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Who are the top targets for 2018? Let's dive into that today.

DawgNation’s first Z-to-A on 2018 Georgia football recruiting

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

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Welcome to 2018. It is time to start hitting the sled hard on the next wave of talent.

But the truth is Georgia’s recruiting efforts for #RAREBREED18 began all the way back in April of 2015. That’s when the Bulldogs landed what I term to be an unshakeable commitment from 4-star OT Max Wray.

Class of 2018 4-star UGA offensive line commitment Max Wray chats with 4-star junior DE Justin Mascoll prior to the UGA-Auburn game this year. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
Class of 2018 4-star UGA offensive line commitment Max Wray chats with 4-star junior DE Justin Mascoll prior to the UGA-Auburn game this year. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)

Wray was an early member of Georgia line coach Sam Pittman’s massive human being club, but he hasn’t stopped growing.

The Tennessee native is pushing close to 6 feet, 7 inches on the growth chart and already weighs at least 275 pounds. Give or take a protein shake or second dinner or two.

This week seems like the opportune time to deliver Dawgnation’s first major preview glance at the Class of 2018.

The bulk of today’s material will quickly touch on the players I can see UGA signing and or making a major push for in 2018. There are other highly-ranked guys Georgia seems to be trending away from right now.

Those names will not be on this early list. That’s because I see at least a couple of other programs in a better position to earn that prospect’s commitment at this time.

Let’s first set the stage with a couple of big picture topics.

Fearless forecast

My way-too-early definition for another Top 5 class sets the tentpoles for the best possible National Signing Day for Georgia in 2018. It looks like this:

  • Signing the nation’s No. 1 RB and No. 1 and No. 2 prospects at guard
  • Coming back with at least another 4-pack of major DL prospects
  • Adding a pair of QBs for depth with at least 1 dual-threat prospect
  • Signing a true lockdown No. 1 cornerback that stands out nationally
  • Getting more explosive big body types at WR

An early read on class size 

It seemed fairly clear that Georgia was up against the 85-man limit in terms of signees for the Class of 2017. That will affect the class of 2018.

5-star RB Zamir White (left) and 5-star OG Jamaree Sayler are the two biggest targets on DawgNation's board for 2018. (Jeff Sentell / DawgNation.com)
5-star RB Zamir White (left) and 5-star OG Jamaree Sayler are the two biggest targets on DawgNation’s board for 2018. (Jeff Sentell / DawgNation.com)

My feeling here is the program will not sign over the limit for this cycle. The overall scope and depth of the 2019 haul in the state of Georgia also likely calls for a measure of conservation in 2018.

That’s the year to overstuff the program’s coffers in the personnel department.

There also isn’t quite the same number of in-state players in comparison to the 2017 crop.

It means Georgia will have to go out-of-state more to fill this class than it did in 2018.

At this time, I’d bet the number will eventually arrive in the 23-signee ballpark. Maybe even a tick lower than that. That’s not unusual for this cycle.

There are other elite national programs — like Clemson and Ohio State — that also won’t sign anywhere near the limit of players in 2018 because they are all also up against the numbers game.

The Z-to-A: The biggest targets at this time

As stated earlier, this is a way to get everyone on a first-name basis with a few select big-time guys. This offering — as stated a couple of times — will be a Z-to-A list.

That calls for starting with 5-star RB Zamir White for obvious reasons. White and 5-star OG Jamaree Salyer appear to be the 1A and 1B priorities for 2018 based on their overall skill level and what they would offer the program as an immediate impact contributor.

Jamaree Salyer by Jeff Sentell
Pace Academy 5-star OG Jamaree Salyer is the other alpha priority for Georgia in the Class of 2018. (Jeff Sentell / DawgNation.com)

It’s worth nothing I’m only listing serious targets with heavy mutual UGA interest at this point. There’s no sense in rolling off the obvious names like 5-star QB Trevor Lawrence and 5-star DE Xavier Thomas.

I’d be stunned if Lawrence flips and only slightly less shocked if Thomas went anywhere except Clemson or South Carolina.

There’s another trio of elite out-of-state talents that the Bulldogs are also in the running for. That’s 5-star DE KJ Henry, 4-star ILB Teradja Mitchell and 5-star DE Micah Parsons.

Those guys would be welcome additions to the class, but there are other schools out there that also complicate the out-of-state degree of difficulties in signing those guys at this time.

Z is for Zamir White: White, for obvious reasons, would headline the potential UGA class in 2018. He’s the nation’s No. 1 RB and No. 3 overall prospect in 2018.

T is for TK Chimedza, Trey Dean and Tyreke Johnson: There are a lot of “Ts” to watch in this cycle.

Chimedza is a 4-star DT who rates as the nation’s No. 15 prospect at his position. He transferred to IMG Academy from Gwinnett County after his sophomore season.

Dean is an ascending 4-star who already ranks as the nation’s No. 25 safety. He told me that UGA was one of his dream offers along with Alabama and FSU back in December. The Dutchtown standout looked very impressive at the Rising Seniors event back in December.

TK Chimedza is one of Georgia's top targets at DT for the Class of 2018. (IMG Academy / Special)
TK Chimedza is one of Georgia’s top targets at DT for the Class of 2018. (IMG Academy / Special)

Johnson is a longtime 5-star UGA target that is rated as a safety but will be a cornerback at the next level. The Florida native has said many times that he’ll sign with Georgia if decides to play close to home. He’s ranked as the nation’s No. 16 prospect for 2018.

