Beat Alabama? Georgia football has been doing that on the recruiting trail
Want to attack every day with the latest UGA football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel brings at least four days a week. This topic is an overview on the compeition between UGA football and Alabama football the last few years on the recruiting trail.
Georgia has caught up to Alabama. At least on the recruiting trail. Especially lately.
While by no means a certainty, that subject is now a debate. Georgia has always had victories against Alabama on the trail. Senior DE Jonathan Ledbetter is one example of a win. But that was a blip durign the 2015 recruiting cycle. Alabama had the better class that year.
Have the Bulldogs now caught the Crimson Tide on the field? That’s a coaching and player development matter there. That’s the vital next step after the recruiting trail.
That matter will be gauged on the field come Saturday afternoon.
The recruiting scorecard is an easier metric to assess. Georgia dethroned Alabama as the mythical national recruiting champion in 2018. That broke a seven-year run for the Tide at the pinnacle of that summit.
The Bulldogs even signed a record seven prospects with the coveted 5-star rating off the 247Sports composite rankings a year ago.
Alabama, despite its status as a true college dynasty, never signed more than six of those 5-stars in a single recruiting cycle.
Want more fodder for that debate? The first number to start with would be 55.
Have the Bulldogs matched Alabama on the recruiting trail of late? Championship teams are built over the span of 2-3 recruiting classes. Not just one year.
That number says yes.
The “55” is the number of elite prospects both schools have signed over the last three recruiting cycles. That number is important because that’s when Kirby Smart left Tuscaloosa to come home to Athens.
In this instance, DawgNation defines the term “elite prospect” as those 4 and 5-star recruitsthat signed with each school during the 2016, 2017 and 2018 cycles.
“Elite” prospects signed since 2016
- 2016: Alabama 17, Georgia 13
- 2017: Alabama 24, Georgia 21
- 2018: Georgia 21, Alabama 14
- Alabama 2016-2018 elite recruits total: 55
- Georgia 2016-2018 elite recruits total: 55
That was unexpected symmetry to make that point. It was expected to be close, but not on even ground.
That said, there is another layer to look with this. That was Ledbetter’s class in 2015. A lot of those guys will still play a role in this game.
The Bulldogs will employ at least 11 members of that class on Saturday. That was a recruiting year in which Alabama was still clearly the dominant program.
Alabama signed 20 of those elite recruits in that cycle. Georgia was able to sign 13 in that year. Alabama actually built up a 41-26 edge on the recruiting trail over the Bulldogs in the 2014 and 2015 classes.
Here’s another figure to look at. That’s the average recruiting ranking for each program over the last four cycles.
- Alabama: 2.3 (1st overall in that span)
- Georgia: 3.3 (3rd overall in that span)
Big recruiting wins for UGA against Alabama
Of course, those are really all just dancing numbers. Numbers and star ratings and rankings don’t really win football games. That could be seen as a measure of attracting a bevy of recruiters that were on the most wanted lists for a lot of programs.
The general fan would relate more to players. Georgia senior DL Jonathan Ledbetter
Georgia has flipped several prospects away from Alabama in the 2016, 2017 and 2018 recruiting cycles.
The Crimson Tide flipped 5-star receiver Devonta Smith away from UGA in the 2017 cycle, but he was committed to Mark Richt. Not Kirby Smart.
The players matter. So take a second and consider what the Georgia football roster might look like without the services of:
- Former Alabama commit Jake Fromm?
- WR Mecole Hardman?
- DB Richard LeCounte III?
- OLB Walter Grant?
- Former Alabama WR commit Tyler Simmons?
- OLB Adam Anderson?
- OT Isaiah Wilson?
- CB Tyson Campbell?
Those are all contributing Bulldogs who spent a lot of time in their recruiting process considering Alabama.
Georgia tailback D’Andre Swift isn’t on this list. That’s even though he had Alabama in his top 5, but that example as brought up as a means of saying that that group wasn’t chosen lightly.
Swift wasn’t considerly Alabama strongly enough to call it a recruiting victory for the Bulldogs against Alabama. The same would go for Mark Webb Jr., his cousin, in regard to his choice to play for Georgia.
Those Pennsylvania Bulldogs are brought up to note that these names were not chosen lightly.
Those are just the major Bulldog contributors.
There’s another group of players who chose the Bulldogs over a heated recruiting battle which included Alabama that have yet to make their mark in Athens. Demetris Robertson, for instance, was once an Alabama commitment who eventually chose Cal.
When he transferred back to the East coast, the Crimson Tide was once again a contender. Robertson, who rated as the nation’s No. 1 receiver in 2016, is not even included in those totals up above.
Which Bulldogs also strongly considered the Tide? Let’s preface this next series of names by describing them as current Bulldogs who had the Tide among their finalists prior to their college decision.
Those Bulldogs include:
- QB Justin Fields (5-star)
- DB Deangelo Gibbs
- RB Zamir White (5-star)
- WR Demetris Robertson (5-star)
- TE Luke Ford (4-star)
- WR Kearis Jackson (4-star)
- ILB Nate McBride
- DB Otis Reese
- ILB Jaden Hunter
- OL/DL Netori Johnson
- OLB Brenton Cox
- OLB Robert Beal
- Former Alabama OLB commit Quay Walker
There are varying degrees with all of those guys. Alabama coach Nick Saban landed a helicopter on the football field at Grayson High School to see Gibbs. Gibbs was a very contested recruit between both programs.
Saban called McBride from the NFL Draft to talk up his importance to their team. Johnson, like Fromm, was a one-time Alabama commit. Ford at one time had Alabama as his leader.
There is a bigger scoreboard to look at here. These two programs now go after the same players. The Bulldogs now more than hold their own on a lot of those head-to-heads. The toppling of the Tide for the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class of a year ago cemented that status.
But hold on just a minute here. Alabama is still Alabama.
The Crimson Tide recruiting wins against Georgia
Alabama currently has the nation’s top-rated recruiting class for this year. The Bulldogs are at No. 3 on the 247Sports Team composite for 2019.
There are commitments from at least four prospects on Alabama’s 2019 board that the Bulldogs would have loved to have, too. UGA probably has at least three pledges that the Tide want to see on their board at the same time.
The name of the website says one thing, but there is still the reporting mantra to look at this from both sides. And with that, the Tide has won its own battles with the Bulldogs since Kirby Smart arrived in Athens.
The Tide usually takes about three players per season since Smart arrived that appeared very high on both boards.
- 5-star ILB Ben Davis
- 5-star OLB Mack Wilson
- 4-star CB Shyheim Carter
- 4-star OT Elliot Baker
- 4-star DL Phidarian Mathis
- 4-star S Xavier McKinney
- 5-star CB Patrick Surtain, Jr.
- 4-star DL Stephon Wynn, Jr.
- 4-star DL Christian Barmore
Miss any Intel? The DawgNation recruiting archive will get you up to speed just as fast as former Georgia All-American LB Roquan Smith found the ball after the snap.