Well, there’s no sense playing around with it. The dead period has come and gone and the “live period” is here for UGA football recruiting through the stretch run to National Signing Day on Feb. 3.
What’s the main event?
It sets up as a UGA versus Alabama battle for a lot of major 5-star targets. The big news of the day so far will be the “Battle of Elberton” across SEC Country. Elbert County 5-star athlete Mecole Hardman, Jr. is rated as the nation’s No. 1 recruit.
He’d told DawgNation that UGA coach Mel Tucker will visit him on Thursday. Alabama will also be there, too. Except the Crimson Tide are bringing in the closer. Alabama coach Nick Saban will use his only in-home visit for Hardman’s recruitment on Day 1 of the stretch run to signing day.
Hardman told DawgNation that new Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt will also be on hand
Hardman’s not the only recruit both schools will go hard for. The Bulldogs and the Crimson Tide are also rolling up their sleeves for a stretch run recruiting battle for the following additional major Class of 2016 targets: Derrick Brown, Ben Davis, Hardman, Jr., Michail Carter, Tyler Simmons and Lyndell “Mack” Wilson
It is no reach to say that UGA and Alabama might end up as the final two or two of the final three or two of the final four for each of those guys. The intrigue here is the battle stretches across both states for elite prospects this year. That’s the new wrinkle given all the inroads that new UGA coach Kirby Smart has paved across both states.
Smart‘s ability to parlay his vital role in Alabama’s “process” that led to four national titles in seven years will be key. Can he sell all the elite recruits on some upcoming Alabama-sized victories on the way at UGA? If so, look for UGA to wind up with one of the nation’s top three recruiting classes (at least) when all the ink dries on National Signing Day.
UGA Day 1: Who’s visiting where (check back often for updates)
Five-star DT Derrick Brown, Lanier: Brown told 247sports.com’s Rusty Mansell he’ll be visited by each of his five finalists on Thursday. That’s UGA, Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi State and Tennessee.
Four-star DE/OLB Brian Burns, American Heritage (Fla.): Burns received a visit from both Alabama and UGA on Thursday. That’s a show of how much he is wanted and needed in Athens as he is set to make his official visit this weekend.
Four-star ATH Marquez Callaway, Warner Robins: Callaway has told DawgNation that Tennessee has already visited and that Clemson has told them he will also stop by. While Callaway is not considered very high on UGA’s board at this time, he’s one of the state’s top uncommitted recruits and would become a strong option if only one or two other priority targets on UGA’s board do not seem promising.
(2017) Four-star QB Jake Fromm, Houston County: Fromm told DawgNation on Thursday he would be getting a visit from UGA on Friday. He’s committed to Alabama, but new UGA offensive coordinator Jim Chaney has made him a priority for UGA’s Class of 2017 at QB.
(2017) Five-star CB/ATH DeAngelo Gibbs, Grayson: Gibbs told DawgNation that he was visited by UGA defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, along with visits from Clemson and South Carolina.
Five-star ATH Mecole Hardman, Jr., Elbert County: Hardman tells DawgNation that UGA defensive coordinator Mel Tucker will be visiting him on Thursday, but that will be countered by a visit from Alabama head coach Nick Saban and defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. Pruitt was determined to sign Hardman when he was at UGA and it appears he’s not letting up his charge to now bring him to Tuscaloosa.
Four-star WR Tre’ Nixon, Viera (Fla.): Nixon told DawgNation that Central Florida, Penn State, Miami and Western Kentucky were all slated to pay him a visit. Nixon is likely at the top of UGA’s board at receiver with Tyler Simmons of McEachern when it comes to uncommitted recruits.
(2017) Four-star DB William Poole III, Hapeville Charter: Poole told DawgNation.com that he received a visit this morning from UGA head coach Kirby Smart and South Carolina receivers coach Bryan McClendon.
Three-star WR Tyler Simmons, McEachern: Multiple outlets are reporting Simmons will get an in-home visit today from UGA and that he will also take an official visit to UGA this weekend, but DawgNation has not been able to confirm that.
Four-star WR Javon Wims, Hinds Community College: Wims told DawgNation that new UGA receivers coach James Coley visited him on Thursday.
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, all player rankings and ratings are from the 247sports Composite.