Been too busy soaking up some rays, throwing steaks on the grill or a line in the water? Did you miss that Georgia currently has the No. 6 recruiting class in the nation for 2017?
We get that. That’s why DawgNation will pop up a periodic “What’s Important Now” recap that curates all the need-to-know stories to stay plugged into Georgia recruiting even when we’d all rather plug our earbuds in at the beach or on the lake.
What’s Important Now in UGA recruiting
Welcome to the dead period
The dead period for NCAA recruiting began yesterday. The quick definition of a “dead period” is no in-person contact is allowed. Even on campus. Written and electronic communication is still allowed, though.
It is more like a life period. That allows most big-time programs the ability fo the staff to go on vacation and see their families. That fills up the summer scrapbook before the grind of the season comes in July.
Georgia will hold its elite summer camp for high school prospects from July 15-17. Those dates aren’t great for attracting elite talent, but there are three days to attract prospect visits in this format. It will conflict with the National Select 7-on-7 in Hoover (July 14-16) and the Cam Newton 7-on-7 in South Carolina (July 15-16) but the overlap will help. UGA under
UGA under Kirby Smart will not have a major “Dawg Night” that the staff points to so it can get every major target on campus at the same time. That’s just very hard to do considering all the summer events. The Bulldogs prefer the “we’re always open” if a big-time recruit wants to come take a look. They want to avoid seeing those guys go off and find someplace else to visit and possibly fall in love with.
Take last year for instance. UGA held a massive “Dawg Night” with mixed results. Jacob Eason flashed the arm, Mecole Hardman, Jr. flashed the wheels but there were so many campers that most walked away ticked off. They didn’t get enough reps.
UGA landed two commits that night in Deejay Dallas (who de-committed shortly after the coaching change and is now pledged to Miami) and then 2016 signee Elijah Holyfield. Holyfield remained a silent commitment until September. Randrecous Davis (now at South Carolina) also earned an offer that night that he committed to shortly thereafter.
Yet who was there in the 2017 recruiting class? Not many. Stalwart QB Jake Fromm was not there. UGA had Bailey Hockman committed to the Class of 2017 at that time. OLB Jaden Hunter was at FSU. WR commit Xavier Jenkins was there, but he got maybe two reps. Safety Richard LeCounte III was there and so was OG Netori Johnson. Yet Johnson was there as a Bama commit.
Look for fall camp to begin on Aug. 1 and a busy July ahead for the staff in recruiting. The dead period ends on July 11 and that’s when recruiting will pick right back up with the speed of a yellow helicopter buzzing around Metro Atlanta.
The big news of late is on Jeremiah Holloman
That has to be the recent comments made by top WR target Jeremiah Holloman. He was at the IMG 7-on-7 event over the weekend and dropped the following updates to his commitment:
- UGA was his leader, but that is no longer the case
- He no longer has a Top 5 or Top 10 or a top anything
- His first cousin Leonard Floyd shares his advice on playing at UGA often
- He’ll look around extensively and will possibly go all the way to National Signing Day
- The Bulldogs continue to say they want him to be the school’s fourth commitment at receiver this year, but they will take five receivers if necessary to bring him to UGA.
That could be a recruit just slowing things down, but Holloman still does have a picture of UGA receivers coach James Coley’s nameplate as the header on his Twitter account. There’s also the Georgia “G” on the back of his cell phone.
Just Kicking It ?? pic.twitter.com/C1j1PgFwKm
— Jeremiah Holloman (@Obey_Classics) June 28, 2016
He has five Tennessee rubber bands on his wrists. There’s also two very large UGA bands, too.
Big July ahead?
Starving for more commitment action? UGA has picked up two commits in June but look for the decisions on the following commitments to come in the next 45 days. These are the biggest UGA targets that could decide their decisions prior to the 2016 season.
- 2017 four-star DE/OLB Robert Beal (Bradenton, Fla.)
- 2017 four-star ILB Kenny Britt (Oxford, Ala.)
- 2017 four-star RB Toneil Carter (Houston, Tex.)
- 2017 four-star ILB Nate McBride (Vidalia, Ga.)
- 2017 four-star OT Andrew Thomas (Atlanta, Ga.)
- 2017 five-star athlete Jacoby Stevens (Murfreesboro, Tenn.)
- 2018 five-star QB Trevor Lawrence (Cartersville, Ga.)
