BEAVERTON, Ore. — The sun bears down and somehow you don’t sweat. This weather in Oregon is pretty nice.
It is a different vibe here in Oregon. A land that places doughnut shops on the same pedestal that Bar-B-Q spots find in the Deep South. What else have we learned so far after 24 hours in the Pacific Northwest?
This week at The Opening marks the chance to debut a new name for this periodic opinion and analysis column that will try to shed light on the pipeline of players on their way to Sanford Stadium.
Robert Beal — The day after
Georgia landed the nation’s No. 2 defensive end with a major commitment Tuesday. It continued the momentum from Latravius Brini choosing the Bulldogs on July 3. The 5-star prospect is transferring from Norcross to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., this fall. What’s the real deal on Beal? Here are five things that should place his decision in the proper light:
- There really wasn’t a runner-up school. In the end, it was just Georgia.
- He’s rated as a defensive end, but look for him to be an outside linebacker in Athens. It makes sense. Look at the plays on his film. He’s just better suited at nearly 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds to be a linebacker instead of having his hand on the ground.
- He is likely done with recruiting. Don’t expect him to take any other official visits.
- It is up in the air as to when or if he will enroll early. He might just go to IMG his entire senior year.
- He will follow his twin sister to Georgia. She was a 4.0 student at Norcross and was accepted last week. Skyla Beal will also be on a partial track scholarship at Georgia. She throws the shot put. The two decided they wanted to go to the same school together.
What’s another element that went unreported during all the hoopla of his commitment day yesterday? Try his age. Beal is just 16 years old and won’t turn 17 until August 18.
Sunday decision for Andrew Thomas
The nation’s No. 10 offensive tackle told DawgNation last Thursday that his mind was made up. He knows his decision and he’s also told the coaches at his school of choice. His teammates Trey Blount (a UGA commit) and Jamaree Salyer (a five-star guard for 2018) also both know.
He will make his decision Sunday on the live broadcast. That should be somewhere around 8 PM EST on ESPNU. He’s now a silent commitment and is rated as the nation’s No. 10 offensive tackle for the Class of 2017. The 6-foot-5, 320-pound prospect will come to Oregon hoping to test out a sprained AC shoulder joint. He sustained that injury while competing at the Nike Atlanta regional back in April.
DawgNation rated him as the most important recruit in the Class of 2017 considering his status as the state of Georgia’s top offensive lineman in 2017, the fact he plays a position that Georgia did not adequately address with its previous recruiting class and his skill set and makeup should allow for him to play right away as a freshman.
The notion that Salyer will all but surely choose the same school cemented his spot on that grocery list of “got-to-get guys” for 2017. Those two are very close. The decision comes down to Georgia, Clemson and Notre Dame.
Who should shine this week?
Georgia could land at least two commitments this week in Oregon, but none of those will be a 5-star like Beal. That said, the Bulldogs could wind up with a couple of 5-star prospects in the future based on the work they do this week in Oregon.
What could happen this week? Look for quarterback commit Jake Fromm to make his best case for 5-star status with his work in the Elite 11 competition. The same goes for Richard LeCounte III. Those are two commitments who could very well see their stock soar even higher with a big week in Oregon.
I also expect the following to take place:
DeAngelo Gibbs will remind folks just how good he is: Gibbs has been under-the-radar for the last five months. He was hurt and missed almost all of spring practice with a concussion. He didn’t hit the camp circuit hard. It would not shock me to see him put on a Lebron James-type performance. There’s no need to oversell that, but Gibbs has lost his 5-star status and has fallen a few rungs from the nation’s No. 1 or No. 2 cornerback spot. The “Lebron” metaphor makes sense here because Gibbs can remind the entire recruiting industry just how good he really is when facing elite competition. He had a dominating performance here as a junior.
Gibbs, now the No. 1 player in Georgia this year, is a major UGA target at defensive back. When all is said and done by the time he enrolls early, I project him to be at UGA over Tennessee.
If that shoulder holds up for Thomas, he’ll be a force: We’ve discussed his abilities earlier in this space, but he could see his ratings and rankings spike with a good week.
Jamyest Williams will continue to be that “Dawg” everyone wants: Give him a few inches and he’d likely be one of the nation’s Top 5 players. But I kind of like seeing him at 5-foot-9 and 170 pounds. That creates a thrill factor and pure entertainment watching him shut down the nation’s top receivers no matter how many inches he gives away. Nobody will have any luck whatsoever throwing his way this week.
William Poole III will be watched closely: There will be a lot of eyes on UGA CB commit William Poole III this week. Just how good is he? A lot of reporters I speak to aren’t sold that he’s an elite cornerback. I do not concur with that assessment. He’s got great length and has the strength to bench press 225 pounds 13 times. I think he’s aptly rated as the nation’s No. 10 cornerback.
Others might have seen him at a camp or a 7-on-7 event where he was out of his comfort zone. The 4-star prospect specializes in man-to-man coverage because that’s all he does in high school. He’ll get a chance to quiet the small segment of critics he has with a strong week against the nation’s elite. Keep in mind he was an easy choice for the golden ticket based on what he did at the Atlanta Nike regional earlier this year.
Jeremiah Holloman will be a star: Holloman is rated as the nation’s No. 28 receiver. When all the dust settles from everyone’s showing here in Oregon, he will be rated among the nation’s Top 10 receivers. The 6-foot-3, 195-pound prospect is a multi-year state champion in track and one of the most explosive athletes here this week.
Georgia desperately wants him in its Class of 2017. I think that will eventually take place after much deliberation over the next seven months. He told me earlier this week he’s not really sure about the possibility of making a commitment this week. He said he hasn’t even really discussed that subject with his family at all. He’s just here “to have fun” in Oregon.
Underclassmen on the rise: Grayson sophomore LB Owen Pappoe and the previously mentioned Salyer (a junior) are underclassmen. They are two of the six underclassmen among the 166 players here at The Opening. When all is said and done come Sunday, those two young men will show they might be among the Top 40 players here. Period.
The latest on Swift
Mark Webb Jr., the nation’s No. 15 receiver for 2017, said a great many pro-Georgia things on Tuesday. Yet he was pretty cloudy on the subject of what his talented first cousin will do. That’s 4-star running back D’Andre Swift.
He knows they will be a package deal and that both should make their commitments known by September and the start of their high school seasons.
Swift also told Adam Friedman of Rivals.com in a recent interview that he has no leaders in his Top 5. There were interesting quotes about Alabama, Florida State, Clemson and Penn State but we’ll focus on what he said about Georgia.
He said he doesn’t really pay attention to questions that Georgia is his leader. There seems to be a lot of buzz about him eventually winding up at UGA, but he downplayed that. He said the Bulldogs have the same chance as every other school among his top group.
We’ll get the chance to speak to Swift a couple of times this week. It will be very interesting what he has to say.
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.