For perhaps the first time since Kirby Smart has really gotten things rolling at Georgia, it appears that two of Georgia’s biggest SEC East rivals are making serious strides on the recruiting trail.
The Florida Gators have spent much of the 2021 recruiting cycle in the top-5, currently slotted at No. 4 per the 247Sports Composite rankings. Dan Mullen and company have 12 commitments at the moment and are in the running with 5-star prospects such as Leonard Taylor, Jason Marshall and Smael Mondon.
But the big mover, and eye-opener, this wee, has been the Tennessee Volunteers and what Jeremy Pruitt and his staff have been able to accomplish on the recruiting trail.
In the past week, the Volunteers have landed the top JUCO running back in the country, 4-star safety Kamar Wilcoxson — a one-time Florida commit —, 4-star wide receiver Julian Nixon, 5-star defensive end Dylan Brooks and 5-star outside linebacker Terrence Lewis.
— Terrence Not Terrance🦦 (@Terrence21Lewis) April 30, 2020
Those additions pushed Tennessee ahead of Florida and Clemson, giving them the No. 3 class. The addition of Brooks — the No. 1 player in the state of Alabama — and Lewis — the No. 2 player in the state of Florida — gives Tennessee its first two 5-star prospects since the 2019 recruiting cycle.
What does all this mean for the future of the SEC East and how these two battle with Georgia?
For starters, it’s important to keep in mind that Georgia has still gotten off to a positive start to the 2021 recruiting cycle. The Bulldogs sit with the nation’s No. 14 recruiting class, which is third in the SEC. It just also happens to be third in the SEC East.
Florida and Tennessee also have a greater number of commitments at the moment than Georgia. The Bulldogs have just seven prospects in the 2021 class. If you use the average player rating, the average commitment in Georgia’s class (94.57) is superior to that of Florida (90.72) and Tennessee (89.12).
This also isn’t a new position for Georgia to be in, given under Smart, Georgia’s has earned a number of commitments later on in the cycle. At the start of May 2019, Georgia Tech had a superior recruiting class to Georgia. The Bulldogs went on to finish with the No. 1 class in the country, while the Yellow Jackets finished with the No. 26 class.
And Alabama has the No. 48 class in the 2021 recruiting cycle. There’s no world in which Alabama finishes that low when things wrap up.
But what Florida and Tennessee are doing feels different than Georgia Tech racking up a bunch of commitments under first-year head coach Geoff Collins. Both Mullen and Jeremy Pruitt are established coaches at their respective programs.
They’ve also made small gains on the national recruiting level in the 2020 class. Both programs finished in the top-10 of the 2020 rankings, with Florida coming in at No. 9 and Tennessee finishing No. 10. Couple that with the encouraging on-field results both programs made to end the 2019 season, and it’s easy to see why these schools have seen a bump in the recruiting success.
What will be paramount for both these programs going forward is to show more progress on the field. For Tennessee, that likely means having competitive games against the likes of Georgia, Alabama and Florida. Throw in an early-season game against Oklahoma and the Volunteers will have ample opportunities to show they’re able to compete with the best teams in the sport.
As for Florida, it’s a simpler task. All they really have to do to validate and continue its recruiting success is beat Georgia. The Bulldogs have clearly been a massive thorn in Mullen’s side. Of course, that’s easier said than done. Georgia has won the last three contests against a Mullen coached squad
The same can be said for Tennesee. The Volunteers have lost by at least 20-points each time they’ve played Georgia under Pruitt. Tennessee visits Georgia on Nov. 14 this season and Georgia-Florida will take place on Oct. 31 in Jacksonville, Fla.
There’s still a long way to go until National Signing Day. Georgia probably won’t finish behind Tennessee and Florida in the recruiting rankings when all is said and done. The Bulldogs are also in a good position with the likes of Mondon, Taylor, as well as the likes of 5-star prospects Amarius Mims, James Williams and Tony Grimes.