While nothing is concrete dealing with impressionable young minds, the chances of UGA landing each of those prospects is very high. UGA should end up in the final two in almost every one of those decisions. Will each of those decisions be made by mid-August? That appears to be the case right now.
Tweets to remember
We’ve found several. Each one of them adds something to the overall recruiting puzzle for the Class of 2017 at UGA. The first references Mr. Holloman above and the work behind done on the program’s account by four-star safety commitment Richard LeCounte III. The second is news of what is to come with UGA’s highest-rated target at running back for 2017.
Me and @LilEasy_35 playing together ??
— Jeremiah Holloman (@Obey_Classics) June 26, 2016
‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️Releasing a top 4 at the end of summer? ? ‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️
— Cam akers (@thereal_cam3) June 20, 2016
LeCounte keeps working hard for UGA
So Richard LeCoutne will take a few official visits. But that doesn’t mean he should be counted as one of the most committed prospects in the Class of 2017 at UGA. Look what he continues to do on the recruiting trail.
His charisma and personality is infectious and isn’t really necessary considering the way he plays the game. He’s just pure fun to watch. Period. Check this back-flip and the height on that sucker.
— SB Nation Recruiting (@SBNRecruiting) June 26, 2016
LeCounte told DawgNation what he thinks of the 2017 class so far, what it needs and what is still to come. He also reeled off four names that he feels are the guys he will work on the hardest down the stretch by continuing to make a great personal relationship that he hopes will carry on to the next level to play together in college football.
The number I have in mind for LeCounte is at least five. That’s how many recruits will say after National Signing Day next February that LeCounte’s role played an integral role in their decision to sign with Georgia.
— Richard LeCounte III (@LilEasy_35) June 25, 2016
Name to know for 2018
It would be a stretch to say that UGA is the team to beat for Florida’s top prospect in 2018. That would be four-star cornerback prospect Tyreke Johnson out of Trinity Christian in Florida. The Jacksonville resident wants to take his talents outside of the state of Florida, but it would be fair to say that UGA will be a team to beat for Johnson.
Why? That’s because of close relationships with LeCounte and Florida native Reggie Wilkerson on the Georgia roster. UGA freshman Isaac Nauta recently had a “reality” discussion about what it means to play big-time football at a major program and just how tough that actually is.
He’s already said that UGA will get one of his official visits. He will also be a cornerback at the next level regardless of what those recruiting rankings say about him.
Viral Video time
Did you catch this one from LeCounte at the IMG 7-on-7 National Championships? SBNation’s Bud Elliott had a great angle on it.
— SB Nation Recruiting (@SBNRecruiting) June 26, 2016
The terms “elite” and “savage” get tossed around a lot this year. This young man deserves something a few tiers above those. The blend of aggressiveness, athleticism and passion is a rare blend.
Gurley and Marshall begat Chubb and Sony ….so who will be the next duo?
The running back position is the featured stage at Sanford Stadium. The pedigree for UGA football over the last few recruiting cycles has been to take two Top 10-level backs (at least) every two years. That will definitely be the case for 2017.
There’s really three names to know on the top shelf for 2017 at UGA. That’s the four-star Akers (rated No. 2 in the nation) along with four-stars D’Andre Swift and Toneil Carter. Akers seems like the toughest fish to reel in at this time. He’ll likely have Ole Miss, Tennessee, Ohio State and UGA among his four finalists.
Carter, as pointed out by Jake Rowe of 247Sports recently, is predicted to sign with UGA by the majority of the analysts on that site’s popular “Crystal Ball” Feature. He’s told DawgNation in the past just how much he knows about UGA’s running back history from over in Texas. The Houston-area product is rated as the nation’s No. 5 running back.
Rowe’s colleague Kipp Adams of 247Sports followed that post recently with one touting that UGA has also taken the predictions lead for Swift. The 5-foot-11, 215-pounder is rated as the nation’s No. 1 all-purpose back for 2017. Swift (St. Joseph’s / Philadelphia, Penn.)
As summer heats up, it looks more like Carter and Swift are the ones leaning the most toward UGA at the moment. Swift is also said to be part of a likely package deal with four-star receiver Mark Webb. That’s his cousin.
