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JOSHUA L. JONES/DAWGNATION
Kirby Smart is hoping to connect with some big-name recruits this off-season.

Sentell’s Intel: The latest class projections on offense for 2017 at UGA

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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The showing against Georgia Tech on Saturday left a lot of UGA fans ready to go ahead and turn the page for next year. Several DawgNation readers expressed that feeling over the weekend to me.

Well, there is always next year in recruiting. In the spirit of those words, it just doesn’t feel right to offer up a normal helping of Intel with everyone still feeling the sting of that Tech loss on Monday morning.

I’m betting you’d like to see a triple shot expresso-grade optimism for the 2017, 2018 and 2019 seasons hit your screens today. Pronto.

With that, let’s take a look at our updated DawgNation.com projected commitment board for 2017.  This is the latest projection for 2017 based on everything I’ve heard up to this point.

* indicates current commit

** indicates commitment who plans on being an early enrollee

*** indicates an undecided prospect who plans on being an early enrollee

Quarterback (1)

** 4-star Jake Fromm, Nation’s No. 3 Pro-Style QB, Warner Robins, Ga.

This case has been closed since he flipped from Alabama to Georgia shortly after Kirby Smart took the job. Fromm put pen to paper on his financial aid papers in August and took an in-home visit from Smart and UGA offensive coordinator Jim Chaney on Sunday night.

Fromm is rated as the nation's No. 3 Pro-Style passer for 2017. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
Fromm is rated as the nation’s No. 3 Pro-Style passer for 2017. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)

Potential early impact: Competition is crucial at Georgia. That’s for every position. While Jacob Eason showed flashes of his 5-star potential during his freshman year, he’s not going to be the best he can be in Athens unless he pushed by a peer who could wrestle away playing time. That’s going to be Fromm. When it comes to the pending Eason vs. Fromm competition in Athens, I try to take a wait-and-see approach. Georgia’s starting QB has tremendous physical tools that make him an easy NFL first-round draft pick projection, but Fromm is skilled in every area that Eason showed he needs polish during his freshman year. That’s accuracy across all levels of the route tree and the ability to hit guys in stride.

I’d expect the competition to look like fantasy football in Athens. What would’ve happened if Matthew Stafford and Aaron Murray were at UGA at the same time? That’s not an exact Bulldog-to-Bulldog talent level comparison but the profiles for each player are very similar. Eason has a huge edge on Fromm by virtue of starting 11 games for Georgia, but look for Fromm to do whatever he can week-by-week to start chiseling away at the edge once he arrives in January. The stories of his film study and game preparation at the high school level (20-plus hours per week) allow his coaches to confidently express the opinion he could already be an adept offensive coordinator at the varsity level.

Current projected class count: 1

Another big name UGA still has a chance with here: None

Running back (2)

** 4-star Toneil Carter, Nation’s No. 7 RB, Houston, Tex.

4-star Georgia RB commit Toniel Carter took his official visit for the Auburn game on Saturday. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
4-star Georgia RB commit Toniel Carter took his official visit for the Auburn game on Saturday. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)

Carter has been a true commitment in every sense of the word since he chose UGA at Nike’s “The Opening” all-star prospect showcase back in July. The 5-foot-11, 195-pounder has basically shut down his recruiting since that commitment. His family didn’t expect Carter to seriously consider any other schools and he’s held true to that thinking. He took his official visit to UGA for the Auburn game and that’s the only visit he has planned.

Potential early impact: The safe projection is to expect Nick Chubb and Sony Michel to make an emotional-yet-business decision and declare for the NFL. Senior Brendan Douglas also exhausts his eligibility after the bowl. That frees up three rungs on the depth chart. Georgia signed two high-caliber backs last year in Brian Herrien and Elijah Holyfield, but look for Carter to make some noise in the spring because he’s enrolling in January. He’ll report to Athens after his week at the Under Armour All-American game in Florida.

* 4-star D’Andre Swift, Nation’s No. 4 RB, Philadelphia, Pa.

Swift committed to UGA on Sept. 1. The 5-foot-10, 215-pounder and his first cousin Mark Webb Jr.  are a package deal for Georgia. That’s two highly-rated players from Pennsylvania. Swift chose UGA over Clemson and Florida State and was sold on UGA basically after what he saw at UGA’s 93K spring game. Running backs coach Dell McGee has also established a strong bond here.

