The Opening closed on Sunday night.
The nation’s top quarterbacks worked with their peers at receiver and tight end for two days before being joined by the nation’s finest on the offensive and defensive lines, linebacker, running back and the secondary.
What did DawgNation see beyond the swooshes at Nike’s Oregon headquarters? Lots. The main thing is Georgia has gained commitments from a quartet of four-star prospects over the last eight days. That gives the Bulldogs 15 commitments for the Class of 2017 and 17 total counting the 2018 and 2019 pledges.
The big story once The Opening ended was watching 247Sports.com move UGA up to No. 2 overall in the team recruiting rankings after landing back-to-back four-stars on Sunday in Oregon. Georgia vaulted Alabama and now trails only Ohio State nationally.
Georgia now has the top recruiting class in the SEC. Kirby Smart has been the head coach for less than eight months. The Bulldogs are also working as hard if not harder on the trail as anyone. It is the pitch, but it is also the effort and execution of that message that has given the Bulldogs so much traction.
That is known, though. Still worth bringing up as the lede. What else is worth a few paragraphs of intel? Let’s start under center. The future of the quarterback position couldn’t be any brighter right now at Georgia. The present? Well, that’s for my AJC peers at SEC Media Days to sort out.
Jake from State Fromm will be more than Jacob Eason insurance
Four-star quarterback commitment Jake Fromm (Houston County / Warner Robins, Ga.) ranged from good-to-very-good, to oh-my-goodness-great, and to good in Oregon. We could pile upon detail upon detail, but we’ll hit four quick points.
1) The weekend before The Opening, Fromm made a mistake that can only be chalked up to youth and how much he loves the outdoors. Fromm was out frog-gigging one one night across the July 4 weekend. That required him to run a trolling motor back and forth for extended periods.
He ran that motor with his throwing hand. The next day he could barely move his wrist. Fast forward a few days and he was spinning the football as well as any quarterback at The Opening not named Davis Mills or Tua Tagovailoa.
What is Fromm’s style? He’s definitely not an excuse maker. He didn’t bring that story up at all and wanted to let his play speak for itself. His crescendo was Saturday. He threw for seven touchdowns and zero interceptions across nine drives. A veteran Elite 11 coach said it was one of the five finest throwing days he’d ever seen at The Opening.
Fromm relates to people in a way that guys will lay it on the line for him. A lot of that has to do with his faith and his humble country roots. That’s all good, but that doesn’t move the chains. I watched him when no one else was watching him when Ohio State commit Tate Martell was leading drives. Watching him guide receivers or correct route concepts when he wasn’t in the hot seat stood out. So did his exuberance in seeing any teammate do well.
He will play well and represent the program in a first-class manner. Fromm will push Eason very quickly once he enrolls early and arrives on campus in January. Jacob Eason insurance? Nope. He’s far better than that.
It looks like Georgia is signing the third-best quarterback in the country this year. At least. That’s a class after signing the nation’s second-best in Eason.
— B/R The Future (@BR_TheFuture) July 10, 2016
Mr. Lawrence is down to Georgia and Clemson
Rusty Mansell of 247Sports reported early Monday morning that five-star quarterback Trevor Lawrence was down to two schools and should also decide by the end of this month. Clemson and Georgia. Georgia and Clemson. Not necessarily in any order.
That decision will not go down at Dawg Days (the three-day Kirby Smart prospect camp) this weekend. Lawrence is not expected to make that camp as he will be at a 7-on-7 camp with his Cartersville Hurricanes in North Georgia on Friday and Saturday. He has to see Clemson and Georgia later this month before he makes his decision. The 6-foot-6, 195-pounder is the clear-cut No. 1 overall prospect for the Class of 2018.
That’s a distinction that Eason or Fromm never held. He is the best prospect of that dream quarterback succession plan so far heading into his junior year of high school. That’s no knock to either Eason or Fromm, but Lawrence already has been named a National Freshman of the Year and led his team to a state title.
The thinking here is he eventually will choose UGA because of a better scheme fit, his relationship with offensive coordinator Jim Chaney and a budding friendship with Eason. A commitment from Lawrence would set everything up for a class that can be just as good as the one being built for 2017. That said, Lawrence maintains no stated leader or edge for either school.
