The first week of the season kicked off in splendid fashion. UGA is now 1-0, but it also recorded its 17th win on the recruiting trail last Friday. That came after the commitment of 4-star RB Elijah Holyfield was made public last Friday. He became the 17th UGA commitment for the Class of 2016.
UGA wasn’t able to land Alabama 5-star DE Marlon Davidson last Friday. That was to be expected as UGA was having to go head-to-head with both Alabama and Auburn for his commitment. That’s never easy.
Did you miss anything over the weekend? There was a lot of good stuff to sift through on DawgNation. It kind of looked like the tailgate spread in Athens on Saturday. You gorged on baked beans and BBQ over the weekend. Now’s the time to feast on about a dozen recruiting stories.
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Here are the must-reads
1. Jacob Eason debut
UGA’s marquee recruit kicked off his senior season on Friday. The 5-star recruit threw for 247 yards and three touchdowns and his passing line would’ve looked a lot better if not for five dropped passes.
What did those passes look like? Check out DawgNation’s exclusive highlight video from his debut.
2. 5-star prediction
Eason also shared a few thoughts with DawgNation after his first game on Friday night. He didn’t make a prediction on UGA’s won-loss record but did
give a huge vote of confidence to sophomore Nick Chubb. Eason thinks Chubb will win the Heisman Trophy this fall.
3. ICYMI: Elijah commits to the G
DawgNation was all over Holyfield’s commitment to UGA on Friday. Did you see where he brought two pet Bulldogs to his ceremony? Word has it that the pups were named “Chubb” and “Gurley” and it was not certain whether that was the actual names of those two K-9s or just what they went by for the day.
That should be a reminder to recruiting reporters everywhere. Forget about asking them about Top 5s and leaders. Just ask the kid about their pets and their names. A kid’s not going to have a pet Bulldog named “Lorenzo” and then go to Auburn. That just wouldn’t make any sense.
Holyfield’s choice was well-received by one of the biggest commitments of the 2016 class.
4. Eason and Holyfield both make DawgNation’s honor roll
DawgNation cranks out an Honor Roll every Saturday morning tracking down the weekly performances of each UGA commitment and also the top uncommitted targets for the Class of 2016. Eason’s big day and Holyfield’s mammoth first game after going public with his commitment were two of the Top 5 performances from the weekend.
5. Nation’s No. 2 prospect will visit UGA
The offensive line is a big remaining priority for the Class of 2016 at UGA. The Bulldogs have three commitments at that spot so far and look for them to add at least two more. Could one of those be a huge name?
UGA at least made that a possibility after 5-star Texas OL Greg Little told Greg Powers of Scout.com that he would take an official visit to UGA. Little has an All-SEC list of official visits set up after his de-commitment from Texas A&M. UGA isn’t seen as one of his leaders, but the fact he will be on campus for a visit can only improve those odds.
6. Another elite recruit down for an OV
UGA offensive line coach Rob Sale continues to go after the nation’s best. The nation’s top-rated guard for 2017 released his Top 12 and UGA made the cut. Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, LSU, Miami, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, SMU, Texas A&M and Texas Tech also made the list for 5-star Texan Jack Anderson.
That’s great news for UGA even though most analysts feel he will wind up at Texas A&M.
(20-second timeout here: I’d just like to pause for a second and let that sink in for a bit. This young man must be very much in demand if the recruiting news cycle deems it necessary for him to name a Top 12 before he’s even reached the midpoint of his junior season.)
7. Big Ben has set his sights on three must-have recruits
Remember those friendly faces who always had a kind word to say when you went into a Wal-Mart? Well, Ben “Big Country” Cleveland plans to be that sort of ambassador for UGA’s recruiting efforts the rest of the year. Cleveland and Eason were the first two recruits to commit to UGA back in July of 2014 and he plans to be at every remaining home game this fall.
Cleveland said he’s ready to play ambassador and serve as that friendly 6-foot-7 face for this year’s class going forward. He has his sights set on three players he feels that UGA must land for the Class of 2016. That’s OL Willie Allen, ATH Mecole Hardman, Jr. and TE Isaac Nauta.
8. UGA makes Top 3 for in-state WR
McEachern 4-star junior WR Tyler Smith has already arrived at a Top 3 for his recruiting process. He plays for a loaded team that just might be the best squad regardless of classification in Georgia this year. (Did you see what the Indians did to Buford on Friday?)
Smith told the AJC that UGA, Auburn, and North Carolina were his favored schools at this point. Keep in mind that McEachern junior QB Bailey Hockman has already committed to UGA and that will be a huge draw down the stretch with Smith.
9. Another McEachern WR needs more time
Let’s try not to get the two 4-star receivers from McEachern confused. It can be complicated. Tyler Simmons is the senior 4-star receiver who has currently hit the brakes on his recruiting decision. He looked very good against Buford on Friday.
Smith is the junior 4-star receiver who is currently making progress on narrowing down his choice.
10. Notre Dame getting after it
I’m reading between the lines here and really scanning the tea leaves. But it really seems like Notre Dame wants to sign Michigan 4-star WR Ambry Thomas. Why do I feel that way? Well, the Irish sent the kid 129 letters that all arrived on the same day.
Yeah, and you thought that junior OG setting his Top 12 was Exhibit A that this recruiting stuff is beyond comprehension. Well, that story just got sent to the bench by this one.
11. Remember Willie Martinez?
Tennessee defensive backs coach Willie Martinez used to hold the same post at UGA. He’s also a former defensive coordinator in Athens, but he’s been involved in some interesting recruiting drama of late. Martinez was suspended from coaching activity on Saturday against Bowling Green for a secondary recruiting violation, but will also face additional sanctions.
An ESPN report detailed that Martinez is suspended from off-campus recruiting for the first 30 days of the September evaluation period and banned from off-campus recruiting during the first five days of the November-December contact period.
That means he won’t be going to see major UGA defensive back targets DeAngelo Gibbs, Mecole Hardman, Jr. and Nigel Warrior at a big high school game for awhile.
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.