Sam M'Pemba-Georgia recruiting-UGA recruiting
5-star EDGE Sam M'Pemba plays for IMG Academy in Florida. He is a MAJOR target for Georgia in the 2023 class. (Jeff Sentell / DawgNation)

Kirby Smart gave 5-star Sam M’Pemba a very elite recruiting welcome prior to the Samford shutout

Want to attack every day with the latest Georgia football recruiting info? That’s the Intel. This rep shares a few visuals from the visitor list in Sanford Stadium against Samford. The biggest visitor of the day had to be 5-star EDGE Sam M’Pemba. He ranks as the nation’s No. 2 EDGE and the No. 26 overall prospect for 2023 on the 247Sports Composite ratings.

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Kirby Smart dawgwalked into Sanford Stadium before the Samford game at approximately 1:53 PM on Saturday afternoon.

He shook several hands, posed for a few photos and made the day for several Georgia football fans and supporters that had field access for the DawgWalk.

The coach of the national champions walked under the ropes set up to lead his team to the west end zone tunnel and then knocked out a quick 2-minute pregame interview with the SEC Network.

Smart exited the field quickly into the locker room. Only to return less than 10 minutes later.

He was the “Goose” to a “Maverick” 5-star EDGE prospect in the 2023 recruiting class.

It was for a 5-star tour around Sanford Stadium. That was Sam M’Pemba from St. Louis who plays for IMG Academy in Florida. The 6-foot-3-plus, 250-pounder got reps as a TE and WR as a junior for the Ascenders.

Now, he’s strictly a pass rusher as that will be his path on Saturdays.

Smart gave M’Pemba a guided tour around Sanford Stadium. He pointed to the stands and certain pockets of the stadium. He stopped at midfield and got the chance to chat up his longtime friend and former boss in Samford coach Chris Hatcher.

They continued their tour down to the east end zone and back up the home sideline. When he pointed into areas, he was probably talking up the early-arriving Georgia student section. Or maybe where 2022 first-round pick Jordan Davis led the Redcoat band after his final home game.

The entire trek took up only about eight minutes. Let’s see how well that personalized lap around Sanford Stadium will aid the ‘Dawgs in the long run here.

That lap with Smart was unique here, though. That’s the thing a program does when they want an Alpha prospect to know that he is a priority.

If an opportunity like that has happened at a home game, I haven’t seen it. If it has taken place before, it has been quite rare.

I’m sure the circumstances of the game, the 4 p.m. kickoff and the promptness of M’Pemba all had certain levels to do with that. Those two were smiling all through that lap.

5-star EDGE Sam M'Pemba plays for IMG Academy in Florida. He is a MAJOR target for Georgia in the 2023 class. (Jeff Sentell / DawgNation)
Jeff Sentell, Dawgnation

M’Pemba was actually smiling a lot on Saturday. He was seated in the front row of the west end zone stands.

Georgia had strategically placed 4-star LB commitment CJ Allen and 5-star CB commitment AJ Harris in the same row with him. Those fellas were enjoying the game and one another’s company.

Harris has been working on a relationship with M’Pemba for months now. When he heard that the 5-star was going to be in Athens this summer for an unofficial visit, he made a special trip up to Athens just to be there to be able to show him around.

5-star EDGE Sam M'Pemba plays for IMG Academy in Florida. He is a MAJOR target for Georgia in the 2023 class. (Jeff Sentell / DawgNation)
Jeff Sentell, Dawgnation

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5-star junior safety Khalil “KJ” Bolden was also in the stands

Bolden was actually the highest-rated prospect in the stands on Saturday.

The Buford standout ranks as the No. 1 player in a loaded 2024 class for the state of Georgia in that cycle. He is ranked at safety and that’s the likely position he will excel in long-term.

That said, he could also be a very effective two-way player in college. Or just make his name on Saturdays as a receiver. He has the skill set for it as the clutch catch he made to extend a drive in the 2021 GHSA Class 6A state title game against Langston Hughes will attest to that.

He was at Ohio State-Notre Dame on the first week of the season and had this trip to UGA planned on the docket for quite some time. He will be taking the majority of his game visits this fall with his Buford teammate KingJoseph Edwards.

Edwards is also a top national recruit in the 2024 cycle. He could also play multiple positions in college and is one of the most important overall targets for Georgia in that class. Bolden is important given the need the Bulldogs will have at the safety position for a player of his caliber in the years to come.

Bolden certainly was having a good time and there were a couple of moments where he seemed totally in the moment during the pregame activities inside Sanford Stadium.

We will have much more on Bolden later this week on DawgNation.

He wasn’t the only 5-star defensive back prospect from the 2024 class in town for the Samford game. The “Dawgs also hosted CB Charles Lester III on Saturday.

Lester was in Athens in late July as well. He’s ranked as the nation’s No. 3 CB and the No. 22 overall prospect fo that cycle on the 247Sports Composite.

Alabama and Georgia look to be two teams that have really prioritized the Riverview HS standout out of Sarasota in Florida.