Look for the decision to be finalized over the last 10 days of July. His announcement should be right around the first day of August.
4 downs on the Toniel Carter commitment
1) If you haven’t already, please carve out a few minutes to learn about four-star running back Toniel Carter. We try to write about these players as people and not just where they are rated as much as possible. The aim is to take the helmet off, tell their stories and try to help fan bases commit to them and their careers as much as they commit to a program.
Carter has a story that goes beyond the game and I’m grateful the Carter family allowed me the honor to share that.
2) His family was already thinking about not taking any official visits going forward. Texas A&M was his second choice. That campus is less than an hour from their Houston home. Byron Carter, his older brother and guardian as a result of a pair of unfortunate circumstances, just wants to stress what commitment actually means.
3) The Carter family is looking at moving to Northeast Georgia once the nation’s No. 5 running back enrolls in January.
4) Georgia knew Carter’s choice last month. When he shared it with running backs coach Dell McGee, it made up for some bad news. A member of McGee’s family lost an important piece of personal property and it turned McGee’s day around.
Smart’s way of making this go
As much as I thought about making another point regarding Carter, this one is more about Smart. When I asked Carter’s older brother when he knew what his choice was going to be, he talked about a trip to spring practice.
Smart was a driving force. Byron Carter pointed out his energy and the way he immersed himself in practice. He’d buzz from offense to defense among every position group. He’d get in the middle of things and act out what he needed to see.
“He was everywhere from one position to another,” Carter said. “He was all over the place with so much energy. This wasn’t a guy telling players what to do, he was right in the middle of it all. You see that and you want to play for a guy like that. I wanted Toneil to play for that kind of coach.”
It was coaching, but also investing in the future of his players with passion. Smart was giving great effort, the kind he expected to see reflected back. It gives him even more of a stake in the team compared to a big desk and a huge check.
Byron Carter also recalled a hype film he saw in the UGA complex with the lights off. The passion. All the great players. He was facing toward the screen in front and the lights were off and he teared up. Carter was just so proud to see his younger brother getting the chance to be a part of Georgia’s football tradition.
The wow tweet of late
My colleague Chris Kirschner at SEC Country primarily covers Alabama recruiting and he’s very good at that. He filmed this rep from Cam Akers on Sunday during the 7-on-7 bracket. That stands as one of the best plays I laid eyes on at The Opening.
I think he’s still the No. 1 target at RB for UGA right now, but the chances of him in red and black aren’t as high as Carter and four-star D’Andre Swift. If I had to make a call right now on Akers, it would be to Ohio State. That said, there’s a lot of road up ahead in that race.
Sure, the nation’s No. 2 RB prospect can run and score and all that. But that effort level sprinting across the hashes for a one-handed stab while being trailed by one of the nation’s best was one of my top plays of the week.
— Chris Kirschner (@ChrisK_AJC) July 10, 2016
Mocking the class: Georgia’s WR signees for 2017
The narrative right now regarding four-star receiver Nico Collins is Michigan. He’s publicly said that Michigan leads, but The Opening allows for a lot of behind-the-scenes intel that is not ready yet for full-blown stories with eye-catching headlines.
Collins told me Georgia was his No. 2 school, but I wouldn’t count him as a Michigan definite just yet. I think it is a UGA and Michigan race and Alabama will have a say. That line of thinking allows a window to project UGA’s receivers for 2017. Trey Blount, Xavier Jenkins and Matt Landers are the current commitments.
The easy read is to add four-star Mark Webb Jr. (D’Andre Swift potential package deal) to the class and then see Newton 4-star receiver Jeremiah Holloman become the fifth receiver in a group that Georgia’s coaches hoped to cap at four. It is just hard to say no to a guy like Holloman at any time.
Something tells me that the receiver position for 2017 isn’t going to be that simple. What happens if Nico Collins also wants to be a part of a group that also contains Webb and Holloman?
That would be cause for much consternation in Athens.
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. Unless otherwise indicated, player rankings and ratings are from the 247Sports Composite.