Swift and Webb plan to room together at Georgia. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
Swift and Webb plan to room together at Georgia. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)

Potential early impact: Swift will not enroll early, but still look for him to get touches early on in his UGA career. That’s because of his nice blend of size, speed, vision and all-around ability. He’ll likely become one of Georgia’s top potential weapons as a slot receiver but will also flash the clear ability to run between the tackles. The name Emmitt Smith gets tossed around a lot as a player parallel for Swift and there’s nothing in this kid’s game that doesn’t reflect that.

Current projected class count: 3

Another big name UGA still has a chance with here: 5-star RB Cam Akers

Wide receiver (4)

* 4-star Trey Blount, Nation’s No.37 WR, Atlanta, Ga.

Trey Blount is rated as the nation's No. 37 receiver for the Class of 2017. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
Trey Blount is rated as the nation’s No. 37 receiver for the Class of 2017. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)

Blount committed to UGA on May 1. That’s the same day 5-star Demetris Robertson chose Cal as the final major recruiting target for the Class of 2016. That continues to be a good reflection of his worth. While everyone takes a hard look at the top-rated guys, he’s going to provide something that’s going to make folks forget about those other guys. The 6-foot-2, 195-pounder has a strong all-around game.

DawgNation recently rated Blount as Georgia’s second most underrated recruit for 2017.

Potential early impact: Blount has intelligence and size and is not just a willing but a dedicated blocker in the run game. He’s an explosive athlete with a 40-inch vertical leap who will be able to catch the ball and stretch the field. There are not a lot of options in Athens right now with his size and speed and all those other skills that Georgia offensive coordinator Jim Chaney will consider luxury options for his new weapon at receiver.

 *** 4-star Jeremiah Holloman, Nation’s No. 19 WR, Covington, Ga. 

The U.S. Army All-American has yet to make his college commitment, but that will come shortly as he’s set to graduate in mid-December. Holloman was once committed to Michigan, but that chase now looks like Georgia, LSU, Miami, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oregon and Tennessee. The Holloman family just hosted LSU receivers coach Dameyune Craig for an in-home visit and is set to do the same with Georgia on Monday.

Holloman is rated as the nation's No. 19 WR for the Class of 2017. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
Holloman is rated as the nation’s No. 19 WR for the Class of 2017. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)

The Holloman family just hosted LSU receivers coach Dameyune Craig for an in-home visit and is set to do the same with Georgia on Monday.

Potential early impact: Holloman can play right away in Athens. That has a lot to do with his talent and explosive ability, but for two other reasons. He’s set to enroll early at the school of his choice and there aren’t a lot of future SEC No. 1 receivers at UGA right now. I can envision a scenario where he is Georgia’s most explosive receiver by the end of his freshman season. The two-time state triple jump champion finished in the Top 5 in SPARQ rating at the Opening back in July.

That shows he’s clearly one of the nation’s finest all-around athletes for the Class of 2017.

* 3-star Matt Landers, Nation’s No. 95 WR, St. Petersburg, Fla. 

Landers will instantly upgrade the size of the receiver room at Georgia. The 6-foot-5, 185-pounder finished his senior season with 40 catches for 719 yards and seven touchdowns. He averaged 18.0 yards per catch and should become a red zone target early in his career at UGA. UGA receivers coach James Coley was one of the first big-time schools to offer Landers based on his vast potential. He’s the son of former UGA basketball letterman, Toney Mack.

Potential early impact: Landers is one of the lowest-rated recruits for Georgia in this class, but his ceiling is very high. He should come in eager to work and earn a spot. He’d instantly become the biggest receiver in the program once he reports during the summer. Keep in mind that the low rating reflects that he’s only been playing varsity football for three seasons now.

* 4-star Mark Webb Jr., Nation’s No. 20 WR, Warminster, Pa. 

Webb, the aforementioned cousin in the D’Andre Swift package deal, chose UGA over a host of schools back in September. He just felt that UGA was “home” and was immediately taken by the vast opportunity that would be there for him at Georgia. He’s another big body who will do everything that Coley and Chaney will ask from a receiver. Webb currently stands as the highest-rated commitment for Georgia at a clear position of need for 2017.

Potential early impact: Webb is a high character guy who doesn’t shy away from extra work or taking on a leadership role in the locker room. He will have a very high upside across his years in Athens. He’s one of the safest bets in the 2017 class to play right away.

Current projected class count: 7

Another big name UGA still has a chance with here: 4-star WR Nico Collins (I came very close to still projecting Collins to UGA at this time, but now feel Georgia’s best chance will hinge around his official visit in January. Michigan will be the team to beat here.)

Offensive line (5)

* 4-star D’Antne Demery, Nation’s No. 17 OT, Brunswick, Ga.

