Welcome to your one-stop shop for all the relevant UGA football news and takes every Monday through Friday. Today, we look at the biggest sleepers from UGA’s Class of 2017. “Stay woke.”
Another week, another edition of “Top Dawgs.” On Tuesday, we’re taking yet another look at the recruiting Class of 2017: a look at the overlooked players. We’re counting down the biggest sleepers among UGA’s commits.
I must say before stating that the term “sleeper” is pretty relative in this case. I probably don’t need to tell you that Georgia’s class is loaded, and there isn’t a player in it who wouldn’t be immediately snatched up by some of the biggest programs in the country. But there is a recency bias in recruiting. Players who committed recently are fresher on the mind and typically higher regarded than guys who have been sewn up a while, if nothing else. And, of course, the gaggle of players at the top of all the recruiting rankings and playing in the national all-star games — like Richard LeCounte III, Jake Fromm and Isaiah Wilson — get a bit more pub and regard among fans.
The following group are the players who have been forgotten in the recruiting shuffle. They’re either ranked in the bottom half of the class, committed long ago or both. But they’re all guys I think can make major contributions when they get to Athens.
1) Jaden Hunter, LB — Hunter has been a UGA commit longer than anyone in this class sans LeCounte, pledging to the Dawgs a year ago Wednesday. Since then, other LB commits such as Nate McBride and Walter Grant have overshadowed Hunter, but the Westlake star could still be the best of the bunch.
What sets him apart is his versatility. He has the size and athleticism to play inside or outside linebacker depending on where the coaches want him. Personally, I like bigger OLBs, like Grant, and would like to see Hunter play inside. He has a Roquan Smith vibe about him and I think his speed could help him close sideline to sideline and rack up tackles. Regardless, he’ll need to fill out his 215-pound frame to play either LB spot in the SEC.
2) Trey Blount, WR — The Dawgs are hurting at receiver, so every player who signs at that position is going to have a chance to play next season, including Blount. Blount is one of the most complete receivers in this class. He has good size at 6-foot-2, deceptive speed to make him a nice potential deep threat and the best route-running skills in this class. He hasn’t mastered any one facet of his game yet, but he has all the tools to be a difference maker. Especially when you consider UGA’s receivers last season relied on athleticism more than superior technique, to poor results. His route running and potential ability to be where Jacob Eason needs him when he needs him could be enough to set him apart when gets on campus.
3) William Poole III, CB — Georgia has been lights out recruiting the secondary this year, but most of the attention has gone to LeCounte, DeAngelo Gibbs and Tray Bishop, the latter two who have committed in the last few months. Poole has flown under the radar, but with an opening next season at nickel, it might not be for long. Whereas the other DBs in this class project at a few different positions, Poole is a true blue cornerback. He doesn’t have a ton of speed, but he is physical at the line and can knock a receiver off his route, a key tenet of the Kirby Smart/Nick Saban defense. He reminds me a lot of Maurice Smith.
I think the biggest factor determining whether Poole plays next season is where LeCounte and Gibbs shake out position-wise. Both are already on campus and receiving coaching, an obvious leg up. But LeCounte and Gibbs have always been projected as safeties, with LeCounte the more likely of the two to slide over to corner. Should Smart and Mel Tucker keep that pair at safety, there is a wide open spot on the two-deep depth chart at corner, which Poole could potentially earn in the fall.
4) Matt Landers, WR — And we have our second receiver on the list. But Landers is a far different receiver from Blount and any other wideout currently in UGA’s class. Although he is the lowest-rated player in UGA’s class by most services, Landers has one thing setting him apart: size. Smart is making it a point to get bigger at receiver, and most WRs in this class are around 6-2. Landers is a legit 6-5. He’s too skinny right now, hampering him in blocking and creating separation, but he can be a legitimate red zone threat and a different type of option than anyone else on the roster.
Because of his lithe, under-200-pound frame and the aforementioned problems with strength, it will probably be a while until Landers is ready to make a mark. Keep the name in your mind, though. Size like his is hard to come by, so Georgia would be wise to put a lot of effort into developing him.
5) Justin Shaffer, OG — It goes to show you just how good UGA’s offensive line recruiting is that a mammoth-sized, 6-5, 35o-pound guard is considered a sleeper, but here we are. Shaffer committed last February, the first of Georgia’s sizable offensive line class to do so. He’s now the lowest-rated of six OL commits, but under the tutelage of Sam Pittman the sky could be the limit for him. Most if UGA’s OL commits project as tackles, so the one thing Shaffer has a leg up on is that he knows he’s a guard for sure. And if Pittman, Smart and Jim Chaney really want a huge offensive line to pave the way, there’s no reason to think this mountain of a man wouldn’t be a big part of their plans.
Mark Fox makes statement on Texas A&M game
Georgia basketball coach Mark Fox finally made a statement on the botched ending of Georgia’s 63-62 loss to Texas A&M last weekend. As you would expect, Fox is diplomatic in his remarks in an attempt to put an end to this whole fiasco. Here’s the statement in full, via Seth Emerson of DawgNation:
“In this instance, please understand there is no way for me to appease all parties. I realize our fans and, most importantly, our players are frustrated. But out of respect to the SEC, I hope to address the closure of the game at Texas A&M.
“The SEC acknowledged a timing system malfunction and the mistake of not recognizing it. We fully understand NCAA rules were appropriately administered after the mistake occurred. It was unfortunate that when J.J. Frazier looked at the game clock, he saw time that evidently did not exist. It was unfortunate that our players were not able to determine the ultimate outcome of the game and play until the clock hit zero.
“The ultimate goal is fairness, which I believe everyone is striving to achieve.
“Any further questions regarding the game should be directed to the SEC.”
I’m sure this game’s ending won’t be a talking point at all if Georgia is on the bubble come Selection Sunday.
- Georgia’s new 10-year multimedia and marketing rights deal is worth $152.5 million (Marc Weiszer, Athens Banner-Herald)
- Deep roots in Liberty County help Richard LeCounte III stand tall (Chip Towers, DawgNation)
- Football, family helped UGA OL commitment D’Antne Demery cope after personal loss (Marc Weiszer, Athens Banner-Herald)
- How does USC commit Jamyest Williams feel about UGA? His father weighs in (Jeff Sentell, DawgNation)
- UGA, Falcons have long, close relationship (Chip Towers, DawgNation)
- Will recruiting fill Georgia’s most immediate needs in 2017? (Seth Emerson, DawgNation)
- Latest on UGA’s tourney hopes: Key week ahead after tough loss to Texas A&M (Jason Butt, Macon Telegraph)
- Georgia’s most wanted: Who is the biggest target remaining on the Bulldog big board? (MaconDawg, Dawg Sports)
- The three biggest overperforming and underperforming teams of 2016 (J.J. Stankevitz, NBC Sports)
- The inevitable 2016 postmortem post (Senator Blutarsky, Get The Picture)
Just live your life, dude.
owner pretends to collapse to see his dog's reaction. a dog's loyalty is second to none. pic.twitter.com/TwMkdS3l6M
— Baby Animals (@BBAnimals) January 23, 2017