QUESTION OF THE DAY
He said the program needed those guys “bad.”
“As many as I can,” Smart replied when asked about the number of defensive linemen the program hoped to sign. “It is going to depend on our total number. Four. As many as we can because we are at a deficit at that position.”
Smart’s statement covers defensive linemen in general, but the major need for this cycle is at defensive tackle. The Bulldogs did sign two defensive end types in 2017 and 2018, but at least a couple of those guys likely will end up at outside linebacker.
His concerns there ring the chapel bell, but it was already a major recruiting issue for 2019. The focus on defensive tackle recruiting is shaped by the impression left by a few elite misses in-state and out-of-state the last few cycles.
Does reality match up with that? Let’s scorecard defensive tackle recruiting over the last few years. For simplicity’s sake, we’ll only examine the guys who were seriously considering UGA.
- 2018 signees (out of 31 offers): 4-star Devonte Wyatt (nation’s No. 2 JUCO tackle); 3-star Jordan Davis (No. 29 DT); 3-star Tramel Walthour (No. 48 DT)
- 2018 misses: Florida State’s Robert Cooper (No. 9 DT); South Carolina’s Rick Sandidge (No. 14 DT); Southern California’s Trevor Trout (No. 20 DT); Clemson 3-star signee Darnell Jefferies (No. 42 DT).
- 2017 signees (out of 12 offers): None (Wyatt did not qualify and signed in 2018)
- 2017 misses: Michigan’s Aubrey Solomon (No. 2 DT); Alabama’s Phidarian Mathis (No. 7 DT).
- 2016 signees (out of 15 offers): 4-star Julian Rochester (No. 10 DT); 4-star Michail Carter (No. 16 DT); 4-star Tyler Clark (No. 17 DT).
- 2016 misses: Michigan’s Rashan Gary (No. 1 DT); Auburn’s Derrick Brown (No. 4 DT); Auburn’s (and now Ohio State’s) Antwuan Jackson Jr. (No. 7 DT).
- 2015 signees (out of 11 offers): 5-star Trenton Thompson (No. 1 overall); 3-star DaQuan Hawkins-Muckle (No. 37 overall); 3-star Justin Young (No. 40 overall).
Note: All rankings are from the 247Sports composite
Do Bulldogs really miss out on elite DT prospects?
Well, the easy thing is to say that the whole country wants those elite defensive tackles. Nobody is going back for seconds and thirds with those guys.
But I feel the notion that UGA misses out on elite defensive tackle prospects is magnified by one big late “miss” every year. That was Rick Sandidge this year, Aubrey Solomon last year and Derrick Brown in 2016.
McEachern early enrollee Julian Rochester also gets overlooked a bit as far as Georgia signing the elite guys. He was a U.S. Army All-American and rated as the nation’s No. 10 DT in 2016. Tyler Clark, another signee that year, was playing at an All-SEC level at the end of last season.
Georgia brought in Tray Scott with the expectation he would provide excellent results from a coaching, recruiting, player development and a teaching standpoint. He’s in a good spot this year to maximize on a lot of his well-developed relationships recruiting the Tar Heel State from his time as the line coach at North Carolina.
The Bulldogs seem to be attacking the issue. They’ve already offered more defensive tackles (18) in the 2019 cycle than they did in the entire 2016 and 2017 cycles.
That “deficit” Smart brought up is enhanced by the fact the Bulldogs did not sign a single defensive tackle prospect in their 2017 class.