By Derrick Mahone
Amarlo Herrera had official offers from Florida, Oklahoma and Georgia Tech. But the North Clayton High senior linebacker was waiting on his favorite team - Georgia - to make its official offer.
He didn't have to wait long. Once Bulldogs coach Mark Richt extended a verbal and written scholarship offer, Herrera quickly accepted.
The offer from the Bulldogs came in early February when Herrera was in Athens for Junior Day activities.
Richt gave him a written and verbal scholarship offer. The 6-foot-3, 220-pounder wanted to commit then, but decided to wait another two weeks so he could get his mother and grandmother up to Athens to meet Richt and his staff.
"I've always like Georgia, and knew it could be the best fit for me," said Herrera, who finally committed to Georgia on February 15 with his mother and grandmother by his side.
Herrera was one of the first commitments for the Bulldogs for the 2011 National Signing Day. Unlike some high school senior prospects, Herrera got his dream offer and jumped on it.
He said he didn't want to prolong the recruiting process since he knew Georgia is where he wanted to go.
Some see a big advantage in committing early instead of dragging out the process until signing day, which is held annual the first Wednesday in February.
"The biggest advantage is probably just securing your spot," said Scout.com recruiting analyst Chad Simmons. "If a kid knows where he wants to go, I think it's definitely an advantage to go ahead and commit because then you have your spot where you want to go."
Richt and his staff has pitched the 2011 recruiting as Georgia's "Dream Team" as they have made a concentrated effort to land the top players in the state.
So far, Georgia has 11 commitments for the 2011 recruiting class, including 10 from in-state.
As Herrera prepares for his upcoming senior season at North Clayton, he has also been talking to other prospects about signing with the Bulldogs.
"Oh yeah, I'm always talking about Georgia whenever I meet up with other top seniors," Herrera said. "I think we have something special going on, I want to keep it going."
Georgia will make the switch to a 3-4 scheme defensively this season under new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, who was formerly the defensive line coach for the Dallas Cowboys.
Simmons sees Herrera as a good fit in the new scheme where he will compete for a position at the inside linebacker spot.
"He is very aggressive on the defensive side," Simmons said. "It going to be a perfect for him. He's not a drop back guy that covers (the pass) well. He's a guy that can get down hill, disrupt the running game and get to the quarterback on blitz packages. I think it's a very good fit for Amarlo."
During his junior season, Herrera was pretty much unknown on the national recruiting scene with his first two offers coming from Maryland and Akron. He was only rated as a one-star recruit at the start of the recruiting process.
However, once he got out a highlight tape and more powerhouse BCS schools began to take notice, Herrera's stock begin to raise.
"Things came surprising quick," Herrera said.
North Clayton coach Rodney Hackney is not surprised that once some film got out on Herrera that coaches began offering. Hackney said he saw the potential in Herrera as early as his sophomore season. A few days after reviewing film, Hackney said that Georgia's recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner made contact and within a week Richt visited the North Clayton campus.
"We definitely saw a good football player in him as a sophomore," Hackney said. "He always had good size and speed. He really blew up a week after his film started to circulate."