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Copyright 2014 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Michael Carvell; Staff

Georgia's recruiting efforts made national news after coach Mark Richt sent hand-drawn portraits with autographed messages to some of the state's top football prospects.

It's proving to be a way for UGA to separate itself from competitors when sending recruiting mail to elite high school juniors who routinely get hundreds of letters every week.

"I'd say my UGA portrait is the most creative thing I've gotten in the mail (from a college) so far," McEachern High offensive lineman Chuma Edoga said. "I thought it was pretty cool that they took the time to do (the drawing).

"And it was a pretty good drawing. I feel like it looks like me a little bit."

The idea was the brainchild of Daryl Jones, UGA's director of on-campus recruiting. He was looking for something creative and unique that met NCAA compliance standards.

"No one else is doing this to the best of my knowledge," Jones said. "But you know what? That's not really the intent. The intent was to do something that was genuine and sincere. It wasn't to be seen as some type of copycat material.

"We've got enough workers. We could mail someone 100 letters in one day. There's a law of diminishing marginal utility at some point, don't you think?"

Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee each sent some high-profile prospects 100 letters in a day last year.

One of the student assistants in UGA's recruiting office, Lisa Rader (a graphic-design major), draws the portraits. It takes about one full day of work to sketch a recruit's face with him wearing half of his high school football uniform and half of UGA's uniform.

The portraits are autographed by Richt, who also adds a short message.

Even though UGA's recruiting tactic only recently caught the media's attention, the Bulldogs have been sending out the sketches since last summer. Lorenzo Carter and Nick Chubb are two of the team's 2014 signees who received artwork in the mail.

"It's always good when A, it's within (NCAA) compliance, and B, it strikes a chord with a particular recruit and it means something to them," Jones said. "And when the head football coach from the University of Georgia writes a note personalized to you on a picture of you wearing a Georgia uniform, we're betting that it resonates with prospects."

Stephenson defensive end Chauncey Rivers, who committed to UGA, liked his portrait so much that he hung one copy on his bedroom wall and another in a plaque in the family room.

"I just thought it was a great way to get a prospect's attention. It got mine," he said.

No. 1 prospect visits Yellow Jackets: Georgia Tech recently entertained the nation's No. 1 overall prospect for an unofficial visit. Westover defensive tackle Trenton Thompson had the presence of a rock star during his visit, capturing the attention of some of Tech's players and coaches at practice.

"A lot of people know who he is," Westover coach Octavia Jones said. "When he showed up on campus, they definitely wanted to learn more about him and get an opportunity to talk to him. His personality is so infectious that people gravitate toward him and want to be around him.

"It was a really good visit, and he had a chance to meet some of the players."

Thompson lists UGA as his longtime leader, but said that Tech has a chance to make his top seven.

"I liked Georgia Tech a lot," he said. "It's an engineering school, but if I do go to school there, I will probably study business. They've got connections to AT&T, Coca-Cola and a lot of big businesses in Atlanta. I had a good view of downtown from the campus. And in each one of those big buildings, there's a Georgia Tech graduate up there making millions."


April 9, 2014




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