What Georgia football does at quarterback in 2021 recruiting cycle will speak loudly about program’s future
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Brock Vandagriff or Caleb Williams at the quarterback position in 2021 recruiting class for Georgia football
Up until the first day of 2020, Georgia’s plan at recruiting the quarterback position for the 2021 cycle was simple and straightforward. The Bulldogs were only focused on 5-star dual-threat quarterback Caleb Williams. He’s the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in the country, and he showed why that was the case at the Under Armour Future 50 camp in Orlando, Fla.
Georgia has competition for Williams. LSU chief among them, even with the departure of offensive wizard Joe Brady, but when speaking to DawgNation, Williams made it clear on Dec. 31 that Georgia was stressing to him he was the only quarterback the Bulldogs were courting at the moment. And Williams is the type of prospect you make that decision for.
“Georgia texts me every day and things like that,” Williams said. “They want me to be the guy. They want me to come in. They are all in. I actually talked to Coach Coley about two days ago maybe. We talked. It wasn’t just about ball. It was just us talking. I have a good relationship with Coach Coley. They did tell me that they are all in and they want me to be a ‘Dawg.”
Then on Jan. 1, Georgia’s process got murkier. Brock Vandagriff, another 5-star prospect and currently the No. 1 pro-style quarterback in the 2021 class, de-committing from Oklahoma. In explaining his decision, Vandagriff said distance played a role in him backing off his pledge.
That’s relevant to Georgia because Vandagriff attends Prince Avenue Christian School, about 20 minutes from Sanford Stadium. Georgia was one of his finalists before he picked the Sooners last June.
— brock 🌊 (@BrockVandagriff) January 1, 2020
So now it seems the Bulldogs will once again have to make a choice at the quarterback position: The dual-threat quarterback who can do just about everything whose recruitment figures to be more challenging, or the local prospect who might not be as flashy but is still an extremely talented option.
This isn’t uncharted territory for Georgia or Kirby Smart. There were a handful of battles in the 2020 recruiting class where Georgia could’ve picked between prioritizing a local prospect — Tank Bigsby, Arik Gilbert — and a national prospect — Kendall Milton, Darnell Washington. And of course the dual-threat vs. pro-style comparison brings to mind the Justin Fields-Jake Fromm saga of the 2018 season.
When it comes to relitigating the Fields recruitment and subsequent transfer, Smart has made it clear what his stance is on the matter and going after certain players.
“No regrets,” Smart told CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd. “I would go recruit the best player [again].”
Between Vandagriff and Williams, the line between most talented is extremely thin. At the moment, Vandagriff is the No. 8 ranked player in the 2021 class per the 247Sports Composite rankings. Williams is at No. 15. But it shouldn’t come as a surprise if these two flip-flop rankings all the way up until they enroll in college.
The fact that both Williams and Vandagriff are interested in Georgia bodes well for the Bulldogs. It also speaks well of the program that even after a down season on the offensive side of the ball, it’s able to sell itself as a top option for both talented signal-callers.
Williams has said he hopes to take some more visits this spring and make a decision before his senior season starts. But say Vandagriff wants to make a decision and get his recruitment over with. Does Georgia accept Vandagriff or ask him to wait to see what Williams has to say? Does it risk losing both to pursue one?
That can’t happen for the Bulldogs, unless it wants to continue to play the grad transfer game year-after-year. The Bulldogs did land Jamie Newman as a graduate transfer, and he does bring some interesting elements to the Georgia offense. Specifically his deep passing and rushing ability.
If Newman shines in this offense, it might offer a blueprint to what Williams can do in the Georgia offense.
“I know that I have certain abilities, I believe myself, that even though I am in high school that [Jake] Fromm doesn’t have,” Williams said. “No offense to Fromm. Fromm is a wonderful guy. He’s the smartest guy that I have seen offensive wise. But he can’t move as much. So they don’t do as much.”
Of course, Williams will likely want to make a decision before Georgia shows off the offense with Newman. That makes things tough to sell to Williams, given he won’t be able to actually see what a player of his skill set might look like in the Georgia offense.
As for the future of the Georgia program, Vandagriff isn’t exactly a statue back there, as he ran for 252 yards and six rushing touchdowns in a truncated junior season. But adding a player like Williams, a year after another dual-threat in Newman, would send a very clear message about the preferred direction of the Georgia offense and its signal-callers.
But there are also benefits of adding Vandagriff. For one, he’s the No. 1 recruit in the state of Georgia for the 2021 class. For all of Georgia’s recruiting success under Smart, the Bulldogs have not landed the top player in the state in any recruiting class.
And coming off a year where Georgia is set to sign the fewest number of in-state signees in some time, landing Vandagriff would show that Smart is still serious about recruiting the state.
“I would never change how we recruit the state of Georgia,” Smart said in 2019. “It’s home base, it’s primary, it’s A-number-one, most important.”
So the biggest, and most important recruiting question for 2021 and beyond is what Georgia does and who it can land at the quarterback position. Neither is a bad option. But Smart and company are going to have to figure out who is the most talented option and how to get him to commit to the Bulldogs.
DawgNation breaks down Georgia football targets Caleb Williams and Brock Vandagriff
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- Jamie Newman: Future Bulldogs share their thoughts on the new Georgia QB
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Over anybody! 😉 https://t.co/iSMUzOuidR
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