Georgia football: The 5 early storylines that will shape the 2022 recruiting class

Bo22 Moves-Georgia recruiting-Georgia football
The "Bo22Moves" hashtag game for the 2022 class in Athens seems very appropriate at this time.

Want to attack every day with the latest Georgia football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel brings. This entry explores the five big topics right now that will go a long way toward shaping the eventual 2022 recruiting class in Athens. 

There is no snooze button in recruiting.

The Bulldogs are off to a stronger start than usual with its 2022 effort. That’s based on an adjustment to recruiting during the pandemic era. The class currently ranks No. 3 overall on the 247Sports Composite rankings. That is due in large part to taking a larger number of in-state commitments so early in the cycle.

Georgia has eight commitments. There are seven Georgians in that lot. 5-star QB Gunner Stockton is now the highest-rated commitment in the class at No. 19 overall. That’s due to the recent updates made this week by 247Sports and Rivals.com.

Those specific updates affect the ranking of every prospect on the 247Sports Composite scale.

Stockton is also the only offensive recruit in the class at this time. Here’s a quick snapshot.

2022 Recruiting breakdown

(all rankings derived from the 247Sports Composite) 

  • Offense: 1
  • Defense: 7
  • In-state: 7
  • Out-of-state: 1
  • 5-star commits: 2 (Gunner Stockton, Deyon Bouie)
  • Top 50 commits: 2 (Stockton, Bouie)
  • Top 100 commits: 5 (Stockton, Bouie, Tyre West, Bear Alexander, Marquis Groves-Killebrew)
  • Top 150 commits: 6 (Stockton, Bouie, West, Alexander, Groves-Killebrew and CJ Washington)
  • Commits in the SEC footprint: 8
  • Beyond SEC footprint: 0

It is still early, but not too early to identify the big pieces of the puzzle that are already moving just a mere nine months before all of these prospects can sign during the early period. We’ve identified five trends worth paying attention to when looking at the big picture for the 2022 cycle in Athens.

SAVE THE DATE: March 13 and March 15

Why: Those are the expected commitment decision dates for 5-star Alabama RB Emmanuel Henderson (March 13) and a likely future 5-star in Peach State DE prospect Mykell Williams on March 15.

Henderson, now the nation’s No. 2 RB for 2022, is an interesting case. Georgia is in it, but this is a chase that involves in-state power Alabama. There are others in the mix, but the Bulldogs have done a good job recruiting him. His mother lives in Georgia. He’s already seen UGA prior to the pandemic and feels it is a great place to be. He does reside in South Alabama. It means he is not walled off by Alabama fans in each direction. It is more of a mix of several schools in his community.

It is still obtuse to expect UGA to beat out Alabama for an in-state diamond. Especially after the showcase 2020 season that Alabama had with several dynamic pieces of its offense, including All-American RB Najee Harris.

If Georgia somehow pulls that off, it sets the board nicely with just one expected RB slot left for the class. If not, then Henderson’s decision will allow Georgia to move on to other names at the top of the board. There is a core of targets to strongly consider like the new national No. 1 RB for Rivals in 5-star Branson Robinson, 4-star RB Jordan James out of Mississippi and 4-star Virginia talent Tevin White.

If anyone wanted to label Henderson as a true domino recruit for a lot of schools, there wouldn’t be much debate to the contrary. He might not be the most valued RB target on the board, but his decision will create a lot of action for the 2022 Georgia class in one way or another.

That brings us to Williams. The in-state DE from Columbus recently told DawgNation he’s looking at a core group in Georgia, LSU, Kentucky and Southern California. Florida and Georgia Tech are also in the mix. The Hardaway High product ranks as the nation’s No. 4 DT and No. 41 overall recruit, but he’s talented and skilled enough to be a DE for anyone in the SEC.

The 6-foot-5, 260-pounder is a massive talent. We cannot overstate his importance to the UGA class. He had 17 sacks last fall for Hardaway High. The state’s top-rated DL for 2022 is also a connected recruit with a few other top targets in the state.

