Some of UGA’s top recruiting targets are currently twisting in the wind. That might read like a sensational eyeball-grabbing opening sentence, but reports are coming in that might back up that statement.
The Bulldogs no longer have a head coach. They also might soon be without an ace recruiter in ultra-successful defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. This December stretch after the regular season is when the nation’s top recruiters prove their worth. Pruitt’s status might hinge on who is named as the next head coach.
Archer 4-star offensive lineman E.J. Price told DawgNation this afternoon that he would “very likely” have committed to UGA if Mark Richt and his staff would have been retained for the 2016 season.
“(UGA) was my leader,” Price said. “Now I don’t know what is going on honestly.”
Price now has no leader. His top five consists of UGA, Auburn, Michigan State, Oklahoma and Southern California.
“I’m wide open to my top five,” Price said. “Pending the UGA decision, they may drop.”
Locking down Pruitt would help retain a good chunk of the commitments, which are currently rated as the nation’s No. 4 recruiting class.
5-star athlete Mecole Hardman, Jr. is also very tight with Pruitt. He tweeted out a few statements on Sunday upon his return from an official visit to Michigan.
“Georgia better not get rid of Pruitt,” Hardman tweeted. “Because if they do” … Hardman then used a pair of emoticons to describe an unhappy situation. He also addressed the thought of Pruitt being let go by UGA by stating it would be “stupid if they do” because he was the primary reason he was interested in the program.
McEachern junior quarterback Bailey Hockman is committed to UGA, but that could change. The personal involvement Richt had in his recruitment was a major factor in his decision.
“I am disappointed that Coach Richt will not be at Georgia anymore,” Hockman said. “I’m anxious to see who the new coach will be. But (I) will talk to the other schools that have been calling.”
Another potential UGA recruit reached out to DawgNation this morning. He planned to commit to UGA this weekend but could not get in touch with his position coach. He wasn’t sure if his scholarship offer had been pulled.
Richt was scheduled for another in-home visit with 4-star offensive lineman Ben Cleveland on Monday. He was set to be joined by offensive line coach Rob Sale and maybe even offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. That trip never took place.
Cleveland planned to enroll early at UGA in January. He also tweeted out a statement on Sunday that said he had 100 percent faith UGA would bring in the right man, he was committed to the program and will always be a “Dawg.”
Jeff Sentell covers 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.