Here’s Kimberley Nash’s perspective on five of the biggest UGA recruiting stories that people are talking about this week:
1. The Future of the Offensive Line Looks…Bright?
UGA would love to sign an elite-level tackle in this class. Perhaps two. It’s a spot that will see a couple of key exits after the coming season—both John Theus and Kolton Houston will graduate and take their experience with them—and needs a healthy replenishing of talent to keep the running and passing game humming along.
The current crop of guys set to take over next season are already giving the coaching staff reason to be concerned. Concern that was made evident by Coach Mark Richt’s comments, following the team’s first scrimmage of the fall.
“The biggest disparity in the level of readiness is from the No.1 offensive line and the No. 2 offensive line,” Richt said. “That’s the most glaring thing. Our No. 2 unit is not ready to play winning football.”
Keep in mind, UGA signed a decent crop of offensive linemen in the last recruiting cycle. Among them was Sage Hardin and Pat Allen. That said, for him to still say that means a lot of UGA’s success, at least for this season, will hinge on the health of the first-string offensive line.
If any of those guys go down, who will be ready to play? I shudder to consider how bad things could get.
It’s an issue that obviously played a role in UGA’s most recent offer to JUCO tackle Demetri Moore.
UGA doesn’t often offer JUCO guys, but given the urgency of the problem, they’re willing to make an exception. The message to Moore is simple: they want, and need him…bad.
“Coach (Rob)Sale told me that they usually do not offer junior college players,” said Moore to the AJC’s Chris Kirschner. “He said when they do go after junior college players that they really need them to come in and step up.”
While UGA has a legitimate shot to land Willie Allen (he’s already scheduled his official to UGA), and/or Tremayne Anchrum, it’s clear they are digging as deep as they can to fill in the gaps on this crucial unit.
2. Keith Gavin De-Commited from FSU. Does UGA have a legitimate shot?
Florida State lost another commit this week when Keith Gavin decided to reopen his recruitment. Why should his decision to do so matter to UGA fans? Well, for one, Gavin has stated he has an interest in taking another visit to Athens, in the near future.
“I’m going to ‘Bama and Georgia, but that’s all I have set right now,” Gavin told Rob Cassidy of Rivals.com, after making his broken commitment public…“I’ll figure the other stuff out later.”
Is there a reason to take his interest in UGA seriously? Not at the moment, but it is worth noting that he also took a trip to the campus for Dawg Night as well so, obviously, he saw enough to want to come back.
Honestly, I think the bigger threat here is Alabama. He has plans to watch them not only play UGA, but LSU as well, and you just get the feeling they have a bit of momentum with him, if they want it.
Even so, if the atmosphere at Sanford Stadium is anywhere near what many think it will be when those two teams meet, who knows what can happen?
3. Elijah Holyfield Has a Decision to Make
September 4. Elijah Holyfield has targeted that as his decision day and, according to him, he will have five hats on the table: UGA, Auburn, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Alabama. He wants to keep things interesting and he insists that every one of those schools has a real shot.
Let’s just keep it real, shall we?
According to AJC and Dawgnation’s sources, it will be a UGA/Alabama battle. Holyfield has led many to believe that Auburn is a real possibility, in more than a few interviews, but that may be more smoke than fire.
Having said that, the presence of five hats on the table is good showmanship, but that’s all it is…showmanship.
What’ll be interesting to see is whether Holyfield decides to take any more “secret visits” prior to his announcement. If he doesn’t, you have to love UGA’s chances because they were able to leave the last impression.
4. Speaking of being close to a decision, what’s new with Tre Nixon?
With all the chatter about Kyle Davis and October 23 (his announcement date), and Demetris Robertson and his California love (i.e. his interest in Stanford), Tre Nixon might be a name that’s easy to let slip through the cracks.
However, Nixon is a wide receiver that UGA is still very heavily recruiting, and he’s certainly got UGA on his mind. That said, the driver’s seat appears to belong to Penn State and James Franklin. They’ve done a good job of recruiting Nixon thus far and have built a genuine relationship with his mom.
She loves the Nittany Lions and would have no problem seeing her son in Happy Valley.
Even still, Auburn has also emerged as a legitimate candidate. Nixon likes their high-powered offense and thinks he’d fit in well on The Plains.
As of right now, Nixon hasn’t scheduled any official visit, and he may not. But, if it’s true he only plans to take one official, if any, count on it being to the school he intends to choose come Signing Day—if not sooner.
UGA would love to have him, but I’m not sure they’re trending with him as heavily as they were a few months ago.
5. Derrick Brown Has Seen Plenty of UGA
The consensus on UGA, where defensive linemen are concerned, is they can’t sign them all, but if they can land just one more elite one…well.
Derrick Brown opened his senior season on the Georgia High School Football Player of the Year Watch list after a monster first game. A game where he had six tackles for a loss and showed why he is one of the most coveted defensive players in the state.
That said, UGA is still pushing hard to convince him to stay in-state.
As of right now, UGA is looking at Rashan Gary and Derrick Brown. Gary is a looooonnnngggg shot, if ever I saw one; he just hasn’t shown any sustained interest in UGA. Period.
Brown, by contrast, was loving UGA for the longest, but backed off to allow the recruiting “process” to really come his way. He seems to enjoy being free of the “UGA Lock” conversations, and he hopes to keep things as even as all that until he decides to make it official.
As of today, I believe UGA has the advantage. Relationships matter in recruiting and, obviously, Tracy Rocker has done a wonderful job establishing a close bond with Brown.
Of course some might argue that Auburn’s constant presence in his interviews has to mean they’re doing work too. However, by Brown’s own admission, he hasn’t spoken to anyone on that staff since July 26.
Take that for whatever it’s worth.
Kimberley Nash has blogged about UGA’s football recruiting since 2011.