UGA recruiting: The real stunning part about epic National Signing Day haul
Want to attack every day with the latest UGA recruiting info? That’s what the Intel will bring at least five days a week. The play sheet for Friday calls for another way to look at just what Georgia accomplished on National Signing Day. It calls for a comparison standard with the highly regarded 2017 class.
There’s another thing about Georgia’s best-ever recruiting class that really stuns me.
We could break down how this class swelled to 26 signees. Or we could bring up how many future NFL draft picks the Bulldogs will have at linebacker in future years.
Those are topics for other days. For me, the best prism for 2018 is a comparison to the #SICEM17 class. Remember that one? The 2017 group previously held the title belt for the greatest (according to the 247Sports Team composite rating) Georgia crop in the modern star ranking era of college recruiting.
The 2018 squad is going to make the 2017 group read like old news. Consider the following:
- The Bulldogs signed four more prospects (seven to three) in the 5-star category this year.
- Isaiah Wilson was rated No. 16 overall in 2017. He was the highest-rated signee in 2017. The Bulldogs signed four players who rated higher in 2018 than Wilson did in 2017. This class has four prospects (Justin Fields, Zamir White and Jamaree Salyer) in the top 10.
- D’Andre Swift was the lowest-rated 5-star for the Bulldogs in 2017. He ranked No. 33 overall and qualifies as underrated, given the excellence we saw in his game as a freshman. The 2018 Bulldogs have eight players who rate higher than Swift’s No. 33.
- Jake Fromm and Andrew Thomas were the team’s two freshman mainstays for 2017. Each played in all 15 games of the season. Fromm and Thomas were the fourth and fifth-highest rated players in Georgia’s 2017 class.
- The 2018 class has eight players with a higher prospect rating than those two instant impact first-year players.
- Four-star guard Netori Johnson was the team’s No.7-rated prospect in 2017, but he’d check in at No. 12 if he signed among the 2018 class.
- This new class has 17 signees who rate among the nation’s top 10 prospects at their position. Only 12 future Bulldogs could say the same in 2017.
Let’s be clear here on this point: We’re comparing the 2018 class to the group that was seen as the best recruiting year in the program’s history. That last point drives it home. The 2018 class is roughly five elite players better than their peers were as part of the nation’s third-rated class in 2017.
If Georgia signed the exact same class this year as it did in 2017, then that group also would have rated No. 3 nationally in 2018. We share that point to dismiss any potential theory that the Bulldogs racked up in what might be seen as a down year in terms of the overall quality of prospects available.
The main thing with all these UGA recruiting rankings
I’ll borrow the building blocks of that famous Bill Parcells line here for a final point. There’s still a lot of cooking and meal preparation to do with this bunch, but it is going to be pretty hard not to cook up a great team with all these ingredients.
Do we need to start talking about the 2019 class? That one has the potential to top 2017 and 2018. That UGA class already ranks No. 1 nationally and sports three 5-star commitments.
The 2018 class didn’t pick up its third 5-star pledge until Adam Anderson made his choice on Oct. 19. That’s quite a head start already off the 2018 pace.
My vote for commitment ceremony of the year
There were many headlines generated by the Signing Day stories that involved 4-star UGA signee Tommy Bush Jr. and Quay Walker’s hat flip that tweaked Tennessee fans.
I’d like to re-direct the attention away from those viral stories and to a commitment ceremony that was done exactly right. That was the effort on Wednesday at Sports & Social in Smyrna, Ga., by 4-star junior tight end Ryland Goede.
The nation’s No. 6 TE prospect for 2019 committed to play both football and baseball at Georgia. He did it in a most uncommon manner. If we wanted to judge his event the way the world does gymnastics at the Olympics, even the Romanian and Ukranian judges would give him high marks.
Here’s the clip.
— Justin Felder (@Justin_FOX5) February 7, 2018
Goede’s effort scored for me for the following reasons:
- Highly original
- Didn’t place the onus on himself
- Gave a nod to one of his future team’s storied traditions.
- He even incorporated three of his lifelong friends into the event
- When he had friends JB Bertrand and Dominick Blaylock join him on stage, it was the perfect capper. They brought Goede the UGA hat he would wear on the podium. When you know their stories, that just felt right.
Not even a College Football Playoff official could find any fault in that one.
Another nod toward the future
There’s one more element to Georgia’s National Signing Day push that really hits home. The Bulldogs have made huge inroads on the recruiting trail without a gold standard in facilities.
Several SEC weight rooms are now twice the size of the one in Athens. The Bulldogs’ locker rooms are due for an upgrade, and there’s not really a cozy place to host recruits on game day at Sanford Stadium.
Well, all of that changes this fall when the West End Zone project is finished. Let’s remember that it will come with more concession stands, what seems like an extra gate off Sanford Drive, a recruiting plaza and a scoreboard that will be about 33 percent bigger than the current one.
The price tag for those upgrades is a reported $65 million. Is there any reason not to think that they only can help Georgia recruit at an even higher level than it does now?
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