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Jeff Sentell / DawgNation.com
Here's a pretty good look at what's going on with UGA recruiting so far in 2018.

Which teams are the biggest threat to Georgia’s Top 5 recruiting targets?

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 plus add some perspective to help fans figure out what it all means.

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Perspective.

I intentionally try to overuse that term in this space. Like a quarterback does with his check down route.

That helps in understanding college football recruiting. There are very few fields of study which are as unstable as the like, retweet and the favorite button for 17 and 18-year-olds. That’s the modern emoji for trying to read into the hearts and minds of teenagers.

Let’s flash back to a year ago. I can point to at least six players who were in the “that guy is going to UGA no matter what” category.

There was one prospect who told me very clearly the only way he wouldn’t be at UGA would be if the NCAA shut down the program. Guess what? That very purposeful young man will not be with at UGA this fall.

The Bulldogs are not getting half of the guys on my April 2016 “no matter what” list. I use that frame of reference when trying to analyze what will happen this year’s crop.

The reality is one can never know. No school gets any credit for being the leader in April. Or August.

What’s necessary is to line up the strongest tethers a prospect has to their top schools. Which ones are fickle? Which ones will be there when they start scratching their head?

Those ties better best number in the many and better be strong. That’s a concept to keep in mind as we check the tally for 2018.

  • Georgia only has two commitments at this time.
  • That ranks No. 49 in the nation.
  • That’s last in the SEC.
  • Mississippi State, South Carolina and Vanderbilt have more commits than UGA.

Those bullet points send off alarm bells.

The top UGA recruiting targets for 2018

The hope here is to present two important pieces of information at the same time. We’ll assess DawgNation’s opinion as to which prospects are currently the most important for this class.

It also lists the biggest potential recruiting rival or rivals for each. We’ll aim to do this at a pace which might cause Auburn Gus Malzhan to ask for a 20-second timeout.

 

— 5-star OG Jamaree Salyer (Pace Academy/ Atlanta, Ga.)

National ratings: Nation’s No. 1 guard and No. 7 overall prospect

Biggest threat: Clemson.

Is this a legit threat: Yes

Panic button reasons: The Tigers have clear momentum. They have a pristine new facility to sell and the lure of finally winning the game’s ultimate prize.

Jamaree Salyer
Jamaree Salyer is the nation’s No. 1 OG prospect for 2018. He’s the highest-rated prospect at his position since 2006. (Jeff Sentell / DawgNation.com)

Step back from the ledge reasons: Salyer has been to UGA more than any other school. He’s more comfortable with the players there than any other school. He rates Georgia line coach Sam Pittman as his best relationship with a recruiter. That’s been the case for quite some time. The Bulldogs have made him a game-changing priority for the last 16 months.

Decision timeline: It appears to be a National Signing Day decision.

 

— 5-star RB Zamir White (Scotland Co./ Laurinburg, NC)

247Sports Composite national ratings: Nation’s No. 1 RB and No. 4 overall prospect

Biggest threat (s): Alabama and then Clemson

Is this a legit threat: Somewhat.

Panic button reasons: Alabama is Alabama. They can sell the ultimate in everything: tradition, track record, NFL pipeline and titles. Clemson has a pristine new facility to sell and the lure of finally winning the game’s ultimate prize. However, it does not feel like there is anything to panic about here.

Zamir White
Zamir White rates as the nation’s No. 1 RB for 2018. (Jeff Sentell / SEC Country.com)

Step back from the ledge reasons: Alabama has at least five running backs that could start for 95 percent of major college football. Nick Chubb and Sony Michel will be out of eligibility in 2018. Tuscaloosa is farther away from his North Carolina home.

White has felt comfortable at UGA for quite some time. He’s been an alpha priority since 2015 and has now gotten quite cozy with two different coaching staffs.

Decision timeline: He commits in late June. He’ll honor his mother on her birthday.

 

— 4-star DE Brenton Cox (Stockbridge High / Stockbridge, Ga.)

247Sports Composite national ratings: Nation’s No. 3 strong-side DE and No. 56 player overall.

Biggest threat: Ohio State

Is this a legit threat: Lukewarm.

Panic button reasons: Ohio State is a true national power. The Buckeyes are a mature program under Urban Meyer. Those cupboards with talent are full and they win the big ones. Urban Meyer has re-shaped the program in what Kirby Smart aspires to do for UGA. Cox is also expected to attend the spring game this week at Ohio State.