But it’s clear both adversaries are making noticeable gains on the recruiting trail. And the best way for Georgia to still keep these two programs at an arms length is by beating both Tennessee and Flordia on the field.
Georgia football 2021 recruiting commitments
- Brock Vandagriff, 5-star quarterback from Bogart, Ga.: No. 12 player in 247Sports Composite rankings, No. 32 player in 247Sports rankings, No. 5 in Rivals, No. 33 in ESPN, No. 2 ranked dual-threat quarterback, No. 2 ranked player from Georgia. DawgNation story on Brock Vandagriff: Why the addition of 5-star QB Brock Vandagriff could be a great sign for in-state recruiting
- Micah Morris, 4-star offensive tackle from Kingsland, Ga: No. 71 player in 247Sports Composite rankings, No. 92 player in 247Sports rankings, No. 86 in Rivals, No. 94 in ESPN, No. 11 offensive tackle, No. 7 player from Georgia. DawgNation story on Micah Morris: Micah Morris: Why the future criminal justice major is more than just a big get for Matt Luke
- David Daniel, 4-star defensive back from Woodstock, Ga.: No. 75 player in 247Sports Composite rankings, No. 134 player in 247Sports rankings, No. 95 in Rivals, No. 35 in ESPN, No. 4 ranked athlete, No. 8 ranked player from Georgia. DawgNation story on David Daniel: David Daniel: Elite DB trainer and former Bulldog Glenn Ford has an NFL parallel in mind
- Lovasea’ Carroll, 4-star running back from Warrenton, Ga. (plays for IMG Academy): No. 122 player in 247Sports Composite rankings, No. 106 player in 247Sports rankings, No. 134 player in Rivals, No. 174 in ESPN, No. 8 ranked running back. DawgNation story on Lovasea Carroll: Why the 4.4 back sped up his timeline to choose UGA
- Jonathan Jefferson 4-star defensive end from Douglasville, Ga.: No. 142 player in 247Sports Composite rankings, No. 171 player in 247Sports rankings, No. 172 in Rivals, No. 150 in ESPN, No. 11 ranked strongside defensive end, No. 12 player from Georgia. DawgNation story on Jonathan Jefferson: Jonathan Jefferson: 5 things to know about this week’s 2021 Georgia commit
- Elijah Jeudy, 4-star weakside defensive end from Philadelphia, No. 167 player in 247Sports Composite rankings, No. 187 player in 247Sports rankings, No. 196 in Rivals, No. 169 in ESPN, No. 12 weakside defensive end. DawgNation story on Elijah Jeudy: The 5 things you haven’t read yet about recent OLB commit Elijah Jeudy
- Marlin Dean, 3-star defensive tackle from Elberton, Ga.: No. 419 player in 247Sports Composite rankings, No. 24 DT in 247Sports rankings, No. 33 SDE in Rivals, Unranked via ESPN, No. 34 ranked player from Georgia. DawgNation story on Marlin Dean: Marlin Dean: It turns out the night UGA fell to Florida in hoops wasn’t a total loss
Georgia football 2021 recruiting stories
- Dallas Turner: Why Alabama has a slight lead on UGA for the elite pass rusher
- Georgia’s program is now moving past the de-commitments of previous cycles
- Why Andrew Thomas is more than ready for New York’s big stage
- Nation’s No. 4 TE Moliki Matavao includes UGA in his final six
- Georgia extends an impactful offer to future 5-star RB Richard Young
- What the O-line recruiting looks like for the 2021 class
- Georgia OL commit Micah Morris made a silent pledge to UGA quite a long time ago
- Georgia football 2021 offensive line recruiting will rely heavily on in-state talent
- Georgia football looking west again for tight end position in 2021 class
- Where Georgia football turns at the wide receiver position in the 2021 recruiting class
- Where Georgia football turns to now at the running back spot in the 2021 class