Georgia football-2022 signing class-superlatives
Gunner Stockton (14) and Malaki Starks (24) embrace before a game. Both players are committed to Georgia.

5-star rewind: What to make of UGA commits Malaki Starks and Gunner Stockton in their first game

Want to attack every day with the latest Georgia football recruiting info? That’s the Intel. This entry takes a lap around what mattered in Friday night’s matchup of two teams each led by a 5-star commit in the 2022 UGA class.

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JEFFERSON, Ga. -- Malaki Starks said something insightful for the Georgia faithful during the week leading up to his team’s 22-13 win against Class 2A No. 1 Rabun County on Friday night. It served as a proper teaser trailer for his team’s matchup with a team led by All-American QB Gunner Stockton.

“I would say I am about five to seven pounds heavier,” Starks said last week prior to Friday’s game. “I’m a lot faster. I’m a lot quicker. I’ve gotten a lot bigger and stronger and my hands have gotten a lot better. I would say that if I went against that guy last year, then he wouldn’t stand a chance against me this year.”

When the highest-rated commitment in another strong Georgia recruiting class says that, it will perk the ears up.

That said, the first act of his senior season went a lot like the final act of his junior season. He didn’t get to show how he was much improved for the 2021 season.

He said it was the third play of the night. Then he dealt with some slight cramping. Class 4A No. 1 Jefferson faced the injury adversity early in its opener.

Multi-talented DE/RB Jordan Perry, who scored two touchdowns in the state championship game last year, also left the game in the first quarter with what appeared to be the sort of knee injury that could keep him out for the next four to six weeks. He’d be fortunate if that is the case.

There was also a lightning delay which delayed the game for some 85 minutes. Then came a moderate measure of some steady rain.

When the game was finally over and a nine-point victory served as the lipstick on the unsightliest pig at the trough, it was Starks who said something spot-on yet again.

“Everybody kept saying this was me against Gunner and all that,” Starks said. “But it was really about Jefferson and Rabun County. Not just the two of us.”

He’s right, but a prime reason why everyone showed up and braved the tickles of lightning was to see what two of the anchor commitments of the 2022 class in Athens could do.

For a pair of talented dudes known to treat their fan bases to All-American nights, this one was below average. Especially when the average for those two is pretty special.

Starks and Stockton combined for 3,111 rushing yards and 50 touchdowns in 2020. Starks ran 14 times for 74 yards and one thrilling score against Rabun.

He added four tackles on defense as he started both ways in big games like this one for Jefferson in 2020. That was as a full-time QB in the triple-option and as a back-end free safety.

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Malaki Starks celebrates after a play for Jefferson High School (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)
Jeff Sentell, Dawgnation

How Gunner Stockton fared against Jefferson

Stockton, himself a 5-star on Rivals.com, ran nine times for 43 yards. He added a 1-yard scoring plunge on the Dragons. The future Georgia QB threw for 3,128 yards and 45 scores last fall.

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