Georgia football-UGA
Georgia outside linebacker Nolan Smith has yet to live up to his No. 1-rated recruit billing entering his third year on the team.

ESPN: Recruiting rankings project Georgia loaded with talent for 2021 title run

ATHENS — Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall has been a revolving door of late with players declaring their intention to turn pro or return, and early enrollees filing in.

Emerging stars like JT Daniels, George Pickens, Jordan Davis, Nakobe Dean and Lewis Cine will be at the forefront of the new-look Bulldogs in 2021 when they open the season against Clemson.

The battle between the Bulldogs and the Tigers — teams projected in the preseason top 5 rankings, each with a top 5 Heisman Trophy contender, per oddsmakers — will take center stage.

In addition to the aforementioned Georgia stars, UGA is also banking on highly rated talent like outside linebacker Nolan Smith breaking into the starting lineup.

Smith was the nation’s No. 1 overall rated recruit in the 2019 class per 247Sports, but he’s only credited with one start in his UGA bio.

Digging deeper, ESPN’s paysite article projects Coach Kirby Smart and Georgia to have the second-most talent all the field based on its recruiting rankings from 2017-2021.

Here’s a look at how the SEC teams (and Clemson) ranked in terms of the number of ESPN top 300 prospects projected on the 2021 roster.

1. Alabama (70)

2. Georgia  (61)

4. Clemson (53)

6. LSU (43)

7. Florida (42)

8 Texas A&M (39)

13. Auburn (35)

Per ESPN author Tom VanHaaren, in that span Georgia had ESPN’s No. 1-ranked signing class once (2018), it’s No. 2 class twice,e and the No. 3 signing class once over the four-year evaluation period.

ESPN recognized the following players as five-star prospects when citing the Bulldogs signing 29 Top 100 recruits from 2019 to 2021:

• OLB Nolan Smith

• OL Clay Webb

• DB Kelee Ringo

• OL Broderick Jones

• DL Jalen Carter

• OLB Smael Mondon

Smith is expected to contend for a starting job this season, as is defensive back Kelee Ringo, who missed all of 2020 after undergoing preseason surgery to repair a torn labrum.

Webb and Jones are also expected to compete for starting positions next season in a deep and talented offensive line room. Jones is considered among the favorites for the left tackle position, while Webb will compete at offensive guard.

Carter took over starting duties last season when Davis was injured, and with Davis back, he’ll be competing with senior Devonte Wyatt for the other interior defensive line starting job.

Tailback Kendall Milton, a 5-star prospect when he committed to Georgia (he lost his fifth star before signing) will be locked in competition for carries with returning tailback Zamir White.

Milton suffered a hamstring injury in the preseason and a sprained MCL in November, limiting his work and preventing him from scoring his first collegiate touchdown.

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UGA Players Projected on Campus

RS Senior (2)

WR Demetris Robertson

DT Julian Rochester

Senior (2)

OG Justin Shaffer

DT Devonte Wyatt

RS Junior  (5)

QB Stetson Bennett

OLB Robert Beal

STAR William Poole

CB Ameer Speed

S Latavious Brini

Junior (8)

RB James Cook

OL Jamaree Salyer

NT Jordan Davis

OLB Adam Anderson

MLB Channing Tindall

MLB Quay Walker

S Chris Smith

P Jake Camarda

RS Sophomore (7)

QB JT Daniels

RB Zamir White

TE John FitzPatrick

WR Kearis Jackson

OT Owen Condon

OG Warren Ericson

DE Tramel Walthour

Sophomore (8)

RB Kenny McIntosh

WR George Pickens

WR Dominick Blaylock

DE Travon Walker

OLB Nolan Smith

MLB Nakobe Dean

MLB Trezmen Marshall

S Lewis Cine

RS Freshman (9)

TE Ryland Goede

TE Brett Seither

OT Xavier Truss

OT Warren McClendon

C Clay Webb

NT Tymon Mitchell

DT Bill Norton

DT Zion Logue

MLB Rian Davis

2020 Freshman (25)

QB Carson Beck

RB Kendall Milton

RB Daijun Edwards

TE Darnell Washington

WR Marcus Rosemy

WR Jermaine Burton

WR Arian Smith

WR Justin Robinson

WR Ladd McConkey

OT Broderick Jones

OT Tate Ratledge

OT Chad Lindberg

OT Austin Blaske

OG Devon Willock

C Sedrick Van Pran

C Cameron Kinnie

DT Jalen Carter

DT Warren Brinson

DT Nazir Stackhouse

OLB Mekhail Sherman

CB Jalen Kimber

CB Daran Branch

CB Kelee Ringo

S Major Burns

K Jared Zirkel

Early Enrollees (16)

OT Amarius Mims

QB Brock Vandergriff

OLB Xavian Sorey Jr.

OLB Smael Mondon Jr.

OT Micah Morris

CB Nyland Green

SS David Daniel

TE Brock Bowers

RB Lovasea Carroll

DT Jonathan Jefferson

DT Tyrion Ingram

OLB Chaz Chambliss

WR Adonai Mitchell

DT Marlin Dean

CB Javon Bullard

WR Jackson Meeks