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Kirby Smart ‘really excited’ about Bulldogs’ early Christmas recruiting haul

Chip Towers

ATHENS — Nothing’s final. Recruiting won’t be over until February. But no matter when or how one breaks it down, it’s not too early to pronounce that Georgia’s 2018 is going to be one of the nation’s best.

Depending on how it flushes out, it may be considered THE best.

As it is, the Bulldogs’ 2018 class stands No. 2 in the nation behind only Ohio State on the first day of the early-signing period, according to 247 Sports composite rankings. It includes six 5-star-rated prospects, the most in the country so far and the most Georgia has ever had in one class. And they play multiple positions: quarterback Justin Fields, outside linebacker Adam Anderson, offensive tackle Cade Mays, offensive guard Jamaree Salyer, defensive end Brenton Cox and running back Zamir “Zeus” White.

In all, Georgia secured the services of 18 players. More are surely on the way.

“There are a lot of great kids choosing to come to Georgia,” coach Kirby Smart said following the Bulldogs’ seventh Rose Bowl practice on Wednesday. “The number one stat about this class to me is 10 of the 17 went to a state championship game; six of the 17 won a state championship game. I think that’s just remarkable. Nine guys out of the 17 had over a 3.0 GPA, which is a major emphasis for us. Three of these guys had offers from Ivy League schools. So we’re really excited about this class.”

While Georgia has already secured nearly 80 percent of its class based on scholarship numbers of the Smart said the Bulldogs are not about to relax.

The early signing period continues Thursday and Friday. Then national signing day commences as usual the first week of February, falling on Feb. 7 in 2018.

“(Recruiting is) still on your plate because there are still spots left,” Smart said of recruiting. “You’re always recruiting. I think there will be some pretty intense battles in January. You can’t relax and say it’s done.”

Now comes the hard part. Georgia has to be able to fit them all in.

Of the early signees, at least seven of them are expected to enter as early enrollees. One of the signees — defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt of Decatur — is already in Athens and practicing with the team. That means the Bulldogs have to make sure their total number of students on athletic aid does not exceed 85.

So far, Georgia’s 2018 class appears to be offensive line-heavy. The Bulldogs inked five offensive linemen on Wednesday, including the two aforementioned 5-star prospects. But it also includes three outside linebackers and two running backs, among other positions.

“Everybody will talk about the offensive line and that group is really special,” Smart said. “But I think we addressed a lot of areas. There are a lot of defensive players we’re going to lose, the senior leadership, with 25 sacks between Lorenzo and Bellamy. With that going out, we had to find some guys to come in and help and that’s why we’re excited about the guys who joined us.”

In the meantime, Smart is eager to make preparations for the College Football Playoffs 100 percent of his focus. The No. 3 Bulldogs (12-1) face No. 2 Oklahoma (12-1) in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1 in Pasadena, Calif.

“It’s kind of a confused state for me,” Smart said. “I usually come in here and talk about practice and we just got through with practice. So my mind is on practice and on Oklahoma. But with this unique experience, it’s been an interesting day, to say the least.”

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