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Curtis Compton/AJC
Dell McGee is Georgia's running backs coach.

Where Georgia football turns to now at the running back spot in the 2021 class

Georgia football did a good job of recruiting 5-star running back TreVeyon Henderson and 4-star running back Evan Pryor. Both had made trips to Athens and both highly touted prospects made plans to return at some point.

But those plans got upended following the suspension of in-person recruiting due to COVID-19. And while both liked what Georgia had to offer, Henderson and Pryor decided that Ohio State was the best place for their future.

So now with Georgia missing on two of its top running back targets, it must turn elsewhere in the 2021 recruiting class. The plan is for Georgia to still try and take two running backs, given that Zamir White and James Cook are both draft-eligible after the 2020 season.

But the Bulldogs and running backs coach Dell McGee still have a number of options they can turn to in the 2021 cycle.

And the name at the top of the list at the moment is 4-star running back Donovan Edwards.

Edwards is the No. 4 ranked running back in the country per the 247Sports Composite rankings and the No. 39 overall prospect. He comes from West Bloomfield, Mich., and listed at 5-foot-11 190 pounds.  Georgia has landed a Michigan prospect before, as the Bulldogs pulled D’Wan Mathis away from the Buckeyes in the 2019 class.

For a while, Ohio State was seen as a serious contender for Edwards’ services but that is now no longer the case with the commitments of Henderson and Pryor. In addition to Georgia, the home state Wolverines and Notre Dame are seen as the top competitor for Edwards.

“It is more so like the vibe,” Edwards said on what he likes about Georgia. “I like the vibe they give off with me. I like the people who are around there.”

Related: Donovan Edwards: Priority 4-star RB already feels UGA ‘probably’ gets an official visit

The other big out of state name to know right now is 4-star running back LJ Johnson. He is from Cypress, Texas and rated as the No. 5 running back in the country. Johnson also clocks in as the No. 51 overall prospect.

Johnson has not yet visited Georgia but has still mentioned the Bulldogs as a top school, along with the likes of Texas A&M, LSU and Oklahoma. Georgia nearly pulled 5-star running back Zach Evans out of the Houston area in the 2020 class but that ultimately didn’t end up happening. Until Johnson visits Georgia, it’s tough to envision him in the class.

There are also some “local” options for Georgia should the Bulldogs miss out on some of the national choices.

First, there is Cody Brown. He hails from Lilburn, Ga. and starred for Parkview High School this past season. Per MaxPreps, Brown ran for 1,676 yards and 20 touchdowns as a junior. He was named the Top Junior by the Touchdown Club of Atlanta as he led Parkview to an appearance in the semifinals in Georgia’s highest classification.

He’s ranked as the No. 10 running back in the country and the highest in the state of Georgia.

Related: QB Brock Vandagriff declares a 5-star prospect will be next in-state commit

Brown, unlike Johnson, did take a visit to Georgia back in January.

A fourth name to know right now is Lovasea Carroll. He’s originally from Warrenton, Ga., but he will be playing for national powerhouse IMG Academy this fall in Bradenton, Fla.

Carroll is the No. 9 ranked running back in the country and had put out a top-5 five of Florida, Georgia, Auburn, South Carolina and Ohio State back in January. Now that the Buckeyes have two running back commits, it’s probably safe to rule them out.

Ohio State was always likely to land multiple top-ranked running backs in the 2021 cycle given the lack of talent at the position on that roster. The Buckeyes also landed graduate transfer Trey Sermon from Oklahoma. He will have one season of eligibility.

But as has been the case time and time again under McGee and Georgia coach Kirby Smart, the Bulldogs are probably going to land at least one elite running back as well. The Bulldogs have landed a top-10 nationally ranked running back in all but one class under Smart. And the one time they didn’t, the Bulldogs signed Kenny McIntosh, who proved to be a useful player when called upon in 2019.

There’s still a long way to go in the 2021 recruiting cycle and COVID-19 will likely continue to disrupt many recruiting timelines. But history and Georgia’s coaching staff have shown time and time again that running back isn’t a position that anyone needs to fret about.

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