We’ve written many times about the smoking crater that is Georgia’s 2013 signing class. We’ve also pointed out that even with that class and some misses from the subsequent class, Georgia still has eight five-star recruits on the roster and generally recruited well since then.
It’s an imperfect narrative, arguably simply false, that Georgia doesn’t have much talent. It just doesn’t have much experienced talent.
But what if everything had gone right with those two classes? What if every player had managed to stay on campus and had panned out as expected?
It’s a very risky exercise, because every program encounters attrition, every program deals with players not living up to expectations. And Georgia has also had numerous players exceed expectations, canceling out those misses.
But hey, for the sake of fun, let’s look at what Georgia’s roster lineup would look like right now if all had gone according to plan:
QB: Brice Ramsey. Top backup: Jacob Eason.
Ramsey was hand-picked as Georgia’s eventual starter – he was the second-highest ranked recruit in Georgia’s 2013 class. In this alternative universe he’s currently Georgia’s second-year starter, with Eason being brought along slowly, instead of starting and making freshman mistakes. And perhaps Jacob Park, from that 2014 class, is good enough to be the top backup.
RB: Nick Chubb. Top backup: Sony Michel.
This part did work out. A.J. Turman, a three-star recruit from the 2013 class, transferred for reasons of playing time. Brendan Douglas, a late add and three-star recruit from that class, has proved to be serviceable.
FB: Christian Payne. Top backup: Glenn Welch.
Georgia hasn’t signed a fullback to a scholarship since Quayvon Hicks in 2012. The Payne train walked on in 2014 and has been pretty good.
WR: Tramel Terry. Top backup: Reggie Davis.
Terry, who was Mr. Football in South Carolina, was supposed to be a dynamic presence in Georgia’s offense. But everything changed after he tore his ACL in a high school all-star game, a month before enrolling at Georgia. He was never the same, was moved to cornerback, then transferred.
WR: Terry Godwin and Isaiah McKenzie.
These two guys – product of the 2015 and 2014 classes, respectively, are working out quite well. If you haven’t read Chip Towers’ great story on McKenzie and the background of his recruitment, drop what you’re doing and read it now.
TE: Jeb Blazevich. Top backups: Isaac Nauta, Charlie Woerner and Jackson Harris.
Blazevich, a product of the 2014 class, has worked out just fine, as have the other guys. The one tight end Georgia signed in 2013 was Jordan Davis, a three-star who remains with the team, but is buried on the depth chart.
LT: Kendall Baker. Top backup: Dyshon Sims.
Baker and Sims were both four-star recruits in the 2014 class who were listed as tackles. It’s too soon to bury either of them – Sims is playing off the bench right now as the sixth man, and Baker is second team. But it would’ve been nice for the Bulldogs if they were as good as fellow four-star …
LG: Isaiah Wynn. Top backup: Jake Edwards.
Wynn was Georgia’s fifth-highest rated recruit in the 2014 class. He’s as good as expected, though like every linemen has had some struggles this season. Edwards, a three-star recruit in 2014, transferred for playing-time reasons.
C: Brandon Kublanow. Top backup: Josh Cardiello.
Hail, another success from the 2013 class! Kublanow was a four-star recruit and is now a three-year starter. Cardiello, a three-star recruit in 2013, also transferred for playing time.
RG: Greg Pyke. Top backup: Pat Allen.
Pyke had a breakout season two years ago at guard, and though he struggled last season, he finished strong. Now he’s at right tackle, because he’s apparently Georgia’s best option there – but if all had worked out, he’d probably still be at guard, and winning All-SEC honors. (Allen, a 2015 signee, has yet to play.)
RT: DeVondre Seymour or Dyshon Sims.
It’s easy to forget Seymour, because he hardly was on the team. He signed in 2013, but didn’t qualify academically, then went to junior college and re-signed in 2015 – only to quit the team shortly after stepping on campus. He’s now at Southern Illinois. Well, just imagine if the 6-foot-6, 300-pound Seymour had lasted at Georgia and filled out his frame even more.
DE: Lorenzo Carter or Davin Bellamy. Top backup: Jonathan Ledbetter.
