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Kirby Smart and the Bulldogs should have a big day on the first day of the early signing period on Wednesday.

What Georgia fans need to know about the early signing period

There’s a popular saying this time of year about Christmas coming early.

The design for this blog was not intended to mirror that. At least not intentionally.

That is only because football National Signing Day comes early this year. And it will be multiplied by the third power. Confused? Read the Intel every day. That will help to alleviate that issue.

The Bulldogs have gotten after it by attacking the day on the recruiting trail leading up to the new early signing period. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

Wednesday will be a very big day for college football. Look for the Bulldogs to do the heavy lifting that day, except for maybe four or five recruits, on what can be their best signing class in history.

Georgia finished No. 3 in the 247Sports composite team rankings a year ago. That was an all-time high.

The 2018 group represents Kirby Smart’s second recruiting class and his first full recruiting cycle, this time able to pitch players to sign to play for the newly minted SEC champions.

Third place is where the Bulldogs rest in the current 2018 team recruiting rankings, according to the 247Sports composite. Georgia has the highest-rated class in the SEC.

And the Bulldogs, as the saying goes around Athens, are not done yet. There are several more top targets expected to fall in line this week.

UGA just finished hosting a slew of 5-star prospects on campus. The Bulldogs had six players with a 5-star rating (247Sports composite) in town on the final official visit window before the early signing period.

Let’s take a deep dive into all things early signing period along our DawgNation primer for Dec. 20.

What is the early signing period? 

Heralded UGA quarterback Jacob Eason signed very early in his senior year and used the financial aid form to do so. That’s no longer a thing with the new early signing period. (Doug Ramsay/ Special to DawgNation)

The new early signing period goes live this week. It essentially allows all student-athletes in the Class of 2018 to sign instead of waiting until the traditional first Wednesday in February. College basketball has had an early signing period for quite some time.

This trend mimics the early signing period for mid-year enrollees and junior college signees in the past.

It essentially offers a player a lot more variety in the event they wish to no longer continue their recruiting process.

  • Sign early and enroll early in January. (The financial aid forms of the past no longer seem to be a major option for student-athletes.)
  • Sign early and still enroll in June.
  • Do nothing and wait to sign in February like the old school days.

There’s been one noted wrinkle in the system with this first cycle of the early signing period. That’s pressure on both the players and the coaches. The early signing period has affected both the championship brackets for high school teams in their state playoffs and the Bowl Subdivision playoffs in major college football.

Coaches are recruiting and game planning. They are also feeling the effects of watching rampant coaching staff turnover around major college football.

Legendary Alabama coach Nick Saban went off on a rant last week about how he’s heard nothing good about the new early signing period.

When is the early signing period? 

The new early signing period for college football will open up a 72-hour window for prospective student-athletes to sign with the team of their choice.

  • It runs from Dec. 20-22 this year. That’s Wednesday through Friday of this week.
  • The traditional National Signing Day will still take place on Feb. 7, 2018.

There has been some early trendspotting in regard to the new early signing period. The big-time programs look at a commitment on their board and definitely expect them to sign during the early period.

The only exceptions might be those elite 5-star recruits which have a lot of leverage. It appears that major Power 5 programs hope to see about 50 to 75 percent of their commits sign during the early period.

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Five-star quarterback says he’ll sign his letter of intent on Wednesday, making him a member of the Bulldogs. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

It also seems as if the majority of those early signees will sign on Wednesday. There are very few heavyweight decisions expected for Thursday or Friday.

There is not a single Georgia target who has indicated to DawgNation that he will sign early on either of those two days.

That same trend is in play nationally. A quick scan of the top 25 recruits on the 247Sports Composite composite rankings will indicate that 20 of the nation’s top 25 prospects for 2018 already plan to sign early.

Which UGA commits will sign during the early period? 

That number got a big boost on Sunday night. That’s when 5-star QB Justin Fields announced on Twitter that he will sign early. Fields told DawgNation late last night that the decision is still up in the air about whether he will enroll early.

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Another 5-star recruit, running back Zamir White, says he plans to take advantage of the early signing period. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

Fields will be one of many UGA commits who will sign early. DawgNation first began charting that trend late last month. 

