Here’s Kimberley Nash’s perspective on five of the biggest UGA recruiting stories that people are talking about this week:
1. Calling the Shots?
Whatever offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer’s plan is for UGA’s offense, we obviously haven’t seen it yet. Last Saturday afternoon against Alabama, UGA flat-footed it’s way to a 38-10 loss, leaving a nation of fans scratching its collective head. One of the more high-profile prospects in town for that contest was 5-star tight end Isaac Nauta (IMG Academy, Fla.).
Nauta chose the UGA-Alabama game for his official visit. He’s made it clear that during each one of those visits, he intends to look closely at the offenses to get an idea for how they use the tight end spot.
Schottenheimer hardly gave him what he was looking for on that particular day. UGA’s tight ends were not a factor.
However, luckily for UGA and Schottenheimer, there was game film available. Game film that showed Nauta exactly what he needed to see about UGA’s plans for their tight ends, when the opportunity presents itself.
Said Nauta, to Dawgs247’s Kipp Adams, “I sat down with Coach Schotty (Brian Schottenheimer) in his office, and he was showing me film of what they want to do with their tight ends, and what they have done with them so far. There are definitely a ton of opportunities. The game did not completely show it, but all the film that I watched did.”
Between Nauta’s comments, and those of his mother, you have to believe Nauta’s decision will ultimately come down to UGA, Ole Miss, and TCU.
Oh and, speaking of Nauta and UGA’s chances with him…
2. Garrett Walston Has De-committed
Walston committed to UGA on June 30, 2015, but, since his commitment, UGA has also received a commitment from 4-star Charlie Woerner (Tiger, Ga.), who could also play tight end but prefers receiver. They’ve also not been shy about their desire to sign Nauta.
Keep in mind, UGA only ever planned to sign one tight end. One.
Since Nauta de-committed from FSU, he has been to UGA’s campus multiple times. Walston, by stark contrast, hasn’t been back to Athens, Ga., since Dawg Night. Even more, his decision to choose UGA over UNC was a tough one. It really came down to the wire for him, but it’s clear the relationships he built during the recruiting process, with UNC, remained solid.
When you factor that into the fact that UGA has been more dedicated to wooing Nauta, than keeping Walston, this parting of ways is not nearly as surprising as it may look on the surface.
That said, what does Walston’s de-commitment, along with UGA’s decision to let him without putting up much of a fight, say about where they are with Nauta?
I can tell you this much, it could hardly be bad thing.
3. O-line is Still a Big Question Mark, So There’s Plenty of Room for New Blood.
If you’re an offensive line prospect, and you’re hoping to snag some early playing time, you could certainly do a lot worse than UGA. The current offensive line is a mixed bag. There’s talent there, but the inconsistency from week-to-week is troubling.
Last week showcased the deficiencies on a deeper level as the pass protection fluctuated between solid and soup. And we need not mention how dreadful the run protection was that day.
That said, guys like 3-star Demetri Moore (Miss.) and 5-star Greg Little (Texas) would do well to continue paying attention to just how useful they could be for UGA; especially when you consider the fact that behind UGA’s current starters, the depth is shaky at best.
As a matter of fact, I don’t know that any one of the guys waiting in the wings would be ready to step into a full-time starter’s role next season, if asked.
That fact, in and of itself, is frightening.
Even so, while Little clearly enjoyed himself during his official visit to UGA for the Alabama game, Moore nearly pledged to the Auburn Tigers during his official visit to their campus this past weekend, so there’s that to consider as well.
In all honesty, UGA has been trying to build depth and consistency on the offensive line for so long that it would be funny, if it wasn’t so frustrating.
4. Tennessee Up Next. Another Week to Impress.
4-star wide receiver Kyle Davis (Lawrenceville, Ga.) was at the Alabama game last Saturday, and he surely didn’t miss how little UGA targeted any wide receiver other than Malcolm Mitchell. I don’t know what the game plan was going in, but it’s obvious execution was a problem, and every skill position suffered as a result.
That said, Davis will have another opportunity to see what UGA can do when the Bulldogs vist Knoxville, Tenn., this weekend to take on the Volunteers. Davis will be on his official visit there and will likely bump into a couple of other UGA targets. 4-star ATH Mecole Hardman (Elberton, Ga.) and 5-star defensive tackle Derrick Brown (Buford, Ga.) are also also expected to be in attendance for the game.