Q is for Quindarious Monday: Monday is all size and length. The 4-star prospect from Carver High in Atlanta stood out as one of the most impressive talents at Rising Seniors. He’s rated as the nation’s No. 17 athlete.

M is for Marquez Ezzard: The 6-foot-1, 195-poun WR humbled the defensive backs at the Rising Seniors practices. He also roasted a tough Rome team for three touchdowns last year. He’s only seen as a 3-star prospect and as the nation’s No. 35 athlete. That will change.

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K is for Kearis Jackson: The Peach County athlete projects as a receiver in this cycle. The 4-star prospect is rated as the nation’s No. 10 athlete. Man, this guy is good.

He lives up to the sterling reputation for Peach County football. That program produces very few busts.

The great players that come out of that program know who to compete and always seem to be tremendous athletes.

J is for Jamaree Salyer: As stated above, he is rated as the nation’s No. 1 OG for 2018 and pegged the No. 8 player overall. In my view, he’s easily the best guard in the 2017 and 2018 classes.

D is for Deontrey Hill and Darnell Jefferies: Hill rates as the nation’s No. 2 OG for 2018. I expect Jake Fromm’s former high school teammate to one day watch his back in Athens, too. He’s also ranked as the nation’s No. 43 overall recruit.

Jefferies rates as a 3-star recruit and as the nation’s No. 32 DT. He won’t be valued that lightly for long. He picked up a long-sought UGA offer late last month.

Brenton Cox has seen his prospect rating shoot up considerably over the last three months. That spike was well deserved. (Jeff Sentell / DawgNation.com)
Brenton Cox has seen his prospect rating shoot up considerably over the last three months. That spike was well deserved. (Jeff Sentell / DawgNation.com)

B is for Brenton Cox: He’s a 4-star that has already gotten his deserved rankings spike.

The 6-foot-5, 235-pounder is rated as the nation’s No. 4 weak-side defensive end.

Go ahead and associate the term “pass rush ninja” with his skill set.

A is for Anthony Cook: Cook, the nation’s No. 2 CB for this cycle, has made several trips to UGA. He’s from Texas and the urge is to think that the Bulldogs are a long shot because of that distance but the 5-star prospect continues to talk up the program in his interviews up to this point.

He rates as the nation’s No. 17 overall prospect for this cycle.

Who’s cleaning up with recruits so far? 

It is way early. It is so early Alabama’s class is only rated No. 10 right now.

Kansas has a higher-rated class of recruits right now than the Crimson Tide and Ohio State. When does that ever happen? Only when it is this early. Penn State currently has the No. 1 class for 2018.

In comparison, the 2017 UGA class only had three pledges at this same time a year ago.

Georgia sits at No. 16 nationally. The Bulldogs currently have three commitments for 2018. That’s Mr. Wray out of Tennessee, plus 4-star Rome OLB Adam Anderson and recent ILB pledge Donovan Georges.

Wray rates No. 6 nationally at his position and at No. 60 overall. Anderson checks in at No. 4 at his position and No. 106 overall after the latest 247Sports Composite rankings.

Georges, a Florida native, was a life-long UGA fan. He’s yet to wow the rankings industry as the 6-foot-1, 225-pounder rates as a 3-star recruit and the nation’s No. 20 overall prospect at his position.

The B-student jumps out on film as a big hitter who was sent on a lot of seek and destroy missions in high school. I think he’d be a 4-star prospect if he played anywhere else other than South Florida, but I’m not so sure he’s woefully underrated as of yet.

I’ll be able to provide a better evaluation on him once I see him live at camp and at a game this fall.

Want to make up your own mind about that? Check out his film.

Quick note about a weekend offer

Norcross punter Jake Camarda told me over the weekend Georgia did indeed offer him a scholarship for the Class of 2018.

The 6-foot-1, 175-pounder politely declined an interview request but told DawgNation that it was a full ride to compete for a spot across a few roles on special teams.

Camarda is seen as a combo specialist with the leg to perform at the college level as a kicker, kickoff specialist and as a punter.

Kohl’s Kicking rates Carmada as the nation’s No. 1 punter for 2018. The Norcross High junior had one previous offer from Rutgers. That service gave him a 5-star rating as both a kicker and a punter.

Camarda was ranked as the nation’s No. 1 punter and also as the nation’s No. 4 kicker.

Here’s a snippet of the Kohl’s evaluation: “One of the most impressive punters we have seen at the high school level. He is ready to start at a Power 5 school right now. He has D1 ability in his field goals and kickoffs as well, cleaning up contact will help him maximize his leg speed and power.” His leg is flat out superior to most kids in his class. Camarda attended the 2016 NSC in Wisconsin. Once again Jake showed why he is the number 1 punter in the nation for the 2018 class with an average of 55+ yards from the charting portions of camp. His leg speed up and through the football is unmatched in his class.

His best tool? He’s got a big leg. Kohl’s said his leg speed up and through the football is unmatched in the Class of 2018.

Camarda’s leg seems proven. But this offer should lead others to the same conclusion: What is Georgia doing offering another punter — even as one as skilled as Carmada — given that it just extended an offer to a punter two cycles again in U.S. Army All-American Marshall Long.

This offer — combined with the recent transfer of Columbia graduate Cameron Nizialek — sheds a little light onto the possibility of Long not being able to recover from the injury that ended his freshman season in 2016.

Here are a few clips of Carmada’s booming leg.

 

 

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Follow Jeff Sentell on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play Between the Hedges. Unless otherwise indicated, player rankings and ratings are from the 247Sports Composite.

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