It has been a rough week for Georgia on the recruiting front. It is certainly not what Kirby Smart envisioned when visits began back on the first of the month.
Monday saw 5-star defensive tackle Bear Alexander back off his pledge to Georgia. He had been the top commitment in Georgia’s No. 1 ranked recruiting class and was fresh off a visit to Texas A&M.
Related: 5-star DT “Big Bear” Alexander de-commits from UGA
On Tuesday night, Deyon Bouie joined Alexander in de-committing from the Georgia program. He was Georgia’s top-rated recruit after Alexander and also visited Texas A&M this weekend.
“I am blessed and appreciative of all the offers and opportunities that Georgia has offered,” Bouie wrote in an Instagram caption. “However, I believe I committed too early before I could explore all my other opportunities. With that being said, I am officially decommitting from the University of Georgia.”
Related: 5-star ATH Deyon Bouie de-commits from UGA
Losing a commitment at any time stings. Losing two 5-star prospects in such a short period of time would be a massive blow to most coaches and programs.
When it comes to recruiting though, Georgia is not like most programs. Even after seeing two top-30 players in the 2022 depart, the Bulldogs still have the No. 5 ranked class.
Georgia also has plenty of time to get Bouie and Alexander back in the fold. Georgia had two prospects in its 2021 recruiting cycle de-commit, only for them to re-commit and sign with Georgia in Marlin Dean and Jared Wilson.
This also isn’t the first time Smart has had multiple 5-star prospects de-commit in a short period of time. And those past instances show that Georgia will be more than capable of navigating the short-term losses of Alexander and Bouie.
On Oct. 2, 2018, 5-star wide receiver Jadon Haselwood backed off his pledge to Georgia. The nation’s No. 1 wide receiver had been committed to Georgia since March of 2017 but decided to reset his recruiting process.
He would eventually end up signing with Oklahoma.
Later in that same month, 5-star running back John Emery Jr. de-committed from Georgia. The No. 13 overall prospect in the 2019 recruiting cycle ended up staying home and playing for the LSU Tigers.
That stretch was similarly not great for Georgia’s recruiting efforts. Yet the Bulldogs were unphased and were able to find more than capable replacements for both players in the 2019 class.
Kenny McIntosh committed to Georgia shortly after the Emery Jr. de-commitment. The latter has a slight edge in career rushing yards to this point — 566 to 425 — but ask those around the Georgia program if they’d swap players and they’d tell you no.
Related: UGA assistant Dell McGee says ‘constant battle’ at RB
At wide receiver, Georgia was able to land a 5-star prospect in George Pickens. Haselwood suffered an ACL injury as a sophomore, limiting him to just 23 career receptions for 337 receiving yards to this point in his career.
Pickens has clearly outperformed those numbers, leading Georgia with 85 catches for 1,240 receiving yards over the past two seasons. While Pickens is now dealing with his own ACL injury that will impact his junior year, Georgia upgraded in getting Pickens.
Even with those 5-star de-commitments, Georgia went on to sign the nation’s No. 2 overall recruiting class in 2019. The Bulldogs landed a total of five 5-star commitments in the cycle.
There’s a third 5-star prospect that de-committed from the Bulldogs since Smart took over as the head coach in December of 2015. Georgia was actually able to get him back in the class ultimately.
That would be Adam Anderson, who flipped his commitment from Georgia to LSU before finally signing with Georgia. The Bulldogs also signed Brenton Cox and Azeez Ojulari in that same cycle at outside linebacker.
Anderson made the decision to return for his season after picking up 6.5 sacks for the Bulldogs last season. With Ojulari now a member of the New York Giants, Anderson is primed to have a big season.
Smart has proven he and his coaching staff can adjust to the ups-and-downs that come with recruiting. Georgia still has plenty of time and opportunities to get Alexander and Bouie back in the fold.
On the defensive line, Georgia is a contender for the likes of 5-star Mykel Williams, 5-star Travis Shaw, 5-star Walter Nolen and 4-star Christien Miller. The Bulldogs also have a commitment from top-100 defensive lineman Tyre West.
At corner, Georgia has options such as 5-star Daylen Everette and 4-star Trequon Fegans to go along with top-100 commit Marquis Groves-Killebrew.
With recruiting returning to normal, de-commitments were bound to happen after the initial wave of visits. Bouie and Alexander won’t be the only 5-star prospects to back off the commitments from their current programs as they explore what else is out there.
In the moment, their departures sting the Georgia program. There’s no sugarcoating it.
But the Bulldogs have been here before. At some point, they’ll probably be in this spot again. And few programs in the country are better equipped at recovering from these developments than Georgia.
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