Well, the sun came up today, right? I hope the front door was still standing when everyone got back from Jacksonville.
Much has been said and will continue to blogged and read and said about the state of UGA football after such a loss. That is warranted after a disappointing performance like that one in a big-time rivalry game.
There’s really only one thing to say that matters this week: Beat Kentucky. Or it all gets worse.
Given that SEC record, it is no stretch to say UGA’s biggest wins for the remainder of the season would be Georgia Tech, Auburn, Kentucky and on the recruiting trail. They might not even be necessarily in that order.
Thank you, Ben Cleveland
That’s what DawgNation should be saying this morning after it tries to stay away from their kid’s Halloween candy stash for just one day. There’s nothing positive to be gained from a rewind of another debacle in Jacksonville. Meh. That’s like the lady down the block handing out carrot sticks.
There was a little sunshine this weekend. UGA commitment Ben Cleveland hinted at two major developments on the recruiting trail. The first of those came Friday. He said UGA is a very good shape with another 4-star offensive tackle out of Louisiana. That’s Willie Allen. That’s another 6-foot-7 offensive tackle with a basketball player’s feet. He will be essential to protect a certain 5-star QB commitment’s back side.
The even better news came on Sunday night when Cleveland said he’s aware of 5-6 secret commitments to the program at this time. That’s major. UGA’s class is already rated at No. 6 in the nation for this year. Watch for that number to rise as high as No. 2 in the nation once all those commitments become public.
That’s not the same as UGA catching those touchdown passes and fielding all those punts in Jacksonville, but it helps.
Why DawgNation needs that good news
DawgNation contacted several key recruits on Saturday evening in the aftermath of that 27-3 loss. What did they think? Here are a few of the memorable responses:
- “I’m lost for words”
- “Well, I’m shocked”
- “It ain’t good”
- “I have to respectfully decline answering that question”
- “It was crazy”
- “It was tough looking at that game today”
That’s the ugly stink of it all. As a public service to DawgNation, I’ll share that “secret” commitment link again and come back with another episode of our “Future looks bright” collection.
Eason: Another excellent episode
Jacob Eason, the 5-star quarterback commitment everyone is banking on, had another great game. He’s led his Lake Stevens (Wash.) team to a 9-0 record and a third straight Wesco title. The senior, who’s almost at the 6 feet, 6 inches mark, completed 19 of his 23 passes for another four scores in another runaway victory.
DawgNation was there and has another impressive highlight video that’s typical Eason. A couple of big shots down the field and moving the chains from the Spread with quick and short throws that give his playmakers room to roam in space. You’ll see the Golden Arm give out a few hugs after the game, but pay attention to how he sprints down the field to congratulate his guys after big plays.
It is really going to be hard boiling down all the Eason highlights video into a “Greatest Hits” collection at the end of the year.
Not all the recruiting news is great
UGA did take one on the chin on the recruiting front on Sunday night. A big-time Class of 2017 recruit committed to Notre Dame on Sunday. Robert Beal, a tremendous 4-star prospect out of Norcross High, committed to Notre Dame on Sunday night.
He has been pegged by his high school coach as another Lorenzo Carter. If he is, then it looks like he’ll be on the fast track to the NFL in South Bend. For now. UGA will no doubt continue to recruit Beal extensively all the way up to National Signing Day in 2017.
— Tom Loy (@TomLoy247) November 2, 2015
One more thought on Eason
The hype and hope machines are no doubt turned up on full blast with Eason. There’s an interesting brew at work here. UGA’s offense is a stalled Yugo on the SEC superhighway. The quarterback position is in flux.
Eason arrives in January as the most-heralded QB recruit since Matthew Stafford. A lot of folks will be crossing their fingers since he represents the team’s most talented option at the position. He’s obviously the quarterback of the future. It is not a foolish thought to presume his play will influence Mark Richt’s long-term status at UGA.
Is it fair to place those burdens on a kid? The general thinking is that any recruit that starts as a freshman in the SEC is just asking for trouble. DawgNation asked Cleveland how Eason could shoulder that pressure if he was able to quickly see the field in 2016.
“I think he can handle it,” Cleveland said. “He’s a great quarterback. It is going to take some time to get his read keys down and all that, but I feel he is going to be able to handle it really well. It is just going to take a little bit of a learning curve to get used to it.”
Worried about losing those commits?
Rusty Mansell of Dawgs247 had a short piece over the weekend that puts the thinking of the current class in the proper light. Mansell spoke to Eason’s father about his son’s outlook on UGA this season.
Tony Eason said his son’s perspective is more about a group of boys who are committed to one another that also love Georgia. They want to turn things around. That matters as much as anything else.
Another UGA Honor Roll shows off what’s in the pipeline
UGA’s commits and priority targets put on another great showing on Friday. DawgNation’s honor roll feature this week showcases RB commit Elijah Holyfield getting back to his big game ways and another commitment trying his hand at QB.
Those were the highlights, along with defensive targets Derrick Brown and Brian Burns continuing to crank out their jaw-dropping performances. Their 2016 highlight reels will even rival what Eason has put down on tape this year.
Georgia’s No. 1 prospect sets up his official visits
Lanier High School (Ga.) defensive tackle Derrick Brown has now set up his official visits. He’ll start out with Mississippi State later this month. He’s considering that school because of family ties. He’ll head to Alabama early in December and then click off UGA, Auburn and Tennessee in late January.
Brown is huge for UGA. He’s one of the five most important recruits UGA has to sign this year by anyone’s estimation. He publicly states he has no leaders and his eyes will be wide open on those visits. DawgNation can only dream that he’s one of those “secret commitments” right now.
5-star athlete might tweak his commitment strategy
Mecole Hardman is rated as the nation’s No. 1 athlete for 2016. The 5-star recruit from Georgia’s Elbert County High School has had a long-standing plan of becoming a silent commitment and then revealing his decision to the public in February on National Signing Day.
He’s reconsidering that plan right now. Hardman told DawgNation that his silent commitment made sense when he was only considering UGA and Tennessee. He said that his eyes have been opened by the recruiting process and he might not be able to do that anymore.
He wants to play receiver and cornerback in college and he’s currently thinking about Michigan, Ole Miss, Oregon and TCU for his four remaining official visits. Hardman gave DawgNation a good window into his thought process with a live Periscope chat on Friday. UGA, Alabama and Tennessee are in his top group along with those programs he will see on those official visits.
Nation’s No. 2 athlete establishes his Top 7
Liberty County’s Richard LeCounte III is a 4-star prospect for the Class of 2017. He’s easily on the short list on the top players in the state for next year. LeCounte projects to play cornerback or safety in college, but he’s currently rated as the nation’s No. 2 athlete for his class.
The junior released his Top 7 on Sunday and it was no surprise to see both UGA and Ohio State in the mix. Those two schools are his perceived leaders, but LeCounte was quick to point out that his Top 7 was not listed in any order.
Jeff Sentell covers 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.