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Joshua L. Jones / Special
Georgia coach Kirby Smart has to be pleased with what the Class of 2017 looks like so far.

Sentell’s Intel: Give thanks for Georgia’s first full recruiting cycle under Kirby Smart

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.
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It has been awhile. Like 10 years actually.

Georgia’s current crop of 16 commitments ranks third nationally with about two-plus months to go until National Signing Day. That is a remarkable haul for the first full recruiting cycle under first-year head coach Kirby Smart.

The last time Georgia had an incoming recruiting class rated this highly, it meant a February harvest with headliner Matthew Stafford and two future NFL Pro Bowlers in Geno Atkins and Reshad Jones.

The Bulldogs plucked a big-play tailback out of the Northeast in Knowshon Moreno and added a ball-hawking corner in Asher Allen. The greatest legacy of that team had to be the No. 2 final ranking in 2007.

Well, it is Thanksgiving. That allows DawgNation the opportunity to tell you a lot about the Class of 2017 in Turkey Day fashion. Yes, this is what editors like to call “easy content” that gives the reader something relevant to look at but also allows those in the reporter pool to spend some time with their families.

T is for tackles.

4-star Andrew Thomas is one of Georgia's two All-American commits at offensive tackle for 2017. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
4-star Andrew Thomas is one of Georgia’s two All-American commits at offensive tackle for 2017. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)

That’s because UGA has already filled the program’s biggest recruiting need at any one position with the Class of 2017.

That’s at offensive tackle.  

Georgia has two solid commitments in 4-stars D’Antne Demery (Brunswick, Ga.) and Andrew Thomas (Atlanta, Ga.) and is hoping to add at least one more from a pair of 5-stars in Walker Little (Houston, Tex.) and Isaiah Wilson (Brooklyn, NY) in this year’s cycle. 

 

H is for the pride of Houston County.

No program can have a great recruiting class without an elite quarterback.

That’s where Houston County 4-star quarterback Jake Fromm comes in. He’ll push 5-star freshman Jacob Eason right away. Fromm ranks No. 2 in all-time career passing yards in Georgia prep football history. The official team stats from Houston County credit Fromm with 12,817 career passing yards, 116

Fromm ranks No. 2 in all-time career passing yards in Georgia prep football history. The official team stats from Houston County credit Fromm with 12,817 career passing yards, 116 touchdowns and only 28 interceptions for his 1380 career pass attempts. Fromm is rated as the nation’s No. 3 pro-style passer for 2017. 

Fromm is rated as the nation’s No. 3 pro-style passer for 2017. 

A is for All-Americans.

This scribe should eventually need to go from his fingers to toes to count up the All-Americans that Georgia will sign for 2017. That number currently stands at nine. There are nine current UGA commitments that are set to play in either the U.S. Army or the Under Armour All-American games. 

That number currently stands at nine. There are nine current UGA commitments set to play in either the U.S. Army or the Under Armour All-American games. 

Georgia cornerback commitment William Poole III said the Tennessee loss affected him greatly. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
Georgia cornerback commitment William Poole III said the Tennessee loss affected him greatly. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)

The final tally should fall around 14 future Bulldogs after all those decisions have been made. Consider this point: Georgia’s 2017 recruiting class should go about 27-28 prospects deep. If half of those played in one of those All-American games, then that is a very good thing.  

Consider this point: Georgia’s 2017 recruiting class should go about 27-28 prospects deep. If half of those played in one of those All-American games, then that is a good way to prevent future losses to Vanderbilt.  

The All-American picks so far: Robert Beal, Toneil Carter, Demery, Fromm, Richard LeCounte III, Netori Johnson, William Poole III, D’Andre Swift and Thomas. 

N is for Netori.

Johnson has great feet and agility for his size. He's rated as the nation's No. 6 guard for this year's class. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
Johnson has great feet and agility for his size. He’s rated as the nation’s No. 5 guard for this year’s class. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)

That’s for 4-star offensive guard Netori Johnson. He’s coming in at a position of need as Georgia’s highest-rated offensive line prospect in terms of his position ranking. 

The nation’s No. 5 offensive guard prospect for this cycle is my pick for the recruit most likely to earn immediate playing time and a starting spot in Athens. He’s also extremely likable and should instantly become

He’s also extremely likable and should instantly become a fan favorite thanks to his charisma and that “Snowcone” hair coloring.

When he finally gets the chance to speak with the media at Georgia, the reporters on the beat will be very thankful. 

K is for Kirby’s first UGA commitment.

That’s 5-star All-American safety Richard LeCounte III. LeCounte committed to Georgia within a week after Kirby Smart was hired as head coach. He’s basically acted like another recruiter in the high school ranks once he made that pledge.

LeCounte missed his state basketball championship ring ceremony at Liberty County so he could be at UGA-Auburn earlier this year. He also helped his high school team win the biggest game in school history last week. His Panthers moved on to the quarterfinals for the first time in school history and LeCounte woke up at 4 a.m. in order to see Georgia take on Louisiana-Lafayette. 

His dedication has set a new standard for what a ultra-committed recruit looks like. 

S is for Swift.