Brenton Cox
4-star DE Brenton Cox currently rates as the nation’s No. 3 DE and the No. 54 player overall. (Jeff Sentell / DawgNation.com)

Step back from the ledge reasons: Cox grew up a UGA fan. His family is chock-full of Bulldogs and location will likely play a factor. Georgia has also been recruiting him harder than any other program dating back to last October.

A source had indicated the Bulldogs are in much better shape here than the Buckeyes feel they are at this time.

Decision timeline: He’s said he wants to wait until after his senior season. That could change.

 

— 5-star DB Tyreke Johnson (Trinity Christian/ Jacksonville, Fla.)

247Sports Composite national ratings: Nation’s No. 2 safety and No. 18 player overall

Biggest threat(s): Clemson, Florida, Ohio State and UCLA

Is this a legit threat: Yes

Tyreke Johnson
Tyreke Johnson rates as the nation’s No. 18 overall prospect for 2018. (Jeff Sentell / DawgNation.com)

Panic button reasons: There are a lot of big names vying for Johnson. It also seems he has taken a step back and allowed more big-time programs the chance to recruit him hard. 

Step back from the ledge reasons: He told DawgNation this week that he still loves Georgia and everything about the program. There are key relationships in place in Athens.

He loves the town and the school. Johnson feels he can play right away. He also said that he has fewer questions at UGA compared to any other school.

Decision timeline: He should make his decision in late December.

 

— 4-star OG Trey Hill (Houston Co./ Warner Robins, Ga.)

247Sports Composite national ratings: Nation’s No. 2 G

Biggest threat (s): Auburn, Clemson, Florida State

Is this a legit threat: Somewhat.

Panic button reasons: There is really no cause for alarm here. Look for both sets of Tigers to come after Hill. He’s one of the best offensive linemen in the 2018 class. Georgia stocked up at the interior line in the Class of 2017. That will be used against them here. Hill is also going to give all the elite programs wooing him a very strong look. As he should.

Trey Hill
Trey Hill is the nation’s No. 2 guard prospect for 2018. (Jeff Sentell/ DawgNation.com)

Step back from the ledge reasons: Hill and his family are quite comfortable at UGA. Georgia’s Sam Pittman is a tireless recruiter.

The big man also has some family ties to UGA head coach Kirby Smart. Former teammate Jake Fromm will also make playing with Hill a priority. Georgia is also interested in trying Hill out at center and guard so he can hit the field fast.

Decision timeline: There is no set timeline.

 

 

Why UGA only has two commits for 2018

Fans want to welcome a new commitment every month or so. They are aware it has been about 11 weeks since Bulldogs had their last commitment.

Does anyone remember the Bulldogs only had six 2017 commitments at this time a year ago? That’s an interesting number to look back to. It is also worth noting that two of those guys would eventually de-commit from the class.

That means the Bulldogs are only two commits off last year’s pace. It is only April.

But the Bulldogs had more momentum in early April of 2016. William Poole III was already set to commit at G-Day. Netori Johnson and Trey Blount would also quickly make up their minds after they were at #93KDay.

It doesn’t seem like there’s a similar surge up ahead. Not yet. There are a few strong reasons why:

  • Kirby Smart’s program is in Year 2. It is a put-up year. Improvements are expected. Elite prospects would rather play for a team that wins big games.
  • UGA just signed the nation’s No. 3 class. ESPN’s ratings have it as the best ever haul for the Bulldogs in the 12-year history of their rankings.
  • Elite prospects also notice this. They know reps will not be as easy to come by as they seemed to be in Athens at this time a year ago.

The big picture for 2018

This is an instant feedback world. But DawgNation should calmly see that a team like Penn State ranks No. 2 for 2018. Why? The Nittany Lions finished with the nation’s No. 15 class in 2017.

Miami, the nation’s No. 1 team for this cycle so far, rated No. 13 in 2017. Cycles happen. Look no further than the Clemson Tigers.

It seems like that program can do no wrong at this time. They can probably take a day to get back to direct messages from 5-stars. Everyone forgets the Tigers have had an average final team ranking of No. 13 nationally over its last four classes.

A key disclaimer is Clemson annually signs fewer prospects than most programs. That creates those low team rankings. The better way to gauge Clemson is to look at the percentage of 4-stars signed in each class.

  • 2014: 11 of 21 (52%)
  • 2015: 12 of 26 (46%)
  • 2016: 13 of 21 (62%)
  • 2017: 11 of 14 (79%)
  • 2018: 6 of 8 (75%; ranks No. 5 overall)

Kind of shows what a program-defining QB can do to lift the level of play of those around him, huh?