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Jeff Sentell/DawgNation
Nolan Smith is one of 162 players participating in The Opening Finals.

UGA recruiting: Time, full rosters, live updates for The Opening finals 2018

FRISCO, Texas — DawgNation is in Texas to cover UGA recruiting for the 2018 Opening Finals.

The all-star showcase opens on Saturday morning. It is set to showcase 162 of the nation’s top prospects. Those recruits were chosen after a national tour of regional qualifying events to compete against their peers in drills, competition, and 7-on-7 games.

The players in Texas this week are among the best in the country in the 2019 and 2020 classes. The Opening will run through Tuesday afternoon.

Georgia will have four of its 10 commitments for 2019 at the expansive practice headquarters of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys: 5-star outside linebacker Nolan Smith (No. 2 overall on the 247Sports composite); 5-star wide receiver Jadon Haselwood (No. 6 overall); 5-star WR Dominick Blaylock (No. 23 overall) and 4-star tight end Ryland Goede (No. 167 overall).

The event will also feature several major UGA targets including:

Notable UGA recruiting targets not at the Opening: 5-star CB Andrew Booth; 4-star RB John Emery Jr.; 4-star S Lewis Cine

What The Opening is all about

Jamaree Salyer was named the offensive line MVP at the 2017 Nike Opening Finals. He would go on to sign with UGA in the Class of 2018. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

Can a big-time defensive end from Florida slip past a 5-star tackle from Texas?

The players from those states would never meet up in terms of traditional high school competition, but The Opening affords a platform to do that.

Especially in this day and age when the recruiting world has a captive audience that wishes to know whether the best OLB in Florida is better than that higher-rated peer in California.

A few UGA recruiting related storylines to watch this week: 

  • Can 5-star pledge Nolan Smith convince everyone in Texas he’s the best player in the land? 
  • 5-star Jadon Haselwood should continue to show the industry he’s the nation’s top WR 
  • How will Bulldogs targets at ILB (Nakobe Dean and Rian Davis) hold up in pass coverage? 
  • How close is 5-star priority Travon Walker to his decision? 
  • The Bulldogs do not have an elite QB recruit or target at The Nike Opening Finals this year after back-to-back showings from Jake Fromm and Justin Fields. 

What The Opening means for UGA compared to years past

Let’s look at the UGA commitments and eventual commitments in the first two years of the Kirby Smart era at Georgia.

  • 2016: The Bulldogs sent six commits to the event and wound up with eight total pledges on the last day of The Opening. Andrew Thomas, a known commodity now, chose the Bulldogs on the final day of the event. Eventual UGA signees: 14 (Jake Fromm, DeAngelo Gibbs, Richard LeCounte III, Jeremiah Holloman, D’Andre Swift and Andrew Thomas, among others.)
  • 2017: That was a big difference even though the Bulldogs wound up with the nation’s top-rated Class for 2018. Georgia sent just one public 2018 commit (Chris Smith II) to The Opening Finals a year ago. Smith was also there for the 2019 class. Yet while the Bulldogs had just two commitments at the 2018 edition, they would wind up cleaning up at the event. Eventual UGA commits or signees: 13 (Brenton Cox, James Cook, Tyson Campbell, Justin Fields, Luke Ford and Jamaree Salyer, among others.)

Where the Bulldogs rank heading into The Opening 2018

UGA enters The Opening with 10 commitments and the nation’s No. 13 recruiting Class for 2019, according to the 247Sports composite rankings. That’s even though it is the only program with fewer than 12 pledges in the top 18.

Five-star outside linebacker Nolan Smith ranks as the nation’s No. 2 overall recruit for 2019 on the 247Sports composite rankings. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

Georgia also leads the country with a total of three commitments with the coveted 5-star rating. That’s part of the reason why Bulldogs have an average ranking of 95.16 for its commits, and that figure leads the nation.

That’s much better than where the Bulldogs were a year ago at this time, when UGA had just seven commits and rated as the nation’s No. 55 class. That was even after picking up the commitment of 5-star Zamir White as the nation’s No. 1 RB on June 27.

Can the Bulldogs pull another top-5 class this year? That seems very likely. Follow DawgNation and UGA recruiting reporter Jeff Sentell (Twitter: @jeffsentell) for live updates of all things Georgia football recruiting.

Refresh the live blog for daily bursts, analysis and highlights from the top recruiting event in the country.

Schedule for The Opening Finals 2018

SaturdayJune 30 (all times ET)
11 a.m.-1 p.m.: QB/WR/TE Practice
1 p.m.-1:15 p.m.: Media Interview session
9:30 p.m.-10:15 p.m.: Opening Ceremonies @ Tostitos Plaza
Note: Saturday is for QBs/TEs/WRs to get an extra day to prepare for the 7-on-7 tourney. The rest of the players will show up and begin their camp on Sunday.

UGA recruiting updates at The Opening finals 2018

Check back at 1 p.m. ET for live updates and analysis on UGA targets at The Opening finals.


The Opening Finals 2018 full rosters

Players in bold are serious UGA targets. Players in italics are UGA commits.

