Brice Ramsey decided last July before his junior year at Camden County High that he wanted to play quarterback for Georgia.
That was the easy part. Now the Bulldogs’ commitment is loading up on classes, so he can enroll early in college this coming January.
An online course to complete his science requirements has been about as fun as getting chased by a speedy defensive end.
“It’s kind of kicking my butt right now,” said Ramsey, who sports a grade point average of about 3.5. “I’m going to end up getting it all done and everything because I know I have to, but it’s definitely put a lot of stress on me, but in the end it will all be worth it.”
Seven quarterbacks recruited by Georgia coach Mark Richt have enrolled early, including current starter Aaron Murray, NFL No. 1 draft pick Matthew Stafford, Zach Mettenberger, Christian LeMay and Faton Bauta.
“I guess we’re all smart enough to figure out how to get out of school early and get to college,” LeMay said. “That last spring really helped me. Especially now I’m sitting here in my bed thinking, ‘Man, it’s already my second spring.’ Time just goes by so fast.”
Bauta was joined by top tailback recruit Keith Marshall in graduating high school early and arriving at Georgia midway through this academic year. Junior college transfer offensive lineman Mark Beard also enrolled at the mid-year.
The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Ramsey said he decided to enroll early after hearing that several other 2013 commitments were planning to arrive in January, including running back Derrick Henry and receiver Tramel Terry.
“Coach Richt and coach (Mike) Bobo asked me and I just felt like I needed to also because I wanted to get there and have an easy transition into football, have a chance at early playing time,” said Ramsey, who recruiters from Ohio State and North Carolina still checked on last week. “It would be better if I got there and played in the spring with the team and got in the books early.”
Georgia could have up to seven early enrollees this winter, recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner said, which means the Bulldogs could sign about 30 in its next recruiting class after signing only 19 in February, he said.
“As long as you’ve got room with the guys that graduate under the cap, you can bring them in,” Garner said. “You can count back to a number and then you can start counting forward. If you do it the right way and get all the right guys, you can do that.”
The SEC says the number of early enrollees a team can bring in and count toward the previous year’s class will vary from team to team based on the number of initial counters used the previous fall. The SEC limits teams to signing no more than 25 players between Dec. 1 and August 1, but a signee will be exempt if counted in the current year.
“I know we can sign as much room as we can sign backwards from last year’s class and forward,” Richt said Saturday. “It could be a pretty healthy size.”
Alabama had eight early enrollees this year and Tennessee and Florida had six.
It can be a crash course for the early enrollees in their first semester.
Marshall, Bauta and Beard haven’t been brought along slowly.
“We’re really installing our offense at more of a veteran’s pace because most everybody is a veteran,” Richt said. “Those three guys are not really getting it spoon fed to them like you would maybe if you’re a true freshman with the rest of the freshmen. (Marshall) knew that going in, so he did a lot of studying before then.”
Richt said Marshall, who has been out the past week with a pulled hamstring and is unlikely to play in Saturday’s G-Day game, not only has done well in his classes, but praised him for picking up his assignments and displaying “the really fine running skills that we anticipated him to have.”
Bobo, Georgia’s offensive coordinator, said Marshall has been unsure at times adjusting to the offensive load, but has shown encouraging signs. Marshall, Bauta and Beard haven’t beeen made available for interviews since signing day so they can focus on adjusting to school, practice and the academic regimen.
Georgia has benefited from early enrollees for more than two decades since quarterback Eric Zeier enrolled in 1991.
Of the 26 players that have enrolled at the mid-year at Georgia since 2006, there have been NFL draft picks (Stafford, Asher Allen, Kris Durham), soon-to-be NFL draft picks (Ben Jones), players that never took a snap at Georgia (John Miller, Mettenberger), seldom-used players (Kevin Perez, Ricardo Crawford, Dontavius Jackson), starters (Trinton Sturdivant, Tavarres King), junior college hits (Corvey Irvin) and misses (Scott Haverkamp).
“I definitely, definitely would advise people to come in early,” said King, now in his fifth spring at Georgia. “Especially if you want to play and you want to be a contributor. You get an early jump on everything.”
Richard Samuel was 16 years old when he enrolled as a tailback in 2008 and has moved to linebacker (for a redshirt season) back to tailback and now is working at fullback.
“I think by the end of their career, they’d say it’s a benefit,” Bobo said. “Sometimes when they come in early, they think I could be in high school, going out with my girl and not here going through practice or mat drills or I’m not getting that many reps like I did in high school. It’s difficult for them, but you keep reiterating to them, ‘You can use this like your redshirt year. You’re learning, you’re learning, you’re learning and when you get your opportunity just try to do the best you can do.’”
The spring provides a base for them to compete in earnest in the summer.
“When they come in June, it’s like they’re vets,” Garner said.
Added Richt: “(Marshall) will be a lot happier in the fall when he’s a little bit of a veteran and those other freshmen teammates, their heads will be spinning then. He’ll be smiling then I’m sure.”
Richt encourages his players to return to their hometowns for their senior prom and their graduation with their class, Garner said.
“We want them,” he said, “to still have that experience.”
Georgia early enrollees since 2006
CB Asher Allen. Two-year starter was Vikings’ third-round draft pick in ’09.
DT Ricardo Crawford. 7 career tackles. Graduated in December 2009.
WR Kris Durham. Started 15 games. Fourth-round pick of Seahawks in ’11.
OL John Miller Dismissed from team while redshirting as freshman.
OL Kevin Perez Reserve played in 13 career games.
QB Matthew Stafford. Threw for 7,731 passing yards in three seasons. No. 1 overall NFL pick in ’09.
OL Scott Haverkamp. Butler CC transfer left team while facing suspension
DT Corvey Irvin. Started senior season. Third-round pick of Panthers.
OL Tanner Strickland Battled injuries, but played in 26 games, mostly as backup.
OL Trinton Sturdivant. Freshman All-American who started 20 games, but had three major knee injuries during career.
OL Vince Vance. Eight career starts in two seasons for Georgia Military College transfer.
DE Jarius Wynn. Four sacks and 33 tackles in two seasons. Has played three seasons with Packers.
LB Akeem Hebron. Parade All-American played 16 games as a reserve. Graduated in December 2010.
RB Dontavious Jackson. Had four carries as freshman before transferring to UAB after DUI arrest.
C Ben Jones. 49 career starts for Rimington Trophy finalist.
WR Tavarres King. Fifth-year senior has 93 career catches for 1,652 yards and 11 touchdowns.
RB Richard Samuel Nine career starts and 768 career rushing yards. Working at fullback this spring.
OL Dallas Lee. Redshirt junior started seven games last year at guard.
QB Zach Mettenberger Could start at QB for LSU after being dismissed from Georgia in spring 2010.
QB Aaron Murray. Third-year starter ranks third on Bulldogs career list with 59 TD passes and has passed for 6,198 yards.
OL Kolton Houston. Could land starting job after sitting out last season due to NCAA eligibility issue.
QB Christian LeMay. Competing for backup spot after redshirting last season.
WR Chris Conley. 16 catches for 288 yards and two touchdowns as freshman.
QB Faton Bauta. Reserve this spring after arriving from Dwyer High in West Palm Beach, Fla.
OL Mark Beard. Working on second-team this spring after transferring from Coffeyville (Kan.) CC.
RB Keith Marshall. Scout.com No. 1 rated player at position expected to bolster backfield this fall.