Georgia football-Kirby Smart-2022 NFL combine
Georgia Bulldog Coach Kirby Smart waves to fans during the Dawg Walk as part of the team’s celebration parade in Athens, Georgia on January 15th, 2022.(Nathan Posner for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Georgia football recruiting: The DawgNation GPS for National Signing Day 2022

Want to attack every day with the latest Georgia football recruiting info? That’s the Intel. This entry offers the viewer and reader a quick way to keep up with all the major moving pieces of the final quarter of Georgia’s recruiting class for the 2022 cycle.

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Christen Miller woke up very happy today. He’s been excited all week. Just ready to get his decision signed and stamped and out into the world.

EJ Lightsey will have at least a hint on intrigue to his decision on Wednesday afternoon. His table at Fitzgerald High School will have Auburn, Georgia, LSU and South Carolina hats on it.

Georgia also has three remaining commitments in its 2022 class that did not sign in December during the early period.

Will they still be a part of the #Bo22Moves class by the time Kirby Smart meets the media this afternoon?

Do Bulldogs wind up with an addition to Dell McGee’s running back room? Will the one All-American in hand dip to Oregon? Will the recent target out in Texas decide to ride with Clemson?

Which signing day recruit is DawgNation not pumping their first over enough? That would be the one they probably should have been appreciating quite a long time ago. That’s a very big one set to officially join this class today.

How bad of an idea would it be to not check your computer or phone around lunchtime?

A sensational day would mean that Georgia adds six news signees to the class. If that number falls to four or five, it would still be a close worthy of a classic Ice Cube song where the Lakers beat the SuperSonics.

If that number falls to less than four, then a few things didn’t go according to plan.

No matter what happens today, this looks to be the best defensive class the Bulldogs have ever signed under Smart. All the pieces will be in place for another championship defense. Just have to coach them up now.

Everything gets underway at 8:30 a.m. out in Texas. That’s as good a place to start as any.

We’ll cover all the ground in each time slot below, but here’s a quick glance.

  • 8:30 AM: UGA commit Dillon Bell signing ceremony from Texas
  • 9:30 AM: UGA commit Darris Smith signing ceremony from South Georgia
  • Noon: All-American DT and top 120 overall prospect Christen Miller ceremony from Metro Atlanta (Georgia, Miami, Oregon, Ohio State)
  • Noon: All-American UGA RB back commit Jordan James signing ceremony from Tennessee
  • 12:20 PM: 3-star RB target Andrew Paul signing ceremony from Texas
  • 1:30 PM: 5-star DL Shemar Stewart ceremony from South Florida (Georgia is the odd team out here.)
  • 2 PM: 3-star LB target EJ Lightsey from South Georgia
  • 4:30 PM: 5-star LB Harold Perkins will choose between Florida, LSU and Texas A&M (No UGA interest here but it will bear watching to see if new Gators coach Billy Napier can close with a 5-star)

8:30 AM -- 3-star WR Dillon Bell signing day

Bell is expected to make his ceremony a mere formality. That’s when the nation’s No. 67 WR and No. 496 overall recruit will officially sign with UGA.

He’s been committed to UGA since August and will become Georgia’s fourth WR signee in the class. That’s needed given the attrition at the position and George Pickens making the move to the NFL.

Bell is a Texas private school football state champion who played all over the field for The Kinkaid School in 2021.

Check out his 2021 stat line:

  • 46 catches, 662 receiving yards, 10 TD catches (and 17 career receiving TDs)
  • 164 passing yards and 3 TD passes
  • 101 carries, 655 yards, 6.5 ypc, 14 TDs (and 39 career rushing scores)

Check out his 2021 senior highlight reel:

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Georgia WR commitment Dillon Bell was in attendance on his official visit at the Georgia-South Carolina game as a priority recruit on Sept. 18, 2021, in Athens, Ga. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)
Jeff Sentell

9:30 AM -- 4-star EDGE Darris Smith signing day

Darris Smith is the priority recruit for the day that most people won’t think to prioritize. This young man is a freak in every sense of the term.

From a pure recruiting and physical talent standpoint, this nearly 6-foot-6 ATH brings to mind names like Adam Anderson and Lorenzo Floyd.

Smith is right at the 225-pound mark right now. He does play basketball and run track. The projection here will be to wonder how he will retain his athleticism and speed when he puts on another 25 or 30 pounds on. That’s what a college strength and conditioning and nutrition program will do for Smith in a couple of years.

