Here’s Kimberley Nash’s perspective on five of the biggest UGA recruiting stories that people are talking about this week:
1. Isaac Nauta will be back in town for the UGA-Georgia Southern game.
The last time 5-star tight end Isaac Nauta (IMG Academy) was in attendance for a UGA game, the weather was rainy, and the scoreboard was decidedly in the favor of the visiting team. This time around, the Bulldogs hope to have a much better showing and, if Nauta’s lucky (assuming he shows up for the game, of course), he may even see some plays called for the tight end position.
Over the last couple of contests, UGA has shown a bit more attention to its tight ends: Jackson Harris, Jay Rome, and Jeb Blazevich all have at least one reception over the past two games. Don’t laugh; that’s a start when you consider how woefully utilized they’ve been all season.
Whether it had to do with UGA offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer’s inability to add them to the playcall sheet or Blazevich’s tired legs, we’ll never really know. But finding a way to get them involved again can only bolster UGA’s offensive productivity.
The Bulldogs have continued to struggle with red-zone efficiency this season, ranking near the bottom (12th — 78.4 percent) of the SEC in red-zone conversions, and 102nd overall in the FBS rankings–Georgia State is 103rd. Take a minute and wrap your head around that stat: UGA is only a smidge better in the red zone than the Georgia State Panthers.
Now, I realize there’s a world of difference between who UGA plays, and Georgia State’s opponents, but the Bulldogs are a long way from where they were only a year ago (50th). This speaks volumes about how much the offense has struggled this season.
I say that to say this: Blazevich was one of UGA’s top targets in the red zone last year. More than half of his touchdown total came from plays where he was targeted inside the 20. With him feeling more like himself (no more “tired legs”), and Lambert wanting to make a more lasting impression as the season comes to a close (with the arrival of 5-star quarterback Jacob Eason (Lake Stevens, Wash.) looming large), what better way to impress Nauta than to see the guys currently playing his position get a score, or two, on Saturday?
2. Grant Holloway chooses Florida over UGA
I wish I could say I was shocked to hear 3-star wide receiver Grant Holloway (Chesapeake, Va.) chose the Gators over UGA, but the truth is the kid has Olympic Dreams and Florida has the best outdoor track team in the country. Florida track and field coach Mike Holloway (no relation) has built an elite program in Gainesville, Fla. and he’s played a pivotal role in coaching a number of former players to the Olympics.
The Olympics is ultimately where Holloway wants to be and, no offense to UGA, but it is in a transition period with its track program, and Holloway wants a shot at Rio in 2016.
Where does that leave the Bulldogs as far as wide receivers? Same as they have always been, honestly.
Holloway became a longer shot once he prioritized using his track scholarship over gaining a free ride for football.
In my opinion, the Bulldogs were hoping to add Holloway for his elite-level speed, but he would not have been a factor next season had he signed. His speed made him a commodity, but he is still very raw as a receiver, and his desire to get ready for the Olympics likely would have slowed his development on the football field.
3. So … what now?
Five-star Demetris Robertson (Savannah, Ga.) is rumored to be coming to UGA this weekend, but he’s been hard to keep tabs on lately. He’s cancelled more visits than he’s actually taken, so trying to determine when he’ll actually show up for a visit at all (scheduled or unscheduled) is a challenge.
Whether he visits or not, I would still be surprised if he signs with the Bulldogs. The close relationship with UGA’s coaching staff is there, but it’s telling that he’s spent more time in Tuscaloosa, Ala. than he has in
That same sentiment is true of 5-star Kyle Davis (Lawrenceville, Ga.). He continues to remain quiet after backing off a scheduled October announcement. Auburn was in play at that time, and is no less so now.
The situations of Davis, Robertson, and 3-star wide receiver Davion Curtis (Texas)–who de-committed late Thursday are the most likely reason UGA reached out with an offer for 3-star junior college receiver Derrick Willies (Rock Island, Ill.)
Tre’ Nixon (Melbourne, Fla.) also remains a possibility, but the fact that UGA is reaching out to junior college players, this late in the recruiting process, says a lot.
4. Staying with the wide receiver position … would Bryan Edwards be interested in playing for UGA?
Four-star wide receiver Bryan Edwards (Conway, S.C.) de-committed from the South Carolina Gamecocks on Thursday, and UGA may push for an official visit from him. The Bulldogs were No. 2, behind the Gamecocks, when Edwards committed to South Carolina in March, 2015.
At the time of his commitment, Edwards cited his close bond with South Carolina recruiting coordinator, Steve Spurrier, Jr., as the primary reason. With the Gamecocks staff in flux, until a new head coach is
named, Edwards decided to back off his commitment. Even so, they’re hardly out of the loop and he could always decide to commit again once things settle down.
Clemson is thought to be the most likely destination for Edwards, if he sticks with his decision not to sign with South Carolina. However, the fact that the Tigers want him as a defensive back might play a role. If Edwards doesn’t like the idea of becoming a safety at the next level, UGA could certainly find its way back into the conversation, especially since its wide receiver board seems to be collapsing like a house of cards …at least at the moment.
5. Did Keith Marshall’s decision change anything from a recruiting perspective?
Keith Marshall won’t be returning for his final season of eligibility. If you were shocked to hear that, then I wonder if you’ve been watching Marshall this season? He hasn’t been much of a factor, for whatever reason (logic I mostly can’t figure out since he’s been healthy for most of it), and his best friend is already in the NFL making mince-meat out of opposing defenses.
Marshall was never going to stay another year. Period.
The plan has always been to bring in at least one running back. Four-star Elijah Holyfield (Atlanta) is that one. If another elite back decides to come as well, then UGA will make room. Make no mistake though, if Devwah Whaley (Texas) decides to go elsewhere, UGA will stand pat with Holyfield and work on bringing in two running backs in ‘17.
That was always the plan. Marshall didn’t change that, nor did his decision open the door for another prospect to land in this class. The numbers are still going to be tight and, at some point, UGA may have to turn someone away if things get too close. But that’s not likely to happen.
Kimberley Nash has blogged about UGA Football Recruiting since 2011.