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The biggest misses for the 2020 Georgia football recruiting class
The Georgia football 2020 recruiting class figures to be one of the best in the country. It has at the moment 10 of the top-60 signees and commitments in the 2020 cycle including four 5-star prospects and the No. 1 player from Arizona, Nevada and Washington D.C.
And yet, to quote Montgomery Burns, there are some who would “trade it all in for just a little bit more.” There are certainly some prospects that Georgia very much wanted and needed but couldn’t get to commit or sign. A number of them very likely would’ve helped Georgia make a difference on the Bulldogs’ 2020 team.
Below, we break down the guys that could’ve somehow made this already standout class even better.
Arik Gilbert: When the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs meet on Sunday in the Super Bowl, the two best offensive skill players for both teams will be their respective tight ends. George Kittle for San Francisco and Travis Kelce of Kansas City can do just about everything from lining up out wide and picking on a smaller defensive back, to mauling some linebacker in the running game.
That’s what Gilbert possibly represented in the 2020 class. He’s the No. 1 tight end in the country — and the highest-rated tight end in the history of the 247Sports Composite ranking — and someone who grew up in-state.
Gilbert starred for Marietta High School this past season as he led them to a state title in Georgia’s highest classification. He was unguardable due to his impressive mixture of size —6-foot-5, 253 pounds — and speed.
— Recruiting Analytics (@RecruitAlytics1) January 29, 2020
But the Bulldogs, like they struggled to do with so many in-state prospects in the 2020 class, weren’t able to convince Gilbert to stay home. He’ll be playing for LSU next season. Given the success the Tigers had this year in the passing game, it’s easy to see why that would appeal to Gilbert.
As for Georgia, its passing offense was not appealing to a product like Gilbert. There’s a chance that changes now with Todd Monken as the offensive coordinator for the Bulldogs. When he called plays for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2018, OJ Howard had 565 receiving yards and five touchdowns in just 10 games.
Georgia did land 5-star athlete Darnell Washington to help offset the miss of Gilbert, but the latter is a better athlete and Gilbert is already enrolled at LSU, while Washington won’t arrive until the summer.
Bryan Breese: This falls in the duh category, given Breese is the No. 1 overall prospect in the 247Sports Composite rankings and had a monster week at the All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas. He did it while also having a club on his hand.
Bryan Bresee vs one of the best OTs here in Tate Ratledge. Good luck blocking this dude. pic.twitter.com/wDZnDeHnu3
— Barton Simmons (@bartonsimmons) December 31, 2019
Georgia was a serious contender for the standout defensive tackle from Maryland, only for Clemson to end up winning him over. He’s one of the five 5-star recruits Clemson signed in this cycle.
This past season, Georgia got an up-close and personal look at what having a game-wrecking defensive lineman looks like as Travon Walker had a big impact, especially over the second half of the season. The Bulldogs also did sign 5-star defensive tackle Jalen Carter in this class, giving Walker another disruptive partner.
But imagine having all three of them on the same line? Clemson, a team Georgia will be competing with for the College Football Playoff spots, has Breese to go along with fellow 5-star defensive end Myles Murphy and defensive tackle Demonte Capehart, who is the No. 5 defensive tackle in the country in this class alone.
To also see the importance of having difference-makers on the defensive line, one only has to look at the struggles Alabama this year. The Crimson Tide didn’t have a Jonathan Allen or Daron Payne type player, and the Alabama defense clearly took a step back.
That’s why having guys like Breese and Walker are so important.
Theo Johnson: A lot of what was said about Gilbert also applies to Johnson. The latter is listed at 6-foot-6 and 242 pounds and moves with ease. Seeing him at Under Armour All-American practice, it was so easy to see why he was one of the top tight ends in the country.
Johnson though came from Canada and the distance in theory would make it a bit of a challenge for the No. 3 ranked tight end in the 2020 class. But Johnson loved what Georgia had to offer. He raved about the culture and spoke very highly of Georgia tight ends coach Todd Hartley.
The reason Johnson ended up picking Penn State and not Georgia was because the Bulldogs hadn’t shown that they could make the most out of a player with Johnson’s skills.
I told coach Hartley, ‘I just don’t know how much I’m going to be developed as a tight end.’ If you can show me that then I won’t have any doubts,” Johnson said. “But I had a lot of doubts.
“It was tough making that leap.”
This is a chicken-egg theory. Georgia hasn’t had an athlete like Johnson at that position, which is why the Bulldogs haven’t developed the tight end position as well. That might begin to change —which Johnson believes — now that they have a guy like Washington at the position.
But for a Georgia offense that clearly needed more pass catchers in 2019, and still does in 2020, having a guy like Johnson could’ve made things much easier for Georgia’s next quarterback.
Noah Sewell: Inside linebacker wasn’t a position of immediate need for Georgia given the Bulldogs have the likes of Nakobe Dean, Monty Rice and Quay Walker all on the roster for next season.
But Sewell isn’t your typical inside linebacker. The 5-star prospect is something of a unicorn, as he plays at 270 pounds but moves like a much smaller man. He was the No. 2 inside linebacker prospect in the 2020 class and clearly Georgia’s top target at the position. Pairing him with Mekhail Sherman in the front-seven would’ve given Kirby Smart a lot of flexibility in attacking opposing offenses.
Landing Sewell was always going to be difficult given his brother’s star status at Oregon. And ultimately Georgia just couldn’t overcome that. The Ducks actually were able to land two 5-star linebackers in this class, as they also signed Justin Flowe. Those are the types of recruiting wins you need to have if you’re going to contend for championships.
More Georgia football stories from around DawgNation
- Sedrick Van Pran-Granger: Even Arthur Blank wants to know if he’s still ‘comfortable’ with UGA
- Jeremy Pruitt’s attempted visit with 5-star RB Zach Evans reportedly didn’t go as planned
- National media forms consensus on new Georgia offensive coordinator Todd Monken
- Major Burns: A father’s son and a story to read today about a new Bulldog
- The 4 Georgia football 2020 signees who will outplay their recruiting ranking
- Georgia football podcast: It’s fun to see George Pickens getting some national attention
- Georgia sports round-up: 2 Baseball Bulldogs named preseason All-Americans
- Broderick Jones: Did that official visit solidify his Georgia commitment?
- Georgia basketball Coach Tom Crean plans physical showing at Missouri
- WATCH Former Georgia QB D.J. Shockley: Key to Jamie Newman being ‘The Guy’
- Where every Georgia football 2020 commit and signee finished in final recruiting rankings
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