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Kirby Smart landed the nation's No. 1 recruiting class for 2020

Georgia football winners and losers from 2020 National Signing Day

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Georgia football winners and losers from 2020 National Signing Day

Winner: Matt Luke

Luke had massive shoes to fill following the departure of Sam Pittman to Arkansas. The hay was in the barn so to speak with the offensive line class prior to Pittman leaving, but that all changed when he took the head coaching job at Arkansas.

Broderick Jones and Sedrick Van Pran-Granger didn’t sign early and took visits to other programs during the month of January. If things went poorly when both visited Georgia, it would’ve been a real blow to the Georgia recruiting class.

But Luke earned his coffee, as he closed the 2020 class with signatures from not just the 5-star offensive tackle in Jones and the nation’s top center in Van Pran-Granger but also the signature of 3-star prospect Cameron Kinnie.

All in all, Georgia brought in seven offensive linemen in the class. And Luke played a significant role in landing all of them. That’s going to go a long way in the offensive line still being a strength of the Georgia football team.

“I’m also very pleased with the transition from Coach Pittman to Coach Luke in being able to recruit these kids and bring them to our place,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “They want to compete and play at a high level so the offensive line, I’m really proud of that.”

After the signing day haul, a couple of those 2020 signees started to call Georgia OLU. If Luke is able to keep recruiting and developing at the same level Pittman did, they may end up being correct.

Loser: Fans of national signing day drama

National Signing Day just isn’t what it used to be. That’s largely due to the addition of the Early Signing Period and the growing number of commitments made at the various All-American games in early January.

With so many of the top prospects already signed, there wasn’t a whole lot of intrigue on Wednesday. When Jones canceled his visit to Auburn this past week, it was a good sign he was going to end up sticking with the Bulldogs. Van Pran-Granger made it clear he also wasn’t going to waver on his status at the Under Armour All-American game.

From a drama standpoint, the most interesting moment of the day came when McKinnley Jackson made the rather surprising decision to sign with Texas A&M. This was what prevented Alabama, a finalist for Jackson, from overtaking the Bulldogs for the No. 1 overall spot.

Related: What social media is saying about Georgia football landing the No. 1 2020 recruiting class

I’m sure some love that the recruiting calendar is more spread out now than it used to be and that you don’t have to worry about 70 to 80 percent of the class heading into January. But the fireworks surrounding this day just aren’t what they used to be.

Winner: Xavier Truss and Warren McClendon

Landing Jones was huge for Georgia given the Bulldogs saw its starting tackles both declare early for the NFL draft in Andrew Thomas and Isaiah Wilson. It also saw likely 2020 starting left tackle Cade Mays transfer to Tennessee.

So it would be easy to just slide Jones in as the starting left tackle for next year, given he’s the No. 2 tackle prospect in the country and Thomas was able to start as a freshman, though at the right tackle spot.

But that’s almost certainly not going to be the case according to Smart.

“When you have Andrew Thomas and Isaiah Wilson, you understand that there’s an opportunity for these guys to leave,” Smart said. “I’m not a big believer that the next guy is just going to walk in and play for Andrew Thomas and Isaiah.”

So when asked about the importance of bringing in Jones, Smart made it a point to highlight the importance of bringing in Truss and McClendon in the 2019 class.

Neither player saw significant playing time a season ago as both redshirted. Even when Thomas and Wilson sat out the Sugar Bowl, Warren Ericson slid in at guard and Jamaree Salyer kicked out to tackle.

Smart made it a point to say that it’s rare to see a freshman come in and start at tackle. And while there are some recent examples beyond Thomas — Jonah Williams did it at Alabama, Wanya Morris did this past season at Tennessee — it’s not going to be a given that Jones is able to beat out both Truss and McClendon to start at tackle.

“If they’re athletic and they’re the best guys or we have injuries, those guys will provide us great depth and I certainly think a lot of these guys we just signed are talented enough to come in and help us but they’re not mid-year guys and they’ll have to come in and compete for it,” Smart said.

Loser: Kirby Smart’s sleep schedule

We were going to say Florida here after whiffing on 4-star running back Jahmyr Gibbs, Van Pran-Granger and 4-star safety Avantae Williams. But Florida did land a signee in 4-star defensive end Princely Umanmielen and also beat Georgia in basketball on Wednesday night as the Bulldogs blew a 20-point lead for the second time in three games. So let’s agree to talk about something else.

Looking ahead to the future, given Smart and the staff already are for the 2021 recruiting class. Even prior to Wednesday, Georgia had begun to focus on the next recruiting cycle. The Bulldogs have hosted and visited a number of key 2021 prospects for the 2021 cycle.

Arguably Georgia’s biggest commitment in the month of January came from 5-star 2021 quarterback Brock Vandagriff. He’ll be expected to be a key leader for the 2021 class.

Smart also tipped his hand in terms of what position will be a vital need for the Bulldogs, much like offensive line was this past year.

“As far as inside linebacker and outside linebacker, that we probably didn’t feel like we had to have as much immediate help,” Smart said. “Those will be huge opportunities for kids in the next signing class that want to play outside linebacker and inside linebacker because now we do have holes to fill.”

Some names to watch at those positions include Barrett Carter, Smael Mondon and Quintin Somerville.

Winner: Georgia’s recruiting power

Smart recognized that this class didn’t do as well in the state of Georgia as some of the previous recruiting classes in his time at Georgia. He added that Georgia lost some contested recruiting battles with in-state prospects — Arik Gilbert and Myles Murphy come to mind here.

But Georgia was able to make up for it in this cycle with how well it recruited nationally. The Bulldogs landed the No. 1 player in Arizona, Nevada and the No. 2 player from Washington D.C. It also pulled 5-star defensive tackle Jalen Carter out of Florida.

And while many would’ve liked to see Tank Bigsby in this class, Kendall Milton proved to be perhaps the most important piece in Georgia’s 2020 class.

“I think the two of those merged just sort of happened at unique positions where we would’ve taken the in-state guy or the out of state guy,” Smart said.  “It just so happened we got the out of state guy.

“We’re excited for those players and there’s been a lot of good out of state players to play here at the University of Georgia. ”

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