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Jeff Sentell / DawgNation.com
Nico Collins is one of the biggest remaining targets for the Class of 2017 at UGA.

Signs align for Georgia in chase for 4-star WR Nico Collins

Want a daily lap through Georgia football recruiting? That’s what the Intel brings at least five days a week. We’ll cover the news and which way this 4-star or 5-star might lean and add perspective to help fans figure out what it all means.

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There have been a lot of encouraging signs for Georgia fans to click to over the last week in the chase for 4-star WR Nico Collins.

Consider the following:

  • Michigan was expected to be a primary contender in the chase for Collins. But the Wolverines have lost two coaches that were central to his recruitment to other jobs over the last two weeks.
  • According to a 247Sports report, Collins has seen former receivers coach Jeff Fisch take an offensive coordinator’s job with UCLA and running backs coach Tyrone Wheatley leave the Michigan staff for an NFL job in Jacksonville. That level of staff migration can usually make the difference in a recruit’s decision in a tight race like the one for Collins. Relationships of that magnitude are hard to replace this close to National Signing Day.
  • Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh was scheduled to visit with Collins last week on the first day the contact period re-opened for the Class of 2017, but he could not make it due to the birth of this child. Wheatley made that trip instead. As stated above, that Michigan all-time great is on his way to the NFL coaching ranks. An MLive.com report also noted that Michigan offensive coordinator Tim Drevno also made the trip to see Collins.
  • Collins is not on an official visit this weekend. He’s playing in Hawaii at The Polynesian Bowl. That’s another All-Star event in Hawaii.
  • Georgia offensive coordinator Jim Chaney and receivers coach James Coley had an in-home visit with Collins on Sunday.

That’s not news to DawgNation. He’s been in the mock class for Georgia since the start of the 2016 season.

LSU has also emerged as a contender down the stretch for Collins. He took an abrupt unofficial visit to Baton Rouge last weekend. Collins had already taken his official to LSU last month.

Both UGA and Michigan are expected to go heavy on the receiver front this year. The Wolverines already have commitments from two of the nation’s top receivers in Donovan Peoples-Jones and Tarik Black.

Peoples-Jones is rated No. 1 overall for 2017. Black rates at No. 17 overall for receivers this cycle.

According to a recent AL.com report, Collins is still considering a mid-week official visit to Alabama. He also isn’t scheduled to return from that trip until Jan. 23.

The case for Collins and Georgia

Collins always knows the reason why he would ultimately choose Georgia.

“The quarterback situation,” Collins told DawgNation last month. “The coaches as well. … Coach James Coley. All the guys there and then it is just Georgia.”

Collins is rated as the nation's No. 13 receiver for this year's signing class. (Chris Kirschner / AJC)
Collins is rated as the nation’s No. 13 receiver for this year’s signing class. (Chris Kirschner / AJC)

He felt his eventual decision was already going to be a very difficult choice.

“That’s because I can see myself at all of these schools,” he said. “I am kind of enjoying it, though.”

Collins was never bothered this year by Georgia’s pedestrian 8-5 season. He cited a first-year staff and a freshman quarterback as major factors for that final mark.

He said his best relationships on the Alabama staff were with receivers coach Billy Napier and tackles and tight ends coach Mario Cristobal. Cristobal recently accepted a co-offensive coordinator position with Oregon.

The relationship with Georgia coach Kirby Smart goes back a long way.

“He’s a laid-back and a pretty cool coach,” Collins said. “I’ve been knowing him since he was at Alabama. He likes to have fun with you and talk about anything. He’s always seemed to me to be a pretty good coach.”

Nico Collins comes in at No. 5 on DawgNation's list of the most vital remaining recruiting targets for 2017. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
Nico Collins comes in at No. 5 on DawgNation’s list of the most vital remaining recruiting targets for 2017. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)

He felt the depth charts at Alabama, Georgia, LSU and Michigan all opened up very well for him in terms of playing time.

Collins also said the depth of his relationship with the commitments at Georgia was different than what he’s built up at any other school. He took an unofficial visit to UGA for the Tennessee game and hung out with the players afterward.

The last-second “Hail Mary” touchdown pass was a major talking point.

“They said don’t let something like that affect my decision or spoil my choice,” he said.

What was the big pull to Michigan?

“The coaching staff and the players,” Collins said. “The atmosphere and the college education. You know that Michigan has a whole lot of alumni living in America. They care about you after you graduate and after football.”

The first words out of his mouth pertained to that coaching staff. That makes the recent developments along the Michigan staff stand out even more.

Final ratings are in for Class of 2017

It happens every year. The Under Armour All-American Game comes first. That’s followed by the U.S. Army All-American Game. The major recruiting sites enhance their study of senior highlight films with up-close evaluation of the nation’s top prospects squaring off against one another at the All-American practice days.