5-star Khail "KJ" Bolden (pictured in white jacket) in a top 5 national recruit in the Class of 2024. (Jeff Sentell/ DawgNation)
Jeff Sentell, Dawgnation
5-star Khail "KJ" Bolden (pictured in white jacket) is a top 5 national recruit in the Class of 2024. (Jeff Sentell/ DawgNation)
Jeff Sentell, Dawgnation
5-star 2024 CB prospect Charles Lester III (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)
Jeff Sentell, Dawgnation
5-star 2024 CB Charles Lester III (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)
Jeff Sentell, Dawgnation

The 2023 COMMITS: CJ Allen, AJ Harris and Gabe Harris

Lamar County LB CJ Allen tracks right now as the ninth highest-rated commitment in the Georgia class. AJ Harris is the highest-rated commitment on the board. Gabe Harris is the 10th-highest-rated Bulldog in 2023.

All three of those dedicated Bulldog commits were in Athens on Saturday. They are all having highly-productive senior seasons.

If we chose to rank the most impressive starts by members of the current #KeepitG23 recruiting class this season, they would each have a place among the top five seasons up to this point.

Harris has been a shutdown corner, effective playmaker and a tenacious run defender. He has not slowed down one bit in moving from AISA ball to AHSAA Class 7A in Alabama, but he has actually advanced his game in that transition.

The 5-star CB ranks as the nation’s No. 3 CB and the No. 33 overall recruit for 2023 on the 247Sports Composite ratings. He has told DawgNation that he will try to make every home game he can this fall.

Allen is playing both ways for Lamar County and has been brilliant. The nation’s No. 9 LB and No. 120 overall prospect has piled up 553 rushing yards through four games. He is averaging 8.5 yards per rushing attempt, 138.3 yards per game and has scored nine touchdowns.

He also has 45 tackles so far from his LB spot going both ways.

Gabe Harris was the subject of a recent DawgNation profile that chronicled his move from Thomas County Central to Valdosta High School to IMG Academy for his senior season.

IMG Academy is stacked with Power 5 prospects. Yet when he moved to South Florida and started practicing with the team, he found himself on the field in a game six days later. That’s how quickly his skill set has allowed him to make a big impact at the national boarding school powerhouse.

He moved to IMG Academy, started practicing and working out and had cracked the playing rotation for the national boarding school powerhouse stocked with Power 5 prospects six days later.

5-star CB AJ Harris (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)
Jeff Sentell, Dawgnation
4-star 2023 LB and UGA commit CJ Allen (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)
Jeff Sentell, Dawgnation

5-star 2023 CB commitment AJ Harris (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)
Jeff Sentell, Dawgnation
4-star EDGE commit Gabe Harris of IMG Academy (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)
Jeff Sentell, Dawgnation
4-star Georgia LB commit CJ Allen of Lamar County HS. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)
Jeff Sentell, Dawgnation
4-star EDGE Gabe Harris (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)
Jeff Sentell, Dawgnation

Have you subscribed to the DawgNation YouTube channel yet? If so, you will be able to see special 1-on-1 content with 2023 commits CJ Allen, AJ Harris and Jamaal Jarrett.

Daniel Calhoun and KingJoseph Edwards headline the rest of the names

That’s a pretty stout group, but massive Centennial HS OL Daniel Calhoun and the aforementioned KingJoseph Edwards were two of the other really important visitors in Athens on Saturday.

The 6-foot-6 Calhoun ranks as the nation’s No. 3 OT and the No. 63 overall prospect for the 2024 class. He has made multiple trips to UGA for games so far over the last year. The 355-pounder is a very large human at over 350 pounds. The best chance for him to play early on Saturdays might actually be at guard.

Edwards ranks as the nation’s No. 6 ATH and the No. 35 overall prospect for the 2024 class. As stated previously, he is a high school teammate of Bolden. There is at least a puncher’s chance that the Bulldogs might sign three All-American level prospects from Buford High School in that cycle.

We will also have more on Edwards and that visit later this week.

It was also hard not to see big Grayson TE Kylan Fox on his visit inside Sanford Stadium on Saturday. The 6-foot-5, 225-pounder has the skill set where he could also be an EDGE or a TE prospect. Fox ranks as the nation’s No. 23 ATH and the No. 160 overall recruit.

Class of 2024 North Carolina cornerback prospect Deuce Walker was also upfront in the stands on Saturday. The 5-foot-11, 170-pounder does not have the stars from the major services yet. But he is the younger brother of promising Georgia freshman LB Jalon Walker.

4-star 2024 OL Daniel Calhoun (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)
Jeff Sentell, Dawgnation
4-star ATH KingJoseph Edwards (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)
Jeff Sentell, Dawgnation
4-star ATH King Joseph Edwards (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)
Jeff Sentell, Dawgnation
4-star OL Daniel Calhoun (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)
Jeff Sentell, Dawgnation
4-star Grayson TE Kylan Fox (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)
Jeff Sentell, Dawgnation

SENTELL’S INTEL

(check on the recent reads on DawgNation.com)

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