Georgia football: The recruiting road map for next 21 days looks very big for the class of 2022

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It looks like a very big month ahead for news regarding Georgia football with the 2022 cycle on the recruiting trail.

Want to attack every day with the latest UGA football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel brings. This entry takes a brisk look at all the moving pieces for the UGA recruiting effort over the next month. 

The NCAA moved back its dead period until the end of May, but there is some hope. We have seen a few edits on social media with recruits scheduling official visits to their selected schools in June.

The pandemic world of recruiting has been quite an adjustment. It is hard to conceive that the new head coaches and their staffs at Auburn, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vanderbilt have yet to host a recruit on campus for a visit of any kind. The relatively new staffs at Arkansas, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Missouri were only able to host recruits in December of 2019 and about four weeks in 2020 before COVID-19 shut everything down.

That hasn’t stopped some of the top targets for UGA in the 2022 cycle from deciding those on-campus visits are a tad unnecessary. Despite one very recent postponement, there is a quartet of names set to make their commitments over the next three weeks. They will do so without the benefit of the on-campus unofficial or official visits that the majority of their peers are still pining for.

These decisions will include some very blue chips for DawgNation. As it stands today, we are set to see the Nos. 1, 2, 5 and 6 recruits on the weekly “Before the Hedges” top targets list make their decision in the next 20 days.

Those moves on the 2022 recruiting calendar for Georgia are certainly going to shape the 2022 class as a whole. Let’s take a look at everything that’s set to happen in the next month.

Emmanuel Henderson (March 13)

  • The DawgNation read: Emmanuel Henderson feels UGA “is a great place to be”
  • Where he’s from: Geneva County High School (Hartford, Alabama)
  • Height and weight: 6-1/185
  • DawgNation “top targets” ranking: No. 6
  • His 247Sports Composite rankings: Nation’s No. 2 RB/No. 28 overall prospect
  • Perceived contenders: Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Georgia and LSU
  • Why it would be Georgia: The Bulldogs, especially Kirby Smart and Dell McGee, have been recruiting Henderson like he was a 5-star RB in the 2021 class. Not the 2022 cycle. Henderson’s mother lives in Columbus and he’s been to UGA before. He loves the pedigree of the RB position in Athens. 
  • Why it wouldn’t be Georgia: Henderson is badly wanted by Alabama and Auburn. Alabama would seem to have an irresistible resume and pitch, but there are some Auburn ties to consider. If the Tigers do land this prospect, it would be a big coup for new coach Bryan Harsin and also second-year RBs coach Carnell “Cadillac” Williams at his alma mater. Jim Bob Striplin, the head coach at Geneva County, was also a former backup quarterback at Auburn. 
  • What a “Go Dawgs” tweet from Kirby Smart means here: It sets the RB position up nicely for the class with another 5-star prospect. Henderson, also a basketball standout, would be the “Lightning” model in the “Thunder and Lightning” combination McGee loves to see in his RB signing classes. Henderson’s game brings to mind a slightly faster version of former Auburn star Kerryon Johnson. 
  • What happens if UGA isn’t the move here: There will be the ho-hums of its is always hard to pry a 5-star prospect out of Alabama, but it will also Georgia to focus on other very high-value targets at the RB position like the very gifted Mississippi RB Branson Robinson, Tennessee 4-star Jordan James and versatile Virginia 4-star Tevin White. 

Did you know the weekly DawgNation.com “Before the Hedges” program is available as an Apple podcast? Click to check it out and download it. 

Emmanuel Henderson was limited by an ankle sprain in 2020, but ran for 46 touchdowns and 2,000 yards as a sophomore in 2019. (Emmanuel Henderson/Courtesy photo)

Jordan “Lockdown” Allen (March 13)

Allen, an impressive 3-star CB from Louisiana, was set to make his decision on March 13 before opting to take a little more time. He told DawgNation to look for him to think it over a little longer. It sounds like April or May might be his new estimated decision time frame.

He hasn’t allowed a downfield catch on him in two varsity seasons. He’s also matched up against some fine talent during those battles, including an LSU receiver commitment.

He was looking to make his commitment sooner rather than later because he’s looking to make sure he locks down a spot at one of his preferred schools. Georgia offered him a scholarship back on Jan. 21 and it remains his pinned tweet.

That’s unique. To say the least. Allen said he is in contact with the UGA staff daily and feels like a priority to the staff.

RELATED: Check out the latest DawgNation read on Jordan “Lockdown” Allen

Mykel Williams (March 15)

  • The latest DawgNation read on Mykel Williams
  • Height and weight: 6-foot-5/263.
  • Where he’s from: Hardaway High School (Columbus, GA)
  • DawgNation “Top Targets” ranking: No. 2
  • His 247Sports Composite rankings: Nation’s No. 4 DT/No. 42 overall prospect 
  • Perceived contenders: Kentucky, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, LSU and Southern Cal. 
  • Why it would be Georgia: Georgia has done a very good job prioritizing this in-state DL and recruiting his entire family. Ace recruiter Dell McGee and defensive line coach Tray Scott are his priority recruiters. Scott has sold several prospects on the All-American line he is forming in the 2022 class. Scott is arguably the hottest recruiter on the UGA staff right now. With the lack of visits over the last year, the two times Williams visited UGA as a sophomore in 2019 for games still stands out. 
  • Why it wouldn’t be Georgia: Kentucky and Southern Califonia actually have some real footing in the recruitment process. There’s a good chance Williams visits both schools this summer regardless of his decision on March 15. Floria and Georgia Tech are still likely outside his top tier of schools. 
  • What a “Go Dawgs” tweet from Kirby Smart means here: The Bulldogs land another All-American DL and the top-rated lineman in the state for 2022. It would also loom large in the decision for future D-line prospects down the road in this class. Georgia would have the nation’s best D-line class for 2022 with three likely 5-stars on the 247Sports Composite rankings. 
  • What happens if UGA isn’t the move here: It would mean that Tray Scott’s batting average for All-American DL’s takes a dip. If this March decision does not go Georgia’s way, the Bulldogs would not let up on the recruiting pressure here. 