There is also another date set for April 4. That will be when elite DT prospect Christen Miller is set to make his decision. That sets up the perfect bridge to our next big topic.

Mykel Williams is the top-rated defensive line prospect for the 2022 class on the 247Sports Composite rankings. (Jeff Sentell)

3-FOR-3 ON THE DL FROM GA?

Why: Tyre West. Check. Mykel Williams. To be determined. Christen Miller. To be determined. 

There are a lot of topics to explore in this space, but we will keep it simple for three homegrown Georgia D-line prospects.

West is committed to Georgia. Williams will decide on March 15 as discussed. Miller, a splendid DT target from Cedar Grove in Metro Atlanta, ranks as the nation’s No. 11 DT and the No. 164 overall recruit. Each member of that trio has already been deemed an All-American for the 2022 cycle.

If Williams and Miller both choose Georgia, the nation’s No. 164 overall prospect would become the fourth-highest rated prospect for the DL in this class. The Bulldogs have only signed 10 defensive line prospects across all six of Kirby Smart’s signing classes at UGA that rank as highly as Miller currently does.

This class would have three more elite targets that rank even higher than that.

The early INTEL here: Pairing those three in-state gems up with a top 20 overall talent in current commit Keithian “The Big Bear” Alexander would make for the best D-line haul for any Smart team in Athens. The amazing thing would be that these four young men could possibly be committed by the first week of April. It would also mean going 3-for-3 with the three best D-line prospects in the state, too. 

We don’t push any package deal nonsense in this space after the way the 2021 class proved the COVID-19 recruiting is no different than any other year. What we can do is note that Miller, West and Williams do express a desire to play together. West isn’t going anywhere so if that is going to happen, it will be at UGA. 

If all of that comes to fruition, Tray Scott will merit an even bigger raise. 

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. 

 MUST SIGN A LOT OF “TNT” at WR

Why: There has been some off-season recruiting chatter (some of its not so speculative) that Georgia is very specific with its receiver haul in 2022. There might have been some talented prospects ready to commit, but they were not encouraged to do so just yet.

What’s that reason? Simple. The Bulldogs need to sign a minimum of three explosive playmakers at WR in 2022. That would be the game-breaker type in the mold of the nation’s top wideouts.

George Pickens, the team’s most talented veteran, is likely to be a three-and-out player after the 2021 season. Yet this is not a plug-and-play move for Pickens. It is this correspondent’s opinion that the biggest difference between Alabama’s success arc over the last four seasons compared to Georgia’s curve has been the recruiting, development and then the gameday production at receiver.

Alabama has signed better players. It has also developed and weaponized them in their offense much better than the Bulldogs have, too.

The Tide also just signed the best wide receiver class under Nick Saban in 2021 with a tally of four top 100 receivers. Alabama even signed a trio of receivers who ranked among the nation’s top 50 prospects in 2021. Georgia has only signed three WRs who ranked among the nation’s top 50 overall prospects since Smart came on board in 2016. That’s even counting Mecole Hardman who signed as an ATH in 2016.

The early INTEL: Look for Georgia to add four or maybe even five prospects at WR in the 2022 cycle. That will hinge on the right prospects. There’s also some intrigue to see if the Bulldogs can fill two or three slots with a couple of in-state targets. Lambert HS wideout Kojo Antwi looms as a priority early WR target for this class. His recent rankings upgrade on the 247Composite scale saw him shoot up to the nation’s No. 13 WR prospect and No. 94 overall prospect slot for 2022.

The other big in-state WR name to watch here would be 4-star De’Nylon Morrisette at Brookwood High School. The Bulldogs are currently trending up for both Antwi and Morrissette of late. That’s due to a very specific reason.

