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.
Do you like watching the Masters every April when the leader is in the final group? Do you want to see him card a birdie-birdie or avoid a late bogey to meet Jim Nantz in Butler Cabin?
Does that time of year combine with Georgia’s spring practices to make April a tradition unlike any other in your sporting life?
Those that do will probably sleep through National Signing Day this year. It might look like Kirby Smart’s Bulldogs fired a 29 on the front-9 for a final round 65.
He had to wait near that famed clubhouse oak to see what everyone else wound up with after Amen Corner.
That’s what National Signing Day should feel like this year with the proverbial hay alreadyin the barn.
That’s because the Bulldogs now recruit exhaustively all year long and those decisions do not hinge on the final official visit weekends in January.
The “SICEM17” class mostly had their minds made up by August. They just slowly announced their decisions during the senior seasons.
As an example, let’s flash back to last year. Here’s a rundown of all the big UGA decisions that came down the track for Smart’s first class.
- 8 a.m.: 4-star DE/OLB Brian Burns (Plantation, Fla.). UGA, FSU or Florida.
- 8:30 a.m.: 5-star ATH Mecole Hardman, Jr. (Elberton, Ga.). UGA, Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Michigan, Ohio State and Tennessee
- 9 a.m.: 3-star WR Tyler Simmons (Powder Springs, Ga.). The Alabama commit is down to UGA, Alabama and Miami.
- 9 a.m.: 4-star DT Michail Carter (Jackson, Ga.). UGA, Alabama, Clemson or Georgia Tech.
- 10 a.m.: 5-star ILB Ben Davis (Gordo, Ala.). UGA, Alabama, Auburn or Notre Dame.
- 10:30 a.m.: 4-star OT Jauan Williams (Washington, D.C.). UGA, FSU or Texas A&M.
- 10:45 a.m.: 3-star S Jeawon Taylor (Montgomery, Ala.). The Florida commit is down to the Gators and UGA.
- 2 p.m.: 5-star OLB Lyndell “Mack” Wilson (Montgomery, Ala.). UGA or Alabama. Televised on ESPN2.
- 2 p.m.: 3-star DE David Marshall (Thomaston, Ga.). The Auburn commit is down to Auburn or UGA.
- 2:45 p.m.: 4-star OL E.J. Price (Lawrenceville, Ga.). The former UGA commit is down to the Bulldogs, Auburn, LSU or USC.
- 3 p.m.: 5-star DL Derrick Brown (Sugar Hill, Ga.). Down to UGA, Auburn or Tennessee.
- 5:30 p.m.: 4-star ILB Jaleel Laguins (Watkinsville, Ga.). The UGA commit will decide between the Bulldogs, Alabama and Florida.
Georgia wound up signing Hardman, Carter, Simmons, Marshall and Laguins out of that bunch. Hardman was a 5-star and Carter and Laguins both wound up among the Top 11 highest-rated recruits in the class.
There was far more drama beyond that in the “miss” column. Brown, Burns, Davis, Price, Williams and then Wilson all had DawgNation hoping for the best, too. Each one of those potential signees would have rated among the Top 10 recruits in the class had they picked up the Georgia hat at their ceremonies.
So what about this year?
Georgia’s class this year should go down as the best haul in at least 10 years. There’s little debate to that. A strong case could be made that this is the best group of prospects ever assembled by the program during the modern era of the widespread recruiting rankings.
Dawgnation’s projection for the class has always been right at 26-27 slots for 2017. We did our back-count math over the summer and have watched the transfers closely. No one expected Nick Chubb and Sony Michel to return, but the recent roster migration has balanced that out.
That means three and at the most four players are still in play this year.
As it stands now, it looks like the Bulldogs will watch that 9 o’clock hour very closely. There’s the fleeting chance 5-star Aubrey Solomon has bamboozled everyone and secretly was UGA all the way.
I don’t subscribe to that theory. Beyond that, there’s also the chance to flip South Carolina commitment Jamyest Williams on National Signing Day. Those are the biggest fish.
As it stands now, here’s what the ratings say Georgia will have on the table for NSD:
- 5-star DT Aubrey Solomon would rate No. 3 out of UGA’s current 23 commits.
- 4-star CB Jamyest Williams would rate No. 7 out of UGA’s current 23 commits.
- 4-star OG Tedarrell Slaton would rate No. 7 out of UGA’s current 23 commits.
- 4-star WR Nico Collins would rate No. 11 out of UGA’s current 23 commits.
- 4-star DE Markaviest Bryant would rate No. 15 out of UGA’s current 23 commits.
- 3-star CB Latavious Brini would rate No. 21 out of UGA’s current 23 commits.
