Why not start this off with a question that makes every fan’s inner Keith Jackson go “Whoa Nellie” a time or two?
Which Georgia coach has had the biggest impact so far on the Bulldogs’ impressive 2017 recruiting class? That group of 14 commitments has surged to the No. 2 national ranking. That’s a fairly impressive feat for a staff that has been recruiting at Georgia for less than seven full months.
The answer requires some thought, given the work James Coley and Kevin Sherrer have done. Coley has been all over receivers and Sherrer has made a living in South Georgia. But the answer right now is clearly Sam Pittman. The offensive line coach has had the benefit of having five slots to fill, but he’s made the most of those. Jim Chaney has just one quarterback to focus on. Dell McGee has gotten a commitment from one of the nation’s top running backs in Toneil Carter, but he can only sign two this year.
Pittman has a bigger grocery list for the fellas who put away the groceries with five slots to fill, but he’s made the most of those.
The former Arkansas and Tennessee line coach has secured commitments from four prospects so far and two of those are rated among the nation’s top 10 at their positions. That’s 4-star offensive tackle Andrew Thomas and 4-star offensive guard Netori Johnson. Johnson was committed to Alabama when Pittman was hired, but those two clicked immediately once he began pitching Georgia.
D’Antne Demery, the nation’s No. 12 offensive tackle, is also on the board. Pittman was also key in landing another big body on the line in Cedar Grove guard Justin Shaffer. He’s rated as the nation’s No. 17 guard for this cycle.
Demery might have eventually signed with Georgia, but Pittman’s influence was also a major factor in his decision.
Pittman’s impact leaps out by just crunching the numbers:
Total Georgia commitments at this time (includes 2018 and 2019 classes): 16
Total OL commits: 6
Pittman’s percentage of the class: 38%
Georgia is also the only program ranked among the nation’s top-five recruiting classes that has secured commitments from four offensive linemen. LSU, with three commitments, is the only other school which has more than two offensive linemen at this point.
Max Wray, a 6-foot-6 offensive tackle from Tennessee, is the highest-rated of Pittman’s pledges. The rising junior is rated as the No. 46 prospect nationally and he’s made it clear several times that Pittman’s presence on the Georgia staff was a major reason why he made his commitment so early in his recruiting process.
“I wouldn’t be committed to Georgia right now if Sam Pittman wasn’t on that staff,” Wray told DawgNation earlier this year.
Thomas and Wray have also said that this will be Pittman’s last stop. Those two have told DawgNation that the 54-year-old plans to retire in Athens. The Pittsburg State (Kan.) graduate has been a college assistant coach since his first job with Northern Illinois in 1994. He had three seasons prior to that in the junior college ranks.
“He told me that Georgia will be his last stop,” Thomas said. “He’s already bought his house and everything. He’s assured me that he’s not going anywhere after Georgia.”
Pittman’s commitments sent out a tweet over the weekend wondering who will be the last man in the group.
Who's next ????? ? pic.twitter.com/ZdbWA3Ey7L
— Andrew Thomas (@allforgod_55) July 17, 2016
Bulldogs extend offer to a 5-star prospect
Tyjon Lindsey tweeted Tuesday his appreciation for picking up a recent Georgia offer. That offer was a bit tardy given the way Georgia has gone after receivers for 2017 and the program’s clear need at the position. Lindsey is rated as a 5-star prospect and the nation’s No. 28 overall player, but doesn’t fit the mold the staff is looking for at the position going forward.
Every one of Georgia’s major targets at receiver this year will hit the 6-foot-2 mark on any growth chart.
Lindsey, who measured just under 5-foot-9 at The Opening, does have incredible quickness and had to be Georgia quarterback commitment Jake Fromm’s favorite target at the Opening earlier this month. There were six Georgia commitments on Team AlphaPro in Oregon and the group has no doubt lobbied the staff to send an offer in Lindsey’s direction.
Fromm compared Lindsey’s foot speed and overall short-space quickness to Mecole Hardman, Jr. on the Georgia roster right now. Hardman was a 5-star prospect in 2016 and rated as the nation’s No. 1 athlete. Hardman is a shade taller at 5-foot-10, but Fromm said Lindsey impressed him as much as anyone at The Opening.
“Incredible player,” Fromm said. “He’s probably a little bit under-sized but that doesn’t faze him at all. Quick guy. Great ball skills. When push comes to shove I was out there looking to get the ball to him.”
