Good morning. Welcome to only a gigantic week for UGA football. The team takes on Alabama in a pivotal SEC game in Athens and it will be a chance for the program to set the hook in the mouth of a lot of trophy recruits who are taking a good look at the program.
Is this a different squad? The staff changes over the last few years have led to a surge in both in-state and out-of-state recruiting. That’s readily apparent.
But can they win big? Is the program really on another level with its pair of highlight reel backs, a veteran offensive line and a defense that’s heavy on youth and speed?
We’ll see on Saturday, but so will a packed house of recruits looking for proof that UGA is for real in 2015.
1. The most important official visit this weekend
That distinction has to go to 5-star TE Isaac Nauta. Nauta is a rare prototype at his position. The senior can shed even elite defensive backs along the route tree and also put his hand on the ground and punish in the run game. The former Buford standout is at Florida’s IMG Academy for his senior season.
What will impress the nation’s No. 1 tight end? That’s a pretty simple formula. He wants to win in college so a big victory against Alabama will help there. If Sanford Stadium can come close to the energy it had for the LSU game in 2013, that will also make an impact.
UGA gets his first official visit and likely his most important. Nauta had UGA as his No. 2 school when he committed and de-committed from Florida State over that last 10 months. His immediate family lives in the Metro area and so location is big for Nauta. He’s very close to his parents and older sister.
That said, UGA offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer’s creativity using the weapons at his position will also go a long way with Nauta. Dawgnation.com spent some time with him this summer and he shared his remarkable personal story. Give it a read. It is worth your time.
Nauta’s official visit list goes UGA, Michigan, Ole Miss, Southern Cal and TCU. This weekend is a chance for UGA to set the bar high for every one of those future visits to surpass.
2. The nation’s No. 1 overall prospect will also be at UGA-Alabama
Remember the name Dylan Moses? Well, the 5-star recruit from Baton Rouge, La., made headlines when he was offered by the big boys when he was in the eighth grade back in 2013. He was committed to LSU for a time, but backed away from that pledge and reopened his recruitment.
The 5-star linebacker plans to be at UGA this weekend for the Alabama game. He told the AJC’s SECcountry.com that he’s a fan of UGA legend Herschel Walker. He said that No. 34 has always been his favorite player. LSU is still his leader and this will be his first visit to UGA since he was 14 years old. The trip could go a long way toward earning an official visit back to UGA next fall.
Moses is rated as the nation’s No. 1 overall recruit for 2017.
3. Have yourself a year Jacob Eason
UGA’s marquee recruit of the Class of 2016 has clicked off the highlights like his name is Mecole Hardman, Jr. so far this season. Let’s see what the 5-star QB commitment he’s done so far:
Eason was going to take an unofficial visit out to UGA for the Alabama game, but had to switch that up. He’s got a couple other big SEC games in mind now.
3. Nation’s No. 2 athlete postpones key UGA visit
Savannah Christian’s Demetris Robertson was supposed to make a key visit to UGA for the Southern game, but had to reschedule that trip. He’ll now travel to Athens for the Missouri game with his mother and twin sister in tow.
That will be an unofficial visit, but it will be huge in convincing the speedy 4-star athlete that UGA can give him the academic platform to set himself up for a life after football. Robertson is a different recruit from his own mold. He’s a talented artist that wants to own a thriving business when he’s an adult. He even told DawgNation.com last week that he’d rather have a million dollar business than play for 10 years in the NFL.
4. Sick 4-star athlete for 2017 really likes Ohio State and UGA
Liberty County’s Richard LeCounte III is a lot like Robertson. He’s rated as the nation’s No. 2 athlete for 2017 in his own right. He can really do it all and established that from the point he picked off two passes in his first varsity game as a freshman. The Power 5 coaches were on hand to see
future Ohio State standout Raekwon McMillan play for Libert County that night, but LeCoune earned his first SEC offer on the field from Florida with that performance.
He’s already the career leader in interceptions at Liberty County and he’s getting at least 10-12 tweets per day from Ohio State staffers and coaches and even Urban Meyer. The three-year starter was born on Sept. 11, but doesn’t celebrate his birthday on that date for a very impressive reason. He’s also been able to drive a car since he was nine years old.
He told DawgNation.com last week that he will make his commitment in December and he projects to be a terrific free safety on Saturdays.
5. 2017 commit’s position change highlights the UGA honor roll from Friday
Glynn Academy junior Deejay Dallas moved over from his wide receiver spot to play quarterback on Friday night. That’s a permanent switch for the remainder of the 2015 season at the least. Dallas had a brilliant debut at that position and his showing was the big highlight of the UGA honor roll from Friday night’s games.
Priority defensive line target Derrick Brown from Lanier High School also had another monster game. That’s not news given his history of making plays in the trenches. Yet Brown went above and beyond last Friday when he came away with a Pick-6 and also cleared the way for two touchdowns and a key first down when he lined up at fullback.
6. Did you see this over the weekend?
UGA cornerback target Jared Mayden took a page out of the Deion Sanders playbook for self-promotion last week when he offered up his cleats if any receiver scored a touchdown on him during his last game.
That didn’t happen so the Oregon commitment kept his shoes. For now. Opinions will vary on the subject of whether such a claim or stance is the sort of thing belongs in high school football, but it will clearly draw attention to his name and game.
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.