What position did Georgia recruit best in this class?
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Grading the class
There isn’t much left to say about the recruiting Class of 2017 that hasn’t already been said. But before we begin focusing on the next recruiting cycle, spring practice and the 2017 season, I thought we should put a list on this cycle by grading how Kirby Smart and his staff recruited at each position group. Grades will be based on a combination of need at the position and how much talent was brought in to fill it.
5-star OT Isaiah Wilson, 4-star OT D’Marcus Hayes, 4-star OT Andrew Thomas, 4-star OG Netori Johnson, 4-star OT D’Antne Demery, 3-star OG Justin Shaffer
Size and quality on the offensive line was undoubtedly Georgia’s most pressing need in this recruiting cycle. It showed, too, as Smart and his coaches worked hard to bring in six behemoth-sized prospects for Sam Pittman to groom. They’ve got a little of everything, too. Wilson is a potential cornerstone at left tackle. Hayes brings experience from the JUCO ranks. Johnson and Shaffer, who played together in high school at Cedar Grove, have the size and skill to be one of the best guard tandems in America.
This is an offensive line class unlike any I’ve ever seen, at Georgia at least. I wouldn’t be surprised a bit if we eventually see four of these guys start together on the same unit.
5-star S Richard LeCounte III, 4-star S DeAngelo Gibbs, 4-star CB Tray Bishop, 4-star CB William Poole III, 3-star CB Ameer Speed, 3-star CB Latavious Brini, 3-star CB Eric Stokes
Between LeCounte, Gibbs, Bishop and Poole, UGA already had one of the best defensive back classes in America heading into signing day. Then the Dawgs went out and landed three CBs — Speed, Brini and Stokes. All three guys who committed on NSD top 6 feet, providing some of the length Smart wants in a cornerback.
Despite some late attrition because of transfers, UGA isn’t in terrible shape at defensive back. Especially the first-string unit. But the second string has some holes in it, which could provide a few guys the opportunity for lots of minutes this season. Look for LeCounte and Gibbs in particular to find their way onto the field.
4-star recruit Jake Fromm
Although Jacob Eason is one of the best young quarterbacks in the country, UGA’s situation at QB is still pretty dire. With the graduation of Greyson Lambert, the only other QB on roster was punter Brice Ramsey. Fromm fills the role of heir apparent to Eason. (To hear some fans talk, though, there’s a lot of belief he can come in and steal that job sooner rather than later.) Georgia still is thin at QB, but Eason isn’t going anywhere yet, so Smart just needs to bring in another QB in the next class. But Fromm looks like he’ll be a real good one whenever he gets handed the reins.
4-star DE Robert Beal, 4-star DE Malik Herring, 4-star DT Devonte Wyatt
After signing a big group of defensive linemen last season, Smart had to limit the number he brought in this season. What is lacking in quantity here is made up for in quality, though. Herring is a beast of an end who can bull rush with the best. Beal has a little more quickness and could eventually stand up and shift to OLB if needed. But Wyatt is who I’m really excited about. He’s built in the Christian Wilkins/Ed Oliver mold, the prototype for the modern DT.
There’s a logjam on the defensive line on the roster right now, with all the spots in front of these recruits occupied by young players such Jonathan Ledbetter, Julian Rochester and David Marshall. That could be a blessing, though. These guys will get to sit and learn Smart’s system without having to put games on the line, a benefit not afforded to the current crop of UGA linemen. By the time they’re ready to break into the rotation, Georgia could be growing into title-winning form.
Players: 4-star recruit D’Andre Swift
Make no mistake, I think Swift is an A-talent. But this is Georgia, and I’ve grown accustomed to two top tailbacks signing in each class. Had UGA upheld its end of the bargain it had with Toneil Carter, RB would be challenging OL and DB for one of the top spots on this list. Regardless, Swift has all the tools to make sure UGA never loses a step in the running game when Nick Chubb and Sony Michel leave the program after next season.
4-star OLB Jaden Hunter, 4-star ILB Nate McBride, 4-star OLB Walter Grant, 3-star ILB Monty Rice
UGA’s LB class is akin to its DE class. There are no obvious superstars, but every player looks like he could be a major contributor on the defense one day. And Georgia should be happy with the variety of LBs it landed. McBride is a prototype ILB with all the instincts that come with it. Rice is similar to McBride, just a little less talented. However, Rice has a leg up from enrolling early. Grant is a big OLB with a similar build and player style to Lorenzo Carter. I think Hunter could be the best of them all. Although listed as an OLB, I think if he moved inside, he could be a quick, rangy LB a la Roquan Smith. Like the DL, these guys are a few seasons away from seeing the field. Look out when they do.
4-star recruit Jeremiah Holloman, 4-star recruit Mark Webb, 4-star recruit Trey Blount, 3-star recruit Matt Landers
Wide receiver was Georgia’s second-biggest need after the offensive line, and Smart did a so-so job filling it. All four players brought in are really talented and have the potential to be outstanding players. However, this group’s grade suffers a bit because there is no guy who looks ready to contribute immediately. There is no obvious superstar.
One of UGA’s weaknesses last season was the lack of a reliable target for Eason, and there isn’t a player in this group who is obviously that. That bumps down the grade a little. Don’t get down on these guys, though. The lower grade is more a reflection on the unknown quality in the group. If any one of the four developed into a major threat in the UGA receiving corps as early as this season, I wouldn’t be shocked.
Get to know the newest Dawgs
Georgia football’s digital production team always does fantastic work on their videos. The nearly six-minute package they put together interviewing some of Georgia’s signees from the Class of 2017 is no exception. Hear in their own words some as year’s signees talk about their favorite all-time Bulldogs and why they chose Georgia.
— Georgia Football (@FootballUGA) February 2, 2017
The best thing I learned from the video is that LeCounte wants to be an accountant if he can’t play football. He says that now, but he hasn’t taken Swati Bhandarkar’s dreaded ACCT 2101 class yet. He may be singing a different tune after a couple of hours in that class.
A happy Super Bowl weekend to all my fellow Falcons fans out there, and a friendly reminder to RTFU!
That’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout.
- The signees share why they chose UGA on National Signing Day (Jeff Sentell, DawgNation)
- Watch: ‘QB1: Beyond the Lights’ documentary trailer released with UGA freshman Jake Fromm (Jeff Sentell, DawgNation)
- At least 3 signees who should make a major impact for Georgia (Chip Towers, DawgNation)
- Punter Marshall Long writers letter to fans thanking them for support (Joe Clarkin, DawgNation)
- The story of the man who may be Georgia’s next kicker (Seth Emerson, DawgNation)
- Kirby Smart said two interesting things about freshman QB Jake Fromm (Jeff Sentell, DawgNation)
- Now comes the hard part (Senator Blutarsky, Get The Picture)
- Comparing Class of 2017 recruits to Dawgs from the past (brookstilley, Dawg Sports)
- QB Jake Fromm’s arrival at UGA already pushing returning starter Jacob Eason (Marc Weiszer, Athens Banner-Herald)
Yo, I think that’s a wolf bear (or maybe bear wolf).
I need a huge dog in my life pic.twitter.com/rg29agZmPn
— Just Adorable (@JustAdorabIe) February 2, 2017