UGA’s current OL recruits rank as the biggest haul in recent history

Georgia
The Georgia offensive line class for 2017 looks mighty good.

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 and add a dab of perspective to help fans figure out what it all means.

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The addition of 5-star OT Isaiah “Zay” Wilson to the Class of 2017 adds a lot to the big picture of UGA recruiting.

Wilson’s decision made him the second 5-star prospect in the class. His recruitment shows that Georgia overwhelmingly addressed the need to improve at tackle with this year’s class.

Remember when Kirby Smart pointed out last National Signing Day that the program had not recruited to a championship standard at tackle?

Wilson’s addition means that UGA now has a trio of All-American recruits at tackle in this year’s class. The 6-foot-7, 360-pounder with the size-18 feet and 84-inch wingspan is now the second-highest rated member of the “SicEm17” class at Georgia.

Georgia has commitments from three high school prospects at offensive tackle, but also signed a likely plug-and-play starter at left tackle with D’Marcus Hayes last week from the junior college ranks.

Johnson has great feet and agility for his size. He’s rated as the nation’s No. 5 guard for this year’s class. (Jeff Sentell/AJC)

That’s four tackles for Christmas, and every one of them is 6-foot-5 or taller. Those big boys all weigh in at more than 320 pounds.

Offensive line coach Sam Pittman has dramatically transformed the depth chart at offensive tackle with those four guys. The fact that he’s done it in the span of less than a year on the job deserves a headline unto itself.

But there’s a bigger picture beyond that. And we’re not talking about the buffet line next fall.

When the entire class of O-line commitments is measured as a whole, it is clear the program has never recruited this well in the modern era. At least as long as the recruiting rankings have been around. Let’s go back to 2002 and add up the total number of offensive line recruits in each class which rated among the nation’s top 16 players at their respective positions.

  • 2002: 1
  • 2003: 2
  • 2004: 2
  • 2005: 1
  • 2006: 3
  • 2007: 5 (Included a trio of 3-star junior college prospects)
  • 2008: 2
  • 2009: 2
  • 2010: 2
  • 2011: 1
  • 2012: 2
  • 2013: 1
  • 2014: 1
  • 2015: 0
  • 2016: 1
  • 2017: 5 (All rated with at least 4 stars)

The only comparable year looks to be back in 2007. But that year was beefed up by a trio of 3-star junior college prospects. The junior college rankings pool is much smaller than the high school crop.

Hayes — the only JUCO option this year — is even rated as a 4-star recruit.

There’s another nugget found by looking Georgia’s lowest-rated commitment along the offensive line this year. That’s 3-star Cedar Grove guard Justin Shaffer.

Shaffer is as fundamentally sound and has as much potential as any lineman UGA will sign this year. Yet he’s only rated as the nation’s No. 20 guard for 2017.

That chart is also a fairly telling reflection of the type of groceries that UGA has annually been bringing in to stock those depth charts on the offensive line.

There is clearly a new emphasis on getting the elite players at that position.

It wouldn’t surprise me if …………

Here’s a disclaimer. Our next topic is going to be fairly polarizing. I can see everyone taking the following statement in one of two ways.

  • Man, I love following recruiting!
  • Man, that’s why %$#@ recruiting drives me up the wall.

I’ll end the suspense and bring to attention the recruiting story of Monty Rice. The 3-star ILB was a silent commitment to Georgia for the majority of the 2016 season.

Rice stunned many with his public commitment last week. He chose LSU.

Rice committed to LSU last week. It will still be interesting to see where he ends up. (Chris Kirschner/AJC)

This could turn out to be a Lee Corso (not so fast, my friend) commitment. I’m told Georgia’s current commits are still lobbying Rice to join the Class of 2017.

A source close to Rice told me yesterday that Georgia still continues to recruit him.

Well, at least until the decision was made by Davin Bellamy, Lorenzo Carter, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel to all return for their senior seasons.

That decision will leave a lot of ripples on the program. It should rapidly morph Georgia’s timetable to contend for the SEC East banner in the short term, but it will also have long-ranging roster issues.

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