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Jeff Sentell / AJC
Crisp County 4-star DE Markaviest "Big Cat" Bryant is the only undecided official visitor at UGA this weekend. He'll be joined by seven commitments and a lot of blue-chip 2019 players.

Commits, cookie cakes and ‘Big Cat’ make up UGA’s official visits this weekend

Want a daily lap through Georgia football recruiting? That’s what the Intel brings at least five days a week. We’ll cover the news and which way this 4-star or 5-star might lean and add perspective to help fans figure out what it all means.

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There will be one birthday cake plus eight cookie cakes. That will cover the weekend fare for seven “SICEM17” commitments plus one Big Cat.

That’s who will be at UGA this weekend for one of the last three remaining official visit weekends in the Class of 2017. The cookie cakes typically welcome UGA official visitors when they check into their hotel rooms.

First, let’s rattle off the commitment-slash-official-visitors-list.

The one major undecided target in town this week will be Crisp County 4-star DE Markaviest “Big Cat” Bryant. Bryant has already taken an official visit to Alabama, but I don’t see there being any room at the inn for him there.

The Crimson Tide are expected to close with at least five other All-American talents that do not play in South Georgia. It is largely and Georgia-Auburn battle here for Bryant and that bout should go 15 rounds all the way to National Signing Day.

To carry that metaphor out further, the consensus of his latest interviews still show the Bulldogs ahead on all the scorecards.

When asked, Bryant noted the Bulldogs were the team to beat. We’ve written about him extensively and projected him to UGA for quite some time. But the best example I can provide of what he’s like on and off the field is at the end of this link.

When he signs, I think Bryant will become one of the most important members of the class because of what looks to me like an inexhaustible work ethic. There’s that to go along with his 4-star rating and status as the nation’s No. 13 weak-side defensive end.

There will also be a horde of Class of 2019 prospects visiting Athens on Saturday. The best sophomore players from Georgia and Texas are playing at “TRU19” All-Star game at 2 p.m. on Sunday at Grady Stadium in Atlanta.

They are scheduled to visit UGA on Saturday after a morning practice.

Alabama LB commitments Vandarius Cowan and Markail Benton had made mention of taking official visits to UGA this weekend earlier this month on social media. But they both canceled on those plans. Neither was seen as a serious flip candidate for the Bulldogs.

If they ever made it to UGA, it was going to be under the premise that every blue-chip recruit gets to take visits. Athens is no doubt a Top 10 town when it comes to the best places for a young adult to find some weekend fun.

Where are the other targets going?  

There are five other names to think about for this weekend. Those would be the major UGA targets which are visiting elsewhere. The first will be 5-star DT Aubrey Solomon. He’ll be in sunny California at USC this weekend.

Bet you’ve heard of him. If you haven’t then here are the three latest DawgNation posts regarding the nation’s No. 31 overall prospect.

He’s taking his likely next-to-last official visit to Southern California this weekend. Solomon’s family hails from California.

This trip is largely a recreational visit. But I’ll be honest here and note that anything is possible with this decision. If Solomon commits to the Trojans in the middle of the Coliseum, I’ll just add a new chapter to this off-the-wall recruiting story.

That should not happen. But I’ve learned by now to expect the unexpected.

The other four names are 4-star WR Nico Collins, 3-star undecided CB Ameer Speed, 4-star ILB target Leonard Warner III and 3-star DT commit Devonte Wyatt.

Collins, the nation’s No. 13 WR from Alabama, is no longer taking a scheduled official visit to check out his home state Crimson Tide this weekend. I don’t think that Alabama is a contender in this fight anymore largely because of location and then positional need.

The 6-foot-5 standout from Clay-Chalkville High should eventually make his choice between Georgia and Michigan.

Speed, a 6-foot-3 cornerback from Florida, is visiting North Carolina this weekend. He’s set to visit UGA next weekend on his official visit.

Wyatt is visiting South Carolina. That’s the school which gave him his first SEC offer and the school that Georgia flipped him from last fall. Wyatt genuinely loves UGA, but he values loyalty.

4-star Brookwood LB Leonard Warner III was at UGA-Auburn for another unofficial visit on Saturday. He has yet to make his college commitment. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
4-star Brookwood LB Leonard Warner III was at UGA-Auburn for another unofficial visit on Saturday. He has yet to make his college commitment. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)

The Gamecocks were the first big school that captured his recruiting attention and he’s not used to taking a lot of visits and seeing a lot of schools. The Bulldogs have to hold on to the Towers High track star because a miss on Aubrey Solomon and a flip to the Gamecocks would make DT the one bald spot amid a lush crop of recruits for 2017.

