The best of DawgNation this week: Georgia lands Big Bear Alexander, welcomes Will Muschamp
The 2021 recruiting cycle mostly came to a close this week, and Georgia had little excitement as the Bulldogs did gain any commitments for the No. 3 recruiting class in the country.
But Georgia did make a key addition to the 2022 recruiting class as it landed 4-star defensive tackle Big Bear Alexander out of Denton, Texas. He is the eighth commitment for Georgia in its 2022 recruiting cycle, which now sits at No. 2 in the country.
Alexander is the first out of state commitment in the class for Georgia and the second defensive lineman as he joins 4-star prospect Tyre West. DawgNation’s Jeff Sentell provides a deeper look at Georgia is getting in the defensive tackle.
Georgia was able to beat out intense recruiting from the likes of Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas and Texas A&M for his services, among others.
Alexander becomes the second elite DT prospect in the 2022 class at Georgia. His decision brings the tally of commitments in that cycle up to eight for the Bulldogs. He’s the first out-of-state prospect in the class.
With this decision, the Bulldogs rise from No. 3 to the No. 2 spot in the 247Sports Team Composite national recruiting rankings for 2022. Georgia’s score with its eight commitments (181.61) now only trails Ohio State. The Buckeyes have a trio of 5-star recruits among their 10 pledges and a score of 225.91.
“Big Bear” ranks as the nation’s No. 9 DT and the No. 140 overall recruit for 2022 on the 247Sports Composite but that slot is likely due for a significant rating bump after evaluation of Alexander’s dominating junior year for Class 5A Texas state champion Ryan High.
Georgia football also adds Will Muschamp
Alexander wasn’t the only big addition to the Georgia program this week, as head coach Kirby Smart announced that Will Muschamp would be joining the program as an analyst.
Muschamp has prior head coaching stops at South Carolina and Florida. He’s also built a reputation of developing strong defensive back play, something Georgia is going to need with new defensive backs coach Jahmile Addae taking over.
DawgNation’s Mike Griffith added context to what Muschamp will bring to the Georgia staff, even if he is doing so in an analyst role.
Smart said Muschamp, who was fired with three games remaining in the Gamecocks’ 2020 season, will be working on the defensive side of the ball.
“It’s very valuable to have a guy that’s been a head coach at two places in our conference, he knows the ins and outs of this conference,” Smart said. “He’ll be able to help our staff, our coaches in a lot of ways. I’m excited to be able to have him join us.”
The 49-year-old Muschamp was head coach at Florida (28-21 record, 2011-14) and South Carolina (28-30, 2016-20).
Smart said he believes Muschamp aspires to get back to an on-field coaching role at some point.
“I would say that anytime you’re an aspiring coach you want to get on the field and get an opportunity to go coach on the grass,” Smart said. “I know he’s not through with his coaching days. It’s really important for him to get out here and have relationships and go develop a position group and coach.
“His family has been his focus here recently. I know he feels like he’s moved his family all over the country and this is an opportunity for him to give back to them and be with them and be able to watch his son play.”
Georgia also announced raises this week for three coaches, with defensive coordinator Dan Lanning getting the biggest one as he will now make $1.7 million in 2021. Running backs coach Dell McGee and tight ends coach Todd Hartley also received a bump in salary for the upcoming season. Muschamp will make $300,000 as an analyst, while Addae will make $500,000 as the defensive backs coach.
Putting a bow on the 2021 recruiting class
There wasn’t much drama this week with regards to Georgia’s 2021 signing class, as the Bulldogs had already signed all 20 of their commitments.
Georgia finished with the No. 3 ranked recruiting class, while Alabama and Ohio State took the top two spots. The only bit of intrigue during the week came with defensive back Terrion Arnold. He was a major target for the Bulldogs as they try to rebuild their secondary.
But like a number of other top prospects in this cycle, Arnold ended picking the Crimson Tide.
Alabama has been a major problem for Georgia on the field in recent seasons and that really seemed to have an impact on the 2021 head-to-head recruiting matchups against Nick Saban. In a year where prospects weren’t able to visits schools and coaches, Alabama’s prestige played an even bigger role in its recruiting pitch.
DawgNation’s Connor Riley took a closer look at some of the near misses Georgia had at the hands of Alabama and its recruiting machine.
Georgia finished as the runner-up for Arnold, making him just the latest prospect in the 2021 cycle where that has been the case. Alabama beat Georgia for prospects like 5-star pass rusher Dallas Turner, defensive tackle Tim Keenan and offensive lineman Terrence Ferguson.
Alabama though didn’t just beat out Georgia for a few prospects. They beat out everyone. Nick Saban landed 5-star offensive tackle Tommy Brockermeyer out of Texas. Alabama got 5-star defensive tackle Damon Payne out of Michigan.
The Crimson Tide also dominated the state of Florida. Alabama signed seven of the top 15 prospects in the state, though one of those JC Latham played at IMG Academy after coming from Wisconsin. Florida, Florida State and Miami combined for four of the top 15 prospects from the state of Florida.
The 2020 Alabama team was one of the most dominant in recent memory. It has to replace a number of key players from that team. But with this 2021 signing class, it’s clear the Crimson Tide have staying power.
Missing out on Arnold was another example of a key miss on a defensive back target. At other points during the 2021 recruiting cycle, Georgia led for 5-star prospects James Williams and Tony Grimes. Neither of those players ended up signing with the Bulldogs and the impact of the pandemic can be seen as a big reason why that was the case.
Arik Gilbert lands at Florida
Former LSU tight end Arik Gilbert will have a new home for the 2021 season and it will not be Georgia. He announced, at a Family Dollar, that he would be transferring to Florida to continue his college career.
Gilbert is the highest-rated tight end prospect of all-time and had an impressive freshman season at LSU catching 35 passes for 368 yards and two touchdowns. He will look to follow in the footsteps of Kyle Pitts, who was named college football’s top tight end this past season.
Georgia made a very public push to try and court Gilbert to come to Georgia, even with the Bulldogs having a 5-star 2020 tight end in Darnell Washington on the roster. Georgia also signed the No. 3 tight end for the 2021 cycle in Brock Bowers.
DawgNation’s Brandon Adams takes a look at what Gilbert’s announcement means for the Gators and what it says about Georgia.