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Mykel Williams had 17 sacks last fall as a junior at Hardaway High in Columbus. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

Malaki Starks (March 25)

  • The latest DawgNation read on Malaki Starks: Starks set a special commitment date
  • Where he’s from: Jefferson High School (Jefferson, Ga.)
  • Height and weight: 6-2/210
  • DawgNation “Top Targets” ranking: No. 1
  • His 247Sports Composite rankings: Nation’s No. 4 ATH and No. 29 overall 
  • Perceived contenders: Alabama, Georgia and Clemson
  • Why it would be Georgia: For starters, there is location and comfort. The UGA campus is probably only about two dozen Bryson DeChambeau tee shots from his community. The folks in Jackson County are very pro-Georgia and the Bulldogs have recruited him like gangbusters for some time. He’s been to UGA far more than any other school. He’s also very good friends with 5-star QB commit Gunner Stockton in this class. The Bulldogs are also very much in need of an athletic playmaking safety in this class. Lewis Cine is likely will likely shoot very high-up NFL Draft boards after his junior season in 2021. 
  • Why it wouldn’t be Georgia: Nick Saban and Alabama have made Starks a priority. They were hosting him on Zoom calls last fall during their championship run. There’s a family connection at Clemson. His uncle, Jerome Williams, was a tight end at Clemson under Danny Ford from 1986-1989. It can be argued that the two programs in the country that can say they have both recruited and performed better on the field than the Bulldogs are the Tide and Tigers, respectively. 
  • What a “Go Dawgs” tweet from Kirby Smart means here: Starks can be a first-round NFL Draft pick one day, but his character and demeanor are even more outstanding than that. He could be a well-respected team captain in Athens about as quickly as Azeez Ojulari was able to do so. 
  • What happens if UGA isn’t the move here: It will become that much harder for Georgia to beat Alabama or Clemson with it all on the line in the near future. If he leaves the state, this will be about as big of an in-state loss for Smart and the UGA staff as any during their time in Athens. 
Malaki Starks is a 5-star prospect from Northeast Georgia in the 2022 cycle. He’s down to Alabama, Clemson and Georgia. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

Jalon Walker (March 28)

  • The recent DawgNation read: Walker compares his pending decision to breaking up with a few girlfriends 
  • Where he’s from: Salisbury High (Salisbury, NC) 
  • Height and weight: 6-2/215
  • His DawgNation “top targets” rankings: No. 5
  • His 247Sports Composite rankings: No. 4 OLB and No. 50 overall prospect
  • Perceived contenders: Auburn, Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, North Carolina and Ohio State. 
  • Jalon Walker was set to take a self-guided visit and just buy a ticket for the Vanderbilt game this past fall. When that game was canceled, he drove down with his family to check out UGA anyway. (Jalon Walker/Special) Why it would be Georgia: It feels like there is a true final three here with Walker and he said as much in his recent DawgNation interview. Walker was only able to visit three of his schools during the 2020 season. He took self-guided trips to check out Clemson, North Carolina and UGA during the fall. The academic background and defensive pedigree at UGA also stands out.  
  • Why it wouldn’t be Georgia: Clemson has made Walker feel quite cozy over the years. He was a frequent camper at the Dabo Swinney football camp during his early high school years. The Tigers have also been sending many of their defensive standouts to the NFL over the last decade. North Carolina has also done a good job of trying to make sure he doesn’t leave the state. 
  • What a “Go Dawgs” tweet from Kirby Smart means here: This would be a defensive coup by Smart and assistant Glenn Schumann here. While Clemson and North Carolina are the perceived favorites, the Bulldogs do have a chance here over the next few weeks. We will not oversell things by stating Walker can play at a level somewhere between what we’ve already seen from Nakobe Dean and then how brightly Roquan Smith shined in Athens. 
  • What happens if UGA isn’t the move here: Walker is being recruited as a defensive athlete by the Bulldogs. He wasn’t seen as a true ILB or LB prospect. He said that UGA has not designated a set position for him. If he goes to the Tigers, this will feel a lot like the Bryan Bresee, Barrett Carter and Myles Murphy losses of the last few cycles. Walker is an impact player on defense and the son of a Division II head coach. The fact he’s already job shadowing and planning to become an orthodontist after his playing days are over speaks to the rare maturity of this student-athlete. 

Christen Miller (April 4)

The All-American Bowl pick from Cedar Grove was set to make his college decision on Easter Sunday but decided on Monday afternoon to back off that pledge. It was a curious decision because some very recent conversations with Miller had led DawgNation to believe he was comfortable with his decision and he was ready to make that college pledge in April.

RELATED: Check out the latest DawgNation read on Christen Miller

The contenders here feel very much like Florida, Georgia and Ohio State. There is also some renewed interest in Southern Cal here. He has clearly expressed an interest in wanting to play with Williams at the college level. Those two are quite close.

Miller told DawgNation last week that he considers Williams to be one of his five closest friends.

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