Warner, who seems to have really liked Georgia for a long time now, needs to take his official visit to Stanford this weekend before he’s ready to come to a decision regarding his college future.

He’s one of the sharpest players I’ve ever come across. The 4-star ILB will be a likely team captain one day at Georgia or Stanford.

Warner is rated as the nation’s No. 7 ILB for the Class of 2017.

Who did Georgia’s coaches visit yesterday? 

The biggest one of those is a story best told with a picture. The only thing missing was a pair of khakis.

That’s Alabama’s defensive staff and a pair of Georgia’s coaches all in Leesburg to see 5-star Aubrey Solomon on the first day that coaches could get back out on the road and recruit again.

The Crimson Tide sent 3 coaches. That sum included their defensive coordinator in Jeremy Pruitt. UGA countered with defensive line coach Tracy Rocker and ace South Georgia recruiter (and outside linebackers coach) Kevin Sherrer.

Does anyone want to play a caption contest with this one? I’m sure if I dropped a line about Nick Saban actually being in the picture in the middle that it would get me in a lot of trouble with the Crimson caravan.

I wonder which school painted the bleakest picture of their defensive tackle depth chart and also if they went out to Cracker Barrel afterward.

Just trying to draw a laugh, folks. Where was Kirby?

Smart was on the road trying to do whatever he can to pry 5-star QB Trevor Lawrence away from his commitment to national champion Clemson.

 

Is it time to start talking about 2018 yet?

Almost. There are a few more weeks of the 2017 cycle to wrap up but we’ll broach that topic with the best possible news regarding the Class of 2018. The commitment board for that group can stand to use some whey protein at this time.

There’s a long-time commit in Rome’s 4-star OLB Adam Anderson and then an even longer-time commit in Franklin High School (Franklin, Tenn.) 4-star OT Max Wray.

5-star OG Jamaree Salyer has been rated as the nation's No. 1 OG for 2018. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
Pace Academy 5-star OG Jamaree Salyer is rated as the nation’s No. 1 OG for 2018. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)

That’s it.

I learned this week that the best possible news for 2018 will be on campus next weekend for an unofficial visit. That’s 5-star guard Jamaree Salyer.

Salyer has been pretty much a life-long friend with Georgia 4-star OT commit Andrew Thomas. Those two are teammates at Pace Academy and it seems highly plausible that they will both wind up in Athens.

Salyer is at worst the No. 2 target on Georgia’s board for 2018. He’s the best offensive guard in the 2017 and 2018 classes this year in my opinion and it isn’t even close.

I think he’s a Day 1 starter at center or guard at UGA or anywhere else for that matter.

Just a little more about 2018  

Zamir White, a 5-star RB from North Carolina, is the only other remaining prospect that DawgNation should value as highly as Salyer. White has the edge in ranking at No. 4 overall. Salyer checks in at No. 10.

That’s likely a guard thing and not a skills measure. The top-rated guard in 2017 is Ohio-State bound Wyatt Davis. The nation’s No. 2 guard after that checks in at No. 65.

Deontrey Hill is the nation's No. 2 OG prospect for the Class of 2018. (Jeff Sentell / DawgNation.com)
Deontrey Hill is the nation’s No. 2 OG prospect for the Class of 2018. (Jeff Sentell / DawgNation.com)

Georgia is also in great shape with the nation’s No. 2 guard for 2018. That’s Houston County’s Trey Hill. Hill, at 6-foot-4 and 325 pounds, has been a high school teammate with UGA freshman QB Jake Fromm.

He rates as the nation’s No. 2 overall guard for 2018.

Hill and Salyer already make up the best potential storyline for 2018. That’s the very likely chance that the Bulldogs will claim the nation’s Top 2 guards in 2018. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that five of the state’s Top 10 players for 2018 have already committed elsewhere for that class. That’s the main reason why the Bulldogs will have to recruit very well out-of-state in 2018 if they wish to maintain their runaway recruiting momentum in 2018.

The way to another Top 3 class is going to have to be built on out-of-state players like Florida 5-star DB Tyreke Johnson, White and Wray.

What else is at the top of the shopping list for 2018?

  • 1 Pro-Style and 1 Dual-Threat QB
  • A big-time RB like White
  • 1 5-star at WR and another rated among the nation’s Top 20
  • 2 dynamic pass rushers
  • 1 of the nation’s top TEs
  • The standard Kirby Smart order of 2-3 elite defensive tackles
  • Sam Pittman’s standard order of at least 2 massive offensive tackles (Wray checks off one of those.)
  • At least 1-2 elite cornerbacks (Johnson will play corner.)