He recently saw his final 247Sports Composite ranking shoot up to No. 160 overall. The things he can do with his skill set are simply astounding. Smith has a chance to win the 400 meters this year at the GHSA state track meet and he was a deadly X-receiver for Appling County High School this fall.

Those last two statements were not typos. This young man can do those things and he will rush the passer for Georgia.

Check back in three years. Smith is as likely as anyone in this class to be a top 10 overall NFL Draft pick one day. He has all the tools and projection to be that good.

Smith is believed to be the first UGA football scholarship signee in Appling County history, if not the entire Southeastern Conference.

Check out his 2021 stat line:

  • 54 tackles, 8 tackles for losses, 3 sacks, 8 hurries (and 10.5 career sacks)
  • 1 INT and two fumbles forced
  • 13 catches, 302 receiving yards, 5 TD catches (21.6 yards per catch)
  • 51 rushing yards as a “Wildcat” QB on seven carries

Check out his 2021 senior highlight reels:

Have you subscribed to the DawgNation YouTube channel yet? If so, you will be able to see special 1-on-1 content with UGA names like Jake Fromm, Gunner Stockon and Brock Vandagriff here.

4-star EDGE Darris Smith has as much untapped upside as any member of Georgia's 2022 recruiting class this year. (Jeff Sentell / DawgNation)
Jeff Sentell, Dawgnation

NOON: 4-star All-American DT Christen Miller signing day

Christen Miller, a 4-star DT, ranks as the nation’s No. 14 DT prospect and the No. 102 overall recruit for 2022 on the 247Sports Composite rankings.

He’s benefitted from training in defensive line work from former NFL veteran and Tennessee great Chuck Smith. Miller has worn No. 52 for a few seasons at Cedar Grove. That traditionally goes to one of the team’s most talented and most-respected linemen.

That’s a longstanding tradition among the Saints dating back to former All-American Antwuan Jackson.

The decision here is expected to come down to a choice between Georgia and Ohio State.

Check out the need to know on Miller:

  • Georgia and Ohio State have been his longtime dream schools
  • Took official visits to Oregon, Florida A&M and Miami
  • Suffered a sprained MCL and dislocated kneecap in the GHSA Class 3A state championship game
  • Started both ways for Cedar Grove. Would likely be a Power 5 prospect at OT if that was his preference
  • Hyperfast ball get off and short-space quickness
  • Sharp analytical mind and a high football IQ
  • He’d be a lot of fun at a party or on a long car ride

Check out his 2021 senior highlight reel:

4-star All-American DT Christen Miller
Jeff Sentell, Dawgnation

Noon -- 4-star All-American RB Jordan James signing day

This multi-year state champion RB from Tennessee ranks as the nation’s No. 16 RB and the No. 192 overall recruit for this cycle.

James committed to play RB at UGA back on March 29, 2021. He did so after declaring UGA as his leader for an extended period prior to that.

That said, there’s been some late intrigue here. He did not sign with UGA during the early period but sounded quite content and solid with UGA out at The All-American Bowl in Texas. He said his family was out of town on a cruise during the week of the early period. That’s why he did not sign back then.

James received heavy interest from Florida and Oregon, among other teams, in January. He might not be expected to sign with UGA today but still remains a public commitment at this time.

Check out his 2021 stat line:

  • 187 carries, 1653 yards, 8.8 ypc, 24 TDs
  • 10 catches, 148 yards, 1 TD
  • Also had 1,752 rushing yards on 9.6 yards per carry and 26 TDs in 2020
  • Played in Tennessee’s largest high school classification

Check out his 2021 senior highlight reel:

Georgia RB commitment Jordan James is in Texas this week playing for the East Team in the All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas. (Jeff Sentell / DawgNation)
Jeff Sentell, Dawgnation

12:20 PM -- 3-star RB Andrew Paul signing day

Paul is one of the more intriguing stories anyone will run across during any recruiting cycle.

There has been a lot of change in this process. He was likely choosing between Houston Baptist, Sam Houston State and Texas State three months. And yet the 5-foot-11, 220-pounder with great vision and quick initial burst now has a much different lay of the land.

The big boys all finally found him: Clemson. Georgia. Michigan. Notre Dame. Oregon.