Lambert High School WR Kojo Antwi is now a top 100 receiver on the 247Sports Composite ratings. He’d be the definition of an explosive playmaker in the 2022 cycle (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

RELATED: KoJo Antwi breaks down his interest in UGA

RELATED: De’Nylon Morrissette shares how Gunner Stockton to UGA impacts his decision

A “BIG BEAR” and a “GUNNER”

WHY: Stockon is a recognized 247SportsComposite 5-star. “Big Bear” Alexander is a top 10 prospect on Rivals and seems to be another 5-star-in-waiting across all services. Bouie has seen his stock soar since he returned this month on the 7-on-7 circuit after missing.

While looking at things closely, the tea leaves seem ripe for Georgia to sign another quintet of 5-stars in this cycle. That’s something fans will always pay attention to, but this class has more of that 5-star juice than most.

This is more about the gravitational pull of certain 5-stars. Not just the quantity of 5-stars in a given class.

While it is true that elite players always want to play with other great players and be a part of a potential No. 1 class, there’s something about Alexander and Stockton that can draw players into this class.

Or at least to give the Bulldogs a very hard look.

The early INTEL here: Stockton in place at UGA has made a difference already in the recruitments of Antwi, No. 1 TE target Oscar Delp and Morrisette. It doesn’t hurt that those three are all playing together right now on the same HUSTLE, Inc. travel 7-on-7 squad, too. DawgNation has already documented the ripple effect young Stockon has made on the outlook for several UGA targets. 

Stockton is working on those boys. The neat twist is tracking the splash that has been made by Alexander in this class. That trio of Miller, West and Williams will bring up his name while discussing the potential D-line class at Georgia. DawgNation also heard from 5-star LB target Jeremiah Alexander about his worth. Alexander said he could definitely see himself on that D-line with “Big Bear” and some of the other D-line commits. The Alabama LB feels his relationships with Alexander and DB commit Marquis Groves-Killebrew are the biggest with the current commits in the Georgia class. 

Those two young men committing so early to help this class were true #Bo22Moves for this cycle. That’s the social media hashtag for this class. It is not a great deal of hyperbole to say that is what we see at work here with these two already in the fold.  

Gunner Stockton will have a big impact on the 2022 class at Georgia. Both on and off the field. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

COMING SOON: PERFECT DEBUT TIMING

Why: Give Smart credit. The fundraising numbers and facility upgrades have been massive during his time at UGA. That number exceeds more than $170 million in overhauls since Georgia arrived on the national scene in Smart’s second season in 2017.

That massive infrastructure reboot has also been enhanced by the timing. It seems like UGA has always had a shiny new facility wrinkle to show recruits for big classes. That will continue to be the case.

When recruits are finally allowed to return sometime (fingers crossed) this summer, they will want to see something shiny and new. They will get to see 165,000 new square feet with the red “Power G” plastered everywhere. Georgia’s next facility boost expands everything from the weight room to the locker room and everything in between.

Players never leave the facility anyway. It might soon become a case of why would they want to. Recruits have already been getting the behind-the-scenes over the last two months via virtual recruiting visits. There’s the bigger weight room everyone has barked about for years, but also amenities like a barbershop, a player lounge area and even a sports nutrition area a few recruits have just been calling a restaurant.

Georgia built it. Recruits will come. They will be hungry to see something new and shiny. They will be eager to fall in love with a college visit again. They very likely will. The intersection here of getting to host recruits again with another jaw-dropping facelift for the program is just perfect timing. 

The early Intel here: DT target Christen Miller said Georgia’s facility boom will push the program to the top nationwide with Alabama and Oregon. Clemson also looms here, but the Bulldogs will no longer be recruiting at a deficit with the facility arms race. 

What is that going to look like? It is not like the Georgia classes have suffered over the last five years.  

Have you subscribed to the DawgNation YouTube channel yet? If so, you will be able to see special 1-on-1 interviews with Jake Fromm, Gunner Stockton and Brock Vandagriff. You will only be able to find it on the DawgNation YouTube channel. 

SENTELL’S INTEL

(the recent reads on DawgNation.com)

 

 

NextGeorgia championship hopes rely on reloading secondary, Mel Tucker...
Leave a Comment