Been too busy soaking up rays, throwing steaks on the grill or casting a line in the water? Did you miss that Georgia currently has the No. 6 recruiting class in the nation for 2017?
We get that. That’s why DawgNation will pop up a periodic “What’s Important Now” recap that curates all the stories you need to stay plugged into Georgia recruiting — even when we’d all rather plug our earbuds in at the beach or on the lake.
What’s Important Now in UGA recruiting
Welcome to the dead period
The dead period for NCAA recruiting began yesterday. The quick definition of a “dead period” is no in-person contact between coaches and recruits is allowed, even on campus. Written and electronic communication is still allowed, though.
In reality, it is more like a life period that allows staffs of big-time programs to go on vacation and see their families. That fills up the summer scrapbook before the grind of the season begins in July.
Georgia will hold its elite summer camp for high school prospects from July 15-17. Those dates aren’t great for attracting elite talent, as it will conflict with the National Select 7-on-7 in Hoover (July 14-16) and the Cam Newton 7-on-7 in South Carolina (July 15-16), but the overlap will help somewhat.
UGA under Kirby Smart will not have a major “Dawg Night” in which the staff tries to get every major target on campus at the same time. That’s just very hard to do considering all the summer events taking place. The Bulldogs prefer the “we’re always open” policy if a big-time recruit wants to come take a look. They want to avoid seeing those guys go off and find someplace else to visit and possibly fall in love with.
Take last year, for instance. UGA held a massive “Dawg Night” with mixed results. Jacob Eason flashed the arm, Mecole Hardman, Jr. flashed the wheels but there were so many campers that most walked away ticked off. They didn’t get enough reps in front of the coaches.
UGA landed two commits that night in Deejay Dallas (who de-committed shortly after the coaching change and is now pledged to Miami) and 2016 signee Elijah Holyfield. Holyfield remained a silent commitment until September. Randrecous Davis (now at South Carolina) also earned an offer that night and committed shortly thereafter.
Yet who was there in the 2017 recruiting class? Not many. Stalwart quarterback Jake Fromm was not there. UGA had Bailey Hockman committed to the Class of 2017 at that time. Outside linebacker Jaden Hunter was at FSU. Wide receiver commit Xavier Jenkins was there, but he got maybe two reps. Safety Richard LeCounte III was there and so was offensive guard Netori Johnson, yet Johnson was there as a Bama commit.
Look for fall camp to begin on Aug. 1 and, before that, a busy July for the staff on the recruiting trail. The dead period ends on July 11 and that’s when recruiting will pick right back up with the speed of a yellow helicopter buzzing around metro Atlanta.
The big news of late centers around Jeremiah Holloman
Recent comments made by top WR target Jeremiah Holloman while he was at this past weekend’s IMG 7-on-7 event revealed the following updates to his recruitment:
- UGA was his leader, but that is no longer the case
- He no longer has a Top 5, Top 10 or top anything
- His first cousin Leonard Floyd shares his advice on playing at UGA often
- He’ll look around extensively and will possibly wait until National Signing Day to make a decision
- The Bulldogs continue to say they want him to be the school’s fourth commitment at receiver this year, but they will take five receivers if necessary to bring him to UGA.
That could be a recruit just slowing things down, but Holloman does still have a picture of UGA receivers coach James Coley’s nameplate as the header on his Twitter account. There’s also a Georgia “G” on the back of his cell phone.
Just Kicking It ?? pic.twitter.com/C1j1PgFwKm
— Jeremiah Holloman (@Obey_Classics) June 28, 2016
He has five Tennessee rubber bands on his wrists. There are also two very large UGA bands, too.
Big July ahead?
Starving for more commitment action? UGA has picked up two commits in June, but look for the decisions on the following commitments to come in the next 45 days. These are the biggest UGA targets that could decide their decisions prior to the 2016 season:
- 2017 4-star DE/OLB Robert Beal (Bradenton, Fla.)
- 2017 4-star ATH Tray Bishop (Dawson, Ga.)
- 2017 4-star ILB Kenny Britt (Oxford, Ala.)
- 2017 4-star RB Toneil Carter (Houston, Tex.)
- 2017 4-star ILB Nate McBride (Vidalia, Ga.)
- 2017 4-star OT Andrew Thomas (Atlanta, Ga.)
- 2017 5-star athlete Jacoby Stevens (Murfreesboro, Tenn.)
- 2018 5-star QB Trevor Lawrence (Cartersville, Ga.)
While nothing is concrete when it comes to impressionable young minds, the chances of UGA landing each of those prospects is very high. UGA should end up in the final two in almost every one of those decisions.
Tweets to remember
We’ve found several. Each one of them adds something to the overall recruiting puzzle for the Class of 2017 at UGA. The first references Mr. Holloman above and the work done on the program’s account by LeCounte III. The second is news of what is to come with UGA’s highest-rated target at running back for 2017.