D'Andre Swift and his family were clearly impresed by the turnout of the Georgia faithful at this year's spring game. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
D’Andre Swift and his family were clearly impressed by the turnout of the Georgia faithful at this year’s spring game. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)

Georgia always needs running backs and the class has already secured a showstopper from Pennsylvania of all places.

D’Andre Swift, the nation’s No. 4 prospect at RB this year, chose UGA with an elaborate commitment video produced by the fine crew at Bleacher Report.

The 5-foot-9, 215-pounder is an all-around blend of ball skills, speed, power and toughness. He’s the second highest-rated commitment for Georgia this year right behind LeCounte. 

G is for Georgia boys.

The letter “H” could have also stood for “Homegrowns” as the UGA commit board shows 12 of those 16 commitments are from the state of Georgia. Yet there’s also a renewed emphasis

Yet there’s also a renewed emphasis to take care of business on the recruiting trail in Atlanta. That population zone is one of the deepest in the country and the Bulldogs can currently boast eight commitments from the Metro Atlanta area. 

I is for Inspiring stories.

If there’s one thing we strive to do at DawgNation, it is to go beyond the rankings and commitment news and interests to tell the stories of these young men as people. Why do they play? What makes them go so hard after their dreams? DawgNation’s has had the honor to tell the stories of several future Bulldogs this year.

Why do they play? What makes them go so hard after their dreams? DawgNation’s has had the honor to tell the stories of several future Bulldogs this year.

Why does Trey Blount wear a dog tag that means so much to him? What sort of jet fuel does 4-star Texas RB Toneil Carter have in his tank? Why is it a joy to see Johnson smile all the time? LeCounte also wears his No. 4 in tribute to two very special people. Who was the big little reason why the offensive tackle from Brunswick chose Georgia?  What was the big deal about the big DT commit DeVonte Wyatt and his Air Force 1s helping him strut his stuff in track? 4-star LB commit Jaden Hunter is a double legacy at UGA. What does he do to honor the memory of his father

If you read DawgNation every day, you would know those answers. 

V is for Victories.

These incoming Class of 2017 at Georgia is used to winning big games

That’s evident by how many current UGA commits are still alive in their football playoffs for their respective states and classifications. There are eight current Bulldog commits that are on teams which are still contending for state titles this week. That doesn’t even count another two commits who were on a state championship team last season. 

LeCounte and 4-star CB William Poole III have already led their teams on the deepest playoff runs in school history this month. 

I feel that one of the most overlooked aspects of the recruiting industry pertains to whether or not these big-time players come from winning programs. Can translate their talent into victories for their high school teams? Do they come from a winning culture? 

If a player can’t win the big game when he’s one of just a few future SEC players on the field, then how is he supposed to make a big impact when everyone on the field belongs in the SEC?

I is for iMessage.

That’s right. There’s a group message text among Georgia’s commitments and top targets which also serves as an important recruiting tool for the Class of 2017.

Georgia’s leading commits like LeCounte and Westside’s Jaden Hunter are actively involved in that text thread representing what the class will look like at Georgia. Key targets are able to spam the emojis and “LOLs” with all of the #SICEM17 commits.

That will help those undecided recruits picture how much fun it would be to play alongside them in Athens. 

N is for Needs met.

That’s one thing the Class of 2017 has been designed for. Smart lamented the lack of young offensive tackles in the program when discussing his first signing class back in February. That’s one thing that the program prioritized early by getting commitments from the state’s top two tackles by mid-July. 

There’s a glaring need a receiver and that’s been met so far with three commitments who will immediately upgrade the size, length and physicality at that position. Fromm checks off the need for another talented arm behind Jacob Eason at quarterback. 

Carter and Swift, a pair of 4-star RBs, will also immediately address the expected loss of junior tailbacks Nick Chubb and Sony Michel to the NFL Draft. 

Georgia also had to get bigger on the offensive line and the current class of incoming prospects measures in on the average at 6-foot-4 and 330 pounds. That’s an immediate 30-pound upgrade over Georgia’s starting offensive line this season. 

G is for Giants.

 

Cairo 4-star LB Walter Grant became UGA's 16th commitment for the Class of 2017 on Friday night. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
Cairo 4-star LB Walter Grant became UGA’s 16th commitment for the Class of 2017 on Friday night. The 6-foot-4, 236-pounder has an impressive 81-inch wingspan. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)

Georgia coach Kirby Smart had made mention of a statistic several times this year about there just aren’t many people walking the Earth that exceed the 6-foot-3 mark in height. There are just not a lot of young men out there that are taller than that benchmark.

There’s been a direct correlation to that thinking and the way Georgia prioritizes size and length in recruiting. Half of the current class of 2017 commitments are at least that tall. Georgia’s only two commitments in the Class of 2018 also exceed that height.

Fromm is just a shade under that notch on the growth chart. The same goes for two of Georgia’s three commitments at receiver. Trey Blount and Mark Webb Jr. both measure right at 6-foot-2 in height.

 

 

 

 

From all of us at DawgNation, here’s wishing a Happy Thanksgiving to your and your cherished friends and family members today. 

 

 

 

 

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Follow Jeff Sentell on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play Between the Hedges. Unless otherwise indicated, player rankings and ratings are from the 247Sports Composite.