- 3-star CB Ameer Speed would rate No. 21 out of UGA’s current 23 commits.
- 3-star DT Larrell Murchison (JUCO) would rate as UGA’s lowest-rated commit.
Don’t get me wrong here. The chase for quality starters and impact players will still be there. But the big headlines — outside of Solomon and Williams — will not.
I deem Speed and Murchison to be underrated given the skills they flash on film, but a headline like “Georgia beats out North Carolina, Michigan State and Virginia for 3-star CB Ameer Speed” just doesn’t have the octane from previous National Signing Days.
I hear from a segment of the fan base that seems to be rooting for a strong finish. They somehow see it as the class losing steam.
It’s hard not to blame them, but they don’t get the point that they missed the big closing kick. That took place in December and on January 1.
The Bulldogs are shopping for depth and extra cherries to adorn the Signing Day sundae at this point.
Georgia already has 11 commitments which are rated among the nation’s Top 10 players at their position. The class also holds 21 players that rank among the nation’s Top 25 players at their position.
I used a golf parallel to paint the picture for what the Bulldogs have done so far on the trail. But every time I see and read that UGA is losing steam, I think of Russell Crowe from “Gladiator” and that scene where all challengers are eviscerated in short order.
The Maximus character looks up to the crowd and sees his surgical execution of all his foes did not provide enough sport for the crowd. Picture Smart throwing a sword at all those jesters who wanted more 5-star celebrations a DVD excitement on Signing Day.
“Are you not entertained?” Maximus shouts. “Are you not entertained? Is this not why you are here?”
Could that be his message to the folks at The Blind Pig? That’s not the way Georgia aims to do it anymore. The staff can recruit. There’s no doubt anymore about that.
Can they win? The big challenge going forward will be to produce those same cinematic results with his gladiators in Sanford Stadium, too.
Big Night at Marlow’s Tavern
DawgNation continued its weekly “Road to Signing Day” live Facebook broadcast from another Marlow’s Tavern in the Metro Atlanta area last night.
The band showed up in Roswell last night with two special guests in 4-star DT commit Devonte Wyatt and his Towers High head coach Dr. Brian Montgomery.
The turnout was great and the interview with Montgomery and Wyatt was moving.
Be sure to watch the entire broadcast below. There’s another chance to meet us at Marlow’s next Tuesday in Sandy Springs for another night of fun and a pair of special guests.
Wyatt and Hightower show up at 67 minutes into the broadcast. He had a few very interesting things to say about where his commitment currently stands heading into National Signing Day.
Addressing a hot rumor of late
Montgomery believes that Wyatt’s path to Georgia would be very rare for Towers High School. He’s been told by an administrator that Wyatt would be the first student-athlete from the school to sign a football scholarship with UGA since 1979.
“That’s huge being in that position,” Montgomery said.
Those two made a trip that took two-plus hours to reach the Marlow’s Tavern in Roswell. When they arrived, Wyatt saw a big crowd with tables full of fans in Georgia gear.
Without any prompting, the 6-foot-2, 301-pound prospect went around the room shaking hands and meeting everyone before it was his turn to join the live broadcast. That’s the sort of stuff that the fans on hand will always remember.
Wyatt made a lot of fans last night. Montgomery also shed light on Wyatt’s academic situation recently.
“He’s doing well grade-wise,” Montgomery said. “He just finished up with a 3.0 (grade-point average) this past semester. So I mean he’s doing well grade-wise. We are just waiting to get his results back from the test.”
Montgomery indicated that Wyatt is waiting to receive his first score back in order to qualify for admission on the NCAA’s sliding scale for academic eligibility.
More DawgNation 8-ball
We started up a new feature within the daily blog yesterday. Remember those magic 8-ball toys? Ask a question. Shake it and one of 20 possible answers appears.
That’s the hurry-up-no-huddle way to look at the remaining possibilities for Georgia’s class.
- Latavious Brini: Somehow South Florida keeps popping up.
- Markaviest “Big Cat’ Bryant: Reply hazy from LSU and UGA in-home visits yesterday. Try again.
- Nico Collins: Signs point to yes.
- Larrell Murchison: Most likely.
- Tedarrell “TD” Slaton: Ask again later.
- Aubrey Solomon: Kirby Smart is drinking a glass of milk while wearing a houndstooth hat and a freshly-pressed pair of khakis. Huh?
- Ameer Speed: Reply hazy try again
- Eric Stokes: Don’t count on it.
- Leonard Warner III: My reply is no.
- Devonte Wyatt: Signs point to yes
- Jamyest Williams: As I see it, yes.
Got your own Intel on some of these guys? Feel free to share them in the comments section below.
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Follow Jeff Sentell 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.