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North Carolina recruiting success could hurt Georgia football recruiting efforts
The state of North Carolina has been very good to the Georgia football program in the past decade. In the previous 10 recruiting cycles, the Bulldogs have landed nine players from the state.
The biggest of those names was obviously Todd Gurley, but the Bulldogs also turned the likes of Keith Marshall, Jeb Blazevich and Lamont Gaillard into multi-year contributors.
In the 2021 cycle, the Bulldogs are once again targeting some of the state’s top players, as the Bulldogs are among the finalists for 4-star running back Evan Pryor and 4-star linebacker Raneiria Dillworth and making a strong push for defensive end Jahvaree Ritzie as well.
But landing the likes of Pryor, Dillworth and other North Carolina standouts figures to be more difficult going forward now that it seems Mack Brown has things up and running for the North Carolina Tar Heels. Following a 7-6 debut season, the Tar Heels have gotten off to a strong start on the 2021 recruiting trail, as they currently rank No. 4 in the 247Sports Composite rankings.
And of their nine commitments, eight come from the home state. The Tar Heels are also finalists for Pryor and Dillworth, who will both be making April decisions. The Tar Heels also flipped 4-star quarterback Drake Maye from Alabama this past Friday, though Alabama supporters will tell you Maye wasn’t needed as much after the Crimson Tide signed Bryce Young as a part of the 2020 class.
North Carolina has the potential to be a real thorn in Georgia’s side on the recruiting trail and it’s coming at a time where the state is producing blue-chip recruits at a higher rate than it was when Gurley and Marshall were tearing up defenses.
For the past 10 recruiting cycles, North Carolina has produced an average of 11.6 blue chip — either 4-star or 5-star — recruits. But in the previous three cycles, that number has moved to 14.33.
The 2021 recruiting cycle figures to move those numbers even higher as there are currently 18 blue-chip prospects from the state. The only states with more at this moment are Florida, Texas, California and Georgia.
And so far in this class, the Tar Heels have cleaned up among those blue-chip recruits. Eight of those 18 prospects are committed at the moment and all of them have pledged their services to Brown and the Tar Heels.
As for how all of this impacts Georgia and its recruiting efforts, it’s still yet to be fully seen. The Bulldogs could very well earn the commitments of Pryor and Dillworth and stem any narrative that Brown has closed off the state.
We’re also still a long way from National Signing Day. Flips and de-commitments happen all the time. In all likelihood, North Carolina won’t finish with the No. 4 recruiting class in the country. Last May, Georgia Tech had a higher 2020 recruiting class than Georgia did. The Bulldogs ended up finishing with the No. 1 class in the country, while Georgia Tech came in at No. 25.
North Carolina’s success likely won’t hurt the likes of Georgia and Clemson all that much given that they’re already such prominent national brands. If anything, the teams most impacted by the Tar Heels’ surge are Tennessee, South Carolina and NC State, who have nabbed a number of useful players from the state in recent seasons.
North Carolina’s gains also underscore the importance of being able to recruit your own state. Smart has made his position very clear on those aspects, understanding Georgia can’t win every out of state battle.
But that won’t stop him and his staff from trying.
“We had some national interest from players who came to camp that in the past we might have lost out on them,” Smart said. “We might have been second or third on a national kid that was a really good player.
“We’re excited for those players and there’s been a lot of good out of state players to play here at the University of Georgia. There’s no limitation to your board. ”
This is perhaps why we’ve also seen Georgia do a better job, to start, in recruiting its own state. All three of Georgia’s current commitments in the 2021 class come from the state of Georgia and the Bulldogs seem to be in great standing with many of the top in-state prospects.
Georgia isn’t going to stop recruiting the likes of Pryor, Dillworth, Ritzee and other North Carolina products because of Mack Brown or any coach. But the Tar Heels’ presence does make things more difficult for area recruiter Tray Scott and the Georgia recruiting staff. Though if winning big-time recruiting battles were easy, everyone would do it.
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