams at Tucker High but will play safety at UGA, where he'll slot into a 3-4 system similar to what his high-school team ran. Rossville's Devin Bowman (6'0", 175), meanwhile, looks like a likely candidate at cornerback for the Dawgs, even though he turned down a number of offers to play running back at other schools. Bowman is one of the fastest players in a very fast stable of DB recruits, as exemplified by his 85-yard run in his high school's regional championship win over Carrollton in 2009.
The wild card of the class, and a player whom Georgia's coaches hope is a potential sleeper, is Quintavious Harrow (6'0", 190) out of Columbus' Carver High School. Harrow wasn't exactly one of the state's more highly publicized recruits, and many observers both within and outside of the Georgia fan base speculated that the Dawgs offered him in the hopes of landing his friend and teammate, Isaiah Crowell, a running back and the state's top-ranked recruit. But Harrow's speed (he was clocked at 4.42 in the 40 at last summer's Scout Showcase in Atlanta) is right up there with the rest of the recruiting class, and he brings versatility to the table after playing as a linebacker/safety hybrid in Carver's 3-5-3 defensive setup. Whether his commitment to the Dawgs has any effect on Crowell, of course, is something we won't know until next Wednesday.