This will be Kirby Smart’s first recruiting weekend at UGA, and it could accelerate the success rate for his first couple of years leading the program.
Of course, it is an ultra-important weekend because of that Jacob Eason fella. Whether or not the 5-star quarterback decides to stick with UGA will be the first big test of Smart’s recruiting abilities this year, even if it’s not fair to the new coach.
The nation’s No. 1 passer is coming to UGA for his long-awaited official visit that should halt any more visions of Florida coach Jim McElwain dancing in his head. Eason is set to make his final decision by Wednesday of next week and UGA has his final face-to-face visit before the dead period begins on Dec. 14. The 5-star UGA commitment then heads to U.S. Army All-American Bowl practices before he enrolls in college with either the Bulldogs or Florida in January.
Eason’s close friend Ben Cleveland is on his UGA official visit this weekend, too. The 4-star offensive lineman is already part of his core group of friends. They committed to UGA together in July of 2014 and are the cornerstones of the class. They’ve lined up their visits to be with 4-star offensive tackle Willie Allen, too. That’s been planned for months.
That’s the 5-star quarterback coming to town, plus his projected personal protectors in Allen and Cleveland. Both are right at the 6-foot-7 mark in height. They are also both rated among the nation’s Top 10 offensive tackles. If that’s not enough, UGA will also host another 6-foot-5 offensive lineman in Chris Barnes this weekend on his official visit.
That’s enough beef to make the quarterback feel pretty secure, huh? Who else is going to be there?
The first thing to notice it is an intimate list. That’s because UGA’s limited coaching staff under Smart won’t allow for an abundance of prospects. The second is all of the official visits are on the offensive side of the ball. It would work out well if those guys left with an idea of who will be coaching them at UGA.
Confirmed official visits
4-star Willie Allen (River Ridge, La. ) — Nation’s No. 10 OT
3-star Chris Barnes (Leesburg, Ga.) — Nation’s No. 55 OT (UGA commit)
5-star Jacob Eason (Lake Stevens, Wash.) — Nation’s No. 1 QB (UGA commit)
4-star Ben Cleveland (Toccoa, Ga.) — Nation’s No. 9 OT (UGA commit)
Confirmed unofficial visits
4-star Breon Dixon (Suwanee, Ga.) — Nation’s No. 13 LB (2017)
5-star DeAngelo Gibbs (Suwanee, Ga.) — Nation’s No. 1 CB (2017)
5-star Mecole Hardman, Jr. (Bowman, Ga.) — Nation’s No. 1 ATH
4-star Elijah Holyfield (Atlanta, Ga.) — Nation’s No. 5 RB (UGA commit)
4-star Julian Rochester (Powder Springs, Ga.) — Nation’s No. 9 DT (UGA commit)
3-star Tyler Simmons (Powder Springs, Ga.) — Nation’s No. 97 WR
4-star Jamyest Williams (Lawrenceville, Ga.) — Nation’s No. 5 ATH (2017)
Expected unofficial visits
3-star Chad Clay (Suwanee, Ga.) — Nation’s No. 35 DB (UGA commit)
Jeff Sentell covers UGA football and UGA recruiting for AJC.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play Between the Hedges.