ATHENS — On National Signing Day last year, Georgia landed a big-time commitment. The player went on to be the No. 2 overall player in his class and the highest-rated defensive back commit Kirby Smart has ever landed.

It was just that Ellis Robinson was a 2024 commit, and Georgia would have to wait a while — and also hold off other schools — to see Robinson in Red and Black.

Robinson remained with Georgia throughout the process, even after defensive backs coach Fran Brown left for Syracuse. All four major recruiting services see him as the No. 1 overall cornerback.

Georgia already has Robinson going through winter workouts, as the cornerback was one of 22 early enrollees. Robinson was also able to participate in bowl practices, where he quickly made an impression on some of his teammates.

“He’s young, but he’s very good,” former Georgia cornerback Kamari Lassiter said of Robinson. “He wants to learn. He wants to get better. He wants to get better so fast, you can tell he’s definitely one of those guys that wants to come in and play day one. I believe that with his work ethic and his talent, he can.”

Robinson may have a chance to play early on because of Lassiter’s departure to the NFL. He’ll battle Daniel Harris, Julian Humphrey and Daylen Everette for playing time. Those three are all more experienced than Robinson, which only makes it more important that Robinson hit the ground running this spring.

Head coach Kirby Smart did note that Georgia is thinner in the secondary than he would prefer. Georgia did see Nyland Green an AJ Harris, its top cornerback signees in the 2021 and 2023 cycles, enter the transfer portal and end up elsewhere.

While the New Haven, Conn., product will see a step up in competition, Robinson is well-accustomed to facing off against the best of the best. Robinson spent two years playing at IMG Academy, the same program that has produced former Georgia standouts such as Nolan Smith, Isaac Nauta and Everette

“His parents made sacrifices,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said of Robinson during the early signing period. “They sent their son to IMG to grow and get better, and I don’t know if he’s the person he is and the player he is if he doesn’t go down there and get to go against the best in the country. He played with Daylen, played with all those kids. He’s basically been in college for two to three years.

“He’s a wonderful, wonderful kid who, he has high expectations and we have high expectations, but he’s going to work to get better and develop within our program. We’re very excited to have him.”

In between bowl practices and attending, though obviously not playing in, the Orange Bowl, Robinson had a standout performance at the Under Armour All-American Bowl, further cementing his status as one of the top players in the class. Only Ohio State wide receiver Jeremiah Smith ranked higher than Robinson in the final 247Sports Composite rankings.

Freshmen starting in the secondary isn’t some anomaly, as Malaki Starks started 14 games for Georgia during the 2022 season. Like Robinson, Starks was a gifted high school prospect and seen as one of the top recruits in the country for his cycle.

Starks didn’t start his first career college game, which came in Mercedes Benz Stadium against Oregon. But he did come down with an impressive interception that showed why he was so coveted.

Robinson can potentially do the same, as the Bulldogs open the 2024 season in Mercedes Benz Stadium. The opponent this time will be Clemson. Robinson will have to wait a little while longer and work a lot harder to get himself ready for the season opener.

“Either way it goes I’m still going to be locked in,” Robinson told DawgNation’s Jeff Sentell. “I’m still going to work regardless no matter who is there. I’m always going to compete. No matter who is there. Transfer portal or not.”