With Georgia set to begin practice on Monday, there will be plenty of new for the Bulldogs. While six members of the 2016 recruiting class enrolled early and participated in spring practice, the other 15 signees will be taking part in their first practice on Monday.
Dawgnation’s Seth Emerson and Chip Towers profiled many of these freshmen through the Next Generation series while Jeff Sentell helped fill in the blanks on how the rest of the class ended up at Georgia.
- Mecole Hardman: For kids at Elbert Primary, “ME-Cole” is beloved: To Georgia fans, Hardman is known as a 5-star athlete who could play offense or defense. But to those in Mr. Eubanks’ class at Elbert County (Ga.) Primary School, he is a teacher. Hardman helps teach special needs children, and it is something he’s been doing long before he was a football star.
- Tyler Simmons: The helicopter kid: how a family got behind a dream: To some, Simmons will be the recruit who flipped from Alabama after Kirby Smart and Nick Saban flew to meet him via helicopter. But to his family, his journey will be remembered for the incredible personal sacrifices they had to make to get Simmons to Georgia.
- Charlie Woerner: There’s more to Charlie Woerner than meets the eye: Woerner’s uncle Scott is Georgia royalty, as he was an All-American on Georgia’s 1980 national championship team. But that isn’t the reason Charlie choose UGA. He actually grew tired of that narrative and is out to write a new one based on his nine-member immediate family.
- Marshall Long: Through family and hometown, Georgia’s new punter was born for this role: Despite his dad being a punter and an NFL punter coming from the same town in North Carolina, Long wasn’t interested in football at first. At one point, he hated it. But through a love for competition and his father, Long eventually found himself with a scholarship offer to Georgia.
- Javon Wims: Javon Wims’ journey one for the books: Wims is the Bulldogs’ only junior-college signee. He also might be the one who most appreciates the luxuries Georgia offers, as his dorm room at Hinds Community College in Mississippi resembled a small closet more than a place to live.
- Solomon Kindley: The lifeguard: Georgia’s biggest player swims against the tide: Kindley is the Bulldogs’ biggest freshman at 370 pounds. He also grew up a Florida Gators fan and took to swimming before he could play football.
- Tyler Catalina: Big brother serves as catalyst for Catalina coming to UGA: Catalina is a graduate transfer from Rhode Island. Catalina’s story is perhaps best told through his older brother Tony, who is almost a foot shorter than him. The only thing that might be greater than the brothers’ height and weight differences is their bond.
- David Marshall: Family lose didn’t derail David Marshall: With the loss of both his mother and grandfather in the span of months, Marshall’s life easily could’ve been derailed. But instead, those tragedies helped get him to Georgia.
- Elijah Holyfield: Elijah Holyfield brings a champion spirit to Georgia: Yes Holyfield’s father his former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield. But Elijah is every bit the athlete his father was. And it was actually Holyfield’s stepfather who helped him pick football over following in Evander’s boxing footsteps.
- Michail Carter: Father’s tough love put Michail Carter on a path to success: Carter’s first offer came from Georgia as a ninth grader. But it took some stern parenting from his father and a closing effort by Smart to get him to Georgia.
- Tyler Clark: Tyler Clark puts his storied town back in the spotlight: Clark comes from one of the most storied football towns in America. Former Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Reeves is from Clark’s hometown, as well as eight other NFL players. But after a long hiatus, Clark’s arrival ends a long drought for the small Georgia town of Americus.
- Chauncey Manac: Chauncey Manac An American success story: Manac comes from a town of less than 2,000 people on the Florida-Georgia border. He also comes from Native American descendants who were once banished to Oklahoma via Andrew Jackson. With some help from his grandmother, Manac made his way to UGA.
- Tyrique McGhee: Early medical scare puts football in perspective for Tyrique McGhee: When McGhee was six years old, doctors found a cyst on his brain that caused him to have grand mal seizures. The family had a choice to make: a risky surgery or medication. The seizures went away and McGhee went on to become a football star.
- Brian Herrien: Georgia running back completes remarkable academic turnaround: Herrin was the last member of the Georgia class to sign his letter of intent. It wasn’t due to lack of talent that made Herrin wait, but rather his academics.
- Jaleel Laguins: Why he kept his commitment to UGA: Following the departure of Mark Richt, Laguins had a chance to reopen his recruiting and seriously considered other schools. So what drew him back to Georgia and Smart?
- Chris Barnes: It’s official: Chris Barnes signs with UGA: Like Laguins, Barnes flirted with the idea of going elsewhere after initially committing to Richt. But after growing tight with many of Georgia’s other signees, he decided he would stay with the Bulldogs.
- Riley Ridley: WR Riley Ridley followed his brother’s advice: Riley Ridley has a famous older brother who was a star for Kirby Smart’s last team. Calvin Ridley led the Crimson Tide in receiving yards last year, and he also helped guide Riley to Georgia. Riley enrolled at Georgia early.
- Ben Cleveland: Get to know UGA Ol commit Ben Cleveland: Cleveland is Georgia through and through. So much so, that he was one of the first players Kirby Smart visited after being hired. Cleveland bought into Smart’s message pretty quickly and reaffirmed his commitment to Georgia. Cleveland enrolled early.
- Isaac Nauta: Tough times drive 5-star tight end Isaac Nauta: Nauta’s family, like many, experienced severe financial struggles during the 2008 market collapse. But his family grew closer because of this and family is ultimately why Nauta decided to play close to home. Nauta enrolled early.
- Jacob Eason: Jacob Eason reaffirms commitment to Georgia: It was the first big win of the Kirby Smart era. The new head coach convinced the 5-star quarterback to stay with Georgia as opposed to committing to rival Florida. Eason enrolled early.
- Julian Rochester: Top defensive recruit is very excited about Kirby Smart: Similar to Cleveland, Rochester was a priority for Kirby Smart. Like Cleveland, Rochester didn’t need much convincing to stay with the Bulldogs. Rochester enrolled early. Rochester was also charged in April following a dorm room incident involving a BB gun.
Chad Clay also signed and enrolled with the Bulldogs but he has since been dismissed from the team following a legal problem.