Even with coronavirus recruiting restrictions, Georgia football will be just fine putting together elite 2021 recruiting class
On National Signing Day, even after landing the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class, Georgia coach Kirby Smart wanted to make it clear that he and his staff could not take a break from recruiting.
“I don’t think people really understand that recruiting never sleeps,” Smart said.
And while the NCAA has suspended all in-person recruiting until at least April 15, it’s clear that teams aren’t going to stop communicating with some of the top prospects in the country.
Recruiting doesn’t sleep and it certainly doesn’t die down either.
Schools and coaches are allowed to still communicate electronically through phone calls, text messages and through direct messaging on social media platforms.
Essentially, this period of time functions as a dead period on the recruiting calendar. So coaches and staffs do have some familiarity with this being the only way to communicate with recruits. That is how Georgia and its coaching staff had to recruit for most of February, as the dead period ran from Feb. through Feb. 29.
For some of the nation’s top schools, they’ve actually been able to generate some positive news in the recruiting sphere, even after the suspension of on and off-campus recruiting. Oregon landed a commitment from 4-star quarterback Ty Thompson on Monday, while Ohio State has landed four prospects since Sunday night, including highly-touted running back Evan Pryor.
All glory to God !!🙏🏾
1000% C O M M I T T E D pic.twitter.com/8EVnYZekMK
— Evan Pryor (@evanpryor3) March 16, 2020
The Buckeyes have actually increased their overall lead as the top recruiting team in the 2021 recruiting cycle. The Buckeyes now have 14 commitments in the 2021 cycle. Georgia comparatively has only three at the moment.
But that disparity in commitments shouldn’t really come as a surprise. Ohio State likes to get most of its recruiting done prior to the start of the college football season. They aren’t alone in this aspect, as Clemson also prefers to have most of its class wrapped up before kicking things off. In the 2020 recruiting cycle, Ohio State and Clemson combined landed just five combined 2020 commitments after the start of their respective seasons.
Georgia conversely landed 10 public commitments in the 2020 class after the Bulldogs lost to LSU in the SEC championship game in December. And that doesn’t include prospects like Broderick Jones and Sedrick Van Pran-Granger reaffirming their commitments.
This isn’t to say that one way of class building is superior to another, given Georgia did end up finishing with the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class in the 2020 cycle. And it is hard to doubt Kirby Smart’s recruiting methods given he’s continued to sign elite classes.
And Smart acknowledged that during the January recruiting months, most of Georgia’s efforts were focused on the likes of elite 2021 prospects, like 5-star offensive tackle Amarius Mims or 5-star cornerback Tony Grimes, who both took visits to Georgia and raved about them.
“We’ve already had two or three junior days, we’ve had prospects come in, we’re doing phone calls on these kids,” Smart said on National Signing Day in February.
Smart also added that earlier focus on junior classes stems from the creation and growth of the early signing period. The Georgia head coach estimated that 80 percent of a recruiting class is locked up by that December date, giving teams more time to look ahead to the next class.
With the way Ohio State and Clemson operate, they’re on an even more accelerated timeline in that aspect. Because both schools like to have their recruiting classes done before the start of the college football season, it allows them to get an earlier start on the next recruiting class. That’s likely a big reason why those two schools now rank No. 1 and No. 2 in the 2021 recruiting rankings — though it also helps they’re two of the best college football programs in the country
Georgia right now sits at No. 17 in 2021 recruiting rankings. The inability to get prospects on campus does hinder Georgia a bit, especially given how much they’ve recently relyed on recruiting nationally in recent seasons. It’s not like Kendall Milton or Mekhail Sherman could make a trip to Georgia every other week. The same could be said for 2021 5-star prospects like Grimes, James Williams and TreVeyon Henderson who are all out of state prospects.
But you can bet that Smart and his staff are still pursuing their top targets, selling them on why Georgia is the best place to develop. They just happen to be doing it from the comforts of their homes at the moment.
And the fruits of their labors may not be realized until a much later date.
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