Georgia football: 5 recent Signing Day success stories
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Sign ’em up
With the advent of the December early signing period, the traditional National Signing Day in February stands to be much less dramatic. But that doesn’t mean Wednesday will be completely drama-free for Georgia. Kirby Smart and the Bulldogs are still after a handful of outstanding recruits.
National Signing Day isn’t make or break for Georgia in this cycle, but it could help it address some areas of need that are potentially the difference between title contender and pretender. Regardless of what’s at stake, finishing strong on Signing Day is always be a big deal. Whether it is landing a late-deciding 5-star, filling a gap or adding a hidden gem, the decisions made by the relatively few unsigned recruits will have major implications over the next four or five seasons.
To illustrate that point, here’s a look at a few recent Georgia stars who made their decision to be Bulldogs on Signing Day. Let’s go.
Mecole Hardman, 2016 — The athlete from Elbert County had Dawgs fans sweating in 2016 when he set out cakes emblazoned with logos of his finalists at his announcement presser, not including Georgia. But plot twist: They were decoy cakes! Hardman chose the Dawgs, becoming Smart’s first 5-star Signing Day pledge at UGA. Two years and a few positions switches later, he’s coming off an 80-yard TD catch in the National Championship Game and set to be one of the team’s top deep threats in 2018.
Roquan Smith, 2015 — OK, so Smith actually waited a week after Signing Day to sign with Georgia, but the events of that set the pieces in motion for the future Butkus Award winner to land in Athens. Had news not come out that UCLA’s defensive coordinator was joining the Atlanta Falcons and Mark Richt’s staff not jumped into action, Smith could’ve been with the Bruins, who he committed to originally on Signing Day 2015. But the pieces fell perfectly for Georgia to land perhaps the best linebacker in program history.
Isaiah McKenzie, 2014 — During his recruiting process, no one thought McKenzie would land in Athens. In the week before Signing Day 2014, he listed his favorites as Virginia Tech, Florida and Ole Miss. But Georgia reportedly offered McKenzie the week before Signing Day, which was enough to get him to join American Heritage teammate Sony Michel at UGA. His late addition was fortuitous, as McKenzie was Georgia’s best receiver during his three-year stretch with the program and the best return man in Georgia football history.
Lorenzo Carter, 2014 — Carter was the best prospect added on Signing Day ’14 and helped Georgia to a strong in-state showing. Carter was the No. 1 player in Georgia, and his pledge gave Georgia three of the top five players in the state for 2014. The three top-five players Georgia landed? Carter, Nick Chubb and Malkom Parrish, all of whom were major contributors to Georgia’s run last season. The two top-five players Georgia didn’t land? Raekwon McMillan and Deshaun Watson, both of whom spent three years in college, won a national championship and dipped for lucrative NFL careers. There’s a lesson there: Georgia’s staff has to lock down Georgia. This season, Smart signed four of the top five in-state and could land as many as nine of the top 10. Lesson learned.
Davin Bellamy, 2013 —Bellamy chose UGA over Florida State, Tennessee and Oregon on Signing Day 2013. You may have noticed a bit of a trend. Three-fourths of the linebacker corps that led Georgia to the SEC Championship and College Football Playoff made their pledge to UGA on Signing Day or after. The best LB unit in America last season was built during three consecutive Signing Day classes. But what took three years to build was torn down in one offseason, with all three aforementioned players heading to the pros. Georgia will have the chance to replenish its LB coffers on Signing Day once more, as 4-star OLBs Otis Reese and Quay Walker both have UGA among their finalists.
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Manic Monday and the Signing Day schedule
As important as Signing Day is, Monday might have been more important. Jeff Sentell of DawgNation reported that 4-star WR Tommy Bush and 4-star DT Rick Sandidge, two of the most important prospects left on Georgia’s board, planned to inform Smart and his staff of their decisions Monday. With only a few spots left open, Smart is trying to get his ducks in a row and know exactly which players stand to sign with Georgia come Wednesday, so it’s no surprise they want these guys to tell them as quick as possible so they can get the numbers right.
But while the coaching staff probably already knows — or at least has a really good idea — of which recruits will ink with the Dawgs, the rest of us will just have to wait until Wednesday. Here, from Daniel Shirley of DawgNation, is a tentative schedule of when Georgia’s top remaining prospects will make their decisions public.
- 10 a.m.: 5-star cornerback Tyson Campbell (American Heritage, Plantation, Fla.).
- 10 a.m.: 4-star linebacker Otis Reese (Lee County/Leesburg).
- 10:30 a.m.: 3-star defensive tackle Tramel Walthour (Liberty County/Hinesville.
- 11 a.m.: 4-star linebacker Quay Walker (Crisp County/Cordele).
- 11:35-11:45 a.m.: 4-star wide receiver Tommy Bush (Samuel Clemens, Schertz, Texas).
- Noon: 4-star junior tight end Ryland Goede (Kennesaw Mountain/Kennesaw). Goede is a 2019 recruit who is making his commitment announcement.
- 2:30 p.m.: 4-star defensive tackle Rick Sandidge (Concord/Concord, N.C.).
- TBA: 3-star defensive tackle Jordan Davis (Mallard Creek/Charlotte, N.C.); 4-star wide receiver Antoine Green (Rockledge/Rockledge, Fla.).
5 things to know about …
If you want to know more about the top players remaining on Georgia’s recruiting board, Chip Towers and Seth Emerson of DawgNation have you covered. They’ve been running a “5 things to know” series to help introduce you to the recruits who could be Georgia Bulldogs come Wednesday. Here are links to each post in the series.
- 5-star CB Tyson Campbell
- 4-star OLB Quay Walker
- 4-star OLB Otis Reese
- 4-star DT Rick Sandidge
- 4-star WR Tommy Bush
Jordan Harris not practicing while suspended
Georgia basketball coach Mark Fox made his first public comments about the suspension of sophomore Jordan Harris, but did not give much information, only confirming the suspension is indefinite and that Harris is not practicing with the team.
“He’s been suspended. He will not practice with the team. And I will have no more comments about it,” Fox said Monday morning during his appearance on the SEC coaches teleconference, according to Emerson.
Dawgs on Twitter
#UGA Bulldog Tidbit of the Week
Via two military-style Delta DC-3s, the first time a UGA football team flew on a plane was to Lexington to face Kentucky in 1947 (left). The second time the Bulldogs flew was just a week later to Stillwater to play Oklahoma A&M (right): pic.twitter.com/CEWGCxTFgu
— Patrick Garbin (@patrickgarbin) February 5, 2018
The Lady Dogs earned win number 2️⃣0️⃣ yesterday afternoon!
— Georgia Basketball (@UGA_WBB) February 5, 2018
— Nolan Smith II (@SmithNoland2) February 5, 2018
There’s no better surprise than double pups.
my dog passed away so i thought it'd be a good idea to surprise my mom with a blue heeler puppy, she thought it'd be a good idea to surprise me with a lab puppy.. long story short my dad is going to kill us.. "oh my god we're in so much trouble" pic.twitter.com/4cHQWltmUR
— Natalie Rice (@Natalie119911) February 3, 2018
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