UGA has seen three prospects de-commit this week. There have actually been five de-commitments in the transition from Mark Richt to Kirby Smart as head coach.
Is the sky falling? Not quite. The best way to look at things is to place those de-commitments in one hand and the commitments since Smart was hired in the other. There has been a re-commitment (of sorts) in 5-star quarterback Jacob Eason and one huge new commitment in 5-star junior athlete Richard LeCounte III.
Sky falling? Not likely. Especially given that Eason and LeCounte could be a pair of a “Sugar Falling from the Sky” recruits in terms of big-game impact.
The de-commitments are also to be expected in some of these cases. They were comfortable with UGA’s staff under Richt and his position coaches. They wanted to play for those guys. The new staff is a bunch of unknowns. A few of these guys still really like UGA, but they just need to establish a relationship with the new staff.
Now, what has been lost? Let’s take a closer look:
–4-star RB Devwah Whaley
Ranking: Nation’s No. 4 RB
Impact of the loss: 9 out of 10
Reason: He committed to the UGA staff under Richt. He’s also weighing a lot of interest in playing closer to home at Texas and Arkansas.
Chances of re-committing: Average to good. UGA is still in his final three. Retaining running backs coach Thomas Brown also gives the Bulldogs a better-than-average shot. n
Bottom line: Kirby Smart would love to add to UGA’s recent streak of signing two of the nation’s backs every two seasons. Elijah Holyfield is the nation’s No. 5 RB and he still seems firmly committed to UGA. Can Whaley still be his running mate in this class? Or could it be junior college standout Juwan Crawford?
–3-star DB Malek Young
Ranking: Nation’s No. 46 CB
Impact of the loss: 7 out of 10
Reason: Young was committed to the old staff. Jeremy Pruitt especially. He also doesn’t fit the Alabama model of big defensive backs, either.
Chances of re-committing: Very slim.
Bottom line: He’s going to be a find at the next level. Ohio State still wants him. Look for Miami and Mark Richt to make a last push.
–3-star WR Darion Anderson
Ranking: Nation’s No. 61 WR
Impact of the loss: 5 out of 10
Reason: He was not seen as a priority for the new coaching staff
Chances of re-committing: Not likely at all
Bottom line: Anderson was a favorite of the old staff. He was the first receiver commitment for the Class of 2016, but suffered a knee injury back in May. He slowly worked his way back to full strength during the season, but was never at his best. He also played more at cornerback than receiver this fall. Receiver is the easily one of the UGA’s top recruiting priorities for this year’s class. It appears Smart will target more highly-rated receivers.
–4-star QB Bailey Hockman
Ranking: Nation’s No. 3 quarterback
Impact of the loss: 9 out of 10
Reason: He wasn’t familiar with the new staff. He mentioned he might also want to play for an offensive-minded head coach, too.
Chances of re-committing: Average to good.
Bottom line: UGA’s quarterback depth isn’t in the best shape. Smart will need to land a big-time quarterback to build depth beyond Eason and Brice Ramsey for 2017. This also gives new UGA offensive coordinator Jim Chaney a chance to make his own evaluations at the position. Hockman was preferred by former offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. Chaney has already sent an offer out to 2017 Alabama commitment Jake Fromm of Houston County. Greater Atlanta Christian junior Davis Mills should also get a good look. The staff needs to act quick. Chase Brice, the nation’s No. 11 passer from nearby Grayson, just committed to Clemson.
— 4-star ATH Deejay Dallas
Ranking: Nation’s No. 17 ATH
Impact of the loss: 8 out of 10
Reason: Dallas also said he wasn’t familiar with the new staff. Richt and Pruitt were big reasons why he committed to UGA back in July. He’s also thinking about playing quarterback at the next level. He hopes to do that in the SEC, but if that’s not possible he’s told DawgNation he’ll play receiver or defensive back in order to stay in the conference.
Chances of re-committing: Good to very good
Bottom line: Dallas is a special football player, but there’s still a lot of time to go in his recruiting story. It was actually pretty unusual for a player with his skills to have committed somewhere prior to his junior season.
There’s also one more important point to consider. The transition to Kirby Smart has triggered several of these de-commitments, but it has also led several big-time recruits like Alabama 5-star prospects Ben Davis and Lyndell “Mack” Wilson to look at UGA in a different light.
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.