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Rob Saye/Special to DawgNation
Georgia fans smothered their team in support Saturday night in South Bend after a thrilling 20-19 victory.

UGA recruiting: Top target impressed by ‘incredible’ showing at Notre Dame

Jeff Sentell

Want a daily lap through Georgia football recruiting? That’s what the Intel will bring at least five days a week. We’ll cover the news and which way this 4-star or 5-star might lean, plus add some perspective to help fans figure out what it all means.

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The Georgia brand is strong today. Very strong.

The Bulldogs invaded Chicago and took over Wrigley Field with the beloved Cubs in the midst of a pennant race. They traveled to South Bend and all but morphed Notre Dame’s historic venue into a neutral-site game.

Georgia also won the game. That’s something the Bulldogs fan base hasn’t gotten used to yet. The expectations. The turnout. The results. All sides of that equation held up their end of the deal.

The fans who made their trip got their money’s worth in South Bend. But how does that help the program going forward with everyone who didn’t get to see that up close?

There were only about 30,000 Bulldogs at Notre Dame on Saturday night. The traditional media outlets were there, not to mention the live NBC broadcast in prime time.

Social media also carried those visuals forward. That will be the gift that keeps on giving with all those “likes” and “retweets” and “shares.” Elite recruits across the South saw their Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter feeds filled with positive Georgia images.

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4-star UGA target Trey Hill was impressed by the fan support on the road at Notre Dame. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

The showing also caught the eye of a priority UGA target. Houston County senior Trey Hill noticed. He was watching to see how well former teammate Jake Fromm would do leading the Bulldogs in a hostile environment in his first start.

But he also saw some 5-star fan support.

“It was incredible,” Hill told DawgNation. “It looked like [Georgia] was at home.”

Prior to the game, the nation’s No. 2 offensive guard prospect expressed faith in what Fromm was going to do. Hill predicted that the Bulldogs would win by 21 points.

“This is the game that my man Jake [Fromm] shows the world that he can hit the deep-ball pass,” Hill said. “I know what he can do because he was my guy for three years. Go Dawgs.”

How did UGA commits respond to the win? 

The Bulldogs’ performance also caught the eye of 5-star receiver commit Jadon Haselwood. Haselwood went to Clemson to check out the Auburn-Clemson game. But he also saw what the Bulldogs did.

“The fan support was crazy,” Haselwood said. “Athens to Indiana is kind of far. Man, I like that they are diehard. That’s very exciting. That really makes me glad that I picked UGA because that really helps when you are playing in a tough environment.”

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4-star commit Kearis Jackson feels that Georgia has the best fans in the nation. (Nate Gettleman/SEC Country)

Haselwood is rated as the nation’s No. 1 receiver for 2019. Despite a lot of click-inducing headlines out there, he has maintained a very strong commitment to the Bulldogs. Ohio State also was hoping that he would be at their game over the weekend.

Kearis Jackson had always been UGA’s top target at receiver in this year’s cycle. He chose the Bulldogs on Aug. 19 and will enroll early in January. 

“We have the best fans in the nation,” Jackson said. “I can’t wait to play in front of the ones who support us. I’m proud to say I’m a Georgia Bulldog.”

Luke Griffin, a 4-star offensive tackle commit for 2019, said it was possible for a game like that to make a strong commit feel even better about choosing UGA.

“Yes, it does a ton,” Griffin said. “The UGA fan base is the best in the country, hands down. It was an amazing atmosphere.”

What people will remember about this game

Credit Davin Bellamy for coming up with a play that will likely hold a very special place in the history of the Kirby Smart era. There’s something about a show-stopping performance on the road that lodges itself in team tradition.

Did Leonard Floyd ever make a play like that for the Bulldogs? Did Alec Ogletree? Bellamy made a play like that for Georgia to seal a win. Junior receiver Terry Godwin made one, too.

Davin Bellamy beat Notre Dame’s future NFL first-round offensive tackle multiple times Saturday night. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

Godwin came up with a highlight catch in a Georgia win. It has already been compared to the one that A.J. Green made against Colorado. But Godwin’s catch won’t be followed by a “too bad the Bulldogs couldn’t get the win” afterthought.

Bulldogs fans remember what Herschel Walker did to Tennessee as a freshman in 1980. They remember those red pants, those big thighs and those two highlight touchdowns. It takes a pretty solid UGA historian to remember that the Bulldogs also won that game by 1 point, 16-15.

 

The win at Notre Dame no doubt will help the UGA brand recruit in the Midwest, too.

Maybe Kirby Smart can one day pull a reverse Jim Harbaugh or Urban Meyer and pull a 4-star or a 5-star out of Big Ten country.

It appears Justin Fields is always on Georgia’s mind

Justin Fields continues to be the most popular topic in UGA recruiting. His name was a popular subject when I got the chance to meet Georgia fans last weekend in Chicago and in South Bend.

The five most popular questions were:

  • Is he coming?
  • When will he make up his mind?
  • Is he really that good?
  • Do “we” need another quarterback?
  • Is he worth all this drama?

As to which, my go-to-answers were:

  • That is still my prediction.
  • It could be at any time. If it takes more than a month, it might take a very long time.
  • Without a doubt.
  • Rhetorical answer: Does any program need another QB who could lead a team to a national title one day?
  • Let’s see. … Does the recruiting drama that followed Roquan Smith bother you the least bit now?

The Bulldogs fan base is definitely welcoming and all-encompassing. I got the Justin Fields question just as much as I got the chance to reassure fans that Jake Fromm was not going to be a one-hit wonder versus Appalachian State and he would give the Bulldogs a very good chance to win on Saturday evening.

Fields-mania still ran wild. The fans at the Notre Dame “DawgWalk” even broke out into a Justin Fields chant all the way up in South Bend.

Check out the DawgNation live stream of the visiting “DawgWalk” on Facebook. That Fields chant will be in there, plus a huge welcome as the team got off the buses and entered the stadium. One Notre Dame official told me it was the largest scene he had ever witnessed in 30-plus years of that particular duty in South Bend on gameday.

There are interviews with the families of Jake Fromm, DeAngelo Gibbs, Jake Reed, Tyrique McGhee and Charlie Woerner on that stream, too.

It has received more than 74,000 views on the DawgNation Facebook page.

A few more photos from Saturday night’s big win

Everyone is still no doubt a little bit tired from their weekend. My history teachers coming up always said that invading armies run on their stomach.

Well, you’ve already read more than 1,000 words on a Monday. I appreciate that. Since you’ve read the words, how about a few photos?

Sophomore defensive tackle Julian Rochester might have had the biggest smiles afterward. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)
Rochester was also right in the middle of the fans in the west end zone. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)
Davin Bellamy shut the door on Notre Dame on Saturday night. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)
Does this go down as the biggest win yet for Kirby Smart at Georgia? (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)
Davin Bellamy wore the golden “Attack the Ball” NWA Road Warrior-style spiked shoulder pads on Saturday. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

 

 

Miss a day of Intel? Well, the DawgNation recruiting archive will get you up to Mecole Hardman speed before your tailgate crew can worry anymore about all the freshman offensive linemen who will have to play this fall.