Big picture: The log-jam recruiting positions for 2017
What spots are bunched tighter than a Talladega turn in 2017? Those easy. LB and WR. Let’s take a quick look at each:
Current commits: 3 (4-star Trey Blount, 3-star Xavier Jenkins, 3-star Matt Landers)
Common threads: 1) Size. The commits are all at the 6-foot-3 mark and above. 2) UGA trusts its own evaluations. These guys are not rated among the nation’s Top 30 receivers
Spots left: 1 or 2 (Depends)
Most likely suitors: 4-star ATH Trey Bishop (likely UGA or Auburn), 4-star Nico Collins (Michigan seems the team to beat for now), the aforementioned Jeremiah Holloman, 4-star Mark Webb (likely package deal with Swift) and South Carolina four-star OreTre’ Smith. Smith appears to favor UGA, Clemson and South Carolina.
Ideal scenario: Webb becomes the fourth commitment and secures the package deal for Swift. Holloman comes in as an extra receiver. Bishop also joins the squad as an athlete. He can play either receiver or safety. This would be highly unlikely.
Likely scenario: Webb becomes the fourth commitment and secures the package deal for Swift. Holloman still makes the most sense for Georgia and join the class in the end.
Damage control scenario: Georgia misses on Collins and Holloman, the package deal falls through with Webb and Swift. That makes Bishop a nice “we’ve got our bases covered” option. He’s 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds and can blister the 40-yard dash in under 4.4 seconds. Landers could also be a guy that might flip to another program at the last minute.
(First off, man this is complicated. A few names to follow can project to weak-side defensive end or outside linebacker. Robert Beal, for instance, seems more likely to line up at outside linebacker at UGA compared to where he is rated at defensive end.)
Current commits: 2 (4-star ILB Breon Dixon and 4-star OLB Jaden Hunter)
Common threads: 1) They both want to play for Smart; 2) Versatility. Dixon could count as a defensive back as an in-the-box safety. Hunter can play inside or outside, but the lean right now is to place him inside.
Spots left: 3 (at least)
Likely suitors: 4-star DE/OLB Robert Beal, 4-star DE/OLB Markaviest “Big Cat” Bryant; 4-star ILB Kenney Britt (UGA or Auburn), 3-star OLB Walter Grant (UGA or Alabama), 4-star ILB Will Ignont (UGA or Auburn), (4-star ILB Nate McBride (UGA, Alabama or Auburn), 3-star ILB Monty Rice (Georgia, Auburn or Alabama), 4-star ILB Tyler Taylor (UGA, Auburn, Alabama, Tennessee and Oklahoma) and 4-star OLB Leonard Warner (UGA or Georgia Tech)
Ideal scenario: McBride would be the likely first take among that lot. Any combination of Beal, Britt, Bryant, Grant or Taylor would be welcomed after that.
Likely scenario: There’s a ton of names and Vegas wouldn’t likely place odds on all the potential scenarios. McBride, Britt, Grant and Taylor all wind up in Athens. Beal or Bryant could also come in as a defensive end.
Damage control scenario: There’s not really one. Losing Beal and or McBride to Alabama would likely leave UGA as the clear top school for Bryant, Grant and Rice. The Crimson Tide wouldn’t have any more spots at linebacker. The Bulldogs would also prioritize a spot for Ignont. Taylor says all the right things about Georgia, but could wind up out of state.
Don’t sleep on …..
The aforementioned Grant is just rated as a three-star, but he equates as the most versatile linebacker out of any of the prospects listed among that deep linebacker pool. He’s vastly underrated with great size. He could come in and quickly become a quality player at defensive end, inside linebacker and outside linebacker.
Alabama coach Nick Saban was highly impressed by Grant’s abilities all over the field. He’s an intelligent player and the Cairo coaching staff told DawgNation this spring that his abilities to cover downfield on a wheel route stood out to Saban. Saban said that one of the key points in the national championship game back in January was made by a linebacker downfield in coverage defending a wheel route.
The 6-foot-4, 235-pounder is a highly intelligent player who could call the defenses at Cairo if he was called upon to do so. He’s that adept and has earned that much trust among the coaching staff. He’s frequently lining up his teammates on the field prior to the snap.
He can play all three of those spots and not look lost doing it and yet he’s rated as the nation’s No. 320 overall player. He doesn’t go to a lot of those showcase events or that ranking would be a lot higher. There’s a lot of Leonard Floyd-type elements to his game.
He’s got an 81-inch wingspan, a 355-power clean, a smart head for the game and never misses tackles. Those traits are very hard to find. Versatile intelligent linebackers with length are a must these days when dealing with spread offenses.
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. Unless otherwise indicated, player rankings and ratings are from the 247Sports Composite.