Jake Fromm moved to Athens on Saturday. This is his first week of classes. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
Rivals gave UGA freshman QB Jake Fromm his fifth star this week. He started classes in Athens last week. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)

The major recruiting sites enhance their study of senior highlights with an up-close evaluation of the nation’s top prospects squaring off against one another at the All-American practice days.

That allows those services to set their final rankings for 2017. Both 247Sports and Rivals have dropped their final 5-star evaluations for 2017.

Here’s a DawgNation Cliff’s Notes version of what those look like for Georgia’s class.

Rivals

  • OT commit Isaiah Wilson finishes as a 5-star recruit and will be UGA’s highest-rated player for this service for this cycle.
  • Freshman QB Jake Fromm picked up his fifth star on Rivals and ascended to No. 20 overall.
  • Major target Aubrey Solomon is a 5-star DT and ranks as the nation’s No. 31 player.
  • RB commit D’Andre Swift finished one spot shy of earning his fifth star. He was rated No. 35 overall.
  • Rivals rates OLB commit Jaden Hunter very highly. The dual UGA legacy wound up rated as the nation’s No. 3 OLB and at No. 46 overall for 2017.
  • Richard LeCounte is only a 4-star recruit per Rivals. He winds up as the fifth highest-rated commitment for this class.
  • The Bulldogs currently have four more commits in the final Rivals 100. That includes ILB Nate McBride (No. 60), OG Netori Johnson (No. 71) and OT Andrew Thomas (No. 88). Mark Webb Jr., a 4-star WR from Philadelphia, just missed the Top 101 at No. 101 overall.
  • UGA freshman DB DeAngelo Gibbs is rated as the nation’s No. 132 player overall.
  • USC commit and major target Jamyest Williams is at No. 159 nationally.
  • Georgia has a pair of 5-stars, another 14 players holding a 4-star rating and another seven prospects that were rated as 3-star recruits. Tray Bishop and D’Antne Demery were both considered 3-star recruits per the final evaluation.

The final Rivals grades are available for perusal here.

247Sports

(Note: 247Sports only released its 5-star rankings on Tuesday. Their final rankings for the class will appear later today. For now, here’s a listing of what the 247Sports picture looks like prior to their final evaluations.

  • LeCounte III is the highest-rated recruit in the class at No. 19 overall. He finished up as the nation’s No. 2 safety and the only 5-star in Georgia’s class at this time.
  • Fromm moved up to No. 38 nationally but did not gain his fifth star. The 6-foot-2, 225-pounder picked up his fifth star from Scout.com during his senior season.
  • Solomon shows up at No. 41 overall.
  • Swift also did not gain his fifth star. He’s rated at No. 49 nationally.
  • Gibbs checks in at No. 44 overall. Williams is at No. 57 overall. There’s a big rating discrepancy for the Grayson state championship tandem between the sites. My personal opinion is that the 247Sports rankings are much closer to the mark. That’s the nicest way I can share my true sentiments there.
  • 4-star WR Jeremiah Holloman shows up at No. 72 overall. He’s regarded as the nation’s No. 12 overall prospect at his position on 247Sports.
  • A pack of Bulldogs then also pop up around the Top 100 mark. Some of them are surprising in different ways. Bishop rates as the No. 98 player overall, followed by 4-star DE Robert Beal at No. 101, Wilson at No. 102, Johnson at No. 103, McBride at No. 105, Demery at No. 108 and finally Webb at No. 112.

The 247 evaluations used for this comparison are available at this link. 

Brandon Henderson’s thoughts on Georgia

Georgia Military College defensive end Brandon Henderson was one of the official visitors to UGA last weekend.

The 6-foot-5, 260-pound weak-side DE took that official but did not hold an offer from UGA. He also ranks as a 2-star recruit.

What happens with Henderson? Does he fit into the team’s emergency last-minute plans on National Signing Day? if other higher-rated targets look elsewhere?

“They told me that they have a full class right now,” Henderson told DawgNation. “That could change in a few days once they get the grades back from a couple of players on their eligibility or if some commit and go somewhere else they will call me back and offer.”

Better question: What happens then? Could he be a contingency plan on the defensive line? The South Carolina native offered up his feelings on what to expect there.

“I would consider them of course but with them already having signed so many (defensive linemen) and with their DL that’s there now being so young there is not a strong chance that I would (go) there.”

Henderson holds offers from Bowling Green, Charlotte, East Carolina, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Houston, Kansas, Louisiana-Lafayette, Marshall, Northern Illinois, Toledo and Western Kentucky.

 

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