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With its class size limit, how many players can UGA recruiting sign in 2019?

UGA recruiting: How will class size affect the final 2019 team ranking?

Georgia finished first in the recruiting rankings in the 2018 class. Expect the Bulldogs to be near the top in 2019, too. DawgNation’s Jeff Sentell will answer a Recruiting Question of the Day on Tuesdays and Thursdays. You can ask him your questions on Twitter or the DawgNation Message board forum. Previous QODs can be found on our archives page.

QUESTION OF THE DAY

DawgNation message board forum user @moos offers up: What’s your estimate on the class size for 2019? And at what level does it become a hindrance for UGA competing for the top spot?

Moos comes to the plate with a good one. He’s basically asking a multi-tier question.

  • How big can the class size get?
  • Does that affect UGA’s ability to repeat with the No. 1 class in 2019?
  • Have any programs finished No. 1 overall when faced with having significantly fewer signees than the normal cap of 25?

Let’s look at each of these.

1) DawgNation predicts the 2019 class will have 21 signees. That’s even with a good bit of luck. 

Why? Take a good look at that senior class. By our count, the Bulldogs have 16 scholarship seniors on the 2018 team. The simple way to look at that is that UGA will have that many scholarship slots under the NCAA-mandated cap of 85 scholarships open after the 2018 season. Yes, that figure does include Notre Dame graduate transfer Jay Hayes.

DawgNation predicts that the Bulldogs will sign 21 prospects in 2019 with roster movement beyond those 16 slots.

That means:

  • Transfers from UGA to other programs
  • Juniors leaving early for the NFL

Those factors figure to open up an additional 4-5 scholarships. The most likely scenario would mean big seasons for juniors such as Tyler Clark, Mecole Hardman Jr., Brian Herrien, Elijah Holyfield, Isaac Nauta, J.R. Reed and Julian Rochester, among others. A few from that number would declare for the NFL and thus increase the number of scholarship slots available.

The most recent DawgNation.com scholarship projection count for 2019 looks like this: 

Here’s a breakdown of the number of commits by position and how many are projected to be signed:

  • QB: 0/1
  • RB: 0/1
  • TE: 1/1 (Ryland Goede)
  • WR: 2/2 (Dominick Blaylock, Jadon Haselwood)
  • OL: 0/2
  • DE: 1/2 (Bill Norton)
  • DT: 0/3
  • ILB: 2/3 (J.D. Bertrand, Trezmen Marshall)
  • LB: 0/1
  • OLB: 1/1 (Nolan Smith)
  • CB: 1/3 (Jalen Perry)
  • S: 0/1

Totals: 8/21

2) If Georgia signs only 21 prospects in 2019, there is no way it can repeat with the nation’s No. 1 class, especially with the way Alabama is recruiting

With the way the 247Sports composite rankings are calculated, there’s no way a class that size can be No. 1.

The Crimson Tide basically had scholarships left to give out last year, but couldn’t find suitors at the 11th hour when they saw several prized targets sign elsewhere.

Alabama could only sign 20 prospects in 2018. That’s the smallest signing class for the Tide of the Nick Saban era. The previous low had been 24 signees in 2015. Alabama, with its 13 commits, already has the nation’s No. 1 class for 2019.

3) As far as smaller classes go, USC (the real USC) provides the only example of a top-3 class ranking with a class size far south of the standard 25 per year

Again, that’s because of the way the 247Sports composite rankings work. 

The Trojans signed just 18 prospects in 2018 and finished fourth nationally. That was a rare case in which a school signed a significantly smaller class and cracked the top 5 in team rankings.

Ohio State also signed just 21 prospects in 2017 and finished No. 2 overall. That’s a sweet spot that the Bulldogs might find themselves in for this cycle. Potentially.

Florida State also signed 20 prospects in the 2015 class and finished No. 3 overall. It is very rare to see a program sign fewer than 24 prospects in any given year and finish in the top 3. That didn’t happen in 2018, 2016, 2014, 2013 or 2011.

USC did crack the top 3 in 2007, 2009, and 2010 with class sizes of 19, 18 and 19, respectively. But that largely says something about both the way recruiting rankings and class sizes were looked at back then and also about the way the Trojans and their elite signees have always been rated.

Southern Cal also had just 19 signees in 2008 and wound up with the nation’s No. 4 class.

It can be done, but it is just very hard to do.

That’s largely why Clemson never shows up in the team recruiting rankings. The Tigers have signed an average of just 20.3 recruits over the last seven recruiting cycles dating back to their 2012 class.

It is a major reason Dabo Swinney has never signed a team class that rated higher than No. 7 overall during that span. That average class finish has been at No. 13 overall.

I do thank Moos for his question.

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