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Brant Sanderlin/AJC
Kirby Smart takes the field at Sanford Stadium on Saturday for his first home game as Georgia's head coach.

Sentell’s Intel: Kirby Smart’s bold prediction has already been realized

Kirby Smart made a prediction in April in the belly of Sanford Stadium that already has turned out to be spot-on.

When he met the media after Georgia’s eye-opening #93KDay, he proclaimed that the results of the crowd supporting the program in such a big way would not be immediately known. It would just take a while.

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 impressed by the turnout of the Georgia faithful at this year’s spring game. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)

“You’ll see,” Smart told the press. “They were there, and all were all fired up. They couldn’t believe it. They were ecstatic, and there were a lot of good players here. I think it will show … when it comes all the way to the back end of it in February.”

It didn’t even take that long. That statement was realized by the recent commitments of D’Andre Swift and Mark Webb Jr. to the Class of 2017 at Georgia.

How in the world can Georgia go all the way to Pennsylvania and gain commitments from two 4-star players who are now the program’s highest-rated recruits at receiver and running back?

Go ahead and count #93KDay as a major reason. Swift and his family said the support that was on display in Sanford Stadium that afternoon was a major point of separation in the race to gain the nation’s No. 4 RB this cycle.

“That might have been one of the most remarkable situations that I can say that I have been with D’Andre for,” his father Darren Swift said. “To be able to walk into the stadium and be a part of it and walk down and watch the guys coming through the ‘DawgWalk’ and see all the tradition that Georgia has was just remarkable. I’ve never seen how a town shuts down for a game. That city is a college football town, and everybody embraces that tradition and the football program fully. That, to me, was just remarkable about Georgia in every way.”

That marked Swift’s second visit to Georgia. That trip — plus a key relationship with a Georgia coach — went a long way to establish Georgia as the team to beat in his recruitment. Those two boys are cousins, and their mutual interest in the program helped solidify those commitments.

An astounding number about DeAngelo Gibbs

I recently stated Grayson senior safety DeAngelo Gibbs was the second-most important remaining recruiting battle for Georgia in the Class of 2017. Gibbs is rated as the nation’s No. 3 safety for this cycle, and he’d give the Bulldogs the nation’s best pair of recruits at safety for 2017 along with 5-star prospect Richard LeCounte III.

Gibbs’ decision won’t be easy. He’s been a marquee and a priority recruit for programs since basically his freshman year. The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder picked up his first offers when he was in eighth grade.

Gibbs is rated as the nation's No. 3 safety for the Class of 2017. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
Gibbs is rated as the nation’s No. 3 safety for the Class of 2017. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)

Everywhere he goes, he becomes the most important recruit who will be on campus that day. At least. Gibbs had basically seen and heard it all by this time last year. Gibbs has a reputation of keeping everything quiet about his recruitment, especially in interviews. But he told my SEC Country colleague Chris Kirschner last Friday what I found to be a telling reflection of what it is like to be such a coveted recruit in 2017.

Gibbs thinks every school is recruiting him with maximum intensity. He shared a detail or two why.

“If you saw my phone, you wouldn’t believe it,” Gibbs said. “Some schools are hitting me up twice every single day. It shows how much these schools want me. Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Tennessee, LSU, Florida State and Clemson all hit me up multiple times. You wouldn’t believe it, but it’s crazy. I have 3,000 unread text messages.”

Gibbs told SEC Country.com that he has more than 3,000 unread text messages. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
Gibbs told SEC Country that he has more than 3,000 unread text messages. (Rob Saye / Special)

Good gracious. Gibbs definitely is one of those talents that the unlimited messages plan was created for. And you thought your teenager was a texting fiend. Those college coaches are even thirstier than that.

He’s visited Georgia more than any other school, and it is not even close. Gibbs probably has taken more than a dozen trips to Georgia during the last few months. That’s why I think he eventually will commit to Georgia at the Under Armour All-America Game and then enroll early.

Georgia and Tennessee should be seen as the major contenders for Gibbs. He has a cousin on the roster at both programs. The senior will be at Georgia-Tennessee on Oct. 1, but that won’t be an official visit. Don’t look for him to take an official to either school. Those two programs already have hosted him the most, by far, and he doesn’t see the need to burn an official visit to check out either program.

Gibbs also told Kirschner that he “kind of has an idea” about his official visits but isn’t sure yet. Those schools in contention for official visits are Alabama, LSU, Miami, Ohio State and Southern California.

Decision dates on the horizon 

Swift and Webb are Georgia’s only commitments so far this month. They joined South Carolina flip Devonte Wyatt (Towers HS/ Decatur, Ga.) as the only pledges since the program welcomed a quartet of 4-stars in one week back in July. The Bulldogs are also ranked No. 3 nationally in the 247Sports Team Composite recruiter rankings. If that holds, that would be Georgia’s highest finish since 2006 in that metric.

Webb’s decision now shifts the attention to a new wave of recruits that are expected to make their decisions soon. Things can change, but the last reports from each of the following players indicate that their decision was expected within a certain time frame.

  • 4-star ILB Leonard Warner (Brookwood/Snellville, Ga.): Late September or early October.
  • 4-star OLB Walter Grant (Cairo/Cairo, Ga.): Expected sometime in October.
  • 4-star DE/OLB Markaviest “Big Cat” Bryant (Crisp County/Cordele, Ga.): Recently told Scout.com a decision could come in four to six weeks.
  • 4-star DE Malik Herring (Mary Persons/Forsyth, Ga.): Currently expected in December.

 

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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.

 

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