Want a daily lap 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 4-star or 5-star might lean and add a dab of perspective to help fans figure out what it all means.
Pssst. Guess what?
There are some big ballgames at the Georgia Dome this weekend. Would you like to know which ones to pay close attention to? Looking for an appetizer of things to come on Saturdays in Sanford Stadium?
I sure hope so. That’s what you are about to get.
The 3 GHSA state championship games to check out
Saturday at 8 p.m. — Class 7A final between Roswell (14-0) and Grayson (13-1): Both MaxPreps and USA Today have this bout as a pairing of two of the nation’s Top 15 teams. DeAngelo Gibbs — the state’s top uncommitted prospect and major UGA target — stands out for Grayson.
He’s far from the only one. Go see what Georgia is likely going to miss out on in South Carolina commitment Jamyest Williams. The 4-star CB prospect practiced without his sleeves on at Grayson on Thursday. That’s while most of his Ram teammates were clad like they were on their way to a deer stand.
If you know Williams, that is exactly what the big bundle of ballplayer would do on a frigid day.
The Athens native will force me to watch more South Carolina games than I ever expected to over the next 3-4 years. That’s because he is simply a joy to watch. All effort. All the time.
Roswell senior Xavier McKinney has also taken an official visit to see UGA. He’s a dynamic 4-star safety that will likely choose between Clemson, Florida and Georgia. McKinney is a physical player, but he’s also snatched up 18 interceptions over the last two years. Massive senior OL Jordan Tucker also has some interest in UGA.
Find a way to watch this game. This is one that folks will be talking about in the year 2026. At least.
Friday at 1 p.m. — Class 3A final between Cedar Grove (12-2) and Greater Atlanta Christian (13-1): UGA signee Jake Fromm is fantastic, but there are reasons why a lot of folks think Davis Mills is just the width of a few paperclips better. Mills has thrown 34 touchdowns to just one interception this year. That’s why he’s rated as the nation’s No. 1 passer and the overall top prospect in Georgia this year. He’s even rated higher than Georgia 5-star signee Richard LeCounte III. The Spartans also eliminated LeCounte’s Liberty County team from the playoff bracket.
Yet I’ve got 700 pounds of examples to show why Cedar Grove will be the biggest reason Georgia fans will want to watch that game. That’s because UGA commits Netori Johnson and Justin Shaffer will play both ways for Cedar Grove. Both will be guards in Athens.
Go to the game. Give them a long look. Watch their work rate and what they do between the snaps. Watch how they encourage their teammates. Both of those guys are a biscuit or three over the 335-pound mark and yet they will play a lot of snaps both ways for their Saints.
Go see for yourself whether or not both of those guys can play fast in Athens. Those two guys are the pillars of a squad that might be the most talented team at the Dome this weekend.
Saturday at 4:30 p.m. — Class AAAA final between Cartersville (14-0) and Thomson (14-0): Well, there’s this Trevor Lawrence fella that plays for the Hurricanes. Lawrence — the 5-star QB who is on every Georgia fan’s wish list — is rated as the nation’s No. 1 overall prospect for the Class of 2018. The battle is between Clemson and Georgia and he might not make his decision until next spring.
I could spend two more paragraphs building up the hype on Lawrence and then you’d only need to see him play a quarter. Then you’d believe it. The 6-foot-6 junior has thrown 49 touchdown passes this year and if he stays healthy will own every career record in the Georgia High School Association record book.
Cartersville faces a tough Thomson team led by a dynamic tailback. Michael Thomas has stacked up 2,240 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns this season. The Bulldogs are also led on defense by 4-star CB Christian Tutt. Tutt has UGA among one of his top schools and was a silent commitment to the previous coaching staff based on his relationship with former coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.
HONORABLE MENTION: Georgia Class of 2018 LB commit Adam Anderson (6-5, 220) will also be in action this weekend for Rome. That young man is the prototype for what Georgia wants to sign at LB for Kirby Smart’s defense.
Intelligence. Size. Length. Tenacity. Oodles of it. The junior is rated as a 4-star prospect and as the nation’s No. 20 OLB for 2018. He’s one of only two pledges to this point in his class at UGA.
The Wolves (12-2) take on Buford (13-1) at 4:30 p.m. today in the Class 5A state title game. Anderson and his teammate Jaylen Griffin (Virginia Tech commit) will really have their hands full with the perennial titans from Buford. The Wolves from Gwinnett County have won 11 state titles.
One more player to look out for
Remember the name Isaiah Ratcliff. You will have to. Ratcliff is only a freshman linebacker at Cedar Grove High School. He’s in the Class of 2020.
Ratcliff is hands down the most impressive freshman football player I have seen with my eyes this season. The 6-foot, 190-pounder has started every game for Cedar Grove team that has won 12 games and will play for a GHSA state title this afternoon.
Cedar Grove coach Jimmy Smith loves him. He noted the stretch run with All-American players that he’s had, has or will have at this program. Auburn freshman Antwuan Jackson was an Army All-American in 2016. Current Georgia OL commitment Netori Johnson was named an Army All-American this year.
