Sentell’s Intel: A number that shows how well Kirby Smart and his staff have been recruiting

UGA coach Kirby Smart has to be pleased with the in-state recruiting so far this year.

Want a daily tour through Georgia football recruiting? That’s what the Intel will bring at least five days a week. We’ll cover the news and which way this four-star or that five-star might be leaning with a dab of perspective to help folks figure out just what it means. 


Let’s talk numbers. Especially one very important number which shows how poorly Georgia recruited its home state of late and how quickly it has begun to avert that trend.

I’m not a snappy marketing whiz, but let’s call it the “Homegrown” ratio.

Baseball fans are trained to know a .300 average means a stellar year. There’s a similar number I keep in mind to gauge how well the Bulldogs are recruiting every year. It is found by scanning the 247 Composite rankings of the Top 15 players in Georgia each year.

California, Florida and Texas are usually the only states which produce more NFL talent than Georgia does. The Bulldogs have the biggest advantage at signing those elite in-state players every year, but those guys haven’t always wound up in red and black.

Georgia has seen too many of the state’s top talents like Nick Chubb go elsewhere over the last five recruiting cycles. (Joshua L. Jones/Special)

I’m no mathematician either, so we’ll leave the slide rules and calculators on North Avenue where they belong. The formula spans 230 miles wide and 59,425 square miles in total to be exact. That’s the width and total area for the state of Georgia. If Kirby Smart hopes to win big, his staff must do a much better job of defending those borders.

If Kirby Smart hopes to win big, his staff must do a much better job of defending those borders.

Kirby’s wall? DawgNation would be behind that one regardless of their political affiliation.

Let’s look at how many of the state’s Top 15 players UGA signed over the last five recruiting cycles.

  • 2012: 4 (No. 1, 2, 4 and 12) — That led to a No. 8 final national recruiting ranking.
  • 2013: 3 (No. 8, 10 and 13) — That led to a No. 11 final national recruiting ranking.
  • 2014: 3 (No. 1, 3 and 5) — That led to a No. 8 final national recruiting ranking.
  • 2015: 7 (No. 1, 4, 5, 8, 10) — That led to a No. 5 final national recruiting ranking.
  • 2016: 5 (No. 2, 8, 12, 14 and 15) — That led to a No. 8 final national recruiting ranking.

Pay close attention to the years between 2012-2015. There is no truer measure that Mark Richt’s staff wasn’t getting it done on the trail than that.

The Bulldogs signed just 28 percent of Georgia’s 60 elite players across those years. It gets compounded to note that another four of those recruits they did sign (Josh Harvey-Clemons, Jonathan Taylor, Tray Matthews, Brice Ramsey) have yet to make a big impact and/or remain in the program.

Georgia’s record in SEC play the last few years hint that a .300 batting average with those elite homestate players just won’t cut it.

Nick Chubb, Terry Godwin, Jordan Jenkins, Malkom Parrish and Trent Thompson have been the only high-value contributors in the program from those classes. Lorenzo Carter, Natrez Patrick, Roquan Smith and D’Andre Walker look to join that group this fall.

Georgia can’t get them all, but it was letting the other guys get far too many.

The Bulldogs only signed 17 out of the Top 15 players each year in Georgia from 2012-2015. Auburn signed eight, Alabama landed seven, South Carolina snatched six, Clemson swiped five and Ohio State even raided three blue chips. There were almost as many top-rated “homegrowns” (15) who signed to play SEC football in Alabama as the Bulldogs kept in-state across those years.

The commitment of a high-value target like Cedar Grove’s Netori Johnson showed that the new staff was making a big impact getting the state’s top players to come to Georgia. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)

Georgia didn’t sign the most Top 15 players from within its borders in 2012 and 2014. Alabama tied Georgia with four in 2012. South Carolina signed four Georgia boys in 2014. Clemson and Auburn matched the Bulldogs with three signees apiece in 2014. Those four signing classes are singled out because those players should have been the veteran core of the 2015 and 2016 depth charts in Athens.

Another reason why I compiled those numbers was to check the temperature for another trend with this staff. Smart feels he can build a championship program just by keeping the best players in the state.

The “Homegrown” ratio to shoot for is at least 40 percent of the Top 15 players in Georgia. That’s the bar if the Bulldogs expect to recruit with the nation’s best. That’s a .400 batting average among the state’s Top 15 players each year.

As it stands now, here’s how UGA is faring among the Top 15 players in Georgia for this class.

  • 2017 (current): 7 commitments
  • 2017 (projected): 10 commitments

That’s 46 percent so far. This staff won’t value all the state’s Top 15 players the way other schools do, but that 40 percent ratio seems fair, if not necessary.

The Bulldogs rank fifth in the nation with their 14 commitments as of today and there are 10 in-state players included in that total. Robert Beal, a five-star defensive end, technically would make that 11 since he’s a Georgia native that is playing his senior season for IMG Academy’s prolific boarding school team down in Florida.

It is still early but the current ratio suggests this staff is recruiting on a higher level than the one which preceded it in Athens.

Priority recruit clarifies his timeline 

Grant has a top two of Georgia and Alabama. He does not have a leader. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)

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