UGA already has enrolled the nation’s No. 2 quarterback and No. 1 tight end prospect for 2016.
That’s already two five-stars in the bank. Does National Signing Day offer up the prospect of at least two or three more?
Yes, it does. It really does. Looks like Kirby Smart’s first recruiting class will try to hoard as many five-star recruits as possible. It also seems clear that UGA is among the final three contenders for at least four other five-star prospects.
There’s also another five-star in Demetris Robertson. Robertson is rated as the nation’s No. 1 receiver, but the Savannah resident will make his decision next week.
That’s a recipe for a very interesting National Signing Day.
UGA class breakdown
- Current ranking: No. 9 in the nation
- Enrollees: Six
- Commits: 10
- Top targets: Brian Burns, Derrick Brown, Michail Carter, Ben Davis, Mecole Hardman, Jr., EJ Price and Lyndell “Mack” Wilson
- Total projected signees: 23
Names to know
Michail Carter, DT — This four-star prospect also rates as the nation’s No. 15 defensive tackle. If UGA lands both him and Brown, that would likely rank as the top defensive line class in the SEC, if not that nation.
Mecole Hardman, Jr., ATH – The five-star prospect is rated as the nation’s No. 1 athlete. Look for him to eventually challenge for All-SEC teams at cornerback, receiver and kick returner by the time his work is done in the SEC.
Elijah Holyfield, RB — UGA can’t have a monster recruiting class without a running back, right? Holyfield, the son of four-time heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield, checks that off the list. He’s going to sign with UGA as the nation’s No. 6 prospect at RB for the Class of 2016.
EJ Price, OT – The lines are a big priority for UGA football going forward. Price ranks as the nation’s No. 8 OT. The 6-foot-6 athlete could play right away in Athens.
Stories to watch
1) Will a big name set the tone early?
That’s possible with four-star DE Brian Burns (Plantation, Fla.) and four-star OT Jauan Williams (Washington, D.C.) both making their choices known before 9 a.m. early on National Signing Day. If UGA goes 0-for-2 there, then five-star athlete Mecole Hardman, Jr. (Elberton, Ga.) is expected to end that early.
2) Watch out for Jeawon Taylor at 10:45 a.m.
Taylor, a three-star safety from Alabama, could be the early tell that shows that UGA really has a shot at something big. Taylor is tight with five-star OLB Lyndell “Mack” Wilson and his choice could be the final thrust that sends Wilson out of state later in the day. Wilson’s choice between UGA and Alabama is closer than most might think. It might even be a coin flip before Taylor makes his decision.
3) Derrick Brown would be huge for this class
What can Brown do for UGA? Plenty. He’s another five-star recruit and the nation’s No. 3 prospect at defensive tackle. The tea leaves until recently had him going to Auburn or Tennessee. If Smart signs him even after all those rumblings, the potential for this class could rocket into the nation’s Top 2 or 3.
If UGA truly has an elite recruiting staff, then it does not let the state’s No. 1 prospect leave the state.
4) Best flip candidate?
That has to be Auburn commitment David Marshall. Marshall is committed to Auburn, but he’s definitely been trending to UGA after back-to-back visits over the last two weekends of January.
Smart really wants him and he’s set to announce his decision at 2 p.m. at his high school. If UGA flips an Auburn commit and then fends off Auburn and Tennessee for the state’s top recruit in Brown, then folks will start talking about 2016 being the best signing day in a long time for UGA.
5) The power hour
That has to be 2 p.m. on Wednesday. Marshall and Wilson are both set to announce their choices at the top of that hour and then Price will name his school at 2:45 before Brown comes around 15 minutes later.
There could be a 60-minute span where the Bulldogs add all four of those names to its class. That’s 17 stars on the line there.
This could wind up a momentum class for UGA that can stock the depth charts for a couple of legit national title chases in 2017 and 2018. If Smart’s first program shows the state of Georgia is now closed when it comes to rivals sneaking out the back door with five-star recruits, then the first few years of the Smart era will really be something.
What could UGA do on National Signing Day that would even eclipse that? How about topping all of that off by sneaking out the barn door with a five-star linebacker from Alabama?
Unless otherwise indicated, player rankings and ratings are from the 247Sports Composite.
Jeff Sentell covers UGA football and 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.