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How Brock Vandagriff could mark a positive change for Georgia football recruiting
Under Kirby Smart, Georgia football has become a national recruiting power. It has been able to go across America and land the No. 1 player in the Arizona, Nevada and Washington D.C. in this class alone, along with highly-touted running back Kendall Milton from California.
Georgia is now at the level where it is a true national brand. But fishing in those waters can sometimes come at cost. In this case, Georgia’s national recruiting success came at the expense of its in-state recruiting.
At the moment, Georgia has just four signees and one commitment in its 2020 class from Peach State products. An even deeper look reveals that the vast majority of top prospects in the state will be playing their football outside the state of Georgia. Of the top 25 prospects for the 2020 class using the 247Sports Composite rankings, Georgia has only signed one of those players to this point in 4-star offensive tackle Tate Ratledge. Broderick Jones, a 5-star offensive tackle is committed to the Bulldogs, but Georgia is still battling Auburn for his services.
Signing just two of the top 25 players, all of whom are either 4-or 5-star prospects, is not good enough in a talent-rich state like Georgia.
And it’s not like in-state kids don’t want to play for Georgia. When speaking with 4-star running back Tank Bigsby at the Under Armour All-American game, he said in-state kids very much want to represent this state.
“Just be real, instead of shooting all that fake stuff,” Bigsby said. “Kids are coming in wanting to play, you just have to be real with them.”
In the 2020 class, Auburn and Clemson have more commits and signees from Georgia than the Bulldogs do. When South Carolina, another team made up of a significant number of Georgia kids, beat the Bulldogs in Athens earlier this year, the win clearly meant a lot them.
But the talent exodus out of Georgia might not be as severe in the 2021 class. Especially after the Bulldogs landed 5-star quarterback Brock Vandagriff.
Vandagriff plays at Prince Avenue Chrisitan and hails from Bogart, Ga. He lives just minutes away from Sanford Stadium. And the proximity to Georgia played a big role in him picking the Bulldogs.
“My Dad and I we talked and stuff,” Vandagriff said. “We are kind of sacrificing the best fit for me just for some other things that are priorities now.”
DawgNation catches up with Georgia football commit Brock Vandagriff
Vandagriff de-committed from Oklahoma, which has produced the last two No. 1 picks in quarterbacks Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield. In his de-commitment note, he said the distance from home played a factor.
Now with him in Georgia’s class, he’s easily the highest-rated of the three 2021 commitments. The Bulldogs also have a commitment from 4-star athlete David Daniel and 3-star offensive lineman Jared Wilson.
Vandagriff is at the moment the No. 1 ranked prospect in the state. Daniel comes in at No. 6. The Bulldogs are also in good standing with some of the other elite prospects in the state, such as 5-star offensive lineman Amarius Mims. He’s the No. 2 prospect in the state and he definitely took time to notice Vandagriff’s decision as did the No. 8 prospect in the state in Terrence Ferguson.
— 〽️ I 〽️ S (@amarius_mims) January 21, 2020
That’s major👀‼️ https://t.co/Cu6wF2ZyQ2
— 6️⃣9️⃣™️ (@tjferguson2021) January 21, 2020
Like Vandagriff, Mims was on campus this past weekend, as were a number of elite junior prospects. Like 4-star linebacker Barrett Carter. And 4-star running back Cody Brown.
— barrett carter (@bcsznn) January 21, 2020
— Cody Brown ₇ (@_codywbrown) January 21, 2020
Those two ranks as the No. 9 and No. 11 prospects in the state of Georgia and the Bulldogs are in very good standing with both players. They’re not the No. 1 or No. 2 players at their positions but they’re still very talented players who are definitely good enough to play for a school like Georgia.
Much of the hoopla surrounding in-state recruiting is overblown. Sure, fans love it more win they win with a team full of in-state kids. But LSU, who recruits its home-state better than just about anyone, had to bring in a quarterback from Ohio to finally win a national title.
There’s a balance though that elite teams have to hit. Alabama has always recruited the state of Alabama well, even as it went into Texas and Florida to land elite talents. The same is true for Ohio State.
Georgia though didn’t exactly do that in this past cycle. Even if Jones ends up signing, Georgia will end up with only two of the top 25 prospects in the 2020 class from Georgia. And if Vandagriff remains the top player in the state, he would become the first top-ranked player from Georgia to sign with the Bulldogs since Smart became the head coach.
Smart was asked about the in-state recruiting efforts prior to the end of the 2019 season.
“I want the best players in the state to stay home. We’ll never change how we recruit the state of Georgia,” Smart said. “Why would you ever do that? There’s too many good players here.”
The Bulldogs weren’t able to do that in the 2020 cycle. But if what Smart says is to be believed and that the Bulldogs haven’t changed how they prioritize the state, then maybe the 2020 class can be written off as a one-off.
And with the help of Vandagriff as the class leader in the 2021 class, perhaps the Bulldogs can do a better job of keeping the best players in the state of Georgia home.
More Georgia football stories from around DawgNation
- Kirby Smart recognizes his offense needs to change after latest Georgia football coaching moves
- Social media reacts to Georgia football landing 5-star quarterback Brock Vandagriff
- Georgia sports roundup: Baseball to begin season in top 10, Gymnastics posts season-best effort
- Georgia football podcast: Reaction to 5-star QB Brock Vandagriff’s commitment to UGA
- Georgia basketball falls at Kentucky, too little, too late from Anthony Edwards
- Jalen Carter: Rankings rise means UGA has another 5-star signee
Dawgs on Twitter
Watch this……😂 and if Zach stayed we would have been #1 easily. It’s coming though.
— Kelee Ringo (@KeleeRingo) January 22, 2020
Congrats bro💯 https://t.co/IidkvwCOmS
— Kendall Milton (@therealkmilt) January 21, 2020
Dawgs late surge comes up short at #15 Kentucky.
FINAL – 79 UGA 89 UK pic.twitter.com/RTg8ktgbju
— Georgia Basketball (@UGABasketball) January 22, 2020
— Todd Hartley (@coach_thartley) January 21, 2020
Good Dawg of the Day
That's one way to cool off pic.twitter.com/vWPNkAsByi
— Cute Emergency (@CuteEmergency) January 21, 2020