The 6-foot-6 Demery is rated as the nation's No. 17 OT for the Class of 2017. (Student Sports)
The 6-foot-6 Demery is rated as the nation’s No. 17 OT for the Class of 2017. (Student Sports)

Georgia needs a major infusion of size and talent at offensive tackle. The major talking point for what UGA lacked on the offensive line all season was the need to get bigger. Demery checks off both of those items on the wish list right away. He was selected for the U.S. Army All-American game in Texas and his postponed jersey ceremony is scheduled for this week.

Potential early impact: Demery is a prospect that has gotten a lot better over the last six-to-eight months. I used to project him as an ideal redshirt candidate because his game is still very raw. That’s still evident in the run game, but he’s made enough strides where he might be able to help UGA in his freshman season. He’s simply going to eventually be a monster in Athens with those feet, his work ethic and that 6-foot-6 frame and length.

3-star D’Marcus Hayes, Nation’s No. 3 JUCO OT, Madison, Miss. 

Georgia is definitely winning up front recruiting the top high school talent around the state, but the Bulldogs will need to pull in a junior college prospect to immediately plug in and play at left and also possibly right tackle. That’s primarily to fill the spot created by the departure of graduate transfer Tyler Catalina at left tackle. The best bet for that right now looks to be Hayes.

He’s more than held his own in daily battles with top JUCO defensive line target Isaiah Buggs at Mississippi Gulf Coast College.  The 6-foot-6, 325-pounder is rated as the nation’s No. 3 offensive tackle prospect this year among the junior college ranks.

Georgia likes Hayes, but it will still have to battle Auburn, Louisville and Mississippi State for his services next season. The Bulldogs should look to the junior college ranks for at least one option in this class and Hayes seems like the safest projection at this time.

Potential early impact: Junior college players are not brought in to provide depth or sit the pine and learn. That will definitely be the case if Georgia is able to sign Hayes next month. The Bulldogs are still in dire need of a veteran player at offensive tackle to protect Jacob Eason in 2017.

* 4-star Netori Johnson, Nation’s No. 5 OG, Ellenwood, Ga.

Johnson could very well play right away at Georgia. (Joshua L. Jones / Special)
Johnson could very well play right away at Georgia. (Joshua L. Jones / Special)

The U.S. Army All-American rates as the nation’s No. 82 overall prospect for 2017. The not quite 6-foot-4, and 335-pounder moves well for a player of his size and stature. He’s an athlete on the offensive line. His Cedar Grove High School team is also still alive in the semifinals of the Georgia High School Association’s state playoffs this week.

Potential early impact: There’s no need to dance around it here. I think Johnson will play early and could possibly start right away at Georgia next season. If I had to name the three recruits that were most likely to play right away in 2017, his name would be right at the top of that list.

* 3-star Justin Shaffer, Nation’s No. 20 OG, Ellenwood, Ga.

Shaffer has improved a great deal over the last six months. His recruiting rankings have yet to align with the fact he was seen as an offensive tackle prospect until midway through his junior year.

Shaffer is rated as the nation's No. 20 prospect at guard for 2017.
Shaffer is rated as the nation’s No. 20 prospect at guard for 2017.

Florida and Mississippi State have dangled offers of late and want him to take a visit but he remains committed to UGA. The coaches at Cedar Grove express the fact that his upside is vast. They feel he’s the most underrated lineman in the state this year and that’s saying something in regard to a prospect who is already committed to Georgia.

The nearly 6-foot-5 and 350-pounder plays both ways for Cedar Grove.

Potential early impact: Look for Shaffer and Johnson to eventually be the starting guards at UGA. That will be quite a feat for the Cedar Grove football program. I’m just not certain that Shaffer will also be able to claim a starting spot in his freshman season.

* 4-star Andrew Thomas, Nation’s No. 11 OT, Atlanta, Ga.

Thomas — another U.S. Army All-American — is Georgia’s highest-rated commitment on the offensive line so far for 2017. He chose UGA over Clemson and Notre Dame back at Nike’s “The Opening” and he’s rated as the nation’s No. 70 overall prospect this year. He is a solid commitment and never planned to take any other visits since he committed to Georgia. He’s kept that promise and was a regular at Georgia’s home games this season.

Potential early impact: I can also see Thomas grabbing a starting spot at right tackle by the midpoint of his freshman season at Georgia. That’s in part due to the lack of depth the program has at that position, but also due to his intelligence, skill and overall competitive nature.

 

Current projected class count: 12

Other big names UGA still has a chance with here: 5-star OT Isaiah Wilson; 5-star OT Walker Little.

 

That’s the offensive side of the ball. We’ll address what the 2017 class looks like on defense tomorrow. That’s where things really get interesting.

 

 

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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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