UGA recruiting: 5-star commits Jadon Haselwood and Nolan Smith predict great days up ahead
Want a daily lap through UGA recruiting? That’s what the Intel will bring at least five days a week. We’ll cover the news and which way 5-stars like Jadon Haselwood and Nolan Smith might lean plus add some perspective to help fans figure out what it all means.
Balance. That’s what we seek today.
Have the coaches at UGA forgotten how to recruit big-time talent? Did they use up all their 4-star and 5-star magic with the 2017 class?
Some folks might wail that nothing but disappointment has been falling from the sky this spring. DawgNation has chronicled the swings and misses on the 2018 QB front and also the general overall trend for this year’s class.
The de-commitment from long-time 4-star OLB pledge Adam Anderson and watching elite DE target Brenton Cox pick Ohio State has been alarming this week. G-Day is designed to be a momentum week.
According to a pair of high-profile commits, things are going to get better. 5-star pledges Jadon Haselwood and Nolan Smith II said good news waits up ahead.
“All I can say right now are those guys that end up not going to Georgia in the Class of 2018 are going to regret it,” Haselwood said. “… Anybody that doubts what Georgia can do this year in that Class of 2018 will be in for a rude awakening. I think this season is going to be a great season. Everyone is sleeping on Georgia now, but everyone will be awake after the first five games. We’ll be 5-0.”
Those two guys are both in the Class of 2019. UGA already has the nation’s third-ranked class for that cycle. Smith noted the Class of 2018 appears to include a lot of “slow movers.”
“They are thinking about their decision way more than a lot of other people do,” Smith said. “I can’t really say too much but I know whatever slack is left from 2018, then our class is just going to pick it up. That’s all I’m going to say.”
“We are going to have some big dogs coming in for 2018 and they are coming in with a punch,” Smith said.
Was that for 2018 or 2019?
“For 2018 and 2019,” Smith said. “We have some big dogs coming on the way.”
Take a deep breath. It is still early.
“Just wait and watch,” Smith said. “It is really going to pick up. We have some really good recruits that are planning on committing. They are silent right now. We can’t really do anything about that. We have to respect their decisions.”
What Jadon Haselwood sees right now
Haselwood thinks the 2018 class might be “sleeping on Georgia.”
“I think that’s because of the season they just had,” he said. “You know Kirby just got there. That team last year really wasn’t his players. He didn’t recruit them out of high school for the most part. Except for those freshmen. Most of those guys played well last year. So I think the next two years and even this year is going to be a whole new different story for Georgia. Those recruits that are sleeping on Georgia are just going to regret it.”
Ohio State wanted Haselwood badly. They were essentially the runner-up school.
Haselwood is already hearing from both Cox and 5-star 2018 Emory Jones about joining them in Columbus. He expects that to continue.
Will he be susceptible to that pitch?
“Brenton and Emory are already trying to get at me,” Haselwood said. “They were trying to get at me on Twitter just last night. Emory sent a smirk at me.”
Haselwood spammed a few “LOLs” as his reply.
“They know I am not going to flip,” Haselwood said. “I am pretty stubborn.”
Haselwood said he was still “rock solid” and “110 percent” committed to UGA.
“Of course,” he said. “That’s my personality man. I’m just stubborn. When I say I’m going to do something, then I do it. I still think I made a very good decision with Georgia man.”
Haselwood said he heard from Cox about his reservations about Georgia.
“He said he didn’t want to come to Georgia because he didn’t know if he was going to get better or end up going in the first round and stuff like that,” Haselwood said. “But I think if you are good, then that stuff is really going to happen for you anyway.”
Player development can be seen a legit reason for Cox. There’s no disputing that. Ohio State’s NFL track record is pretty sterling of late.
Haselwood said that was not a concern for him.
“I don’t worry about that at all,” Haselwood said. “I sit down with (Georgia receivers coach James) Coley every time I get down there. I get better just going down there now and watching the film. He shows me the tapes of how he gets his players better. He shows me the techniques of catching the ball when the ‘DB’ is on one side of you and to snatch it away from them. That’s a part of the game as well. You can’t just come to college and leave the same way you came in. You’ve got to get better and change every day.”
What Nolan Smith sees up ahead for Georgia
Smith forecasts very good days. As stated earlier, he liked everything that G-Day had to offer.
“The thing I will always remember about G-Day this day is that coach Kirby (Smart) doesn’t care if you are a 4-star or a 5-star or a 3-star,” Smith said. “If you can play and you are good and can ball, then you will be on the field. It also doesn’t matter if you are a freshman or a sophomore. If you are doing the right thing on and off the field, then coach Kirby will play you.”
The 5-star DE/OLB was impressed by the improvement made by the receivers and how well the Bulldogs are stacking up at quarterback with Jacob Eason and Jake Fromm.
When Smith interacts with the 2018 prospects, he doesn’t pressure anyone. He respects that as a personal decision for every recruit.
“It is the biggest decision of their lives,” he said.
It seems there is always some chatter on social media about another school stealing Smith from the Bulldogs. He’s now rated as the nation’s No. 4 overall prospect per the 247Sports Composite. That should be expected.
Is that possible?
“I love Georgia,” Smith said. “That’s it. If you have the love for something and loyalty for a school, then you will always go there.”
He said that it took forever for G-Day to arrive. But it went by so fast when he was in Athens.
“I swear to you my Friday went by so slow,” Smith said. “My plane ride took forever to get there. The drive felt like three-and-a-half hours. The traffic from the burning bridge in Atlanta was just moving so slow. But it was mighty funny. When it was time for me to leave Georgia, everything was moving fast. My flight was already getting checked in. Things were going so fast when it came time for me to leave. I was so mad.”
When recruits ask Smith about his decision, he keeps it simple. He never tells a prospect what to do. That pays respect to a decision they all make on their own.
“I tell them to follow their heart,” Smith said. “If they decide to come to Georgia then, they will have a good time. They will have a better time than what they will have with most other colleges. Our coaches are real and they are not going to sell you ‘wolf tickets’ as my coach says.”
“Selling you wolf tickets means that they are selling you something that is not going to be there,” he said. “They are used car salesmen. Trying to make it seem like a brand new car. But our coaches are real. They are from the heart. They are not going to say ‘if you will come here then you will start your freshman year’ at Georgia.”
He said he hears that from time to time.
“I hear guys say that about Alabama,” Smith said. “They told them that Bama said they were going to start their freshman year and Bama said they were going to be in the rotation. I just say ‘Son, Alabama had the No. 1 recruiting class three years prior to when you will be coming in. Do you really think you will be coming in and in the rotation to start?’ When coaches tell me that stuff like ‘I am a monster or a beast’ and ‘they will get me in their rotation my freshman year’ then that is what really turns me off.”
Smith has a few key phrases he doesn’t want to hear from recruiters.
“If a coach talks about a national championship straight out of the gate or winning or we need this and that, then they are thinking about the team and their worries and not about the actual player,” he said. “This is the biggest step in our life. We need to link up with coaches who actually think about our lives. We make these decisions ourselves. Not our parents. This is on us. If we make the wrong decision, then this stuff can make or break or lives. Really.”