Want a daily lap through UGA football recruiting? That’s what the Intel will bring at least five days a week. We’ll cover the news and which way this 4-star or 5-star might lean plus add some perspective to help fans figure out what it all means.
It is Friday. Let’s go ahead and do things the hard way anyway.
We’ll tee up an almost $100 million topic. That’s Georgia’s new indoor practice facility. That’s been in place for approximately two months, but also another $63 million has been approved to add some impressive recruiting wrinkles to the west end zone at Sanford Stadium.
Those facilities were made possible through generous support from alumni and private donations. That’s part of the new era where anything that has to do with recruiting pretty much rubber stamps itself.
But there’s still a valid question there: How much will the new facilities help Georgia?
The Bulldogs did somehow manage to sign their best class in at least 10 years without all those new additions to the program.
Will these new expenditures help? Sure. How much?
That, in and of itself, is a mixed bag. They definitely won’t hurt. My prediction here is that the $30 million-ish spent on the indoor practice facility will catch the eyes of almost every recruit.
That’s probably like the prettiest girl in the hallways does for a lot of these high school guys that Georgia is recruiting.
But the players and their families will see it as an example of the fiscal strength and the commitment to success made by the football program. It must also be noted that UGA has been behind the SEC curve for so long in the indoor facility department that it was way past time to spend its way to the front of the pack.
Those narratives certainly apply. But Georgia’s relationship with a recruit that stops to take a longer look at Georgia because of the indoor practice facility will either take off or stay right there.
What happens next will depend on several other factors. Here are a few opinions I’ve collected over the last two weeks that share how the recruits feel about that.
4-star QB Justin Fields (Class of 2018): “It doesn’t really matter, to be honest with you,” Fields said. “I don’t think they had to have all that. The facilities that a school has is not going to make you come to a school like a Georgia. It is really just the coaching staff, the way that I would fit into their offense and then the academic side of going to a school to play football to get my degree.”
4-star WR Brian Hightower (Class of 2018): “All these facilities don’t matter that much to me really,” he said. “Not really to me. I don’t really care about anything like that. I just want to go somewhere that I know I will be successful, happy, be able to ball and at a place where I can grow as a person while I play football.”
5-star CB Tyreke Johnson (Class of 2018): “Georgia didn’t need all that new stuff to bring in the top players but it is a great accessory,” Johnson said. “It is just one of those things now where late at night I can just go inside the indoor me and some of my friends on the team and just have fun all night. Some night you just don’t even sleep. Just go in there. Have fun. Do 1-on-1s. Work out. Just have a night with the boys hanging out.”
“I think all of that will mean a lot to the recruits that like the superficial things like stuff and facilities. A guy like me? I don’t care about that. I just want to play football. You know? I just want those facilities to be enough and those coaches to take over from there to help get me to the NFL. There’s a lot of places around college even in Division II that can do all of that.”
4-star DE Nolan Smith (Class of 2019 commit): “Georgia wasn’t really all that deficient to me,” he said. “I loved how we had that top turf and then those bottom fields. But all of that is gone now. We have an indoor facility with a speed track. Everything looks super efficient now but that really didn’t matter to me.
“I just really wanted to be a Dawg because I love coach (Kirby) Smart and what he’s doing there. He’s about to turn the program really out. So if you’re going to a school because of the facilities, then you might as well just go to Clemson. They have a bowling alley and a movie theater and everything like that. But I talk to a lot of the guys. They say even the best facilities get old across four years of your life. You don’t want to go to a college for a facility. You want to go there for a good coach you will learn from and he will take you to the next level and you will get your degree.”
4-star OT Max Wray (Class of 2018 commit): “I do think Georgia really needed all of that stuff,” he said. “We were like the only school in the SEC which didn’t have an indoor practice facility.”
“I committed to Georgia early without all of that stuff but I knew that we were going to be doing all of that new upgrades. The facilities are going to get a lot better. They told me that before I even started to consider committing. Georgia has been talking about the new facilities for awhile.”
“The indoor is insane. That’s where all the players will basically live and then eventually I hear they are going to do a new weight room in a couple of years. I just love how the indoor is so close to everything. You just walk right out the weight room and you are there. It is just so nice. There is a whole 100-yard field to practice. You have a loudspeaker system. It has got a little track on the side. It really has everything you need.”
Can UGA gain ground with Justin Fields?
Fields, the star QB from Harrison High, is strongly committed to Penn State. I don’t see that changing unless Nittany Lions coach James Franklin takes a job coaching on Sundays. The only other exception would be if there was separate major turnover on the Penn State offensive staff.
“Coach Franklin is a great coach and a great guy and I just feel like there is a big family atmosphere and I fit in the most up there,” he said.
But the 4-star QB continues to hear from Georgia. That makes a lot of sense. My take on Fields is that his stock will only climb.
I don’t think it will stop until he’s seen as the nation’s No. 1 dual-threat QB and slotted as one of the nation’s Top 5 passer regardless of his skill set.
The Bulldogs are coming at him with a three-pronged attack.
“Coach (Dell) McGee and coach (Jim) Chaney and coach Kirby (Smart) all hit me up,” Fields told DawgNation. “They all continue to text me. I still stay in contact with all those guys and Georgia a little bit.”
Trevor Lawrence is the nation’s top QB and top overall prospect for this cycle. He’s committed to Clemson. But I think Fields is the best overall mesh of skill and depth chart value that the Bulldogs can now sign this year at the quarterback position.
The degree of difficulty there will just be quite high to snatch him from the Nittany Lions. The first step would just be getting him to take a visit to check out all those new facilities.
“I have always been a Georgia fan growing up in Georgia,” Fields said. “But right now I don’t have any more visits planned because of my (high school) baseball season. Right now I am just pretty much committed to Penn State.”
He measured 6 feet, 3 inches and 221 pounds at the Nike “The Opening” regional in Orlando. Fields clocked 4.51 seconds in the 40. That’s a laser time.
He threw the power ball over 39 feet, ran a 4.1 in the short shuttle and charted 33 inches for his vertical leap. That’s quite a sampling of his athleticism at that size.
Will he take any other visits? That seems up in the air.
“It is really up to my Dad and my parents,” Fields said. “It is really going to matter to me how they feel about any other schools. I am going to base my decision on what my family wants for me and what I want for myself, too.”
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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.