From time to time, we’ll take a look at UGA’s recruiting board and try to make sense of all its many moving pieces.
The Class of 2017 has a couple of positions that are bunched tighter than a Talladega turn for the Bulldogs — linebacker and wide receiver.
Let’s take a detailed look at each:
Big picture: The log-jam recruiting positions for 2017
Current commits: Three (4-star Trey Blount, 3-star Xavier Jenkins, 3-star Matt Landers)
Common threads: 1) Size. The commits all measure 6-foot-3 and taller. 2) UGA trusts its own evaluations. These guys are not currently rated among the nation’s Top 30 receivers. Blount is the gem right now. Several of the state’s top defensive backs have said he’s the best receiver in Georgia this year.
Spots left: One of two, depending on a few factors
Major targets: 4-star athlete Tray Bishop (likely UGA or Auburn), 4-star Nico Collins (Michigan seems to be the team to beat for now), 4-star Jeremiah Holloman, 4-star Mark Webb (likely a package deal with the badly-needed 4-star running back D’Andre Swift) and South Carolina 4-star OreTre’ Smith. Smith appears to favor UGA, Clemson and South Carolina.
Ideal scenario: Webb becomes the fourth commitment and secures the Swift package deal. Holloman comes in as an extra receiver. He’s the most explosive athlete among this group. Bishop also joins the squad as an athlete. He can play either receiver or safety. If this happens, property gets destroyed.
Likely scenario: Webb becomes the fourth commitment and secures the package deal for Swift. Holloman still makes the most sense for Georgia and joins the class in the end.
Damage control scenario: Georgia misses on Collins and Holloman and the package deal falls through with Webb and Swift. That makes Bishop a nice “we’ve got our bases covered” option. He’s 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds and can blister the 40-yard dash in under 4.4 seconds. Which one of those three commitments might get flipped? That would be Landers, but he’s very solid with Georgia right now. Still, what happens if all the big players in Florida come at him hard?
(First off, man this is complicated. A few names to follow can project to weak-side defensive end or outside linebacker. Robert Beal, for instance, seems more likely to line up at outside linebacker at UGA even though he is rated at defensive end.)
Current commits: Two (4-star inside linebacker Breon Dixon and 4-star outside linebacker Jaden Hunter)
Common threads: 1) They both want to play for Kirby Smart. 2) Versatility. Dixon could count as a defensive back as an in-the-box safety. Hunter can play inside or outside, but the lean right now is to place him inside.
Spots left: Three (at least)
Major targets: 4-star DE/OLB Robert Beal, 4-star DE/OLB Markaviest “Big Cat” Bryant; 4-star ILB Kenney Britt (UGA or Auburn), 3-star OLB Walter Grant (UGA or Alabama), 4-star ILB Will Ignont (UGA or Auburn), 4-star ILB Nate McBride (UGA, Alabama or Auburn), 3-star ILB Monty Rice (Georgia, Auburn or Alabama), 4-star ILB Tyler Taylor (UGA, Auburn, Alabama, Tennessee and Oklahoma) and 4-star OLB Leonard Warner (UGA or Georgia Tech)
Ideal scenario: McBride is the likely first take among that lot. Any combination of Beal, Britt, Bryant, Grant or Taylor would be welcomed after that. Rice has also told SEC Country that UGA would also accept his commitment at any time.
Likely scenario: There’s a ton of names and Vegas wouldn’t likely place odds on all the potential scenarios. McBride, Britt, Grant and Taylor all wind up in Athens. Beal or Bryant could also come in as a defensive end.
Damage control scenario: There’s not really one. Losing Beal and or McBride to Alabama would likely leave UGA as the clear top school for Bryant, Grant and Rice. The Crimson Tide wouldn’t have any more spots at linebacker. The Bulldogs would also then prioritize a spot for Ignont. Britt seems torn between Auburn and Georgia, but the chances are high he lands in Athens. Taylor says all the right things about Georgia, but could wind up out of state.
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.