UGA’s commits who plan to sign this week

(ratings from the 247Sports Composite)

  • Jake Camarda/Norcross, Ga./3-star/nation’s No. 8 kicker
  • Owen Condon/Oklahoma City,/3-star/nation’s No. 37 offensive tackle/No. 476 overall
  • James Cook/Miami/4-star/Nation’s no. 3 running back/No. 31 overall
  • Jordan Davis/Charlotte, N.C./3-star/nation’s No. 28 defensive tackle/No. 403 overall
  • Warren Ericson/Suwanee, Ga./4-star/nation’s No. 5 center/No. 267 overall
  • Justin Fields/Kennesaw, Ga./5-star/nation’s No. 1 dual-threat quarterback/No. 2 overall
  • John FitzPatrick/Atlanta/4-star/nation’s No. 16 tight end/No. 342 overall
  • Trey Hill/Warner Robins, Ga./4-star/nation’s No. 2 offensive guard/No. 38 overall
  • Kearis Jackson/Fort Valley, Ga./4-star/nation’s No. 22 wide receiver/No. 117 overall
  • Azeez Ojulari/Marietta, Ga./4-star/nation’s No. 8 weakside defensive end/No. 133 overall
  • Chris Smith II/Atlanta/4-star/nation’s No. 30 cornerback/No. 295 overall
  • Zamir White/Laurinburg, N.C./5-star/nation’s No. 1 running back/No. 6 overall
  • Devonte Wyatt/Decatur, Ga./4-star/nation’s No. 3 defensive tackle (JUCO)/No. 7 overall (JUCO)

Bottom line so far: 13 of Georgia’s 18 current commits.

Which UGA targets will announce in early signing period? 

There are also a lot of big-name Georgia targets who will make their college decisions known during the early signing period.

Most of them are of the 5-star variety, too. Watch out for 4-star TE Luke Ford, as well. He told DawgNation over the weekend that he could sign during the early period, but that is not definite.

  • Micah Parsons/Harrisburg, Pa./5-star/nation’s No. 1 weakside DE/No. 4 overall
  • KJ Henry/Clemmons, N.C./nation’s No. 3 weakside DE/No. 8 overall
  • Jamaree Salyer/Atlanta/5-star/nation’s No. 1 OG/No. 10 overall
  • Cade Mays/Knoxville, Tenn./5-star/nation’s No. 2 OT/No. 16 overall
  • Brenton Cox/Stockbridge, Ga./5-star/nation’s No. 2 strongside DE/No. 22 overall
  • Gilbert Frierson/Miami/4-star/nation’s No. 22 CB/No. 209 overall/Miami commit
  • Divaad Wilson/Miami/4-star/nation’s No. 32 CB/No. 331 overall

Which UGA commits aren’t signing this week? 

As stated above, there are five Bulldogs commits for 2018 who are not planning to sign early. Five-star outside linebacker Adam Anderson is one to watch.

The two-time state champion’s name comes up as one who might sign early. But as of now, he’s not sure.

  • Adam Anderson/Rome, Ga./5-star/nation’s No. 1 OLB/No. 18 overall
  • Aaron Brule‘/Metairie, La./3-star/nation’s No. 30 safety/No. 405 overall
  • Elijah Moore/Fort Lauderdale, Fla./4-star/nation’s No. 38 WR/No. 197 overall
  • Tramel Walthour/Hinesville, Ga./3-star/nation’s No. 44 DT/No. 602 overall
  • Rachad Wildgoose Jr./Miami/3-star/nation’s No. 63 S/No. 841 overall

Which UGA commits and targets plan to enroll early?

As stated above, Fields has not made his decision about enrolling early. If I had to guess, I would say that he will.

UGA commits who plan to enroll early

  • Warren Ericson/Suwanee, Ga./4-star/nation’s No. 5 C/No. 267 overall
  • Trey Hill/Warner Robins, Ga./4-star/nation’s No. 2 OG/No. 38 overall
  • Kearis Jackson/Fort Valley, Ga./4-star/nation’s No. 22 WR/No. 117 overall
  • Zamir White/Laurinburg, N.C./5-star/nation’s No. 1 RB/No. 6 overall
  • Devonte Wyatt/Decatur, Ga./4-star/nation’s No. 3 DT (JUCO)/No. 7 overall (JUCO)

UGA targets who plan to enroll early

  • KJ Henry/Clemmons, N.C./nation’s No. 3 weak-side DE/No. 8 overall
  • Cade Mays/Knoxville, Tenn./5-star/nation’s No. 2 OT/No. 16 overall
  • Brenton Cox/Stockbridge, Ga./5-star/nation’s No. 2 strongside DE/No. 22 overall
  • Gilbert Frierson/Miami/4-star/nation’s No. 22 CB/No. 209 overall/Miami commit
  • Divaad Wilson/Miami/4-star/nation’s No. 32 CB/No. 331 overall