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Georgia football in-state recruiting 2023 recruiting cycle
Under head coach Kirby Smart, Georgia has become one of the best-recruiting programs on a consistent basis. But that has not always been because the Bulldogs have simply relied on the talent in the state of Georgia.
That certainly will have to be the case once again in the 2023 recruiting cycle, following the recent commitments of Caleb Downs and Justice Haynes. The two players were both major targets at positions of need for Georgia. Downs was the No. 1 safety in the country, while Haynes rates as the No. 3 running back. They are also the No. 1 and No. 2 players in the state of Georgia for this class.
Related: What Alabama is getting in 5-star safety Caleb Downs
And despite both playing their high school football in the Atlanta area, the two blue-chip prospects will be playing their college football at Alabama.
With those two players now committed, 13 of the top 15 prospects from the state are committed. Only three of them are pledged to Georgia, with No. 6 Bo Hughley, No. 9 CJ Allen and No. 10 Gabe Harris being the commits. Of those three, Hughley is the only one to rank in the top 100 overall prospects.
Naturally, this has led to some worry amongst the Georgia fan base about how the Bulldogs are recruiting in this cycle. The top two players spurning Georgia for Alabama stings no doubt. The Crimson Tide hold commitments from three of the top four players in the state of Georgia in this cycle. The other is heading to Clemson.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart spoke recently with Josh Pate of 247Sports about his philosophy of recruiting in the state of Georgia. Unsurprisingly, Smart reiterated he would love to lock down the state of Georgia.
“Take care of home. If I could do things in the state and not have to leave, I would certainly do that,” Smart said.
Georgia though is still recruiting very well to this point in the cycle. The Bulldogs hold 18 commitments and the No. 3 overall class at this point in time. While Georgia doesn’t have a running back to offset the loss of Haynes, the Bulldogs did land the No. 3 safety in Joenel Aguero on Saturday.
It also is not as talent-rich — at least based on recruiting rankings — as the state has been in past cycles. On average, the state of Georgia produced 11.8 top-100 recruits over the previous five recruiting cycles. As of right now, only six prospects cross that mark in the 247Sports composite rankings.
That is why Smart knows he must recruit nationally. Consider that the four players who scored touchdowns in the national championship game for Georgia came from North Carolina, Texas, California and Washington.
“But the state doesn’t necessarily provide what you need,” Smart said. “So when you go to the grocery store, you got to know what you need. You’re going to buy this, this or this. Well I might need an offensive tackle and it might be a down year at offensive tackle in our state. So I gotta go outside.”
For example, it’s very obvious Georgia has a need at wide receiver in this recruiting cycle. It’s why Georgia went out and got Bryan McClendon as the program’s replacement for Cortez Hankton. It is not a strong year in-state at the wide receiver position in Georgia, as there is only one wide receiver prospect in the cycle currently rated as a blue-chip recruit.
So Georgia has to look outside the Peach State to find players. It now has two wide receiver commits in Raymond Cottrell of Florida and Yazeed Haynes of Pennsylvania.
Related: Recruiting questions build on offensive side of the ball after Georgia football loses out on Justice Haynes
As it stands, Georgia is actually doing about on par with what it did in-state prior to the pandemic. The 2019 recruiting cycle saw Georgia sign three of the top-15 players in the cycle. The 2020 recruiting haul had only two of the top 15 players from the state.
The last two cycles saw Georgia lean more on in-state recruiting, signing 13 players from GEorgia the 2021 recruiting cycle. Georgia landed eight of the top 15 players in the state in the said cycle, and followed it up by landing 6 of the top 15 recruiting cycle in last year’s recruiting class. Coincidently, visits and cross-country travel were limited by the pandemic. That is not the case as it stands in 2023.
But for every Jadon Haselwood and Tank Bigsby Georgia missed on, the Bulldogs were able to go national to land players such as George Pickens and Kendall Milton. This is where it’s also worth mentioning that only once in the seven recruiting cycles Smart has been a part of at Georgia have the Bulldogs signed the top player in the state.
That came during the height of the pandemic recruiting cycle, as the Bulldogs signed Amarius Mims in 2021. The worst recruiting class Smart has signed in that same span ranked No. 6.