Me and @LilEasy_35 playing together ??
— Jeremiah Holloman (@Obey_Classics) June 26, 2016
‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️Releasing a top 4 at the end of summer? ? ‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️
— Cam akers (@thereal_cam3) June 20, 2016
LeCounte keeps working hard for UGA
So LeCounte will take a few official visits. But that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be counted as one of UGA’s most committed prospects. Just look at what he continues to do on the recruiting trail.
His charisma and personality are infectious, and they aren’t even really necessary considering the way he plays the game. He’s just pure fun to watch. Period. Check out this back-flip and the height on that sucker:
— SB Nation Recruiting (@SBNRecruiting) June 26, 2016
LeCounte told DawgNation what he thinks of the 2017 class so far, including what it needs and what is still to come. He also reeled off four names that he feels are the guys he will recruit the hardest down the stretch.
The number I have in mind for LeCounte is at least five. That’s how many recruits will say, after National Signing Day next February, that LeCounte played an integral role in their decision to sign with Georgia.
— Richard LeCounte III (@LilEasy_35) June 25, 2016
Name to know for 2018
It would be a stretch to say that UGA is the team to beat for Florida’s top prospect in 2018 — that being four-star cornerback Tyreke Johnson out of Trinity Christian. The Jacksonville resident wants to take his talents outside of the state of Florida, and it would be fair to say that UGA will be a team to beat for Johnson.
Why? His close relationships with LeCounte and Florida native Reggie Wilkerson, a cornerback on the Georgia roster. UGA freshman Isaac Nauta recently had a “reality” discussion about what it means to play big-time football at a major program and just how tough that actually is.
Viral Video time
Did you catch this one from LeCounte at the IMG 7-on-7 National Championships? SBNation’s Bud Elliott had a great angle on it.
— SB Nation Recruiting (@SBNRecruiting) June 26, 2016
The terms “elite” and “savage” get tossed around a lot this year. This young man deserves something a few tiers above those. His blend of aggressiveness, athleticism and passion is a rare blend.
Gurley and Marshall begat Chubb and Sony ….so who will be the next duo?
The running back pedigree for UGA football over the last few recruiting cycles has been to take two Top 10-level backs (at least) every two years. That will definitely be the case for 2017.
There’s really three names to know on the top shelf for 2017 at UGA: 4-stars Cam Akers (rated No. 2 in the nation), D’Andre Swift and Toneil Carter. Akers seems like the toughest fish to reel in at this time. He’ll likely have Ole Miss, Tennessee, Ohio State and UGA among his four finalists.
Carter, as pointed out by Jake Rowe of 247Sports recently, is predicted to sign with UGA by the majority of the analysts on that site’s popular “Crystal Ball” Feature. Carter has told DawgNation in the past just how much he knows about UGA’s running back history despite growing up in Texas. The Houston-area product is rated as the nation’s No. 5 running back.
Rowe’s colleague Kipp Adams of 247Sports followed that post recently with one touting that UGA has also taken the predictions lead for Swift. The 5-foot-11, 215-pounder is rated as the nation’s No. 1 all-purpose back for 2017.
As summer heats up, it looks more like Carter and Swift are the ones leaning the most toward UGA at the moment. Swift is also said to be part of a likely package deal with four-star receiver Mark Webb. That’s his cousin.
Don’t sleep on …..
I have my selection for the most underrated player in the state of Georgia this year. Virginia safety commitment Joey Blount is a strong contender for that honor, but that guy has to be Walter Grant.
The senior linebacker from Cairo is just rated as a three-star, but he’s the most versatile linebacker out of any of the prospects that UGA is recruiting heavily this year. He could come in and quickly become a quality player at defensive end, inside linebacker or outside linebacker.
Nick Saban was highly impressed by Grant’s abilities. The Cairo coaching staff told DawgNation this spring that Grant’s abilities to cover downfield on a wheel route stood out to Saban. The Alabama said one of the key points in the national championship game in January was made by a linebacker defending a wheel route downfield.
The 6-foot-5, 235-pounder is a highly intelligent player who could call the defenses at Cairo if asked to do so. He’s earned that much trust among the coaching staff by frequently lining up his teammates prior to the snap.
Grant can play all three different spots on defense and not look lost doing it. Yet he’s only ranked as the nation’s No. 320 player overall. He doesn’t go to a lot of those showcase events, or else that ranking would be a lot higher.
There’s a lot of Leonard Floyd-type elements to his game. Grant has an 81-inch wingspan, a 355-power clean, a smart head for the game and never misses tackles. Those traits are very hard to find. Versatile intelligent linebackers with length are a must these days when dealing with spread offenses.
There’s also just an innate level of toughness in players that come from South Georgia.
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. Unless otherwise indicated, player rankings and ratings are from the 247Sports Composite.