Steffenie Burns/UGA
Georgia coach Kirby Smart can speak very glowingly about the Class of 2018.

How Georgia football can sign an even better class next time around

Jeff Sentell

Want to attack every day with the latest UGA recruiting info? That’s what the Intel will bring at least five days a week. We start off this week with an interesting topic: Is there any way that UGA can sign more 5-star prospects in 2019 than it just did within its top-rated 2018 class?

Georgia can sign a better crop of players in 2019 than it just did in 2018. Really.

That’s not going to warm the heart of any fan base other than DawgNation, but there’s a clear path to how that can happen.

(Yes, it is understood we are indeed discussing how the Bulldogs can sign a class which would have to rank among the top 2 all-time classes in modern recruiting history to top 2018.)

The 247Sports class calculator proved to be a useful tool regarding that topic. I started with a base of Georgia’s current commitments for 2019. The next step was to add the names of another 18 likely players to take the current lot of seven pledges to 25 scholarships.

It allowed me to take into account what I strongly feel will happen, perceive what should happen and finally round out the class with very interested targets to add required depth at positions of need.

The first nine likely names pushed the class to a team composite score of 299.88. It left nine slots in the class.

The next seven names were a mixture of above-average to very good on the ratings scale. A 3-star quarterback was added, along with a range of moderate- to upper-tier 4-stars.

Georgia’s class crept to 323.91 after its 23rd projected commit. A reminder of Georgia’s score after this National Signing Day: 323.31.

It is indeed possible to soar past the 2018 mark. Even with that, I made sure to angle toward a moderate projection. A potential 2019 class didn’t include a few late twists of the Cade Mays, Otis Reese or Quay Walker variety. Those unexpected turns all granted the Bulldogs a player that would stack up among the top 10 players signed by the nation’s top-rated class.

Georgia can better its 2018 class by filling the mid-section of the 2019 Signing Day roster with more elite players than it signed in 2018. UGA signed 18 of the nation’s top 250 players across the last cycle, but 15 of those players actually rated among the nation’s top 150.

The other 11 members of the signing class were all rated outside the nation’s top 250, including six players who rated outside the nation’s top 300 prospects.

A fertile crop of in-state talent can boost those chances for 2019. Georgia is heavier than normal in terms of elite talent for that cycle.

But I don’t see Georgia’s 2019 class topping the 2018 recruits in at least one high-profile area.

Can UGA sign more 5-star prospects in 2019?

In a word, no.

That’s not a plausible theory in any recruiting year, considering the Bulldogs signed seven prospects who carried the 247Sports composite 5-star rating among that 2018 class.

It would not be logical given that set the record for most 5-stars in a single recruiting class. That seems especially unlikely given it would mean the Bulldogs sign at least eight 5-stars given there are approximately only 32 prospects who earn that status each year.

The Bulldogs have a trio of 5-star prospects committed to their 2019 class. At this time, I can see the program signing only two or three more prospects rated that highly for 2019.

It might even be all but impossible for any other Georgia class to hit its head on that ceiling. There’s a reason that hasn’t been done before ― eight 5-star signees ― in the history of those recruiting rankings.

That’s because it is very hard to sign any more than three to four of those elite players in any given year. Even in a talent-rich state such as Georgia.

Those other Power 5 schools recruit just as hard as Georgia does.

We will dive deep into their stories later on, but right now here are the 5-star prospects I see the Bulldogs having the best potential chance to add to their 2019 constellation:

Owen Pappoe-UGA recruiting
A pair of Georgia high school students ― Grayson High School 5-star prospect Owen Pappoe (right) and 4-star Upson-Lee defensive tackle Travon Walker (left) ― could fill two of the Bulldogs’ biggest needs for 2019. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

OLB Owen Pappoe: We’ve written about the nation’s top outside linebacker prospect from Grayson (Ga.) High School extensively. He’s smart, fast and very explosive. Owen Pappoe rates as the nation’s No. 7 overall prospect for 2019. Clemson and Georgia seem to be the schools to watch out for here.

OL Devontae Dobbs: The Michigan resident ranks as the nation’s No. 1 tackle but should wind up rated at guard. Georgia is in a good spot with Devontae Dobbs. He traveled to Athens last year for a camp and seemingly hit it off with the staff and line coach Sam Pittman. He rates as the nation’s No. 9 overall player for 2019.

C Clay Webb: The Alabama resident ranks as the nation’s top center and the No. 11 overall prospect for next year. Alabama and Auburn are going to be very tough to deal with in the race for Clay Webb, but the Bulldogs are definitely in contention. Webb appears to loves Jim Chaney and Pittman on the staff, he has family in Georgia and he has visited UGA several times. 

DL Zacch Pickens: This will be another tough out-of-state pull with the nation’s No. 21 overall prospect. Zacch Pickens rates as South Carolina’s top prospect for next season, and Clemson and South Carolina already weigh in heavily. That said, Pickens likes Georgia and has been traveled to campus for unofficial visits and camps going back to the summer before his sophomore season.

DL Travon Walker: This elite defensive prospect does not have a 5-star ranking on the 247Sports composite yet, but I sense that he will be. Walker is just that rare of an athlete on the defensive line. The Bulldogs have made him a priority for 2019 for some time. Walker currently rates as the nation’s No. 30 overall prospect on the composite standard.

Let’s reiterate that we don’t see the Bulldogs signing all of these players listed. These 5-star type players and the Bulldogs seem to share significant mutual interest.