Once Georgia‚Äôs football recruiting class officially takes shape on national signing day, coach Mark Richt and recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner usually thank everyone that played a part ‚Äî from academic support staff to secretaries to janitors.
This year they may want to include the people on campus that fed running back recruit Todd Gurley of Tarboro, N.C.
Gurley mentioned on more than one occasion, including when he committed to Georgia on Jan. 13, how much he liked the dining hall food served at the school.
‚ÄúEvery time I go up there I just have to make sure that I go to the cafeteria and eat there,‚Äù Gurley said last week. ‚ÄúThe food is just so good ‚Äî everything.‚Äù
Gurley says he was won over specifically by the buffalo wings, pizza, strawberry landslide and hamburgers at the all-you-can eat Village Summit in East Campus Village.
The recruit‚Äôs rave review made his way to Mike Floyd, director of UGA Food Services.
‚ÄúI saw that,‚Äù Floyd said. ‚ÄúThat was a nice compliment that he gave us. We‚Äôve actually heard this several times over the years from different student-athletes.‚Äù
Gurley isn‚Äôt the only one impressed by the food.
UGA Food Services has picked up 75 national awards in the last 25 years and has received Loyal E. Horton Dining awards from the National Association of College and University Food Services 67 times.
‚ÄúEvery visit I‚Äôve gone they‚Äôve taken us to the cafeteria because they have really good food in the cafeteria and they want to show the recruits that‚Äôs where they eat every day,‚Äù said offensive line commitment John Theus of Jacksonville, Fla. ‚ÄúThey had Philly cheese steaks, cheeseburgers, sandwiches, really good smoothies, pizza. They just have everything in there.‚Äù
UGA got bronzes in the Loyal E. Horton large school category in 2011 for dining concepts and for residential dining special events.
‚ÄúOur role here in Food Services is to be a tipping point for the University of Georgia for every potential student whether they are a student-athlete or an incoming freshman,‚Äù Floyd said. ‚ÄúWe want that young person to see that the University of Georgia would be a great place to come for their academic collegiate career whether they‚Äôre majoring in English or they‚Äôre playing football.‚Äù
To do that, Floyd said they offer a wide variety of foods and attractive facilities and make them user friendly.
Gurley had other reasons for picking Georgia. His friend, tailback Keith Marshall, also is in this recruiting class, and Gurley said his relationship with the Bulldogs coaches and the campus itself were bigger factors than the food.
‚ÄúThat was just a bonus right there,‚Äù Gurley said.
‚ÄúI‚Äôve heard that quite a bit about Georgia,‚Äù Scout.com national recruiting analyst Chad Simmons said. ‚ÄúI hear that a lot, believe it or not, about Georgia and Florida State ‚Äî that kids love the cafeteria. That‚Äôs maybe the only two schools I ever hear it about.‚Äù