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What is going on with that much-hyped Class of 2019 recruiting crop in the state of Georgia?

UGA recruiting: Has hyped Class of 2019 in Georgia lost a little steam?

Georgia finished first in the recruiting rankings in the 2018 class. Expect the Bulldogs to be right near the top in 2019, too. DawgNation’s Jeff Sentell will answer a UGA recruiting Question of the Day on Tuesdays and Thursdays. You can ask him your questions on Facebook LiveTwitter or the DawgNation Message board forum. Previous QODs can be found on our question of the day archives page.

QUESTION OF THE DAY

The query for the day comes from DawgNation message board forum user cf_ugaman: Back in 2017 it was said the 2019 class would be one of the strongest signed mainly filled out with GA talent. It seems like that is no longer the case.

Is this an example of how quickly recruiting rankings change or how quickly the GA staff has changed their priorities to out of state kids this cycle? Or perhaps the 2018 class significantly altered the staff’s ability to get the potentially heralded class of 2019?

This is an excellent question. It is a reporter’s question because it takes a certain level of knowledge and builds off that.

The first thing to note here is that cf_ugaman is largely on the right track. He’s brought up a few concepts here. Rankings change. They have to. That’s because a lot of these guys keep growing or stop growing during their junior and senior years of high school.

Those initial 2017 rankings were based on a projection of a player’s worth down the road and not a real-time reflection of what they were at the time.

  • Yes, the class rankings have cooled slightly on the Class of 2019.

I took in all the assembled talent at that Tru19 game back in January 2017 and felt by the time everyone was evaluated and rated after the 2019 All-America games that there would be about 20 in-state prospects among the nation’s Top 100 on the 247Sports composite.

There are only 11 players from Georgia on that list at this time.

A few things stick out. For example, those evaluations have seen some variants arise. South Georgia prospect Jashawn Sheffield was rated as the nation’s No. 1 receiver for 2019. That’s no longer the case as his rankings have dipped. He also was rated at an entirely different position as it looks like his future is at defensive back. Sheffield now ranks as the nation’s No. 11 athlete and at No. 134 overall.

UGA recruiting-Nolan Smith-UGA football-UGA football recruiting
A lot has changed for UGA and 5-star prospect Nolan Smith since the Tru19 game in January 2017. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

Nolan Smith, a 5-star UGA commit, transferred to IMG Academy in Florida and that takes away one of the top Georgians from the rankings. If Smith were still a Georgia prospect, then he’d be the second-highest rated player in the state. He also would make it three Peach State products in the top 10.

But there still are seven 5-star prospects in Georgia for 2019. That even equates out to seven prospects from Georgia who rank among the nation’s top 26 players for 2019.

It is still a gangbusters class.

There are as many Georgians among that top 26 as prospects from California, Florida and Texas combined. That is an incredibly strong class at the top.

Georgia should not produce more elite prospects than California or Florida in any given cycle, much less all three of those talent-rich states in the same class.

  • Strong state still doesn’t check all recruiting needs for UGA in 2019. 

Beauty is in the eye of the recruiter, too. Cf_ugaman was correct to note that UGA has prioritized other out-of-state recruits. The Bulldogs need to sign several defensive linemen in 2019 and there isn’t a boatload of those guys in the state this year.

Bill Norton, the No. 2 prospect in Tennessee, was prioritized early for the D-line for 2019.

Georgia was awash with arm talent in the 2018 class with Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Jarren Williams and Emory Jones. But there isn’t a single 5-star quarterback in the 2019 class nationally, much less Georgia.

The highest-rated quarterback in Georgia in this cycle is Lanier 3-star prospect Zach Calzada. He ranks as the state’s No. 75 prospect and as the No. 23 pro-style quarterback in the nation for 2019. As a means of comparison, the state had four quarterbacks ranked among the nation’s top 85 prospects in 2018.

Georgia’s needs at certain positions do not line up with what the state offers in 2019. North Carolina is flush with defensive tackles in this cycle. Florida seems to have everything when it comes to the skill positions.

The Bulldogs have offered 42 players in Georgia for 2019. That’s even though there are a whopping 38 prospects with at least 4-stars rating in the state this cycle. But the Bulldogs have not offered all of those recruits.

  • The Bulldogs have recruited at an optimum level the last two years

In case you missed it, the Bulldogs signed a modern-era record seven 5-star prospects from the 247Sports composite in 2018. Recruits notice that.

That marked the second layer of optimum recruiting under Kirby Smart. Georgia arguably has put together its best back-to-back years in modern recruiting history (dating back to at least 2000) with this staff.

Harry Miller is another good example. Miller rates as the nation’s No. 2 center, but the industry saw him as a tackle two years ago. The Buford standout is a big-time prospect, but the Bulldogs have hoarded elite interior linemen the last two cycles with elite national prospects such as Warren Ericson, Trey Hill, Netori Johnson and Jamaree Salyer in 2017 and 2018.

There aren’t all downgrades to report. Tru19 game organizer Kenyatta Watson said two years ago the Class of 2019 would be the one that puts UGA over the top to finally claim a long-sought national championship.

Watson still feels that way. Despite all of those factors, he believes the talent crop in Georgia for 2019 will still be enough to carry the Bulldogs to that elusive title.

The Bulldogs currently have the nation’s No. 6 class on the 247Sports composite. They are the only program with three 5-star commitments for this cycle.

I do appreciate the question.