Whew. What a Monday. Chalk it up as quite a December already. Recruiting season is definitely here.
If you’ve been a productive member of society over the last week, then you haven’t been able to donate the attention necessary to keep up with everything in flux at UGA. Kirby Smart was officially named as head coach yesterday. Smart then hopped on a plane to go see 5-star QB commit Jacob Eason as soon as possible.
Then great news and bad news of all shapes and sizes flooded in. We learned an unlikely 5-star prospect (from Alabama) pegged UGA as his leader. Another defensive lineman (who hails from Alabama) said UGA was also trending upward. That’s Exhibit A when it comes to Smart.
The players he has established recruiting ties with (see Ben Davis, see Marlon Davidson, see Lyndell “Mack” Wilson) are going to immediately take a long look at UGA. That’s natural given those relationships plus the fact Smart is a defensive maestro.
Then came the bad news. Eason spoke to his local paper in Washington (see below) about how close the race is now between UGA and Florida. UGA also saw one of its top offensive recruits de-commit. That’s Exhibit B for UGA football at this point in time.
Smart did not have established recruiting relationships with those guys. UGA also currently doesn’t have any members of its offensive staff in place. Smart told reporters that he does not want to rush the hiring process of his staff at his first press conference. He wants to hire the right guys. Yet until he does, the recruiting on the offensive side of the ball might be in a holding pattern.
This could be a way-too-early tell that UGA may evolve into a program that recruits the defensive side of the ball exceptionally well with Smart. That’s a departure from the days when skilled offensive recruits seemed in ample supply under Mark Richt.
Let’s just tuck that away as a theory. It is no secret that approach seemed to attract a lot of hardware in Alabama.
Is Skinny looking shaky for UGA?
Eason — known to most who know him as “Skinny” — has a big week ahead of him. He’ll take an official visit to UGA this weekend and reconnect with the members of the recruiting class and key targets he’d been lobbying to join him over the last 18 months.
Is there any edge UGA still holds over Florida now? Lavelle Durant, Eason’s personal quarterback trainer, told DawgNation it might come down to loyalty. Eason’s loyalty has been praised by those who know him well. The UGA relationships he has developed will be a big factor.
Florida’s edge over UGA comes down to the offensive coaches and a system that is currently in place. The big question: Who will be the reputable quarterback teacher in Athens? Durant also shared a concern Smart might not be as hands-on with the offense at UGA given his defensive background. The feeling is that Florida coach Jim McElwain — given his background as an offensive coordinator — will always pay close attention to that side of the ball. That was also an area where UGA made a lot of sense for Eason with former coach Mark Richt.
Eason dishes on UGA vs. Florida with local paper
The 5-star quarterback was elevated this week to the No. 1 ranking among high school quarterbacks after his senior season. He took the time to talk to his local paper and discuss his Florida official visit and where things stand between UGA and its SEC rival.
It was made clear that Florida is a legit contender. Why? Florida has an offensive system in place and some established coaches on the staff with a track record of working with quarterbacks right now. That’s why UGA’s offensive coordinator hire will be so important.
UGA loses one of its prized pair of 4-star running backs
Devwah Whaley, a 4-star running back from Texas, has de-committed from UGA. Whaley had just committed to UGA on Thanksgiving, but that was before Richt was dismissed as head coach.
The 6-foot, 209-pounder had hoped to team up with fellow Class of 2016 commitment Elijah Holyfield to form another impressive running back tandem at UGA. He told DawgNation after his commitment that he wanted to set records, win championships and win a Heisman at UGA.
That’s no longer the case. At least for now. He told DawgNation after he withdrew his commitment that UGA still has a chance, but look for him to take an even closer look at Arkansas and Texas.
Whaley is rated as the No. 4 overall running back prospect for the Class of 2016.
Nation’s No. 1 ILB pegs UGA as his leader
The news wasn’t all bad yesterday. Alabama prep linebacker Ben Davis (Gordo High School) released his Top 5 yesterday and UGA was a surprise No. 1. That’s pretty much a jaw-dropper in recruiting circles given his father still holds the career record for tackles at Alabama.
The 6-foot-4, 235-pounder shared a decision that would have been the biggest UGA recruiting news of the week on any another day. Smart cited his relationship with Smart as a key factor. Davis is rated as a 5-star prospect and as the nation’s No. 1 ILB for 2016. Retaining Kevin Sherrer as a linebackers coach would really help UGA stay in the lead for Davis.
5-star defensive end says things are looking good with UGA
Smart’s ties to 5-star Alabama defensive end Marlon Davidson have also helped. Davidson told DawgNation that it is looking pretty good for UGA right now.
Davidson has family ties with Tracy Rocker. His older brother played with him at Auburn. If he’s retained as defensive line coach, then look for UGA’s chances at flipping the Auburn commitment to grow. He said he was 75 percent committed to Auburn yesterday.
Smart’s first staff hire spent Monday on the road recruit
Smart told reporters at this press conference that former Alabama personnel director and defensive analyst Glenn Schumann would be an on-the-field coach in some capacity at UGA. Well, he was already on the recruiting trail on Monday.
Schuman met with longtime UGA defensive end commitment Chauncey Manac on Monday. Look for Schuman to likely up coaching defensive backs or linebackers at UGA. As for Manac, it really looks like the 4-star commitment is wavering on his commitment, right?
Good visit with new coach?? pic.twitter.com/lwr1huU6fv
— WOLFPUP (@chaunceymanac) December 7, 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.