The 2021 recruiting cycle has come to a close for the Georgia Bulldogs. Kirby Smart was able to land 20 signatures for the cycle and put together a class that sits with the No. 3 class ranking.
Smart spoke on Wednesday and discussed how Georgia went about filling the needs in this recruiting class.
“I’m very pleased,” Smart said. “I’m excited about those guys and it’s an interesting class because the first time you saw some of them was when they were walking in for school or practice because you didn’t get the official visit time with them. I’m excited about those guys coming in to work and they’re a really good academic group, we thought it was a good class all-in-all.”
Obviously, it’s impossible to grade the players in this class as they’ve yet to have a practice at Georgia, much less play in a game. But we can take a deeper look at how Georgia did in terms of re-stocking the roster and how they hit and missed on some of the top targets at each position.
Georgia landed 5-star quarterback Brock Vandagriff. Once Todd Monken stepped in as offensive coordinator, the Bogart, Ga., native emerged as Georgia’s top target at the position and the Bulldogs wasted little time in adding him to the class.
Vandagriff never wavered on his commitment and was a key leader for the class. He led his team to a state championship as a senior and did while on a torn ligament in his knee.
It’s far too soon to guess when Vandagriff might take the field as Georgia’s QB1, but from a recruiting perspective, Georgia got exactly what it needed from the position in this cycle.
Running back: B
Georgia signed just a single running back in this class in 4-star prospect Lovasea Carroll. He’ll come in battle-tested as he finished his high school career at IMG Academy. He rates as the No. 116 prospect in the country and the No. 8 running back.
Carroll enters a crowded room, as the Bulldogs bring back both Zamir White and James Cook for another season. There’s also Kendall Milton, Kenny McIntosh and Daijun Edwards, as all three flashed at times during the 2020 season.
Georgia did miss on a handful of targets in the class such as Donovan Edwards and Evan Pryor. But the depth in the room was so strong it made it hard to call running back a position of need for this cycle.
Wide Receiver: C
Georgia signed five wide receivers in the 2020 recruiting cycle, so wide receiver was never going to be a position where Cortez Hankton and Georgia had to go out and bring in a ton of talent.
Still, you would’ve liked to have sign Georgia do better than it did in this cycle, signing just two prospects in Adonai Mitchell and Jackson Meeks.
Neither of those players would be described as a burner and if there was a need in Georgia’s wide receiver room, it would have to be speed.
If we did this exercise after the 2020 class, we’d have given this group an A. That always made things tough for the position in 2021. Georgia will need to a better job at the position in the 2022 cycle, especially with George Pickens being draft eligble.
Tight end: A
When you land your top target for the cycle and he’s the only tight end you take, it’s an easy A. That’s the case for tight ends coach Todd Hartley, as he landed the signature of 4-star tight end Brock Bowers.
Bowers comes from Napa, Calif., and was the No. 3 tight end in the class. He likely could’ve finished higher had he gotten to have a senior season, as the state of California did not play high school football this fall.
Since joining the Georgia staff, Hartley has done an excellent job of adding young talent to the tight end room, as Georgia landed Darnell Washington in the 2020 cycle. Bowers is already turning heads at Georgia and his athleticism is expected to complement what Washington brings to the table.
Offensive line: A
Georgia signed three top-100 prospects at this position group in the 2020 cycle. It accomplished that feat once again in the 2021 recruiting cycle as it landed Amarius Mims, Micah Morris and Dylan Fairchild. The Bulldogs also land Jared Wilson to round out the offensive line haul in 2021.
Mims is the highest-rated player in Georgia’s recruiting class as he’s the No. 7 player in the 2021 rankings. He’s also the top prospect from the state of Georgia in this recruiting cycle. At 6-foot-7 and 315 pounds, he’s as physically impressive as a prospect as Georgia has signed since Smart became head coach.
None of Georgia’s 2020 signees saw significant playing time as freshmen and history suggests it will be hard for Mims or any of the 2021 signees to play right away. Mims though is already on campus and the Bulldogs do have a big hole at left tackle that Mims could possibly fill.
This was Matt Luke’s first full class at Georgia and he showed little to no dropoff from what Sam Pittman was able to do on the recruiting front. This is the best position group Georgia signed during the 2021 cycle.
Defensive line: A-
If you want to have a squabble with this group, it’s that there might not be a day one impact player like the 2019 class had with Travon Walker and Jalen Carter in the 2020 class.
But Tray Scott still managed to get some dudes on the defensive line. Few prospects saw a bigger rise in their profile than Tyrion Ingram-Dawkins in 2020. Add in Peach State products Jonathan Jefferson and Marlin Dean and it’s another solid defensive line class.
With all that Georgia brings back on the defensive line this season, the Bulldogs might not need a whole lot from this group right away. The Bulldogs though did another good job of adding to this position in what will be a strength of the team in 2021.
Outside linebacker: B
This grade depends on how you view 5-star prospect Xavian Sorey Jr. He has the potential to play both inside and outside linebacker and if you believe he’ll play the latter that helps this position group.
Outside of Sorey, the only true outside linebacker Georgia signed was Chaz Chambliss. Georgia must replace Azeez Ojulari and Jermaine Johnson this coming season.
The Bulldogs did land MJ Sherman in the 2020 class which helps quell concerns at the position. But the Bulldogs aren’t as deep at outside linebacker as they have been in past years and the 2021 class didn’t erase those doubts.
Inside linebacker: A-
Georgia brought in two intriguing prospects at this position and potentially a third if you count Sorey.
The Bulldogs have a high-upside player in 5-star prospect Smael Mondon. He was the No. 4 prospect in the state of Georgia for the 2021 cycle. He did miss the majority of his senior season due to a knee injury, but he is expected to be a full go for spring practice.
Georgia will also bring in 4-star linebacker Jamon Dumas-Johnson out of Baltimore. Dumas-Johnson gives off Monty Rice vibes and plays for one of the top programs in the country at St. Frances Academy. Dumas-Johnson will arrive in Athens this summer.
What keeps this group from being an A is the fact that 5-star linebacker Barrett Carter is headed to Clemson. He too was a 5-star prospect and has been one of the top players in the state of Georgia for some time.
Defensive back: B-
Georgia signed four defensive backs in this class, with cornerback Nyland Green being the highest-rated signee as the No. 71 overall player in the class.
But this haul might be better defined by who Georgia didn’t land than it did. In a non-COVID universe, Georgia could’ve added 5-star cornerback Tony Grimes, 5-star safety James Williams and 4-star safety Terrion Arnold.
Grimes reclassified and ended up playing at North Carolina. Williams elected to stay closer to home to play for the Hurricanes. Arnold spurned Georgia at the 11th hour for the Alabama Crimson Tide.
The secondary is Georgia’s biggest concern going into the 2021 season. While it’s unlikely Grimes, Williams or Arnold would-be stars for the 2021 team, many would perhaps be more at ease with what Georgia has in the secondary if landed even just one of those players.
This was the only position group that needed a new position coach, as Charlton Warren left and was replaced by Jahmile Addae. The new defensive backs coach will certainly have his hands full in year one.
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