UGA lost its Heisman Trophy running back on Saturday and fell to Tennessee in Knoxville. The Bulldogs also dropped out of the AP poll on Sunday.
The month of October hasn’t been kind to UGA, but the recruiting trail offers hope. UGA may no longer be ranked among the nation’s Top 25 teams on the field, but the program is ranked No. 6 in the nation in the current 247sports recruiting rankings.
That number will very likely go up a few more notches by the time National Signing Day rolls around in February. UGA, with a select recruit here and there, can contend for the nation’s No. 1 class. It would not be a reach to project that UGA could possibly sign at least four 5-star recruits in 2016.
It is a hollow point considering how everyone is sorting through their frustrations right now, but help is on the way. Especially at a few key positions that could benefit from a restocking of top-tier SEC talent.
What’s the latest with UGA football recruiting? Here’s a snapshot of what’s going on right now.
Jacob Eason seems to be on everyone’s mind
Nothing screams optimism for a recruiting class quite like a 5-star quarterbacks. Lake Stevens, Wash. senior Jacob Eason is not only committed to UGA, but he’s already signed his financial aid papers and is set to enroll in January.
The popular opinion is that day can’t come fast enough. The 6-foot-6 Eason possesses a big-time arm and he’s creating highlights each week for an undefeated squad in the Pacific Time Zone. He’s a building block for the 2016 class and he reaches out to about “five or six” recruits each week.
How strong is Eason’s arm? One of the nation’s top recruits recently shared a take on that subject.
Priority UGA target shuffles his official visits
Former Buford tight end Isaac Nauta is one of those prospects that Eason stays in close contact with. The nation’s No. 1 tight end made some big news on the recruiting front on Sunday night when he tweeted out that he’s dropping USC from his list of official visits. Nauta had the Trojans among the first four official visits he scheduled prior to the season.
He’s now going to visit Alabama instead for the LSU game. Nauta has already had his UGA visit. Michigan is up this week followed by Ole Miss and TCU later this fall. He will also graduate early and enroll in January. The perspective by most surrounding Nauta is that UGA is the team to beat.
Honor roll: How did the recruits look last Friday?
It is not all about stars, but on-field production. Eason and Nauta both had great games this past Friday. The UGA honor roll recaps the top performances by UGA’s commitments and major targets on the recruiting trail. Archer 5-star receiver Kyle Davis also turned in the best performance of his senior season on Friday night.
Peachtree Ridge senior defensive back Nigel Warrior wasn’t far behind.
Nation’s No. 2 athlete unfazed by UGA’s recent skid
Savannah Christian senior Demetris Robertson told DawgNation.com on Sunday that he’s not concerned by UGA’s on-field performance. He said it would not matter to him if UGA went 8-4 or if it won the SEC this year. He’s looking at more important things that a program’s won-loss record.
Robertson’s mind will be made up based on academics. That’s why his upcoming official visit to UGA for this week’s Missouri game will be vital for the program’s chances going forward. Stanford leads for Robertson and he’s taken official visits to Cal and Notre Dame this year that really made an impression.
Recruit’s father wears UGA gear to All-American jersey ceremony
Archer offensive lineman E.J. Price, Jr. accepted his Under Armour All-American jersey on Friday. He said that Auburn and UGA are still his leaders, but an interesting thing happened during his jersey presentation ceremony at the gymnasium.
Price’s father showed up for the ceremony in all-UGA gear. The 4-star prospect laughed it off and said folks should not read too much into it. Price was committed to UGA for a time but de-committed in June to readdress his recruiting options.
Rumors have swirled of late that Price might even be a silent commitment for UGA, but Friday’s events have to be seen as a good sign. He said that his father is a big UGA fan and started following the team during Herschel Walker‘s heyday in the 1980s.
I’m sure UGA fans would rather see Price’s father decked out in Red and Black, but learn that the top recruit downplayed it than see him Auburn or Michigan State’s colors and hear the same thing.
UGA legacy feels he no longer has a leader
Jaden Hunter, a 4-star junior from Westlake High School, had Alabama as his top school earlier this year. He’s the son of the late Brice Hunter who starred at receiver for UGA a generation ago. He came out with a new Top 10 later in the summer and had Florida State and LSU as his co-leaders.
UGA was always right at the top, but always trailing another big-time program or two. When DawgNation caught up with him on Friday, he said that no school was out in front for him right now. That can only be seen as good news. UGA has really started to come at him hard since the first day that schools could official reach out to Class of 2017 recruits on September 1.
4-star LB says UGA is working hard to sign him
Brookwood 4-star linebacker Leonard Warner is a massive prospect. He’s already 6 feet, 4 inches tall and weighing in at 226 pounds. He’s playing middle linebacker for a surging Broncos team, but his future is on the edge on Saturdays. Warner told DawgNation.com on Friday night that UGA is really coming after him hard. He still has the Bulldogs among his Top 5 schools, but that listing that comes with an asterisk.
Warner, a very bright student, can only rank the schools he’s seen thus far. There are other schools out there for him that he has not seen. When he does, they could also populate a revised list of top schools. He hopes to visit Michigan and Stanford soon, he said.
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.