Georgia’s current class of 16 commitments ranks third in the nation. Ohio State and Alabama are the only programs that have a better crop for 2017.
Any SEC recruiting class — even one rated that high — is bound to have a few hidden gems, right? That’s what DawgNation and its partner website, SEC Country, are looking at in a series examining the SEC’s most underrated commitments in this year’s class.
Georgia’s class currently breaks down like this:
- 5-stars: 1
- 4-stars: 12
- 3-stars: 3
With that many 4-stars, there’s not a whole lot of obvious candidates for Georgia.
When it comes to the program’s most undervalued recruits, there was a clear-cut recruiting target about 3-4 months ago. That was Cairo senior OLB Walter Grant. The 6-foot-4, 236-pounder was rated as a 3-star recruit and the nation’s No. 322 overall prospect back in May.
Grant has seen his ranking climb to the level of a 4-star prospect. He’s now tabbed as the nation’s No. 14 OLB and at No. 205 overall prospect. He also committed to Georgia earlier this month.
Which Bulldog commits still seem undervalued? I’ve got three guys in mind.
Georgia’s 3 most underrated commitments for 2017
1) 3-star DT Devonte Wyatt
Rated as: Nation’s No. 29 DT and No. 392 player overall
Towers High / Decatur, Ga.
Why: It seems everyone finally stopped hitting the snooze button on Wyatt about 2-3 weeks ago. There was a point when he served as a recruiting urban legend. Here was this 295-pound defensive lineman who got tired of the throws during track season and wanted to show his coaches he could run with the sprinters.
So the kid walked up to the blocks — forget the stance — and broke 12 seconds in the 100 meters while wearing a pair of Nike “Air Force 1s” basketball shoes. His coaches at Towers will look you square in the eye and tell you this nearly 300-pound grown man can also run the 40-yard dash in less than 4.6 seconds.
Towers made a point to emphasize his speed by lining him up at tailback this year.
I’m not making an iota of that up. Georgia flipped Wyatt from South Carolina and it was pretty much a dream offer that allowed Kirby Smart to snatch the big defensive lineman from his buddy Will Muschamp.
And when we’re talking about a 295-pound defensive lineman that’s good enough to move the chains at RB on sweeps and outside runs, I hope that conveys the point he’d be a big asset lining up on the defensive line with that size and speed.
Wyatt has seen his stock rise a bit since he committed to Georgia. He was seen as a 3-star player and the nation’s No. 34 DT in May, but he’s now the No. 29 DT. 247Sports clearly appreciates his value, too.
No. 17 for Towers High School is now the No. 10 DT on their board for 2017. That’s right about where he should be.
But the industry average still doesn’t reflect his worth. Wyatt is still seen as the No. 39 player in Georgia this year. That’s one rating right there that might make Mr. Wyatt the most undervalued commitment in the SEC at this time.
2) 4-star WR Trey Blount
Rated as: Nation’s No. 37 WR and No. 261 player overall
Pace Academy / Atlanta, Ga.
Why: Blount’s ratings would show someone just getting into the business a lot about how recruiting rankings work. He doesn’t have one overpowering “wow factor” skill in his toolbox, and that’s why he’s rated as the No. 37 receiver in America.
If one looks at Blount’s all-around game critically, they’d probably hand out a lot of “8s” on a 1-to-10 scale. He has very good measurements (6-foot-2 and 196 pounds) but not elite size. He’s fast (4.52 in the 40) but not an outright burner. He pays close attention to his technique. That’s why he seems to get better each time I see him.
But he’s not catching 10 balls for 200 yards and three scores every week. That’s not what Pace does with him. So when another receiver jumps out that is 6-foot-5 with similar athleticism, they get rated higher. Or maybe another guy who clocks a low 4.4 in the 40 vaults him in the rankings because he has another gear.
Matchups in college football tend to be won by a player that has one truly outstanding skill in a certain area. That’s the stuff no one can coach.
I rate him high because of the things those rankings tends to miss. To be fair, it is very hard for those guys to check out all the little things.
- He’s being trained by one of Georgia’s all-time great receivers in Terrence Edwards at Pace.
- The senior is also incredibly explosive (39-inch vertical jump) and is not just a willing, but a dedicated blocker. That one trait will get him on the field fast at Georgia.
- Blount’s intangibles like his character, work ethic and ability to create excellent chemistry in a locker room are what future team captains do at UGA. That stuff cannot be found by simply studying camp reps and highlight tapes.
He’s also regarded as the No. 30 player in Georgia. That tidbit plus his national rank at receiver show just how many great receivers there are every year, and just how talented the state of Georgia is year-in and year out.
For example: If every team in the Top 25 right now got to sign 1-2 of the nation’s top receivers this year, then Blount would be right at the top of the list that everyone would consider with their second pick. That really sounds like an elite player to me, and yet Blount is the three spots away from being the lowest-rated commitment Georgia currently has for 2017. That’s also what the composition of the No. 3 recruiting class in the country should look like.
Blount will catch about 10-to-15 touchdowns in Athens and should start for at least two years. That’s pretty stinking good for a player that’s currently rated as the No. 37 receiver in the nation.
3) 4-star RB D’Andre Swift
Rated as: Nation’s No. 4 RB and No. 37
St. Joseph’s Prep / Philadelphia, Pa.
Why: Huh? This guy? Well …. yeah. I tried to look for players I felt were rated a half-star to a full-star lower than their future Saturday box score value. I have it on good authority that one current Top-5 team rated Swift as the nation’s No. 1 back for 2017.
That said, I realize putting Swift here might lead one to think this is crazy talk. This post should be about nuggets of coal rather than more spit-shine on a guy that’s already seen as a gem.
But I’ll defend the rankings industry here. Swift is pegged the No. 4 RB in the land because 5-stars Najee Harris and Cam Akers would be the No. 1 back in the nation most years. (Zamir White might be an exception) I also feel the attention paid to Swift in this class is a little off-center of where it should be for a few reasons that frankly seem rather weird.
Let’s start with the fact he was considered an all-purpose back for a stretch. The industry felt he wasn’t a true between-the-tackles or every down threat. (Swift’s high school coach would love to debate that.) That’s like discrediting a high-performing car from the Top-10 because it doesn’t look like the other vehicles.
Swift is not quite 5-foot-10 and yet he weighs 214 pounds. He’s a tad undersized with that height. He was also part of a backfield-by-committee early in his varsity career with several older college-bound backs. The fact he catches the ball so well out of the backfield had him placed among the all-purpose backs. But he was rated as the nation’s No. 1 all-purpose back. It was clear everyone in the rankings business knew he was a special talent, but they finally ranked him in the mainstream RB category.
He won’t enroll early but — barring an injury — should earn a lot of touches in the 2017 opener. Swift is closer to being a 5-star back in my mind than a 4-star. That’s why he’s at the tail end of this underrated list. I’d rate Swift right with Jake Fromm and Richard LeCounte III as the jewels of the 2017 class, but it sometimes seems like he’s the forgotten big-timer in this class.
Swift chose Georgia over heavy interest in Clemson, FSU and Penn State. He’s a package deal with his cousin (and current UGA commitment) Mark Webb Jr. in this year’s class.
The big-time back recently had 7 TDs in a single game. That’s the same guy who’s been rated as the nation’s No. 6 RB and at No. 64 overall by the ESPN300 ranking.
Also strongly considered: 4-star OLB Walter Grant (nation’s No. 213 overall prospect); 3-star OG Justin Shaffer (nation’s No. 409 overall prospect)
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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.