If this was football season, every coach on the UGA football staff would be holding four fingers up.
This is the second season, though. The most heavily-scrutinized stretch of the off-season. Welcome to the last final stretch of recruiting season. The final frame of official visit weekends means the last chance at on-campus schmoozing for all those top-shelf depth chart imports.
That means the UGA staff is probably holding up all 10 fingers. UGA got its 16th commitment last night in Army All-American punter Marshall Long. That means there could be up to 9-10 more recruits who will commit to the G, but a packed signing class would call for some ninja recruiting stealth, though.
Don’t expect that regardless of how many yellow helicopters are flying over the state. Look for UGA’s class to finish with around 23-24 signees on Wednesday even if a lot of marquee players somehow reverse course to play for new UGA coach Kirby Smart.
The thought of a few UGA flips is a hot topic. Will Tyler Simmons execute a back-tuck away from Nick Saban’s program after that Periscope video last night? Will Alabama safety Jeawon Taylor also flip to UGA? Does the expected plan to see Auburn commit David Marshall back in Athens for his second straight visit foreshadow his new leader?
Those things would all help fill Sanford Stadium for G-Day, but the finish line for those matters looks a little further ahead on Wednesday. Not this weekend. What’s important now? (No. Kirby Smart did not write that sentence.) Read on.
The 3 best things that can happen for UGA this weekend
Secure EJ Price
Did you see his comments about Sam Pittman last week? Did you see his Periscope video with 4-star junior Jamyest Williams? Price is taking his official visit to UGA this weekend. Sure sounds like the former de-commit is trending back toward that “re-commit” column.
Another big-timer up front looks like the biggest hole left to fill for this class.
Keep 4-star JUCO receiver Javon Wims committed
Wims is a plug-and-play wideout for this fall because the program doesn’t have a lot of 6-foot-4 receivers with his ball skills on campus. He’s also well over 215 pounds but has been wooed of late by Miami, Missouri and South Carolina.
He told DawgNation that he was saving the best for last by planning his official visit for this weekend. The receiver position needs to keep him in the fold or that spot becomes a serious minus for this class given that the nation’s top-rated quarterback has been on board for so long.
5-star Demetris Robertson needs to be wishing he was in Athens
Robertson is set to take his official visit to Georgia Tech this weekend. He’s also likely to go on another Alabama visit. That sets up for an official visit to UGA after National Signing Day.
UGA’s chance at securing the nation’s No. 1 receiver shoot up exponentially if his Tech and Tide visits feel more like ground-rule doubles rather than home runs.
DREAM VISIT: Get Lyndell “Mack” Wilson back on campus for an unofficial
This one is outlandish, but Wilson saw UGA for the first time earlier this month on his official. He loves Smart and has eliminated Florida from consideration after that deleted tweet yesterday.
This weekend was set as his official visit to Florida, so he’s got time. Does he go anyway? Does he go to Alabama? He went to Tuscaloosa last week. The door creaks open a little bit more for Smart’s chance at a class-changing addition if he returns to Athens this weekend. Don’t count on it, though. He’ll likely just play for his Carver-Montgomery basketball team over the weekend.
This weekend’s official visitors
4-star DT Michail Carter (Jackson High School/Jackson, Ga.)
- He lines up at 6-foot-4 and 309 pounds
- Rated as the nation’s No. 15 DT and No. 118 overall recruit for the class of 2016
- UGA was his team growing up and his first offer. He feels UGA has the best academic match for his career goals, but there are a lot of reasons why he might go to Alabama, too. Clemson is also looming.
- UGA can’t miss on Derrick Brown and this Under Armour All-American
4-star ILB Jaleel Laguins (Oconee County/ Watkinsville, Ga.
- Committed to UGA since August but recently heard he was still valued by the new staff after there was doubt if he fit the mold at his position in Smart’s defense
- The 6-foot-3, 216-pounder rates as the nation’s No. 10 ILB for 2016
- Showed a lot of class and maturity when he tried to understand the drop-off in attention from Smart’s new staff compared to what he was used to from UGA
- Recent official visits to Florida and LSU. Nick Saban also made an in-home visit, but he did not take an official visit to Alabama last weekend
2-star P Marshall Long (South Rowan High/ China Grove, N.C.)
- The 6-foot-3, 205-pounder de-committed from Virginia Tech this week and then made a new pledge to UGA on Thursday
- UGA special teams coach Shane Beamer recruited him to Virginia Tech prior to taking the UGA job. His fingerprints were all over this one
- The U.S. Army All-American is rated as the nation’s No. 12 punter for 2016
3-star DE/OLB Jaquwan Nelson (Fort Lauderdale High/ Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
- He committed to Syracuse on Jan. 24 but is still expected to be at UGA this weekend at this time
- The 6-foot-4, 230-pounder is rated as the nation’s No. 54 weak-side defensive end
- Interest stems from receivers coach James Coley’s South Florida connections
4-star OT EJ Price (Archer High/ Lawrenceville, Ga.):
- The 6-foot-6, 323-pounder rates as the nation’s No. 8 prospect and No. 84 overall player at his position
- De-committed from UGA back in June. Has already established a strong rapport with new offensive line coach Sam Pittman
- Impressive senior film that’s heavy on the pancakes
- Was named an Under Armour All-American
4-star OT Jauan Williams (Archbishop Carroll/ Washington, D.C.)
- The 6-foot-7, 305-pounder is rated as the nation’s No. 15 offensive tackle and No. 164 overall prospect
- Really hit it off well with Pittman last week on an in-home visit. That secured the UGA official visit this weekend
- Don’t get your hopes up here. He’s trending heavily toward Florida State
- Quoted as saying he already knows his decision so how does he choose UGA when he’s yet to take his official visit
4-star WR Javon Wims (Hinds Community College/ Jackson, Miss.)
- The 6-foot-4, 215-pounder was told by former UGA receivers coach Bryan McClendon that he would’ve gotten a lot of playing time in Athens last year
- Impressive path to the SEC after no big offers out of high school and barely playing in the NAIA his freshman year
- He’s a South Florida native and former UGA coach Mark Richt went after him hard. He took an official visit to Miami. Missouri and South Carolina are also in the mix.
- Look for him to maintain his commitment with a great visit as he’s excited about playing at UGA
- Rates as the nation’s No. 4 junior college receiver and No. 11 junior college player overall
Unofficial visitors (confirmed so far)
- 3-star OL Chris Barnes (UGA commit)
- 4-star DL Tyler Clark (UGA commit
- 4-star RB Elijah Holyfield (UGA commit)
- 3-star DE David Marshall (Auburn commit
This list is obviously going to be fluid throughout the day. We’ll update the list of official visitors for this weekend as changes occur.
Unless otherwise indicated, player rankings and ratings are from the 247Sports Composite.
Jeff Sentell covers UGA football and UGA recruiting for AJC.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play Between the Hedges.