Fromm felt Hardman had more top-end speed and was a tick faster overall. That said, the comparison alone is a big compliment for Lindsey’s explosiveness, acceleration and overall speed. An SEC coach told DawgNation that Hardman will instantly become one of the elite speed guys in the conference once he makes his debut this fall.
— Tyjon A. Lindsey ® (@tyjonlindsey) July 19, 2016
AYE ITS GO TIME ???? https://t.co/OnCVcozL2o
— jaden hunter ++⁹ (@JadenHunter9) July 19, 2016
Lindsey is a top prospect no doubt, but there are two reasons to pump the brakes a bit here. Georgia already has commitments from two receivers and appear to be the team to beat for both Jeremiah Holloman and Mark Webb, Jr. in this class. There’s also the chance at 4-star receiver target Nico Collins out of Alabama.
If that does not complicate Lindsey’s path to Georgia enough, he’s seen as a major lean to Ohio State. Lindsey played with Ohio State quarterback commit Tate Martell from the eighth grade until this past season, but he’s moved to a new school for his senior year.
There’s a whopping 75 percent of 32 predictions on the 247sports “Crystal Ball” feature that feel Lindsey will play for Ohio State.
The intel here is this feels like it will be a race to get to the second place. Lindsey’s also taken recent trips to Auburn and Alabama, too.
Thinking about Trevor
Cartersville High School junior quarterback Trevor Lawrence plans to make his decision by Aug. 1 or right around that date. It will be Clemson or Georgia and Lawrence plans one more trip to evaluate both programs over the next 10 days before the makes that decision.
The 6-foot-6 Lawrence is rated as the nation’s No. 1 overall prospect for the Class of 2018. We’re bringing up the timeline to keep the decision fresh in the minds of everyone, but also to share two other items.
Lawrence told DawgNation last week that once he commits he has a few players in mind that he will help try to recruit to join him in Clemson or in Athens. It was a star-studded group.
“Probably Jamaree Salyer and then Derrik Allen who I played in youth ball with in Acworth when I was 10 or 11,” Lawrence said. “He’s really going to be a great player in college and then Nolan Edmonds. If people don’t know much about him, he plays for Alpharetta. He’s a running back and he’s really good. I think he is going to wind up getting a bunch of offers here really soon.”
Lawrence then added North Carolina 5-star running back Zamir White and South Gwinnett 4-star defensive end Justin Mascoll to his list of players he’d like to play with on Saturdays.
Edmonds was at the Kirby Smart Camp on Sunday in Athens and fared very well, while getting a lot of attention from the staff. Edmonds was named to the “All-Dawg” team at the Camp by Georgia’s coaches as well.
That’s one fairly interesting nugget and then something that should make everyone laugh.
Players these days can see just how much they are wanted by the fan “Trevor Lawrence to UGA” or even “Jacoby Stevens to UGA” or “Malik Herring to UGA” fan accounts that pop up on Twitter.
Yet with Lawrence it is all about the flow. That’s the hair.
Let's be honest, Trevor Lawrence's hair looks magnificent in slow motion https://t.co/ssl2v7OgnX
— Derek Tyson (@DerekTysonESPN) March 20, 2016
Those follicles have even garnered their own Twitter account. Pretty neat trick.
— TrevorLawrencesHair (@TLawHair) July 19, 2016
Last but definitely not least
Keith Niebuhr of Auburn247sports reported on Monday that four-star athlete Tray Bishop now has some serious thinking to do. Bishop spent three days at Georgia during the Kirby Smart Camp over the weekend and then went to check out Florida.
That Florida visit was his first. Bishop — who likely will decide between Auburn and Georgia — saw enough to give him pause on an expected decision date of July 25. Niebuhr reported Bishop wasn’t sure he would stick to that date at this time.
Bishop, at 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, could play at receiver or safety at Georgia. His window at Georgia opened up to play receiver recently with the de-commitment of Lowndes High receiver Xavier Jenkins.
Florida wants him at safety. Georgia sees him as an athlete. Auburn’s pitch is an athlete, but also with the caveat he’d get the ability to play quarterback. Bishop has told DawgNation in the past that he realizes his surest path to pro football would be either at receiver or safety and the only way he’d play quarterback would be in the Auburn system.
The nation’s No. 3 athlete and No. 138 overall prospect has been timed at sub-4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash. The 247Sports Crystal Ball has received nine predictions on Bishop so far and every one of them point to the Tigers.
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.