ATLANTA — Rodney Garner says this recruiting season didn’t have a normal start, since Georgia was coming off a losing season.
The ending also is unusual.
Garner, Georgia’s recruiting coordinator, expects to have a busy Wednesday. The Bulldogs are in the mix for several players who have waited until signing day to announce their plans.
Josh Harvey-Clemons, a linebacker from Lowndes High in Valdosta, is expected to pick Georgia, Florida State, Miami or Florida.
Georgia, which usually has its class mostly set by signing day, has only 17 commitments and is awaiting decisions from other recruits, including offensive lineman Avery Young of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
Garner said Georgia’s 6-7 record in 2010 and 0-2 start to the 2011 season left coaches to fend off rumors that coach Mark Richt wouldn’t last long in Athens.
“I think we definitely started out behind the eight-ball with the uncertainty that was surrounding the program,” Garner said this week. “We had the cloud over our head, so there are a lot of things that you had to overcome.”
Georgia won 10 straight after the 0-2 start to land in the Southeastern Conference championship game. The Bulldogs, who finished 10-4, claimed wins over all their top rivals: Tennessee, Florida, Auburn and Georgia Tech.
Garner said Georgia coaches rallied in recruiting just as the Bulldogs recovered after losing two games.
“There were some obstacles out there we had to overcome in recruiting, just like we had to overcome them on the field,” Garner said. “I think we’ve got a very resilient staff. I think this program is built on a solid foundation and we were able to weather some storms and we’re going to get this thing back right. I definitely think you have that momentum starting now for next year.”
Running back Keith Marshall, rated as one of the nation’s top players at his position, already is enrolled. Marshall, from Millbrook, N.C., and another running back expected to sign on Wednesday, Todd Gurley of Tarboro, N.C., could push last year’s star signee, Isaiah Crowell, next season. Crowell rushed for 847 yards and five touchdowns and was selected as the SEC’s freshman of the year, but he was suspended for one game.
Georgia also is expected to sign offensive tackle John Theus of The Bolles School in Jacksonville, Fla., and defensive end Jordan Jenkins of Harris County High School.
Georgia Tech’s class is expected to include defensive end Francis Kallon, a native of England who emerged after playing only one year at Central Gwinnett.
Kallon had 18 tackles for losses, including eight sacks, as a senior in his first season playing football.
“I tried to track him down for about four months because he thought he was a basketball player,” said Central Gwinnett coach Todd Wofford. “I finally got him out and he has just been an unbelievable story. He didn’t know any of the rules.”
Another top player who has given a verbal commitment to Georgia Tech is receiver Justin Thomas of Prattville, Ala. Kallon and Thomas are rated as four-star recruits by Scout.com.
On Sunday, Georgia Tech received a commitment from outside linebacker Travin Henry of Cook County High School. The class includes one quarterback for coach Paul Johnson’s spread-option attack, Dennis Andrews, from Tallahassee, Fla.
Georgia Tech, Georgia and Alabama are awaiting a decision from Henry County High School defensive end Dalvin Tomlinson.