Georgia football: What kind of recruiting boost did the ‘Dawgs get after their big win against the Vols?
Want to attack every day with the latest Georgia football recruiting info? That’s the Intel. This rep has the latest on the big recruiting weekend in Athens.
There was a point during pregame when Peyton Manning walked through the west end zone at Sanford Stadium.
Yes, that Peyton Manning.
He was in the middle of the end zone with a small group of folks in orange. There was an array of about four or five photographers pointing their lenses in his general direction.
They just weren’t pointing in his direction. Those viewfinders were aimed at the massive conga line of elite prospects coming down the west end zone stands to get onto Dooley Field. The home sidelines were already choking with top prospects at that time.
None of the cameras really noticed Manning. Until you could finally hear him talking.
That had to be an odd feeling for him given his status as one of the most famous football players of any time.
But that’s the attraction of the way that Georgia recruits these days. News photographers somehow missed the most famous Manning coming up off their left flank.
There were just that many other stars to focus on. That’s how big that game was for recruiting on Saturday.
Georgia hosted a record number (by the DawgNation count) of 5-star recruits (21) over the weekend and that wasn’t just for the game. There were four official visitors that got to spend 48 all-expenses-paid hours on campus.
There were also a lot of other top 100 prospects (30-plus) along with those five stars that got to eat and meet with the staff after the game on Saturday and on Sunday morning.
What kind of boost are the ‘Dawgs going to get off of that? I’m going to say the boost off of this one will be substantial.
If there’s ever a point when a program can “select” the prospects it wants at certain positions and not just “recruit” the ones to hopefully enhance the roster, the Georgia staff might be closer to that point at more position groups than at any other time in the Kirby Smart era.
There was even one surprise official visitor. We’d heard earlier in the week that a Stanford TE commitment might be on campus. Yet there’s even quite the story to that recruiting journey for that young man, too.
We’ll organize a lot of our coverage in this space in a few ways. First, there is a photo gallery of the majority of the big names on campus this past weekend. There are a few big names missing, but it is sort of like trying to catch up with everyone you know at the game on Saturday.
It is awfully hard to do. No matter how hard one tries. There will also be some detailed notes on all of the official visitors from this past weekend.
We’ll also offer up some quick-hit thoughts of some of the bigger names on campus on Saturday as the second act of this hopefully fast-flowing story.
There will be a lot more detailed ground to cover with these guys over the next few days.
OFFICIAL VISITOR RECAP
5-star EDGE Samuel M’Pemba./IMG Academy/Bradenton, Fla.
What we’re hearing: M’Pemba saw the ‘Dawgs again on Saturday for the fifth time this season. Some season ticket holders and reporters that cover UGA haven’t seen the ‘Dawgs that much. The Bulldogs have been recruiting him as a priority for months and he looks comfortable in Athens. This was the third time he had pretty much a front-row seat at Sanford Stadium this year.
The welcome mat couldn’t get any more out than it is for M’Pemba.
The 2023 commitments are close to him on gamedays and he’s always in good spirits. They look very casual together. Like old friends. He looks like he belongs in Athens. Time will tell whether that eventually becomes a reality. Perhaps the best thing we can say is we are getting close to approaching Malik Herring-ish territory with this recruiting process.
Longtime readers of this blog will know what we are talking about with that parallel.
4-star WR Deandre Moore Jr./St. John Bosco/Bellflower, Calif.
What we’re hearing: Moore is committed to Lousiville but has been looking around. We had heard his name off and on this cycle as a potential WR target, but his name had heated up over the last few weeks. The nation’s No. 13 WR and No. 76 overall prospect is the type of prospect that needs to be surrounded by elite athletes to bring out his full potential.
I thought the ‘Dawgs had a strong shot here coming into this OV. It was easy to see how the gameday atmosphere at Georgia affected Moore. He looked like he was excited by so many parts of the game day experience. He was smiling and happy and plugged into the game and his group did, too.
We’ll just say this in closing: This dude sat in a poncho in the front row for the second half when we came close to getting some Forrest Gump rain out there on Dooley Field. If he wasn’t seriously considering UGA, he needs to go work for The Weather Channel when his playing days are done. This didn’t look like a situation where every recruit gets to take five officials and he was just there for the game, some great hospitality and a great college football weekend.
4-star DL Daevin Hobbs/Jay M. Robinson/Concord, NC
What we’re hearing: Hobbs has become a prioritized recruit for Georgia of late. He’s an ideal athletic specimen that has recorded numerous big plays on offense this year as both a runner and a receiver. That’s a pretty slick move for a 6-foot-4 and 280-pound future DL. Hobbs has been clocked in the 4.7 range in the 40-yard dash and he’s also a defensive playmaker. He grew up playing running back in little league football.
