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Jeff Sentell/DawgNation
Defensive end Brandon Smith is looking at a number of schools and says academic offerings will be key to his decision.

Nation’s No. 4 junior DE Brandon Smith likes Georgia, but other Power 5 schools making impression

Jeff Sentell

Want to attack every day with the latest Georgia football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel will bring at least five days a week. We’re deep into 2019 preview week here at DawgNation, so that means we’re going to check in on how things are going with 4-star outside linebacker Brandon Smith from Virginia. 

We’ve written about Brandon Smith on DawgNation. The young man from a very small town in Virginia — Mineral, population less than 500 — has been told by Kirby Smart that he’s one of the program’s biggest targets for 2019.

Brandon Smith-UGA recruiting
Brandon Smith now rates as the nation’s No. 4 weakside defensive end for 2019. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

And with good reason. The 6-foot-5, 215-pound junior checks in as the nation’s No. 4 weakside DE and as the No. 35 overall prospect for 2019.  He told DawgNation after his visit for the South Carolina game that he could see himself wearing a Georgia uniform.

When the Bulldogs won the SEC title in December, he paid attention.

“Great win for Georgia,” Smith said. “Coach Smart and his staff have done a great job this season. I am thankful for a Georgia offer.”

He said he also was impressed to see the Bulldogs finish the 2018 cycle with the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class. He visited Georgia twice over the last year.

Smith has said he intends to enroll in college next January. He just has to choose that school first.

Smith doesn’t have a lot of visits on the immediate horizon. He made the trek to Clemson for its junior day last month. His recruiting calendar should get more active after he wraps up his basketball season.

Brandon Smith-UGA recruiting
Brandon Smith, a 4-star defensive from Virginia, said he plans to make his decision prior to his senior season. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

A standout at Louisa County High School, Smith said he is happy where things stand with Georgia. Inside linebackers coach Glenn Schumann has recruited him, as had former tight ends coach Shane Beamer before he departed for Oklahoma. He said he’s also gotten to know Smart well.

“I’m in a really good spot with Georgia,” Smith said. “… Building a relationship with them over the next year is really going to be major.”

The Bulldogs really opened his eyes during the 2017 season.

“With all the games and everything like that, it really speaks a lot about their coach and where they want to be,” Smith said, who mentioned that he was pulling for the Bulldogs in that classic Rose Bowl clash against Oklahoma and predicted them to win.

What’s the timeline like for Brandon Smith? 

Brandon Smith-UGA recruiting
Academics will be key as Brandon Smith (kneeling, center) decides which school attend, he says. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

Smith still seems pretty clear on that subject.

“It will definitely be before my senior season,” he said. “Just so I can get all of that out of the way so I can focus on my last year and my senior year.”

He aims to study architecture and forensic science. Georgia also likes him because of his strong work in the classroom.

And when the time comes to make his decision, academics could be the biggest single factor in his thought process.

The small-town aspect will play a part with him. He comes from a town where the closest Walmart is 25 or 30 miles away.

He said he visited and liked what he saw at Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Penn State. Clemson also is on his radar. His travel log for 2017 also included games at Virginia and Virginia Tech.

He also attended the Alabama-Florida State game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

He’s big on that initial impression in the recruiting relationship. Smith stated that the first impression he got from the coaches and the staff at UGA were the single biggest reason why he was highly interested in the Bulldogs.

Another neat factoid or three about the 2018 recruiting class

It seems there are quite a few laurels to keep throwing around regarding the weight of the 2018 class. Here are a few recent ones:

  • The Bulldogs actually signed 10 prospects who had earned a 5-star rating across the various recruiting services. It has been widely reported that Georgia signed seven student-athletes who carried a 5-star rating on the 247Sports composite: Justin Fields, Zamir White, Jamaree Salyer, Tyson Campbell, Brenton Cox, Adam Anderson and Cade Mays. But James Cook is a 5-star recruit on Rivals. Channing Tindall and Quay Walker both also achieved a 5-star rating on 247Sports.
  • Where would the highest-ranking recruits from every other SEC team’s board rank if they were a part of Georgia’s 2018 class? Give credit to DawgNation forum reader @JoelSidneyKelly for this one. The top-rated recruit for every other SEC program would rank here in this UGA class: Alabama (second); LSU (fifth); Auburn (10th); Tennessee (10th); Florida (12th); Texas A&M (12th); Ole Miss (12th); South Carolina (15th); Mississippi State (16th); Kentucky (17th); Vanderbilt (19th); Missouri (23rd) and Arkansas (23rd).
  • The flip side of that comparison is what I call the Trey Hill parallel. Hill, who wound up rated No. 62 overall, was the 11th-highest rated prospect the Bulldogs signed in 2018. It wasn’t that hard to decipher where he would rank in every other SEC signing class. Here’s that tally: Alabama (fourth); Auburn (second); LSU (third); Florida (first); Tennessee (second): Texas A&M (first); Ole Miss (first); South Carolina (first); Mississippi State (first); Kentucky (first); Vanderbilt (first); Missouri (first) and Arkansas (first).
  • JJ Peterson, the 4-star outside linebacker from Colquitt County in Moultrie, Ga., was the only player whom another member of the SEC East signed this year with a higher rating than Hill. Peterson signed with Tennessee.
  • I haven’t checked his math yet, but there’s a reader on the DawgNation message board who calculates that the Bulldogs outsigned the entire SEC. That calculation was made by comparing the entire UGA class of 16 signees against the 26 other highest-rated players the conference signed this year. I’ll extend another hat tip to message board member Red N Black for the research on that concept. Red N Black’s comparison accounts for the top 10 players Alabama signed, plus the best from the Auburn, Alabama, Florida, LSU and Tennessee classes.

Miss any Intel? The DawgNation recruiting archive will get you up to speed just as fast as former Georgia All-America linebacker Roquan Smith found the ball after the snap.