Georgia football: The recruiting tale of the tape with Alabama and Nick Saban

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Georgia does not hold a clear edge on the recruiting trail with Alabama in today's matchup.

Want to attack every day with the latest Georgia football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel brings. This entry takes a look at how well Georgia has recruited over the last four cycles and compares that to Alabama’s work on the trail with Nick Saban. 

Georgia football. Alabama football. Nick Saban. Three negatives. False positives. Kirby Smart. ‘Nuff said.

How does Smart become the first former Saban assistant to beat him on the field? Well, it starts by having the most talented team in Bryant-Denny Stadium this evening.

Does that mean the more prepared team? Or the better team?

Nobody knows those answers. Those answers will come beginning at 8 p.m. tonight from Tuscaloosa.

It is the No. 2 Crimson Tide versus the No. 3 Bulldogs. But as far as the recruiting trail goes, it is the most talented team in college football traveling to Tuscaloosa to face the second-most talented team led by their restored future Hall of Fame coach on the sidelines.

That’s according to the 247Sports Team Talent Composite for the 2020 season. 

That database of college football recruiting shows that Georgia still has 67 blue-chip prospects (signifying a former 4 or a 5-star prospect) on its roster from the recruiting trail. Alabama has 70 of those blue chips on its roster, but Georgia has the edge because it has 16 prospects with a 5-star rating still on its roster compared to 12 for the Crimson Tide.

For the Bulldogs, it is an example here of roster retention. Or maybe also an edge manufactured by the fact that the Crimson Tide saw nine members of its program selected in the 2020 NFL Draft. That was two more than the Bulldogs.

It helps to create an edge as far as elite players that have been recruited by the two schools over the last four cycles. Alabama actually signed 86 of those blue chips over the last four years compared to 81 for the Bulldogs.

It is a very rare thing to see the Bulldogs paired up with a Saturday opponent that has actually recruited as well as they have of late. That comparison is actually impacted by the No. 1 class signed by Alabama, which will go down as one of the best ones in recent history.

Here’s an interesting stat in terms of tonight’s game: Alabama’s three highest-rated recruits (RB Najee Harris, OT Alex Leatherwood, ILB Dylan Moses) from its 2017 class will actually take the field tonight against Georgia.

They came back for their senior seasons, but that didn’t impact the Crimson Tide’s haul in the most recent NFL draft as the home team Saturday night still saw five of its 10 highest-ranked recruits from that impressive 2017 class go in the first two rounds.

Perhaps it is a better indicator to look at the way these teams have recruited over the last three cycles. Georgia also saw four members from its 2017 signing class, which ranked No. 3 overall, selected in the 2020 NFL Draft.

  • Alabama’s blue-chip signees from 2018-2020: 62
  • Georgia’s blue-chip signees from 2018-2020: 61

Players like that win these big SEC ballgames whether they are played in October or November. The side that has more of those and those other elite blue-chip recruits should have the advantage.

There’s also a factor of attrition to consider here as both rosters have seen 5-star signees like DE Eyabi Anoma, DL Antonio Alfano, DE Brenton Cox and QB Justin Fields depart via the transfer portal. Both programs saw their highest-rated signee from the 2018 class leave their program via transfers.

The Crimson Tide has actually seen their top-rated signee from the 2018 and 2019 classes leave their program. It is positive proof that those things happen at the elite programs, too.


3 more things for Saturday night’s game 

Georgia’s recruiting classes have finished with an average ranking of 1.7 over those last four cycles. Alabama finished with an average ranking of 2.25 in those classes.

That has placed the Bulldogs with an average ranking of 1.5 over the last four recruiting cycles in the SEC. The Crimson Tide has slotted in with an average recruiting finish of 1.75 in the conference since 2017.

It is really something to behold.

  • 2017 recruiting rankings: (national/SEC): Alabama: No. 1/No.1 and Georgia No. 3/No. 2
  • 2018 recruiting rankings: (national/SEC): Alabama No. 5/No. 2 and Georgia No. 1/No. 1
  • 2019 recruiting rankings: (national/SEC: Alabama: No. 1/No. 1 and Georgia No.2 /No. 2
  • 2020 recruiting rankings: (national/SEC): Alabama No. 2/No.2 and Georgia No. 1/No. 1

Does this specific stat matter a lot to Saturday’s game? Probably not. But it does show how much of an impact Kirby Smart has had on the nation’s top-ranked recruiting classes dating back to 2012.

Consider this: Kirby Smart has been recruiting full-time for the program which finished as the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class in 2012 (Alabama), 2013 (Alabama), 2014 (Alabama), 2015 (Alabama), 2018 (Georgia) and 2020 (Georgia) of late. 

  • What happened in 2016? He took over the Georgia job in December of 2015. The Bulldogs finished No. 6 in the country. He wasn’t a full-time recruiter for any program in this cycle. 
  • What happened in 2017? Georgia finished No. 3 nationally in recruiting. 
  • What happened in 2019? Georgia finished No. 2 nationally in recruiting. 

These teams are so close in terms of the talent imported to its rosters over the last four recruiting classes. That margin even extends to the elite prospects as well.

How has each team done in terms of signing players ranked among the nation’s top 150 recruits? Those results are both impressive and yet also very similar.

  • Overall top 150 signees (Alabama): 46
  • Overall top 150 signees (Georgia): 49
  • Overall top 150 signees (offense): Alabama 20; Georgia 25
  • Overall top 150 signees (defense): Alabama 26: Georgia 24 

The Crimson Tide has signed more of the blue-chip prospects for its defense. Georgia has signed more blue-chip prospects for its offense.

Go figure. Georgia’s defense is seen as the stronger unit by far heading into tonight’s game. The same thing is true for the Crimson Tide on offense in a comparison with the defense.

There’s no wonder why this game should go down to the wire and is seen as a one-score affair by Vegas.

RELATED: Check out the recruiting tale of the tape with UT last week


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