Where does UGA stand with priority WRs Marquez Ezzard and Kearis Jackson?
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 4-star receiver prospects such as Marquez Ezzard and Kearis Jackson might lean plus add some perspective to help fans figure out what it all means.
Marquez Ezzard plus Kearis Jackson to UGA. That would check the boxes of what UGA receivers coach James Coley is looking for in the Class of 2018.
Anything else: Gravy. Look for the Bulldogs to sign 2-3 receivers for this cycle. If they don’t get the right pair, they might consider a third to increase the odds they find a big-time playmaker.
Ezzard, a 4-star receiver from Stockbridge, Ga., is built like a running back but plays like a big-timer. He’s rated as the nation’s No. 14 athlete for 2018, but the 6-foot-1.5, 213-pounder is a receiver. He’s shined on the biggest of stages in the playoffs last fall.
He also cracked the 1,000-yard mark while averaging more than 20 yards per catch this season.
Jackson, another 4-star from Peach County in Georgia, carries the distinction of the best high school shot-put state champion we will ever see at receiver. The 5-foot-11.5, 203-pounder ranks as the nation’s No. 20 receiver for 2018 and as the No. 101 prospect overall by the 247Sports composite.
This month will be big for both. Ezzard said he plans to visit Florida, Florida State and Southern California this month.
Research and visits will be the theme for Jackson this month, too. He was planning to visit both Auburn and Alabama this weekend. As it stands now, he is only set to visit Auburn this weekend.
The Crimson Tide have recently stepped up their interest in him. They made sure this week that he knew that the Tide saw him as a receiver and not as a defensive back. That clarification came from Nick Saban himself.
Where Marquez Ezzard is at right now
Ezzard is a chill guy. The best example was during our recent conversation at the Cam Newton 7-on-7 Memorial Day Classic on Monday at Shiloh High School. He stepped into a bed of fire ants as we started our interview.
The guy probably never blinked. He simply flicked ant after ant off his socks and shoes. His blood pressure likely never ticked up at all. When his teammates learned about that as it went down, they showed far more emotion. Especially when Ezzard kidded with one of them that they were lying underneath another bed, too.
Southern Cal is a team that is on his mind. He’s being recruited to play for the Trojans by 5-star QB commit Matt Corral, too. (Side note: Corral is the nation’s No. 2 pro-style QB for 2018. He’s from Long Beach, Calif. Pretty hard to see the Corral to UGA headlines as being realistic when he’s talking to Ezzard about the Trojans.)
“He’s telling me when I get on campus that I am going to like it so much that I am not going to want to leave,” Ezzard said.
Ezzard wasn’t sure if he will camp at UGA this month. He said he probably would make another trip, but he wasn’t expecting to work out. The Bulldogs have told him they will reserve a spot for him in the 2018 class.
He feels that the Bulldogs won’t move on to other targets until he lets them know he’s made a commitment to another school.
“That means a lot that they would do that,” Ezzard said. “They can get any player in the world to sign and come to Georgia to play but that is probably every bit as good as me. But they are waiting on me.”
The Bulldogs would use him all over the field.
“Coach Coley has said he could work me at both the slot and as an outside receiver,” Ezzard said. “So it won’t be any problem for me to get on the field there.”
Ezzard plays on the same Fundamentally Sound Sports (FSS) 7-on-7 team as Christopher Smith II. He said he would like to play with him in college.
“That’s my boy right there,” Ezzard said.
What’s the timeline? Ezzard said to look for him to decide around the first game of his senior season.
“That’s long enough because when I commit I want to be through with it and focus on school and finishing strong with the season throughout the whole year.”
Oregon and USC are two likely official visits, though he’s not sure of others yet.
Ezzard was asked about UGA’s struggles in recruiting so far. The Bulldogs have only three commitments so far for 2018. That’s a stark contrast to the nation’s No. 3 class the program signed in February.
A lot of recruits have told DawgNation that wins and losses will play a factor. The school needs to win big games this year. They’ve also mentioned everything from a substandard showing in the NFL draft compared to other rivals and the fact early playing time just won’t be there like it was for the 2017 class.