Schottenheimer has made it clear that he intends to play both quarterbacks, and he’s confident that starting QB Greyson Lambert will have a better showing than he did against Alabama.
Either way, UGA has a chance to redeem itself and, hopefully Schottenheimer starts playing a bit more to each quarterback’s strengths.
If the running game can find a foothold, then Brice Ramsey could find a stronger level of comfort in the passing game. People forget that he thrived in an offense (Wing-T) that worked well when the play-action pass was made available.
Ramsey may only have two solid years of starting experience, from high school, but when he was able to roll out of the pocket and search for vertical scoring targets, he was at his best. Tennessee has had their share of issues with quarterbacks who can throw on the move, so Ramsey has a genuine opportunity to make some plays if UGA can get the run game going and Schottenheimer can put him in the right position.
As for Greyson Lambert, he’s not going to air it out for you, but if he can get into a rhythm, he can make defenses miserable. Yes, I said that out loud: miserable.
Lambert will never be former UGA quarterback Aaron Murray, but he can be efficient with the football if he can find time in the pocket and his receivers run the right routes.
Did both look like train wrecks last Saturday? Yes, but who the h-e-double-hockey-sticks didn’t look bad on last Saturday?
The point is, there is a chance for redemption against the Volunteers, with some very important people once again watching.
Speaking of quarterbacks…
5. Take Two or Stick With One? And if Two, Then Who?
Folks are asking the question: should UGA take two quarterbacks in 2017?
The short answer, of course, is “yes, because they need to build better depth at that position”. However, there is never a short answer in recruiting because there are always other elements to consider.
For one, if you take another quarterback in 2017, will that prospect be another 4- or 5-star player? And, if so, are you willing to take the chance that one of them will almost definitely transfer once it’s clear they won’t be anything on the depth chart but No. 2?
Think about it, there aren’t a lot of players, in this day and age, who would be willing to hang out like Hutson Mason and D.J. Shockley. It takes a special kind of patience to stick with a team when you know you’ll only have one year to shine.
Former UGA quarterback Aaron Murray said he likely would have transferred had he lost out to former LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger. Christian LeMay, during his recruitment, once made it clear that he had no desire to ride the pine for three or four years waiting for Murray to graduate.
The point is this, if you think current 2018 quarterback prospect Trevor Lawrence (Cartersville, Ga.) would prefer to come in behind 2017 4-star commit Bailey Hockman (Powder Springs, Ga.) and, potentially, wait his turn, I have some beachfront property to sell you in Antarctica.
Lawrence may only be a sophomore in high school, but he’s already being courted by the likes of Tennessee and Clemson. Both would offer him a much earlier playing opportunity than UGA. So, in my opinion, he’s a nice dream, but he has better opportunities to consider.
But, what about 2017? Lawrence is an ‘18 guy, so never mind him. Surely, UGA can bring in two for 2017.
Again, said the owl, yes, but who? who?.
Well, whether or not UGA is willing to answer that question is worthy of note, but I will say that prior to offensive coordinator Mike Bobo’s jettison to Colorado State, he was looking closely at 4-star QB prospect Jake Fromm (Warner Robins, Ga.).
Fromm is a prototypical pro-style quarterback, with some escapability skill. He performed fairly well at UGA’s 7-on-7 event this past June, but how much contact has been maintained between him and the new offensive staff is anybody’s guess.
I can tell you this much, Fromm impressed Steve Spurrier so much, after only one year as his team’s full-time starter, that Spurrier said he’d stay at South Carolina six more years if Fromm committed to the Gamecocks.
Another option, if UGA chooses to reopen the lines of communication, might be 4-star Davis Mills (Norcross, Ga.). UGA’s contact with him broke down after the commitment of Hockman, but it’s becoming clear that UGA needs more quality depth at that position, and could stand to sign an extra quarterback.
Even so, Mills is just as focused, if not more focused, on his academic future. So while playing time is certainly a nice carrot to wave, he’s not going to be solely influenced by that and that alone.
I won’t belabor my point any longer.
The 2017 class is stacked with talent at the quarterback position, so if there were ever a year for UGA to dig deep and try and grab two, that is the year to get it done.
Kimberley Nash has blogged about UGA Football Recruiting since 2011.