Team Overdrive

QB: Bryan Maurer, Spencer Rattler
RB: Jase McClellan, Kenny McIntosh
WR: Trejan Bridges, Jaylen Ellis, Arjei Henderson, Frank Ladson, Theo Wease
TE: Austin Stogner
OL: Branson Bragg, Warren McClendon, EJ Ndoma-Ogar
LB: Bryton Constantin, Aeneas DiCosmo
CB: Jordan Clark, Chester Kimbrough, Tyrique Stevenson, Derek Stingley Jr.
S: Kyle Hamilton, Joshua Sanguinetti
ATH: Quinten Johnson
DL: George Karlaftis, Nana Osafo-Mensah, Ishmael Sopsher, Travon Walker
Roster analysis: Great crop of CBs and DTs. Sopsher and Walker are the nation’s top 2 at DT.

Team Impact

QB: Ryan Hilinski, Graham Mertz
RB: Noah Cain, Zachary Evans
WR: Colby Bowman, Kyle Ford, Jeremiah Payton, Lance Wilhoite
TE: Jude Wolfe
ATH: Mark Antony-Richards
OL: Duke Clemens, Evan Neal, Jonah Tauanu’u
LB: Kalen Deloach, Justin Flowe, Nick Jackson
CB: Jaden Davis, Trent McDuffie, Cameron Smith, Chris Steele, Salim Turner-Muhammad
S: Jordan Battle, Keontra Smith
DL: Joseph Anderson, Mohamoud Diabate, Nathan Pickering, Kayvon Thibodeaux
Roster analysis: Elite set of QBs and RBs. Nation’s top prospect (Thibodeaux) is at DL. The Bulldogs are taking a very good long look at Smith at DB.

Team Hype

QB: Dylan Morris, Taulia Tangovailoa
RB: Patrick Garwo, Trey Sanders
WR: Joshua Delgado, Cornelius Johnson, Trey Palmer, Mycah Pittman, Garrett Wilson
TE: Jahleel Billingsley
OL: Nathaniel Kalepo, Harry Miller, Doug Nester, Pierce Quick
LB: Diwun Black, Shane Lee, Mekhail Sherman
CB: Marquez Beason, Kaiir Elam, Christian Williams, Erick Young
S: Tykee Smith, Raymond Woodie
ATH: Demarcco Hellams
DL: Kevin Harris II, Joshua Pakola, De’Monte Russell
Roster analysis: Sanders is the nation’s No. 1 RB. Hype is solid with a dusting of elite talent across all the spots.

Team Elite

QB: Cade McNamara, Sam Howell
RB: Devyn Ford, Isaiah Spiller
WR: Jermaine Burton, John Dunmore, Elijah Higgins, Ramel Keyton, Emery Simmons
TE: Keon Zipperer
ATH: Giles Jackson
OL: Wanya Morris, Caedan Wallace, Clay Webb, Darnell Wright
LB: Rian Davis, Nakobe Dean, Brandon Smith
CB: Akeem Dent, Renardo Green, Isaiah Rutherford, Max Williams
S: Brendan Gant, Dax Hill
DL: Hakeem Beamon, Quashon Fuller, Stephen Herron Jr.
Roster analysis: The Metro Atlanta folks see two receivers here from Marietta High in Burton and Keyton. This offensive line group features the nation’s No. 1 center in Webb and No. 1 tackle in Wright. This group also has the best set of ILBs in Texas this weekend.

Team Dynamite 

QB: Max Duggan, Ty Evans
RB: Sean Dollars, Austin Jones
WR: Braedin Huffman-Dixon, Maurice Massey, Bru McCoy, Marcus Washington, Jameson Williams
TE: Michael Martinez
OL: Deyavie Hammond, Enokk Vimahi, Stacey Wilkins
ATH: Chris Tyree
LB: Shammond Cooper, Lance Dixon, Tristan Sinclair
CB: Jeffery Carter Jr., Jeremiah Criddell, Elias Ricks, Mykael Wright
S: Nick Cross, Jalani Williams
DL: Bryan Bresee, Zachary Harrison, Siaki Ika, Jaquaze Sorrells
Roster analysis: Bresee is the nation’s No. 1 overall prospect for 2020, but this group has fewer headliners than some of the other squads.

Team Boomin’

QB: Bo Nix, Jayden Daniels
RB: Tyrion Davis, Eric Gray
WR: Dominick Blaylock, Boobie Curry, Jadon Haselwood, George Pickens, Jacob Pinckney
TE: Ryland Goede
OL: Kenyon Green, Jacob Monk, Javonne Shepherd, Kardell Thomas
LB: Marcel Brooks, De’Gabriel Floyd, Owen Pappoe
DB: Marcus Banks, Jaydon Hill, DJ Turner, Woodi Washington, Bobby Wolfe
OL: Demani Richardson, Brian Williams
DL: Jacob Bandes, Nolan Smith, Marcus Stripling
Roster analysis: Georgia fans will be rooting for this SEC-heavy contingent. That’s where all four of the 2019 commits have been placed. Boomin’ has the best group of receivers at The Opening this year by far. That unit is led by the nation’s No. 1 in Haselwood. Thomas is the nation’s No. 1 guard and there’s that Pappoe fella at LB. Davis, a big back, is a very underrated LSU commit.

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