Whew. Let’s review. There’s enough here to do that.
Everything that was supposed to happen over the weekend likely did. UGA hosted a slew of recruits of Grade-A recruits this weekend. The guests of honor were multi-fold. Official visitors Willie Allen, Chris Barnes, Ben Cleveland and Jacob Eason were treated like royalty.
They were served as many rib-eye steaks as they could care to eat in the President’s Box at Sanford Stadium. They were also treated like the Princes of Athens as they sampled the nightlife. (Side note: Does UGA ever underachieve in that area?)
It’s worth nothing each of those guys are offensive recruits. New coach Kirby Smart also dialed up the right play when he let them know who the offensive coordinator and offensive line coaches were going to be over breakfast on Saturday. The recruits even got a chance to hang with new OC Jim Chaney for the rest of their visits.
There’s all that good recruiting stuff to consider, but the biggest recruiting news of the weekend came from a young man in South Georgia. Man, that guy can play.
UGA adds a centerpiece to its 2017 recruiting class
The must-read has to be the commitment of Liberty County 5-star Richard LeCounte III. He’s rated as the nation’s No. 1 athlete for 2017 and as the No. 22 overall prospect. He will go down in history as the first recruit to commit to the Kirby Smart era at UGA.
LeCounte started driving at a way-too-early age and never celebrates his birthday on the day he was born. He’s also inspired to play every time he takes he field for a very personal reason.
There were a lot of important stories to read on DawgNation over the weekend, but this one carries the most oomph. LeCounte is very well-connected among the Southeast’s elite recruits.
UGA loses a centerpiece of its 2017 recruiting class
Bailey Hockman was the first commitment for the Class fo 2017 at UGA, but he’s decided to reboot his recruiting. The 4-star pro-style passer is rated as the nation’s No. 3 prospect at this position for his signing class.
He chose to de-commit from UGA on Monday and shared a couple reasons with Dawgnation as to why. Its a loss for UGA especially considering the precarious lack of depth at the quarterback position for the 2017 and beyond. That’s even with Eason expected to maintain his commitment.
Look for UGA to go after other talented in-state passers like Greater Atlanta Christian’s Davis Mills and Grayson’s Chase Brice now. Those guys are
Big Country reviews the official visits
So how did all the official visits go? UGA commitment Ben Cleveland had a few moments for DawgNation on Sunday evening and shared his thoughts on a variety of topics, including the official visit of 4-star offensive tackle Willie Allen.
That prospect’s weekend was also vital to the success of UGA under Smart. Of course, his thoughts on Eason are also very important. Cleveland made a point to choose his words carefully regarding Eason’s upcoming decision.
The weekend in pictures
Smartphones made sure to captures a lot of UGA official visit images over the weekend. Allen, Cleveland and Eason made a trip to the UGA bookstore and also sampled the nightlife along with those rib-eye steaks for dinner on Saturday night.
Eason had a few photos ops with marquee recruits, too.
Smart makes a late run at an elite defensive tackle
Cedar Grove defensive lineman Antuwan Jackson is good. Very good. Kirby Smart knows that. That’s why he made a last-minute in-home visit with the 4-star prospect on Sunday night.
Jackson’s time is almost up. The nation’s No. 8 defensive tackle is set to make his commitment this Thursday and will enroll in January at his favored school. Auburn and Ohio State appear to have the edge here, but Smart wasn’t going to let him go without an 11th-hour stand from UGA.
New offensive coordinator already hits the road
The lack of options for UGA at the receiver position is well-documented. That’s why the expectation is to still see five or six signees at that position for 2016. Tre’ Nixon, a priority 4-star target from Florida, is the top uncommitted option at that position right now.
There are a couple of 5-star athletes on the UGA board who can thrive at receiver in Mecole Hardman, Jr. and Demetris Robertson, but Nixon is the big fish left out there who is a true receiver. That’s why it was vital for new offensive coordinator Jim Chaney to pay him a visit this weekend.
The coaching transition has hurt UGA over the last 10 days. Nixon loved receivers coach Bryan McClendon and former coach Mark Richt. Richt is now at Miami and McClendon might not return next season. McClendon is the interim head coach for the bowl game, but his role has not yet been defined at UGA going forward. He wasn’t at the recruiting event on Saturday night and his name has also been mentioned as a candidate for a job at South Carolina.
That’s why the get-acquainted session with Nixon had to happen. UGA likely trails Florida and Penn State right now.
Great meeting, and visiting with Coach Chaney from Georgia tonight! #UGA??
— Tre Nixon (@tre_nixon1) December 14, 2015
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.