He took a late official to Clemson that really made an impact on his decision. He’s seen his rankings ascend to the point where he is now a 3-star prospect rated as the nation’s No. 42 RB and No. 534 overall.

That’s a long way from Houston Baptist, Sam Houston and Texas State.

It appears that his recruiting decision today will come down to Clemson and Georgia. The Bulldogs got his last official visit this past weekend, but it does not seem like that was not the major factor everyone thought that might have been.

Miller and Paul will likely provide the most intrigue of the day for Georgia fans. If James signs elsewhere and Dabo Swinney gets his first RB of his 2022 class, then it will leave UGA with just four scholarship running backs.

Georgia has traditionally always carried five scholarship backs for Dell McGee’s talented room.

Check out his 2021 stat line:

  • 2,824 all-purpose yards, 9.7 ypc and 44 TDs
  • Part of a Texas private school football three-peat state championship team

Check out his 2021 senior highlight reel:

1:30 PM -- 5-star DL Shemar Stewart signing day

Stewart ranks as the nation’s No. 3 DL and the No. 10 overall prospect for the 2022 cycle. He gave UGA one of his two official visits this month, but it looks like the Bulldogs are the odd team out here.

As far as the physical marvels go, the Bulldogs had schemed to use Stewart the same way they had Travon Walker in the past. That’s an on-the-money player parallel there.

The 6-foot-6, 270-pound senior is a physical force capable of dominating with his hand on the ground or playing out on the edge in space. It looks like this choice will come down to local favorite Miami or longtime perceived leader Texas A&M.

The Aggies cement the best all-time class in modern recruiting history with a Sherman signature here. Or Mario Cristobal really gets a very big foundational piece in building something great again in Coral Gables.

Check out his 2021 senior highlight reel:

2022 5-star DL Shemar Stewart was in Athens for the Arkansas game on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)
Jeff Sentell, Dawgnation

2 PM -- 3-star LB EJ Lightsey signing day

Run. Hit.

Those are two things Lightsey does very well. Just check the first few plays of his senior HUDL highlight film below.

Lightsey played his senior year in the 205-pound range but has since bulked up to about 215 pounds. He’s never really been timed until he was working out for the Florida staff last year. He was put through a series of drills and then asked to run a couple of 40s without much of a warm-up period.

Without any real training, he said he ran a 4.66 and then a 4.59 in back-to-back efforts.

He was a big part of the first Fitzgerald team to win a state championship since 1948. That proud South Georgia program drew close to a title many times with some stout teams in the past only to fall short. This was a breakthrough year for Lightsey and his Hurricanes.

Lightsey will have Auburn, Georgia, LSU and South Carolina hats on the table today.

The things to know about Lightsey here:

  • Lightsey is a former Florida commit. When the new staff was hired, they didn’t pursue retaining his commitment to the class
  • Was named to the MaxPreps 2021 Small-School All-American Team after his senior year. That’s a team reserved for players at schools with less than 1,000 students and a population of less than 10,000 people.
  • He is a three-year starter and was named the GHSA Class 2A Defensive Player of the Year by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
  • Was first offered by South Carolina when current UGA assistant Will Muschamp was the head coach of that program

Check out his 2021 senior highlight reel:

3-star South Georgia LB EJ Lightsey led Fitzgerald to its first state football championship since 1948 this past season. (Instagram)
Instagram, Dawgnation

4:30 PM -- 5-star ATH Harold Perkins signing day

As stated earlier, the ‘Dawgs do not have a horse in this race. But DawgNation might want to pay close attention to the results here.

Perkins, a former Texas A&M commit, opened back up his decision this month after committing at the Under Armour All-American Game. The Aggies still have some life here, but the buzz here is on Perkins giving a jolt of 5-star recruiting buzz to a couple of first-year coaches in the SEC.

Did Brian Kelly sway him with some dance moves? Or did Florida’s Billy Napier give his program another shot in the arm? Count this reporter among the lot that feels like the Gators made a solid hire here in Napier. Especially when it comes to the recruiting trail.

Perkins was named All-District out in Texas at both LB and RB after his senior season. He also played both positions and practiced there down at the Under Armour All-American Game.

He’s rated as the nation’s No. 2 LB and the No. 8 overall recruit in the country for the 2022 class.

Check out his 2021 senior highlight reel:

SENTELL’S INTEL

(check on the recent reads on DawgNation.com)

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