Why Georgia is off to a faster recruiting start in 2022 cycle and how the return of visits might impact it

Georgia football-2022 recruiting-commitments
Kirby Smart and Georgia have eight commitments in the 2022 cycle

Georgia’s only commitment on National Signing Day came not from a player in the current recruiting cycle but rather one in the next cycle as the Bulldogs landed a commitment from defensive lineman Bear Alexander.

Alexander becomes the eighth commitment in the class, giving Georgia eight commitments in the class and the No. 2 overall ranked class in the recruiting cycle.

Related: Big Bear Alexander commits to Georgia

If the eight commitments seem like a higher number than it usually is, that’s because that is the case.

On National Signing Day for the 2020 class, Georgia had just three commitments for the 2021 class. Go back another year, and the 2020 signing class had just three commitments on 2019 National Signing Day.

Georgia is hardly the only team to have that kind of volume in its upcoming recruiting class, as Ohio State has 10 commitments already, LSU has nine and Penn State has eight commitments. But this is new for Georgia, which traditionally picks up most of its commitments later on in the cycle.

In the 2020 signing class, Georgia landed 10 players who would eventually sign with the program after Georgia Dec. 7 game against LSU. Georgia coach Kirby Smart has put a heavy emphasis on senior seasons for high school recruits, which is why the Bulldogs have done more work later on in the cycle.

But COVID-19 threw a wrench into those plans. Twelve states didn’t play high school football this fall, including states with Georgia signees like California, Maryland and  North Carolina. There were also no visits lined up due to the NCAA dead period. The lack of visits ended up accelerating the recruiting process for many.

Now that the 2021 cycle has come to a close and the 2022 cycle is ramping up, that effect has bled into the next recruiting cycle.

“I have always seen January as a chance to jump ahead on the other guys,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “We just have a little more time now because you are on less 2021 kids because your class is pretty much done. ”

Georgia’s final commitment from the 2021 cycle came on Dec. 16 in the form of Xavian Sorey. Other than safety Terrion Arnold, who signed with Alabama, Georgia has spent more time digging into the 2022 recruiting cycle.

Since the creation of the early signing period prior to the 2018 recruiting class, the month of January has become a springboard into the next recruiting cycle.

“We have always put a big emphasis on that next class. That has not changed it has just seemed to be that way,” Smart said. “Those kids are making earlier decisions with the outlook that they may not get visits, or that they may not get an opportunity to go places and do things. ”

The NCAA dead period is set to run through April 15 and the NCAA will have a decision to make as far extending it or possibly allowing recruits to visit once again. It should be noted that Georgia’s spring game is set for April 17, just two days after the dead period is set to expire.

Should the NCAA elect to institute a quiet period, prospects would be able to visit campuses and interact with coaching staffs once again.

The NCAA has yet to announce anything as far as a timetable for a decision but there is a growing sense from some prospects that the visits will be allowed once again for the 2022 class.

“Once that dead period is over, I’m planning on taking my visits in April until then in July,” 4-star wide receiver Kojo Antwi told DawgNation. “July is really that month where I will commit before my senior season.”

Tight end Oscar Delp added that he’s holding up his recruitment in anticipation that visits will once again be a part of the recruiting process.

But he also acknowledges there’s the possibility the normal recruiting process might not come back so quickly.

“I wanna wait until it is all normal,” Delp said. “But I mean if it goes through August like people are saying I will cut my list down to eight. But I’m not committing until I can get on those visits. Unless it gets extended again after August. Then I guess I will go out everywhere on my own.”

Smart himself joins the recruits in hoping that the visits are once again allowed, both so he can meet families and recruits face-to-face and so that he can show off Georgia.

“I am looking forward to getting guys back because I want to find more about them as men when they come to campus,” Smart said. “I want to learn more about their families and have them get around our players, so that we can feel comfortable about the guys we are bringing in.”

Should that date with visits come, players like Alexander, Delp and Antwi will get a chance to see Georgia, along with other suitors for their services. It will put a recruiting cycle that seems to have already moved quicker in terms of commitment timelines back into its normal 110 miles-per-hour speed.

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