Today’s report should have a soundtrack. My Spotify playlist usually blares hip-hop or Springsteen, but this is a “Back in the Saddle Again” morning for me for sure.
I spent the last few days in Florida checking out a couple of high-priority UGA targets and thankfully my DawgNation teammate Chris Kirschner (huge J-Cole fan) was able to fill up the UGA Recruiting Rewind for DawgNation in my stead.
We’ve got a lot of catching up to do as several items caught my eye the last few days. Yet before we do, why not sign up for our Daily DawgNation email? That’s a curation of the top UGA team and recruiting stories over the last 24 hours.
Go ahead. We made it easy for you. That pretty lady (or Southern gentleman) you met the other day might not be getting in touch with you as quickly as you’d like, but we’re committed to sending you an UGA email every day.
Here are today’s must-reads
1. UGA and Isaac Nauta
Ask anyone with a recruiting blog to jot down the Top 5 potential recruits on UGA’s wish list for 2016 and Isaac Nauta‘s name should show up everywhere. The 5-star prospect is a classic Pro-Style TE and he’s got the shakes and ball skills to even humble 4-star corners in space.
Nauta also has a unique senior year ahead of him at Florida’s IMG Academy. If you’re sick of reading about private schools with a $70,000 tuition rate for players and schools with a fieldhouse that takes up 30,000 square feet, there’s no need to check that out.
If you’ve read one story about a high school team with a 10,000 square foot weight room and one of its players getting his face on the label of a Gatorade bottle, then you’ve likely read them all.
2. Isaac Nauta and everyone else
The other contenders for Nauta are Michigan, TCU and Southern Cal. My best guess at the top two contenders would be Michigan and TCU at this time. There’s also a mystery school lurking as Nauta still has yet to nail down his fifth official visit. That team will come from a quartet of Alabama, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss and Oregon. There’s a few heavy hitters in that bunch, too.
Nauta also told the AJC what he thought on each of those contenders in another report. Which school will get that fifth visit? Here’s the tease: The hardest-working recruiter will win that race.
3. Another OL offer goes out
UGA offensive line coach Rob Sale continues to be a busy man. He recruits what he likes and the latest offer shows that UGA is in need of a tackle that can come in and play right away next season. That makes sense with two senior tackles on this year’s team.
Sale liked JUCO offensive lineman Demetri Moore so much he got the big Dawg to talk to him. The 6-foot-6, 300-pounder spoke to Mark Richt recently and the possibility of coming in and earning a starting spot was what came out of that conversation.
Moore seems suited for the crucial left tackle spot. He’s listed at 6 feet, 6 inches and 300 pounds and wants to study graphic design at UGA.
4. Remember Gary McRae?
Randolph-Clay standout Gary McRae was the lone non-qualifier out of UGA’s 2015 signing class, but he’s quickly working his way back. He enrolled at East Mississippi Community College last April and earned his high school degree and is on the fast track to graduate and become eligible to play in the SEC after three consecutive semesters and 14 months.
That’s the same trail former North Gwinnett standout Dante Sawyer took to become quickly eligible at South Carolina this fall. McRae continues to develop as he’s now 6 feet, 5 inches and weighing in at 245 pounds. He’s projected to play OLB on Saturdays. He’s a name that’s not showing up that much on projections for the 2016 class at UGA, but that should change as he continues to progress in the classroom.
5. Rivals resets its 2016 rankings
Rivals updated its Top 100 list earlier this week and there were a few items of UGA interest. Archer’s Kyle Davis and Elbert County’s Mecole Hardman both made major moves. Hardman received his fifth star. So did that Nauta fella.
My first reaction to that story was it was about time. Its pretty evident Hardman and Nauta are as good as high school prospects get and it doesn’t take long to figure that out. The second evaluation should’ve made that pretty clear. The four other rapid-fire takeaways of UGA interest were:
- IMG Academy’s Shea Patterson clearly established himself as the nation’s No. 1 QB recruit according to Rivals. He’s not only the top QB, but also the nation’s No. 1 overall prospect, UGA 5-star commitment Jacob Eason is the No. 2 QB and No. 10 overall player per Rivals.
- Lanier DT Derrick Brown is a major UGA target who got off to a great start to his senior season, but he lost his 5-star status due after his showing on the camp circuit;
- UGA DT commitment Julian Rochester also lost his fifth star in the updated Rivals100. I bet that did not go over well. He’ll use that as fuel to get better.
- There are four current UGA commitments in the new Rivals100.
6. Rankings? We still talking ’bout rankings?
The recruiting rankings do establish a baseline for ability and player comparison across the industry, but not everyone is a fan of the recruiting rankings. Rochester had his rant earlier this month and another UGA commitment recently shared his thoughts on the rankings process.
Peachtree Ridge DB Chad Clay is one of the most articulate players in the 2016 class and shared his thoughts recruiting rankings earlier this week.
7. Watch out for UT
UGA fans should pay close attention to what Tennessee is doing on the prospect trail of late. The Volunteers are recruiting their checkerboard pants off and the commitments of 5-star QB Hunter Johnson and 4-star WR Tee Higgins.
Rivals rates Johnson ahead of UGA QB commitment Bailey Hockman as the top pro-style passer for the Class of 2017. Higgins is the top-rated WR in Tennessee for 2017 and also the nation’s No. 8 receiver overall. There’s two things to think about here:
- Remember when UT came into Georgia in 1997 and plucked away gems like Atlanta OL Cosey Coleman, Augusta DB Deon Grant and Metro Atlanta RB Jamal Lewis? There’s a chance for the Vols to make in-state waves like that again with the likes of Kyle Davis, Mecole Hardman, E.J. Price and Nigel Warrior this year.
- That QB commitment now makes two blue-chip passers for the Class of 2017 in Knoxville. It creates the same stocked depth chart situation at UT that 5-star Cartersville QB Trevor Lawrence saw at UGA. Lawrence is a 2018 recruit who has already been rated the top overall prospect for that class. UT was considered to be Lawrence’s top choice heading into the season, followed by UGA. He would have to compete with a pair of elite upperclassmen at both schools now.
8. Speedy senior WR talks timeline
Florida 4-star WR Tre’ Nixon is also high on UGA’s board of remaining targets at his position. Its long been seen as a UGA vs. Penn State battle. Nixon is a speedy recruit who cites on his Hudl highlight film that he has been laser timed at 4.38 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Man, that’s fast for a laser time.
247sports.com’s Sean Fitz reports that Nixon isn’t sure what he will do when it comes to his official visits and he also doesn’t have a decision date in place.
10. Another WR places UGA in his Top 3
It seems like no day is complete without another name from UGA receivers coach Bryan McClendon‘s contacts list that’s saying great things about UGA.
American Heritage 3-star WR Brandon Johnson looked good against IMG Academy last Saturday night and he’s got UGA in his Top 3 at this time. Scout.com’s Corey Bender reports that he has a Top 3 that starts with Tennessee and also includes UGA.
11. Mystery man update
Warner Robins ATH Marquez Callaway is one of the state’s most interesting prospects given his affection for basketball and the time he didn’t spend on the summer football evaluation circuit because of AAU basketball obligations.
Callaway updated the AJC on what’s going on with his recruiting and his thoughts about UGA. It appears UGA is recruiting him at a position he’d rather not play. That will no doubt create an opening for other schools. 247sports.com’s Ryan Callahan had a report earlier this week that noted the mutual appreciation currently taking place this week between Callaway and the Vols.
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.