Here’s Kimberley Nash’s perspective on five of the biggest UGA recruiting stories that people are talking about this week:
This week will have a very notable UGA-Alabama slant because, well, it’s UGA-Alabama and everyone will be talking about it from now until the kickoff on Oct. 3. So, settle in, and read for a spell.
1. Alabama-UGA: The Hottest Ticket in Town
UGA may be playing host to Southern University this weekend, but not too many are thinking about that matchup, are they? Keeping it real, for the vast majority of UGA fans, that game may as well be labeled an unofficial bye week.
I know, I should stop. That’s not a very nice thing to say and I’m being a bit disrespectful. On any given Saturday, even the biggest underdog can upset the best of the best (Remember Georgia Southern at Florida?…wait, that was fun and funny, but still).
Yeah, I’ve heard that saying, but with the spread favoring UGA by better than 50 points, it’s going to be tough getting me to buy in. Sorry, Jaguars. Even so, that $650,000 check will certainly be nice to look at as your team makes its way out of Athens.
The truth is, the only thing the upcoming game against Southern represents for UGA fans is it’s the game before Alabama. Period. Now, that matchup has been circled, in red, since it was announced. No one in their right UGA-loving mind will miss it and, from a recruiting standpoint, it’s one of the hottest tickets in town.
I’ve already told my husband to find something fun to do with our kids that day because the wife/mother of his kids will be unavailable after 3:30 PM on Oct. 3.
A girl’s gotta have priorities.
But I digress.
A who’s who of players (both official and unofficial) will make their way into town that weekend, and the guest list reads like the Oscar Nominations: Isaac Nauta (5-star TE, IMG Academy), Kyle Davis (5-star WR, Archer), Mecole Hardman Jr. (5-star ATH, Elberton), Greg Little (5-star OT, Allen, Texas), Demetris Robertson (4-star ATH, Savannah Christian), Nigel Warrior (4-star DB, Suwanee, Ga.), Derrick Brown (5-star DL, Buford, Ga.).
In other words, it’s a weekend UGA hopes will match the atmosphere of last weekend…and then some.
In a perfect world, the starters won’t have to play much on Saturday. With any luck, the game will be so well in hand by halftime that they’ll be able to sit back and relax for the rest of the day. Again, no disrespect to the Jaguars, I hear they have a great marching band, but this game is not meant to stress the players or the fans. If it does, they’ll be heck to pay next week. Trust me.
2. Brian Schottenheimer Will Be On Display in a Big Way When ‘Bama Comes to Town
Brian Schottenheimer will certainly have plenty of offensive players to impress that afternoon.
Isaac Nauta (5-star TE for IMG Academy) has repeatedly said he wants to see how well the schools he’s looking at will use him.
Ahem, did anyone else notice how many receptions the tight ends received against South Carolina last week (5)? Jackson Harris and Jeb Blazevich both snagged a couple of big time catches in UGA’s rout of the Gamecocks.
Was that a harbinger of more to come?
If so, Nauta will leave with plenty to add to his think-tank.
Additionally, if Kyle Davis (5-star WR, Archer) and Demetris Robertson (4-star ATH, Savannah Christian) show up, both will surely take note of how well UGA uses its receiving corps because, to be honest, if you’re gonna let your wide receivers take center stage, it’s going to be against Alabama. The Tide have not only been unimpressive this season, they are darn near non-existent as a pass defense.
That said, look for some of UGA’s key players to inspire gridiron dreams in those who may be looking to see what their future could look like in a red and black uniform.
Oh, the joys of a big stage. Can you imagine the impressionable effect winning such a game could have on a prospect looking for an SEC school to call home?
3. Greg Little: Checking in and Checking Out UGA
The offensive line keeps getting talked about, but I don’t have the energy to say too much about it this week. Bottom-line: UGA needs to sign a tackle in this class. They have enough offensive guards already, in my opinion.
They’ve done plenty to latch on to prospects with a potential interest in playing for them, but that whole bizarro situation with E.J. Price (4-star OT, Archer) threw a wrench in their plans.
Price was supposed to be the guy to fill the void for UGA at the tackle spot. When he committed it looked like UGA had their guy. Once he decided to open things up again in June…well, that’s when things went all Twilight Zone.
Whatever. It’ll be what it’ll be.
Anywho, Greg Little (5-star OT, Allen, Texas) will be making a trip to Athens for that same UGA-Alabama matchup, and it’ll be interesting to hear his thoughts upon leaving. If UGA can come out with the win, perhaps they’d make a strong enough impression to give Little something to think about—I still think he’s a long shot, but my two cents is worth the same two pennies as the next person so, ya know, put them in with the rest of your spare change and see how things shake out in the wash.
4. My Gracious, The Freshmen
UGA is making sure they give plenty of play to its new faces. Over 20 true freshmen have hit the field this season. Gone are the days when Mark Richt would hold a guy down because he was a puppy. His new thought process is burn baby burn:
“There’s so many guys that a year from now are gonna have to play,” Richt said. “So if you know a guy’s gonna have to play for you next year, you might oughta get him as many reps as you can possibly get him. Because if he’s a redshirt freshman he’s almost like a true freshman in a lot of ways. So I’d rather have a true sophomore that’s got a few plays under his belt than a redshirt freshman that hasn’t played a game.”
Somewhere in the world, former UGA running back Knowshon Moreno is having a good laugh.
Once upon a time Richt was so hung up on saddling a player with a redshirt, he left a whole year of potentially productive eligibility on the table with Moreno. Moreno is the reason a Todd Gurley and a Keith Marshall didn’t have to worry about redshirting. Ever. Richt learned his lesson quickly after that so, in a way, the seed for Richt’s change in philosophy was planted long ago.
But when you add the arrival of Jeremy Pruitt into the equation, things got even more real.
Pruitt rode into Clarke County, on his stallion, and made it clear that he didn’t give a hoot what year a kid was. If he played well, he’d play period. The only requirement Pruitt had was one of ability and that approach has certainly been a successful pitch for him as a recruiter.
Tell a kid he’ll play early, on a good defense, even at the expense of a few veterans getting their wittle feelings hurt (yes, I meant to say wittle), and all of a sudden you have an atmosphere where no one’s job is safe and everyone is playing hard because they don’t want to lose their spot.
And that ain’t a bad thing.
5. One last thing: Shyheim Carter
Shyheim Carter (4-star DB, Kentwood, La.) has already made it clear that he’s interested in UGA. He’s also interested in Alabama, Ole Miss and LSU. However, after an interview with Kipp Adams of Dawgs247, I was left wondering if he didn’t have a leader after all.
To avoid confusion, let me preface the following quote by saying Carter is a father of two.
Said Carter to Adams, “A lot of colleges have talked to me about my kids, especially Ole Miss. They are always talking about looking out for me and my kids, so shout out to them.”
Soooooo…you have no leaders, but you’re shouting out Ole Miss and giving them props for “looking out”. I don’t want it to sound like what he said about Ole Miss is a big deal, but he has been spending a lot of time around Oxford, and it’s clear he has a good relationship with their staff. And, for the record, I don’t know many people who get in the habit of shouting out folks who don’t have a good sized foot in the door already.
It’ll be interesting to see what Carter decides when he makes his final decision, but if he’s placing an Ole Miss hat on his head come Signing Day, it won’t surprise me…not even a little bit.
Kimberley Nash has blogged about UGA Football Recruiting since 2011.