Georgia’s talent infusion for the 2017 cycle is complete.
A few very big names committed early and then signed and are now already enrolled. The remaining 20 members of Georgia’s highly-regarded #SICEM17 signing class signed their letters-of-intent today.
But which guys a little to the left of center stage are also worthy of your attention?
Please allow DawgNation to get you up to Speed. We will start with Mr. Speed.
1) Ameer Speed (Sandalwood/ Jacksonville, Fla.)
Ratings: Nation’s No. 41 CB and No. 354 player overall
Second choice: Michigan State
Why: Speed just committed to Georgia on Wednesday. He’s a guy that hasn’t had a lot of buzz or press at least in the UGA market. But he’d measure at least 6 feet, 3 inches right now under NFL-combine level scrutiny and already weights 195 pounds. He runs a sub-10.6 time on a laser in the 100. He also bench pressed 315 before the start of his senior season. He’s also just 17 years old.
He’s all cornerback despite that size. Do not expect him to trend to safety later in his college career. His high school coach told DawgNation that his playing style and mindset just fits a cornerback rather than a punishing safety flying into the box.
2) Justin Shaffer (Cedar Grove/ Ellenwood, Ga.)
Ratings: Nation’s No. 22 OG and No. 390 player overall
Second choice: Louisville (Hard to say for a guy that committed in Feb. of 2016)
Why: Try to find a tape of the Cedar Grove-Crisp County state playoff semifinal game. Shaffer basically erased major UGA target Markaviest “Big Cat” Bryant from the field that game. Shaffer was originally rated as a tackle, but found a fit with Georgia and line coach Sam Pittman at guard.
Everyone knows his famous teammate. That’s Netori Johnson. But Johnson even admits that his buddy Shaffer is every bit as good as he is. Florida and Mississippi State kicked his tires late but he was not going to take an official visit. He’s one of 12 signees this year that only took an official visit to UGA.
3) Monty Rice (James Clemens / Huntsville, Ala.)
Rating: 3-star (Already enrolled)
Ratings: Nation’s No. 19 ILB and No. 361 player overall
Second choice: LSU
Why: Rice is already at Georgia.
So that will give him a jump start on potentially dodging a redshirt season. Other linebackers might be an athlete but he’s a pure football player. The Alabama native is a pure downhill run stuffer at linebacker. He’s a heat seeker that will find the football.
4) D’Marcus Hayes (Mississippi Gulf Coast CC/ Perkinston, Miss.)
Ratings: Nation’s No. 2 junior college OT and No. 15 overall in the JUCO ranks.
Second choice: Mississippi State
Why: Think about it for a second. He is really the only guy in this year’s class that it would be fair to say that if he’s not playing this fall then something has gone wrong. Look for Hayes to slide into the right tackle spot at the minimum this year. That’s if Isaiah Wynn sticks at left tackle like he spent some time there late in the season.
That gives the young pups at tackle (Andrew Thomas and Isaiah Wilson) a chance to developed without getting thrust in there right away. He’s also a mature college junior and his body can take the SEC physicality in the trenches right away. Looking for another bonus? He also enrolled early but all of those All-American prep stars hogged the headlines.
5) Jake Skole (New York Yankees baseball club/ Roswell, Ga.)
Rating: 3-star (way back in 2010)
Ratings: Nation’s No. 74 safety and No. 987 overall (way back in 2010)
Second choice: Minor league baseball or maybe FSU football.
Why: The first thing is that he’s not going to soak up a scholarship. Minor league baseball will pick up the tab for that. That all makes sense because he put in six seasons of minor league baseball after getting drafted No. 15 overall back in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.
The key point is he’s a grown man that’s already been hardened by the “Crash Davis” minor league life and those long bus rides that come with those journeys. He hit .227 with 35 home runs in 661 minor league games. Now, he’s going to hit SEC tailbacks, tight ends and receivers.
He’ll be rusty but it will seem pretty far-fetched for a lot of 18-year-olds to match his physicality. He should be 25 years old next season. He might also buy a few dinners minus that meal plan.
He’ll walk-on. Technically. Those that love to see the way Kirby Smart manages the bottom of the roster with a little creativity can’t help but like this addition to the team for 2017.