Zachary Evans wrapped up one of the wilder recruitments on Monday when enrolled at TCU, a school that at no point prior to him enrolling had been a serious suitor for the 5-star running back.
Multiple schools believed they led for Evans, Georgia being one of them. There were multiple planned commitments, a public apology in a television interview and a signed letter of intent that the school then released Evans from.
And while few recruitments have ever been as crazy as Evans’, there have been quite a few that Georgia has been involved with in recent seasons. Some of those wild recruitments have paid off for the Bulldogs. Others, the Bulldogs have been on the losing end. Below, we take a look at some of those recruitments the Bulldogs were involved with and how their college careers ended up.
George Pickens/Jadon Haselwood: Every Georgia fan at this point knows who Pickens is. He finished his freshman season leading the team in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns. But for a lengthy period of the 2019 recruiting cycle, Georgia had another 5-star wide receiver prospect committed.
Haselwood had committed to Georgia in his sophomore year of high school. But he ended up backing off his commitment in October of 2018. While Georgia tried to get him back in the class, he ended up picking Oklahoma in January of 2019.
This left Georgia in a scrambling position. Pickens was the top wide receiver that had not signed. The problem was that he was a long-time Auburn commitment. But Georgia, along with the likes of Tennessee and Miami kept pecking away at Pickens.
In the run-up to National Signing Day, Pickens hadn’t given much of an indication that he would end up picking Georgia. But sure enough, that is exactly what the 5-star wide receiver ended up doing. The move shocked many, including a clearly disappointed Gus Malzahn.
Haselwood’s de-commitment stung at the time. But landing Pickens — who had a better freshman season — was an excellent recovery for the Bulldogs.
Adam Anderson: The 5-star outside linebacker prospect originally committed to Georgia in August of his junior season. But that didn’t last, as he and three of his Rome High School teammates all committed to LSU in April of 2017.
But none of those commitments would stick, as Anderson, Jaquon Griffin and Jamarcus Chatman all backed off their pledges. Chatman was the first to do so, with Anderson opting out in July.
The Bulldogs continued to recruit Anderson throughout the process and that work was rewarded when Anderson recommitted to Georgia in October of 2017. Anderson was one of seven 5-star signees in the 2018 class, which gave the Bulldogs the No. 1 overall class in the country.
Anderson was one of eight de-commitments in Georgia’s 2018 signing class but he was the only one to end up eventually signing with the Bulldogs. Anderson had 2.0 sacks as a sophomore after playing in 14 games as a situational pass-rusher for Georgia.
Monty Rice: Of the names on this list, Rice was the lowest-rated recruit. He was just the No. 334 ranked player in the 2017 recruiting cycle and a low 4-star out of Madison, Ala. But a number of the top programs in the country, with Georgia being among them.
On the morning of Dec. 12, Rice was set to announce his commitment. At the time, it was thought to be Georgia. But Rice ended up initially picking the LSU Tigers.
The commitment didn’t even last a month though, as Rice ended up signing and enrolling with Georgia in January.
Rice was the first prospect from the state of Alabama that Kirby Smart landed, paving the way for the likes of Pickens and Clay Webb. Rice has gone on to become one of the leaders of the Georgia defense as he mans one of the inside linebacker spots. He led the team in tackles last season with 89.
Jake Fromm: Compared to some of the other names on this list, Fromm’s recruitment ended up being done early on. He was originally committed to Alabama, but when Smart took over as Georgia’s head coach, Fromm flipped to Georgia in March of 2016.
It’s only after the fact did we learn how bungled Fromm’s initial recruitment was to Georgia. Fromm, hailing from Warner Robins, Ga., had always wanted to attend Georgia. But in the early part of Fromm’s recruiting process, Brian Schottenheimer was in charge of quarterback recruiting. And he liked Bailey Hockman, a 4-star quarterback from Powder Springs, Ga., more than Fromm. Which is why Fromm wasn’t offered and Hockman committed to Georgia.
But following the firing of Richt and Schottenheimer after the 2015 regular season, Smart came in. Hockman ended up de-committing and ended up at Florida State. He ended up transferring and is now at NC State. Fromm went on to lead Georgia to an SEC title and won the SEC East every season at Georgia. He was taken in the fifth round fo the 2020 NFL Draft.
Jacob Eason: Eason’s recruitment qualifies as wild not so much because of how he handled the process, but everything surrounding him. The 5-star quarterback committed to Georgia in the summer of 2014 when Mike Bobo was still the offensive coordinator for the program.
At no point did he end up de-committing from Georgia. But the 2015 season saw the Georgia football program enter great turmoil. Richt’s job security was questioned following blow-out defeats to Florida and Alabama. Part of the fan discourse around keeping Richt was Eason. If Georgia moved on from the long-time head coach, would Eason also leave, putting Georgia’s quarterback situation in an even murkier position?
After a win over Auburn in November, Richt took a cross-country flight to visit Eason. But the prospect of Eason couldn’t save Richt’s job, as he was fired after the Georgia Tech game. Eason ended up taking a visit to Florida, then led by Jim McElwain.
Having breakfast in Snohomish Washington in Jakes Cafe with Jacob and Tony Eason. Go Dawgs! pic.twitter.com/II6JFCkmYB
— Mark Richt (@MarkRicht) November 15, 2015
But Smart was able to retain Eason as the 5-star quarterback ended up signing with the Bulldogs. He started 12 games in his freshman season before suffering a knee injury in the season-opener of the 2017 season. He was replaced by Fromm, and Eason ended up transferring to Washington following the season. He was taken in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Roquan Smith: Were it not for a last-minute coaching change, Georgia’s best player of the Smart era would’ve ended up at UCLA.
The 4-star linebacker was one of the top prospects in the country and his recruiting process came down to the wire. Georgia was very much involved, but at first it seemed as if the Bulldogs had lost out to the Bruins. Smith rather famously put on a pair of UCLA gloves to celebrate his commitment.
But that commitment didn’t last. He did not end up signing his Letter of Intent. Shortly after his commitment, it was learned that his position coach at UCLA, Jeff Ulbrich, would be leaving to take a job with the Atlanta Falcons.
Smith then ended up picking the Bulldogs. He went on to win the Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker and was the best defender on Georgia’s 2017 team. He was taken in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears.
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