Georgia signed another crop of elite players in the 2019 class. Rinse. Wash. Repeat.
That Kirby Smart fella knows how to recruit. Yadda yadda yadda.
Tell me something new with all of this, right? Let’s do that with a deep dive on what that headline aims to deliver by answering this query: How was the 2019 group different even for a Smart class at UGA?
Some of the stuff was so surface level we didn’t bring it into the boat: 1) Signing the top two players from Alabama; 2) First time signing the nation’s No. 1 overall prospect (per the 247Sports composite in Nolan Smith); 3) First time UGA signed two QBs in the same class; 4) Smallest O-line class in a full recruiting cycle (3); 5) Smallest DB class in a full cycle (3); 6) Defense is always the priority, but this group was the first time a Smart class included less than 11 offensive players.
What did crack the list? Well, the Bulldogs did a lot more with their 2019 class other than just signing what amounts to the 18th prospect under Smart with a 5-star rating on the composite. (5-star transfer Demetris Robertson could even goose that to 19.)
Those 18 notches in the 5-star tally are almost half as many as the entire SEC has signed (38) across the last four recruiting cycles. Alabama is the next closest program in that column with 14.
1) Georgia now recruits on a national footprint
Georgia signed twice as many out-of-state players in 2019. That pretty much hits like a Double-A gap blitz.
The Bulldogs have now signed the top-rated player from 11 different states in the Smart era and they landed four in the 2019 class. Check out these ratios:
2016 class (No. 6 nationally)
- In-state signees: 16
- Out-of-state signees: 5
- Signees from outside the SEC’s reach: 2 (North Carolina and Washington)
2017 class (No. 3 nationally)
- In-state signees: 17
- Out-of-state signees: 9
- Signees from outside the SEC’s reach: 4 (Pennsylvania (3) and New York)
2018 class (No. 1 nationally)
- In-state signees: 15
- Out-of-state signees: 11
- Signees from outside the SEC reach: 4 (North Carolina (2), Illinois and Oklahoma)
2019 class (No. 2 nationally)
- In-state signees: 8
- Out-of-state signees: 16
- Signees from outside the SEC reach: 3 (Michigan, Minnesota and Rhode Island)
Take a good look at the Georgians in the 2019 class. DawgNation projects to be the new normal.
Why? That’s because this staff operates under the charter of signing the best players it can. Period. There’s no need to sign a mid-level 4-star from Atlanta. That young man might have to wait a few years before he plays in Athens.
The mission is to sign a guy who can push for time immediately. With that, only the nation’s elite can now apply the heat to take a job from someone on this roster.
That’s why the Bulldogs are targeting several players in California, Nevada, Texas and the Washington D.C. metro in 2020. There is not a snowball’s chance the Bulldogs sign more than 10 Georgians in 2020. I’m not sure that UGA will even match last year’s total.
2) Gut health for the center of the Bulldog D
We’re not talking probiotics, but the Bulldogs did need that in 2019 for the gut of their defense. They need more playmakers there on a regular basis.
That spot on the field wasn’t as strong it needed to be in 2018. Go back to the DVR of the Alabama game for reminders. When the Tide needed a play, they sent their backs through the teeth of the Georgia defense.
It was a symptom of where the lack of elite recruiting affects the on-field play at a championship level. Consider the following:
- The Bulldogs haven’t gotten what they expected from a trio of DT signees in the 2016 class
- UGA did not enroll a single DT prospect in the 2017 class
- The 2017 deficit was only offset by two new DT prospects in the 2018 class. It was not a coincidence to see Jordan Davis and Devonte Wyatt grab a lot of early reps last fall.
- Add it all up: The Bulldogs have yet to sign an ALL-SEC defensive tackle in the Smart era
What was the 2019 remedy? The triage there called for defensive line help and more allies for the center of the Georgia D.
- UGA signed eight players who can play at DT or ILB in 2019. The program only enrolled 11 guys like that across its 2016, 2017 and 2018 classes. Of those 11, it looks like only Tyler Clark, Jordan Davis, Julian Rochester and Monty Rice have grabbed their starter’s share of reps to this point.
- The Bulldogs signed their first 5-star DT under Smart in Upson-Lee’s Travon Walker.
- The Bulldogs also signed a trio of ILBs prospects which rated among the nation’s top 100 overall players, including 5-star ILB Nakobe Dean.
- Georgia also signed the nation’s No. 3 safety in Under Armour All-American Lewis Cine. He can run the alley and bring his pads as well as any defensive back in the 2019 class.
3) Junior college signees
Kirby Smart viewed the junior college athlete in a pretty much straight-up fashion. Can he help us now? Can he play right away? Junior college players, in general, basically have two years of eligibility remaining.
Given all the other blue chips on the roster, it is clear that Georgia expects immediate help from any JUCO signees at this time. That was an early method for roster building under Smart and it is clear that is where the program is at right now.
Those two years better be clearly more valuable to the program than three years of development for am elite high school target.
The Bulldogs found four of those guys in their 2019 class in 3-star QB Stetson Bennett IV, 4-star CB DJ Daniel, 4-star OLB Jermaine Johnson and 3-star DT Tramel Walthour.
Junior college signees from 2016-2018: 4
Junior college signees in 2019: 4
Walthour actually extended another trend from the 2018 class. That’s when Georgia re-signed a high school prospect who did not enroll as a part of the previous class. That happened with Devonte Wyatt in 2017 and 2018 and the same scenario applies here with Walthour.
It also applies to a lot of those “gut health” remedies and issues from the previous area of variance for the 2019 class.
4) Check out the new Georgia football receivers
Georgia has never signed a pair of receivers in one class as highly-rated as Dominick Blaylock and George Pickens were in the 2019 cycle. This has been shared before, but it does need to be said one more time for the readers in the back.
Pickens was the No. 4 in the 2019 class. Blaylock was right behind him at No. 5.
That’s even after suffering the de-commitment of the nation’s top receiver in Jadon Haselwood. That was why it was no surprise to hear Smart bring up he wished he had his WR signees with the team this spring.
Makiya Tongue, the nation’s No. 9 ATH and No. 196 overall prospect also signed in this class. The son of a longtime NFL veteran will also begin his career in Athens at WR.
- Top 5 receivers UGA signed from 2001-2010: 3 (Sean Bailey in 2005, A.J. Green in 2008, Marlon Brown in 2009)
- Top 5 receivers UGA signed from 2010-2018: 0
- Georgia’s Top 10 receivers from the first three Smart classes: 0
- Georgia’s Top 20 receivers from the first three Smart classes: 1 (Jeremiah Holloman rated No. 18 in 2017)
- Top 5 receivers in the 2019 class: 2
The Bulldogs also added Robertson, the nation’s top receiver from 2016, as a transfer prior to the 2018 season. That shows another layer of how the WR room got a lot better in Athens even AFTER the nation’s top-rated class of 2018 was signed.
The only other point of explanation would be that this topic replies to receivers only. Not 5-star athletes like Terry Godwin and Mecole Hardman, Jr. in terms of the signing history at WR. Those guys were vastly talented, but neither one was rated as a pure WR coming out of high school.
(HISTORICAL NOTE: The introduction of the modern star system for recruiting ratings came about in 2000. If it was in place, then Carrollton’s Reggie Brown definitely would have also been a 5-star and a top 5 WR in 2000.)
Well, that is that. The thinking there is not just to summarize a bunch of areas which read “Georgia recruits really well right now” over and over.
That’s because the 2019 class was different for the Bulldogs. Even under the leadership of Smart.