He’s set to make his commitment on Nov. 25 to honor his mother on her birthday. We love to hear things like that. Georgia, as it stands now, stands to be the team that will get his last college visit. The Bulldogs are selling him on the Travon Walker role in their system and want him to jump on board. This was a visit that all early reports indicated moved the dial for Hobbs and his family. Alabama, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina and Tennessee are the teams to really watch here. He visited Georgia over the summer and likes what Tray Scott does with his scheme and how they plan to use him. “Georgia just goes out every week and shows their dominance over their opponents” was what he had to say about the ‘Dawgs prior to the visit.
He saw more of the same on Saturday. That came at the expense of a Tennessee program he is also strongly considering. Out of all the officials on Saturday, he seemed to be the one prospect that was more observing and soaking everything in. He wasn’t animated. It could mean nothing. Or it could mean everything.
4-star TE Walker Lyons/Folsom/Folsom, Calif.
What we’re hearing: Lyons was a newer name for the ‘Dawgs in this cycle. We also can’t dial this one in over the course of two paragraphs. Was this a courtesy visit? Well, there’s the fact he’s the No. 5 TE in the country and he committed to Stanford. Who decommits from Stanford? We’re now aware there is more to this than just the curiosity of a young man from the same California town as that famous Johnny Cash song.
This is the TE position at Georgia. The Bulldogs already have two of the nation’s elite TEs committed in Lawson Luckie and Pearce Spurlin III. Yet we’ve established in this space that those two are different types of players. There is also the strong and hopeful pursuit of the nation’s No. 1 TE in Duce Robinson to consider here. There’s also that Todd Hartley fella and what seems like his .887 batting average on top 10 TEs he wants. Does Hartley want to establish Georgia as the undisputed “TEU” title belt holder in the swoop of one recruiting class? That’s not even counting what he has done with the Brock Bowers and Oscar Delps and Darnell Washingtons.
Then we start doing some roster math. Washington is very likely bound for the NFL after this season. Brett Seither and Ryland Goede have also been on the roster since they enrolled in 2019. There is the possibility they could both move on after this season. We all know Brock Bowers will very likely be a Top 10 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. It is not outlandish to see the ‘Dawgs try to sign a trio of TEs in this offense. Especially with Robinson showing the ability to play out wide exclusively as a senior. The TE position is a also very valuable room in Todd Monken’s offense in Athens. It must remain well-stocked.
Yet here’s the part where it really gets interesting. Lyons is a member of the Church of Latter-Day Saints. According to published reports, he is scheduled to graduate early this December and then serve his Mormon mission for up to two years. He also broke his leg at the beginning of this season. He should not be seen as a 2023 recruit at all. He will not enroll in college to play football until the 2024 or 2025 season.
We can’t help but take in all this and remind ourselves how clever that Hartley fella is. Now combine all of that with the way Georgia flexes its roster management efficiency muscles. Or watches its scholarship count. That’s the same way those DGD Outdoors folks organize their tackle box. I’m not going to put anything past what could come out of this official and him eventually winding up as a Bulldog.
Lyons, like many prospects on hand, looked spellbound at times inside Sanford Stadium. The look on his face was like that of a kid who knew that chocolate chip cookies were his favorite dessert.
Well, until he dipped them in milk for the first time. Then he had a new favorite.
Class of 2023
5-star S Caleb Downs: It was not a surprise to see Downs show up as an unofficial visitor on Saturday. He just didn’t look too plugged into what he saw taking place prior to the game. He looked almost like a businessman at a conference. The visual of him watching a game in Athens this time was different than what it was like when he was an undecided recruit during his junior year. I’m aware that he did integrate himself into the winning Georgia locker room after the game. But I’m reading it as just a trip for him to see a great game and watch Georgia’s defense attack the Tennessee offense. At this time, I think his commitment to Alabama remains solid.
5-star EDGE Damon Wilson: This was another strong visit in a back-and-forth that has been between Georgia and Ohio State for some time. The ‘Dawgs needed this to go well for various reasons and it did. I’d place Georgia’s chances in a very strong position here. Now, we wait to see if he returns to Ohio State for another key unofficial for the Michigan game. This is a recruiting battle the ‘Dawgs need to win if they are to catch Alabama in the race for the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class in 2023.
5-star RB Justice Haynes: I don’t know what is going to happen here. I’m not sure anyone can craft a credible paragraph that says they do. Haynes has been a well-thought-out and responsible young man in our many interactions over the years. He’s not a waffler. And yet I can’t help but feel Georgia helped itself with his latest visit. We also wonder what a national recruit (and a UGA legacy) like Haynes thinks about what is going on at Alabama. This could come down to an eventual decision about which program he feels will be more successful and stable over the next three-to-four years. His commitment to Alabama should also still be seen as solid. He’s not wired to dwell on his recruiting while trying to win a state title now at Buford. That said, there’s probably more than a 4th-and-45s worth of a chance now here for Georgia. I can’t help but feel the Tide loss in Alabama coupled with Haynes watching the Bulldogs beatdown the Vols might mean something.
