Mark Richt said Wednesday his long search for a new defensive coordinator took a toll on Georgia's recruiting efforts, which ended with the school signing 19 players, including 12 on defense.
Georgia lost perhaps its top verbal commitment when receiver Da'Rick Rogers from Calhoun signed with Tennessee. Rogers was rated as the state's top prospect by Rivals.com and Scout.com.
Georgia also lost cornerback Nickell Robey, a native of Frostproof, Fla., who signed with Southern Cal.
Richt received a late boost when defensive tackle Mike Thornton of Stephenson High School near Atlanta chose the Bulldogs.
Richt acknowledged his six-week search to replace defensive coordinator Willie Martinez caused recruits to look elsewhere. Richt, who fired Martinez and two other defensive assistants on Dec. 2, hired former Dallas Cowboys assistant Todd Grantham on Jan. 15.
Richt pursued Virginia Tech's Bud Foster, LSU's John Chavis and Alabama's Kirby Smart before hiring Grantham.
"Recruiting is a lot about relationships," Richt said. "Anytime there is some kind of change on your staff for whatever reason, the relationships that had been built throughout this recruiting process were broken. I think the timing of the hire, taking as long as it did, it did put a strain on some of these young men who had committed. We know some guys changed their mind."
Vanderbilt: Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson noticed a difference as signing day got closer this year.
It was a problem, but a nice problem for the Commodores to have.
"We feel like we're recruiting SEC caliber - and we've always felt that way - but it was a little more obvious this year," Johnson told The Tennessean. "Other SEC schools were interested in our recruits."
Vanderbilt signed 24 players and for the most part held on to its commitments.
With the Commodores struggling last season on offense, a big focus was placed on that side of the ball. Depth at receiver was a major issue and Vanderbilt attempted to address it with four pass catchers.
Chris Boyd (6-4, 195), Jonathan Krause (5-11, 165) and Trent Pruitt (5-10, 175) all hail from Georgia and could compete for starting jobs. Krause was offered by Ole Miss and Mississippi State. Jordan Matthews (6-4, 195), who considered going to Auburn, is from Madison, Ala., and has the size and ability to play immediately.
Kentucky: Thanks to six signatures that arrived at Kentucky on Wednesday, Joker Phillips' first national signing day as coach of the Wildcats turned out to be a good one.
Phillips hinted at some surprises early in the week, and he delivered. He got a signature from Miami tailback Brandon Gainer, rated as the No. 15 back in the country by ESPN.com. Central linebacker Tim Patterson picked the Wildcats over Louisville, and Simon Kenton tailback Miles Simpson chose Kentucky over Ilinois and Indiana.
Also, defensive lineman Donte Rumph signed with Kentucky for the third straight year, and Phillips told The Lexington Herald Leader that he expects Rumph to be eligible to play in 2010.
South Carolina: South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier and recruiting coordinator Shane Beamer said that they were pleased with this year's signing class and that it does a good job in filling the team's needs.
Among those needs, Beamer said, was adding offensive linemen, of which the Gamecocks had six signees.
Spurrier said as many as 10 players from the 24-player class could see action as freshmen. He mentioned four offensive linemen: A.J. Cann, Ronald Patrick, Tramell Williams and Du'Von Millsap.
"We'll find out how good the class is two or three years down the road," Spurrier told The State. "Recruiting is very important. What is most important is what they do on campus."