Carter and Bellamy were listed as hybrid DE-OLBs coming out of high school. We’re being kind of cute here, but in an ideal world Georgia would have turned out of them into a primary defensive end. But it still doesn’t matter much anyway, they would have played both spots.
DT: Trent Thompson. Top backup: Lamont Gaillard.
Thompson was by some people’s estimation the nation’s top recruit in 2015. Gaillard was a four-star recruit in 2014, and he’s now starting – but on offense, at guard.
NT: John Atkins or D’Andre “Moose” Johnson.
Two members of the 2013 class, Atkins is playing and contributing, while Moose Johnson never played at Georgia, taking a medical disqualification. Both were three-star recruits.
OLB: Carter or Bellamy. Top backup: Chuks Amaechi.
The top-rated OLB Georgia signed in 2013 was Leonard Floyd, and the only reason he’s not here is because he was good enough to leave early and be a top-10 NFL draft pick. We’re doing an alternative universe here, not an unrealistic one. Much like Todd Gurley (who technically could be a redshirt senior right now), we’re properly moving Floyd on to the pros.
OLB: Johnny O’Neal or Shaun McGee. Top backup: D’Andre Walker.
O’Neal and McGee, both 2013 signees, are still around, but aren’t playing much. O’Neal was a four-star recruit.
ILB: Tim Kimbrough. Top backup: Roquan Smith.
Kimbrough – yes, another 2013 signee – started most of last year, then transferred this preseason after slipping behind sophomore Natrez Patrick on the depth chart.
ILB: Reggie Carter. Top backup: Natrez Patrick.
Carter was another in the infamous class, and he’s a redshirt junior now, a solid player who’s had injury trouble, but is playing a lot now. Just imagine if Kimbrough had stayed around and Carter had been injury-free. That’s two seniors – a big hitter in Kimbrough and a speedy, smart guy in Carter – occupying the middle of the field. Smith and Patrick could be brought along more slowly. (This is about to be a heavily recurring theme.)
CB: Shaq Wiggins. Top backup: Malkom Parrish.
Wiggins had a good freshman year in 2013, then transferred to Louisville because of a personality disagreement with Jeremy Pruitt. If the two had gotten along, Wiggins would be a senior this year (presuming he didn’t go pro), and Pruitt may still be Georgia’s defensive coordinator. (Though a lot else had to happen for that to be the case.)
CB: Brendan Langley. Top backup: Juwuan Briscoe or Deandre Baker.
Langley started as a freshman in 2013 and showed flashes. Like Wiggins, he was a four-star recruit. Then he was moved to receiver upon Pruitt’s arrival, and ended up transferring. Like Wiggins, he would be a fourth-year junior this season.
Star: Reggie Wilkerson. Top backup: J.J. Green.
Wilkerson was a four-star 2013 recruit who enrolled early and was poised for heavy playing time – only to tear his ACL that summer. He’s made it back and played some, but hasn’t quite been himself. If that ACL tear never happens, there’s a good chance he’s starting somewhere now. He’s a versatile player who could play all five secondary spots. As for Green, he’s now at Georgia Tech as a running back, but he was recruited to Georgia as a cornerback … yes, in 2013.
FS: Tray Matthews. Top backup: Quincy Mauger.
Matthews was Georgia’s highest-rated recruit in 2013. If had kept his head on straight, and his hamstring healthy, he’d be a senior now – though he was good enough to also be in the NFL right now. Things obviously didn’t work out either way, and now he’s at Auburn.
SS: Dominick Sanders. Top backup: Paris Bostick.
Sanders, a late addition to the 2014 class, is a really good player, and would be unaffected by this alternative universe – though if Matthews were still around, Sanders could play more in a strictly Shawn Williams-type strong safety role, where he may be even better. Bostick, a three-star recruit in 2013, moved to inside linebacker a year later then transferred.
Kicker: Rodrigo Blankenship or William Ham … or Patrick Beless.
Short of redshirting Marshall Morgan – or managing Beless’ workload so he had another year of eligibility – Georgia has what it has.
Punter: Marshall Long or Brice Ramsey.
Long, signed to a scholarship this year, looks like he’ll be fine.