4-star RB Jeremiah Cobb: Cobb wore a Georgia towel before his high school game last Friday night. That was an interesting step for a player that is still publicly committed to Auburn. What’s going to happen here down the stretch with the possibilities for both Cobb and Haynes? We’re not at that point yet. We’re not close to that point yet, but that’s the logical point to bring up here. The initial report I got back here regarding Cobb was that he enjoyed himself and had a very good trip to Athens. I’ve got the ‘Dawgs as a real contender for Cobb moving forward.
4-star WR Anthony Evans III: This is a recruitment the ‘Dawgs could very well now win. This was always going to be a hotly-contested recruitment down to the wire. No matter where he originally committed to. Evans has told me several times how hard this final decision was going to be for him. What happens if the ‘Dawgs have the option of signing both Evans and Moore? Now that becomes the real question.
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For the record: The final 5-star count
The previous standard for current 5-star prospects at a Georgia football game (via the 247Sports Composite) was 12. That was the tally for Auburn back in 2016 and then Mississippi State in 2017. The Notre Dame game gets a lot of attention, but there were only nine prospects with a 5-star rating for that one.
The overall opinion here was the Mississippi State game held the standard for the biggest guest list in terms of 5-star and top 100 overall recruit during Kirby Smart’s time at Georgia. That’s going to simply be the benchmark for all recruiting guest lists in Georgia history.
The clincher was for that fact future NFL first or second-round picks like Jordan Davis, Jaycee Horn (South Carolina) and Azeez Ojulari were also in the east-end zone bleachers. They weren’t 5-star recruits at the time. Or top 100 prospects. But they certainly went on to play like it.
Smart has elevated the program to a place where none of the previous recruiting efforts have been. Especially because recruiting is so much different these days. Jim Donnan and Mark Richt’s teams did not attract the cross-country unofficial and official visitors that seem so commonplace for the ‘Dawgs now.
What was the final tally on Saturday? Well, as the term goes, it was fluid.
There was a pair of 5-stars that did not show up. Alabama teammates Qua Russaw and James Smith did not make it.
They lost in the first round of the playoffs on Friday night and there was an injury issue to get checked out. Yet then we saw another 5-star show up in the 2024 class. And another for the 2025 cycle.
The expected number coming in stood at 20. The final tally, based on DawgNation’s observations at the game and numerous photo records, wound up at 21.
I just can’t imagine how Kirby Smart and his recruiting staff will be able to top that one in the years to come.
(check on the recent reads on DawgNation.com)
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- BREAKING: Nation’s No. 2 LB Demarcus Riddick commits to Georgia
- Georgia football: The recruiting tale of the tape gives the ‘Dawgs a major edge over the Vols
- Georgia football: Will the Tennessee game be the biggest game weekend ever for recruits?
- Jeremiah Cobb: Recent Georgia football offer to Auburn commit looms after Bryan Harsin news
- PHOTOS: Check out the images of another end zone party after the beatdown of the Gators
- Ellis Robinson IV: Nation’s No. 1 CB keeps bringing up “family” and “home” when it comes to UGA
- Former Georgia great Andre Hastings shares the real story on why he chose the ‘Dawgs
- BREAKING: Georgia adds a cornerback with 4.38 speed to the class in Chris Peal
- INTEL BREAKDOWN: Georgia already has a gamebreaker WR on the way in 4-star Tyler Williams
- Justice Haynes: Legacy 5-star RB is solidly committed to ‘Bama, but plans one more UGA visit
- Eddrick Houston: The 5-star junior already feels like a must-get for the ‘Dawgs in 2024
- BREAKING: ‘Dawgs add a big-time junior QB to 2024 class with Ryan Puglisi
- Elite 2024 QB target Ryan Puglisi “loves Georgia” and will visit with his family for Vanderbilt
- Jordan “BigBaby” Hall breaks down what he loves about Georgia, Tray Scott and Athens
- BREAKING: 4-star RB Roderick Robinson II flips his commitment to be a ‘Dawg!
- Electric 5-star junior ATH Mike Matthews shares what he likes best about Georgia
- LB commit Raylen Wilson on schools hoping for a flip: “They’re trying but I’m not replying”
- BREAKING: Priority All-American WR target Tyler Williams chooses the “Dawgs
- Sam M’Pemba: 5-star target shares what he thought of that pregame lap around Sanford Stadium with Kirby Smart
- Lawson Luckie: The real reason this remarkable young man committed to Georgia will touch your heart