Sophomore athlete Jadon Haselwood also clearly looks like he’ll make that team, too. Haselwood’s name is already being touted as a no-doubt 5-star prospect for 2019. He’d already make my list of the Top 15 players to watch at the Georgia Dome this weekend.
That All-American pipeline should also one day include Ratcliff.
“Baller,” Crisp County coach Shelton Felton said after he faced Cedar and Ratcliff. “That’s a grown man out there already wearing that No. 10.”
Ratcliff is just 14 years old. He’s going to have major offers as soon as Smith sends the film out to everyone. Johnson called him “the real deal” already. He’s played both running back and linebacker.
“He brings the hammer,” Smith said. “We have a hammer that we have for big hits. He has won it about seven times already this season.”
Johnson said Ratcliff’s upside is vast.
“Linebacker is his natural position and this kid is fast and aggressive and he wants it,” Johnson said. “No offers for him yet but there are plenty to come. I know so. I think his upside is as big as mine. He is going to be an All-American like me and all that. He’s well-disciplined and coachable and he’s a great kid.”
Smith said Georgia line coach Sam Pittman saw Ratcliff this spring. He was working at running back. Smith said Pittman was pleased by what he saw.
“Coach Pittman said if he ever got fired he could come over here and coach that kid at running back,” Smith said. “He was impressed. He liked him already.”
Who’s in Athens this weekend? Officially?
DawgNation advanced Georgia’s massive official visitor list on Thursday in the Intel. The entourage includes:
- 3 January enrollees committed to Georgia
- 1 recent commitment but longtime lean to Georgia
- 1 5-star cornerback committed to FSU
- 2 junior college players who would play right away at UGA
- A 5-star OT who Georgia has to wrestle away from Alabama and Michigan
- A 4-star safety who now may or may not take his last official to UGA after all
Another confirmed official visitor
Isaiah Wilson is coming to town. That’s big news. The 5-star OT tackle is seen as a likely freshman option on the offensive line at Georgia.
But he wasn’t the only big man coming in to plow holes for Jim Chaney’s offense. There were two other junior college options expected on officials this weekend.
Elliot Baker — the nation’s No. 1 junior college OT — has opted to stay in California, focus on his exams and his commitment to play for Nick Saban at Alabama.
Scratch one plug-and-play option. The second was Mississippi Gulf Coast College OT D’Marcus Hayes.
DawgNation has confirmed that he will be in town this weekend. He should now clearly be seen as Georgia’s most likely Day 1 potential starting option on the offensive line for 2017.
Hayes ranks as the nation’s No. 3 junior college OT for the Class of 2017. The 6-foot-6, 320-pounder is rated as the No. 18 overall prospect in the junior college ranks for this year’s signing cycle.
My take on the Gibbs situation
Is it a big deal that Grayson 4-star safety DeAngelo Gibbs now may or may not take an official visit to Georgia this weekend? I thought Gibbs explained the way he’s looking at that situation perfectly in our post last night.
The young man has taken more trips to Athens than approximately 95% of the parents and family of the Class of 2017 has over the last three years.
My take? I think it is not end-of-the-world stuff or anything. There’s not much left for Georgia to show Gibbs. A dedicated from-a-distance tour of the new indoor practice facility coming up? Maybe.
If he doesn’t make it, I think the biggest thing is it takes away Georgia’s chance to enhance its stock with Gibbs one more time. It loses one more chance at building that brotherhood bond around his potential teammates in Athens. All the big dawgs (Fromm, Holloman, Herring, LeCounte) are going to be in town on their officials.
The feeling of looking around that locker room and seeing guys like Fromm and Herring and LeCounte and Wilson and even Stanford Samuels III would be a moment. It would be the last visual that maybe coach Kirby Smart is really building something special in Athens.
That’s one I’m sure that DawgNation hopes he still gets to experience on Sunday.
About Nick Saban’s helicopter
Nick Saban landed a helicopter yesterday at Grayson High School. On the football field. Dropped it right on the 50-yard line like an official’s flag. Right before practice.
Right before the next-to-last practice before the Rams go out and try to win the state championship against a nationally-ranked Roswell team.
Grayson coach Jeff Herron is a Southern gentleman. To the max.
He kept practice rolling right around the distraction. He even lined up a couple of practice periods near the end zones and practiced around said chopper in the middle of his game field on a frigid day.
I wonder how Saban might have reacted if the shoe was on the other foot. Let’s say …. what if Jason Garrett or Mike Tomlin or Jeff Fisher landed their chopper on his practice field next month two days before taking on Ohio State in the national championship game?
What if future POTUS Donald J. Trump landed his helicopter on Saban’s practice field two days before playing for the game’s ultimate prize? That’s about the same level of a scene it created on Thursday at Grayson.
Trump? Maybe. But Saban has said he doesn’t like to make political statements and all that.
Maybe he’d do it for his old buddy Bill Belichick at New England. Maybe.
I just doubt he’d have been as gracious as Herron was yesterday while needing another great practice day to get ready for a tremendous Roswell team.