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 and add a dab of perspective to help fans figure out what it all means.
Good morning. Happy New Year to all. The Intel is back from Texas to find a young puppy that has doubled in size, but most importantly a 10-year-old who has broken her first bone. (Sledding accident. Hairpin turn. Sidewalk sewer. Sigh.)
UGA’s recruiting world still turns. While we wait for the NCAA-mandated dead period shroud to lift, there’s a significant thing to make note of this week.
Those with their hashtag game on point know that “SICEM17” has been the tag for Georgia’s Class of 2017 recruits across Twitter.
Yet there’s a group that I call the “SICEM6” that is now fully assembled in Athens.
That term refers to all of the team’s six mid-year enrollees for 2017.
They all moved in yesterday, threw a birthday party for fellow “SICEM6” member Monty Rice and were expecting to make their first team workout this morning.
This matches the same mid-year class size the Bulldogs welcomed last year. That group also included a marquee quarterback, a big-time receiving target, a defensive playmaker or two and a highly-rated offensive lineman.
Last year’s early enrollees by and large got a jump on major playing time:
- Chad Clay, defensive back: This one didn’t turn out so well. Clay had a few run-ins on the team discipline side and did not remain with the program. He’s now in the junior college ranks.
- Ben Cleveland, offensive line: “Big Country” redshirted. The U.S. Army All-American offensive tackle showed up at guard during practices this season. Cleveland will be a motivated Bulldog and he has impressive strength and speed for his size. I wouldn’t count him out of anything. It is just too early.
- Jacob Eason, quarterback: Didn’t start the North Carolina game. Started all the rest and held his own through up-and-down moments along a satisfactory performance as a freshman starting QB in the SEC. He completed 55 percent of his passes for 2,430 yards, 16 TDs and 8 interceptions despite inconsistencies on the offensive line and at receiver.
- Isaac Nauta, tight end: Did exactly what the nation’s top-rated tight end should have done and maybe a little more. Nauta flashed in big games, became a go-to red-zone target and even made his share of freshman All-American and SEC all-freshman teams. He finished third on the team in catches (29) and yards (361) but trailed only Isaiah McKenzie with his 3 touchdown catches in 2016.
- Riley Ridley, receiver: Injuries limited him in stretches, but he flashed big in the Auburn and Tennessee games. He had only 12 catches for 238 yards and 2 touchdowns, but it sure seemed like he made a bigger impact that that. Look for bigger things in 2017.
- Julian Rochester, defensive line: The big U.S. Army All-American notched 36 tackles and 2 sacks plus earned the starting nod at times on the defensive line this year. His future is as bright as any member of the Class of 2016.
The only twist to this week is Kirby Smart will not be transitioning from his role to UGA from his post as Alabama’s defensive coordinator in the national championship game.
How do the new mid-years look?
The boys came in waves this year. The mid-years also include a junior college tackle who will be expected to play early. I’m lumping D’Marcus Hayes in with that group simply because he’s part of the recruiting class and he enrolled and joined the team last week.
Hayes, Rice and DeAngelo Gibbs were the first group to report. Jacob Fromm, Richard LeCounte III and Jeremiah Holloman all moved to Athens on Sunday after a week in Texas for the U.S. Army All-American game.
That’s the same path Cleveland, Eason, Nauta and Rochester took last year, too.
The star tally and rankings snapshot looks like this:
- 5-stars: 1 (LeCounte)
- 4-stars: 4
- 3-stars: 1 (Rice)
- Top 3 players at their position: 4 (Fromm, Gibbs, Hayes and LeCounte)
- Top 20 players at their position: 5
The early arrivals for 2017
Jake Fromm, quarterback: I’ll make a bold pick here and note he will have the biggest impact on Georgia football of the bunch. Eventually. It will just take him awhile to become a starter with that Eason fella around. Quarterback is by and large the game’s most important position. That’s the major reason for that statement.
Fromm moved to Athens yesterday after an impressive showing in San Antonio. He finished his high school career as the nation’s No. 3 pro-style quarterback and the No. 46 overall prospect.
DeAngelo Gibbs, safety: The Under Armour All-American enrolled last week after his week in Florida. The nation’s No. 3 safety prospect could help Georgia immediately this fall at cornerback and receiver, but look for him early at safety and on special teams.
The 6-foot-2, 206-pounder was a key in-state recruiting win for Georgia against Alabama. His early graduation off a state championship team at Grayson will help him command almost immediate playing time.
D’Marcus Hayes, offensive tackle: The 6-foot-5, 320-pounder is expected to come right in, work hard and claim a starting tackle spot. He should according to what bring one football mind told DawgNation after he signed.
Hayes joined the program after two seasons at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.
Jeremiah Holloman, receiver: The 6-foot-2, 195-pounder flashes everything on the field that screams the “New Georgia” template at receiver. Holloman checks off the catch radius, explosiveness, height, length and physicality at the position. He can go get it and high-point a ball to snatch it from a safety and can put his foot in the ground and create separation from SEC cornerbacks.
He might develop into the team’s top receiver at some point of his freshman season. I’d look for his first-year production to land somewhere between the numbers that Nauta and Ridley posted above.
Richard LeCounte III, safety: Heard about this guy? The first public commitment for the Class of 2017 gives the Bulldogs an extremely bright future at safety. He’ll line up with Gibbs and really add some range and tenacity to the back line of the Georgia defense.
Look for him to earn his way on the first field at the “Star” position and on special teams. LeCounte’s work recruiting his future teammates to join him in Athens has been well-chronicled, but they can never be overstated.
Monty Rice, inside linebacker: The surprise flip of the class was a silent commit to Georgia for most of the 2016 season and then abruptly chose LSU at his decision ceremony.
That mid-December moment didn’t last. When it was time to enroll, he went back to UGA. Rice is a true inside linebacker who plays much better than his ratings might suggest.
A few predictions ..
Redshirts: 1 (Fromm. That’s if everything goes according to the script. I might change my mind after G-Day.)
Likely starters by some point of their freshman season: 4 (Gibbs, Hayes, Holloman and LeCounte.)
Day 1 starters: 2-3 (Hayes plus Gibbs or LeCounte)
Who will push the starter in practice the most this year: Fromm
Biggest early impact: Hayes
Most important: Hayes
The guy who must also contribute early: Holloman
Most likely to be All-SEC the soonest: Gibbs and LeCounte
Fan favorite: LeCounte
Most physical player: Rice