Want to attack every day with the latest Georgia football recruiting info? That’s the Intel. This rep has the latest news on 5-star safety Caleb Downs. He ranks as the nation’s No. 1 safety and the No. 12 overall prospect for 2023 on the 247Sports Composite ratings.
The best safety prospect in years is heading to Tuscaloosa. Caleb Downs, the No. 1 player in Georgia for the 2023 cycle, committed to Alabama during a ceremony at Mill Creek High School this afternoon.
Downs chose the Tide over some very strong interest in Georgia, North Carolina, Notre Dame and Ohio State.
That is another blow of late to those that bleed the red and black.
Downs, now with the same decision made by All-American RB legacy prospect Justice Haynes earlier this month, gives Nick Saban’s program solid verbals from the top two prospects in Georgia.
That, coming off a national championship season, shows Alabama isn’t taking that 33-18 setback lightly on the recruiting trail.
The score for the 2023 cycle is a big 2-0 for the month of June with two targets the ‘Dawgs hoped to build their championship program around for the next three years.
All of those future SEC Championship Game meetings will not be light on storylines from the recruiting trail.
RELATED: The stories on 5-star safety Caleb Downs are too good
What did it come down to? Downs made no bones about what he was looking for throughout his recruiting process.
“Development on the field and development off the field,” he said matter of factly back in May.
“I just felt it was the best fit for me,” he said during his commitment ceremony at his high school.
It is just that simple, but he did add the right amount of context.
“Development as a man in life,” he added. “Ways to handle your money and to make money. That’s through the university and their development programs pretty wise. Then development on the field is through coaches and training and rehab and prehab and all of that stuff.”
Simply put, the Crimson Tide earned the biggest checks in both of those two boxes for the high school senior. Downs will be ready to play winning football anywhere in the country as a college freshman.
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5-star Mill Creek safety Caleb Downs has quickly becomes one of the MAJOR targets for UGA in the 2023 recruiting cycle. The instinctive hard-hitting safety was at UGA on January 15, 2022 for the championship celebration. (Jeff Sentell /DawgNation)
Caleb Downs: What Alabama football is getting with this 5-star
There will likely be more than a few ‘Bama folks grace this page. Perhaps in the hope to learn more about their latest 5-star commitment.
There will be a lot to like here, including:
- He is the son of a college coach and recruiting coordinator. Credit current East Tennessee assistant coach Gary Downs with that father figure/mentor role.
- Downs watches more game film than any player at Mill Creek. We’re talking 100-hour gaps during the season over the next-most vigilant film rat.
- The coaching staff at Mill Creek worries about him overtraining. That’s how hard he applies himself to be great at football. It was to the point when he decided to take off to the beach for spring break earlier this year, they celebrated that decision.
- The 5-star safety is a straight A-student in honors classes at Mill Creek.
- The 6-foot-1, 185-pound rising senior has missed one workout in four years at Mill Creek. That was from a flight bump coming back from a college visit. He was torn up about that.
- The nation’s No. 1 safety professes a deep Christian faith. “I try to be a great Christian,” he said earlier this year. “I’m a son of God. That’s a big thing for me. Knowing that whatever happens or whatever accomplishments I might make, it is all through him.”
- He’s no brainiac, but he could be. He’s no superjock, but he could be. Downs even has enough savvy mixing it up with adults in conversation to drop in a “Star Wars” movie reference here and there. He’s comfortable enough in his own skin to point out he stays away from the mainstream movie buff opinions about “Empire Strikes Back” and he likes “Revenge of the Sith” the best.
The three-time MaxPreps.com All-American is the most Saturday-ready safety prospect I’ve seen in over 20-plus years covering and reporting on high school athletes.
Instead of being the “The Chosen One” in Athens, he’s now off to play for college football’s reigning empire at Alabama.
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5-star safety Caleb Downs is the top prospect in Georgia for the 2023 class on both The 247Sports Composite and On3.com. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)
Caleb Downs aftermath: UGA’s track record of late at safety.
Downs is a bitter loss on the trail for the ‘Dawgs. There is the only way to state that, but he’d been leaning ever so slightly away from Athens over the last two months or so.
He’s actually a bigger loss than Haynes for the program. That’s because he was set to earn immediately first or second-team reps in Athens. Hayes, as gifted as he is, will be an ALL-SEC back in two or three years, but he wasn’t as likely to crack the first team next fall in Athens.
This moment of the 2023 recruiting cycle affords the chance for Georgia folks to appreciate the decision made by 5-star safety Joenel Aguero last week.
Aguero, a longtime ‘Dawg lean, chose UGA on July 23.
The occasion marked the first time in a while that Georgia went head-to-head with some national rivals and won a battle for one of the nation’s elite top 50 overall recruits at safety.
Recent misses will include 5-star James Williams (Miami), 4-star Terrion Arnold (Alabama), 5-star Kamari Wilson (Florida) and now Downs. Arnold is now playing cornerback for the ‘Tide but the larger point there was all of those young men were Sunshine State prospects.
They were also all top 50 overall prospects.
Downs lives about 45-minutes away from Sanford Stadium. There is also a starting spot being vacated by Chris Smith II after the 2022 season. Dan Jackson, the other projected starting safety for UGA, is not even on scholarship.
Prior to Aguero, the last Top 50 overall prospect at safety the ‘Dawgs prioritized early that they signed was former 4-star Lewis Cine back in 2019. That’s the same Cine who just got drafted in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft after a Defensive MVP performance in the national championship game.
The ‘Dawgs signed Cine but also missed on talented Georgian Kyle Hamilton out of Marist in 2019. He signed with Notre Dame. Hamilton also went in the first round of this year’s NFL Draft. Georgia also tried to sign All-American Nick Cross in 2019, but he stayed home and signed with Maryland.
The two safety prospects that UGA signed in 2020 are no longer with the team. Daran Branch and Major Burns both transferred out prior to last season.
Arnold and Williams were the big recruiting misses at safety in the 2021 cycle.
Georgia did sign Woodstock resident David Daniel in the 2021 class. The former 4-star prospect saw action in seven games last year, including the Orange Bowl win against Michigan. He was a key in-state win on the trail despite Georgia shuffling its defensive back coaches in and out over the last few recruiting cycles.
Daniel was a top 100 prospect wanted nationally by Alabama and Clemson, among others.
Wilson was the big miss in the 2022 cycle. The ‘Dawgs also had a 2022 commitment from the nation’s No. 7 safety in Deyon Bouie. Bouie, who grew up in Bainbridge, eventually flipped to Texas A&M.
Add it all up. The latest miss with Downs only reiterates how important the Aguero commitment was earlier this month. The work that co-defensive coordinator Will Muschamp did there over the last two years to help the ‘Dawgs was vital.
Look for the Bulldogs to now move down their board to consider another option at safety for the 2023 class. Isaac Smith, a 4-star prospect out of Mississippi, is a possibility. He ranks as the nation’s No. 11 prospect at safety and at No. 174 overall. Smith has planned to take an official visit to Athens during the season.
A closing dash of perspective also feels necessary here. Despite the Downs news, it is good thing that the “Dawgs are recruiting the defensive side of the ball like no other team in the country right now.
While focusing on the big Downs and Haynes misses here, it is also pertinent to note that Georgia earned commitments from six major 2023 targets this month, including three All-Americans on defense that all ranked among the nation’s top 60 overall recruits.
No team is going to win every recruiting battle, but Downs and Haynes are sure going to make a whole lot of plays on the field in Tuscaloosa.
(check on the recent reads on DawgNation.com)