That’s a reach considering all the defensive starters the Bulldogs should lose after this season, but that’s out there.
Does Ezzard feel the Bulldogs are missing anything? What makes him hesitate on taking advantage of that offer?
“A lot of people say Georgia runs the ball a lot,” Ezzard said. “That they don’t throw the ball enough. Sometimes I feel like they have got all these receivers and where are they? They got some good receivers in the 2017 class. I just want to see how they will use them this year.”
Yet he also admits that a run-heavy offense will mean more man coverage with so many defensive backs stacked in the box.
“I feel like I am a playmaker,” he said. “I will get open regardless. That really isn’t any problem for me.”
Ezzard also really likes Auburn.
“I’ve caught some good vibes over there,” he said.
The latest on Kearis Jackson
Jackson is a pure athlete. His family has told me that he was basically running laps around the track by the time he was 2 years old. He’s a state champion in the shot put and is good enough to get on the medal stand at the state meet in the 100 meters and the discus, too.
The Peach County standout has a busy June. He’ll have The Opening in Oregon in late June. There’s also the 5-star Challenge in mid-June.
“My schedule is jam-packed really,” Jackson said. “I’m really just trying to remain humble and just keep grinding and enjoy this recruiting process.”
Does he need to see anything else from Georgia?
“I don’t really need to see anything else from Georgia,” he said. “It just has not come the time for me to make my decision yet. I need to visit other schools.”
He has a few things that still are on his mind about the program.
“Can they win more games?” he said. “That’s something I want to see. I want to see Georgia pass the ball a lot this year, too. Especially with the quarterbacks that they have and the class of receivers that they just signed.”
Which schools are not going to let him go away without a fight?
“Georgia,” he said. “Ohio State. Notre Dame. Auburn for sure. Alabama. There are quite a few of them. I just can’t name them all off the top of my head.”
He thinks that UGA is showing him just a fraction more. Maybe.
“Kinda maybe,” he said. “But I think that’s because I have visited there a lot of times honestly. But once I get to visit all these other schools then I will really get a feel for everybody.”
He doesn’t know what will put a school over the top for him. But he does know that a lack of communication would change his perception. He’s smart enough to know that a lack of communication means that one of those elite programs has likely changed their perception of him, too.
“It is not too much that they are winning or losing I guess,” Jackson said. “I wouldn’t mind going to a winning team but I also want to build my own legacy at that school.”
What’s the biggest thing he’s heard from UGA?
“That I can come in and change the game basically,” he said. “Just playing the spot that Isaiah McKenzie has played in.”
But he’d be bigger. And likely tougher. Not sure that McKenzie ever threw the shot put. Jackson said that Smart recently texted him about the class and where Georgia ranked in the current recruiting rankings.
“Kirby texted me if I hopped on board and Trey [Dean] hopped on board and maybe a couple of other guys that maybe we could move up toward that No. 1 spot. I know Miami is up there right now.”
Why does he feel those other recruits would still consider Georgia?
“Basically the love that they show really,” Jackson said. “When you visit, the hospitality is always great. You just get that feeling like that when you go to visit Georgia.”
The other contenders for Kearis Jackson
He thinks that Georgia and Auburn have the best quarterback pictures for his future. His best academic fits to pursue a degree in electrical engineering would be Georgia Tech and then Auburn.
Jackson wants to wear No. 7 in college. He said that Cam Newton already has told him that number is retired on the Plains. He plays for Newton’s 7-on-7 team.
The 4-star prospect thinks Alabama has the most complicated depth chart at receiver.
“They just signed a lot of guys this year,” Jackson said earlier this week. “I just got off the phone with Coach Saban. He wants me at receiver. He says they need me because right now they are trying to recruit a basketball team at receiver. They got all tall guys and they don’t have those intermediate [in height] guys who can run and catch.”
Ohio State is an option. He said distance would not be a factor.
“That’s not too far but I know it would be cold,” he said. “Basically it would be cold but everything else there would not be too bad.”