Want to attack every day with the latest Georgia football recruiting info? That’s the Intel. This rep offers a fall camp 2023 update on what the Bulldogs are looking for at the running back position.
Herschel Walker. Keith Henderson. Tim Worley. Lars Tate. Rodney Hampton. Garrison Hearst. Terrell Davis. Robert Edwards. Musa Smith. Thomas Brown. Knowshon Moreno. Todd Gurley. Nick Chubb. Sony Michel. D’Andre Swift. James Cook. Zamir White. Kenny McIntosh.
That long list of names is the tradition that allows the University of Georgia football program to throw its resume at the RB position into the mix for the popular “RBU” mantra.
When looking at the future admissions to Dell McGee’s room in the 2024 cycle, it looks like that profile is changing. Georgia has three RB commitments for this class in 4-star Nate Frazier, 4-star Dwight Phillips Jr. and 4-star Chauncey Bowens.
The average incoming stats of that trio are quite telling:
- Height: 5 feet, 11 inches
- Weight: 204 pounds
- 100-meter time: 10.56
- 247Sports Composite ranking: No. 87 overall
- On3 Industry Ranking: No. 109 nationally
- Position rank: No. 7 RB prospect nationally
When it comes to what the Bulldogs now look for with that position, the days of the standard between-the-tackle back are not quite gone, but the scope is evolving.
If Dell McGee is the 5-star sous chef for that position, he’s been getting a lot of requests from the head chefs over the years in the offensive coordinator position. That progression goes from Jim Chaney to James Coley to Todd Monken and now to Mike Bobo.
How has McGee seen what he looks for in his room evolve?
“First, getting here with coach Chaney, just establishing that line-of-scrimmage run game,” McGee said last week. “Plus, we had two really good backs [Nick Chubb and Sony Michel] that were older that had carried the load and understood running the football. It wasn’t a whole lot to teach there. Kinda progressing through Coley and even into Monken, getting the backs more involved in the passing game has tremendously increased. I think your recruiting philosophy has to change a little bit to cater to what the coordinator wants.”
The ideal is a special back that can gash a defense on all three downs no matter what it takes to move the chains.
The ‘Dawgs will always seek the elite Nick Chubb, Todd Gurley and Zamir White types, but they also want to see the James Cooks and Kenny McIntosh flavors to the room.
“When Monken was here, he showed that he wanted to have running backs that were able to create things in space, catch the football, create matchups for linebackers,” McGee said. “And I think that philosophy will still stand. It does change according to what that coordinator wants and also the leadership of Coach [Kirby] Smart. Everything still goes through coach Smart, so we are looking for guys that are talented, guys that can run fast, guys that got vision, things that you don’t really have to teach. And then, maximize whatever the redeeming qualities that they have.”
When looking at the last nine RB prospects that the Bulldogs have signed over the last six recruiting cycles plus this year’s trio, there are a few patterns to take notice of:
- Dating back to 2017, the Bulldogs have signed or won commitments from five backs that weighed at or above the 220-pound mark in high school. We can classify and sort those RB types as “thunder backs” best suited to wearing down defenses. They are called on to crank out the tough yards in the red zone and in short-yardage situations between the tackles. Those guys will always have value in the SEC.
- In that same stretch, the Bulldogs have added four RBs designated as “lightning backs” best suited to operating in space, making defenders miss and being a plus asset in the passing game.
- UGA added another three RBs that can be seen as “hybrid” backs during that same time frame. Those RBs capable of producing the plays that both “thunder” and “lighting” backs are best suited for.
- The Bulldogs signed five RBs from the span of the 2020 to the 2023 classes. Of those five, we see that four of those would best be seen as thunder or “hammer” backs. Those are elite prospects with good speed, but also a 220-pound frame built for the hard yards between the tackles rather than the one-on-one matchups in space with the passing game.
- As a result, we can look to the 2024 class for a market correction to that trend. We see a heavy Todd Monken influence given the numerous big plays Cook and McIntosh made in space. Chauncey Bowens is that big 220-pound back with 10.88 speed in the 100 meters. He’s the hammer back in this class even though he has a good skill set in the passing game.
- The 2024 class also offers a hybrid in 210-pound Nate Frazier and then easily the fastest “lighting” back of the Smart era with electric in-state talent Dwight Phillips Jr. in the class. Phillips has already been timed at 10.24 seconds in the 100 meters and has another gear faster than that.
How does Dell McGee sell the next great Georgia RB to Athens?
McGee says recruits pay attention to the type of backs Georgia has in the room. They are also well aware of the years left before some of the most talented vets can take off for the NFL.
“We have two seniors in Kendall Milton and Daijun Edwards that are leaving the program,” McGee said. “We have Andrew Paul who’s coming off an injury. It still takes time for running backs to get their legs up under them. They also saw the fact that Branson [Robinson] was dealing with an injury, and we still hadn’t gotten to our allotted number of six running backs. We’ve been under our allotted number. We’re basically just getting to six.”
In the past, the scholarship number at RB might have been five. Yet the way Georgia has evolved the position under Monken calls for six backs in McGee’s room. The back-to-back national champs want to see a variety of skill sets in the room. That sixth running back on scholarship will allow for that.
There is also the opportunity to add their name to the list of all-time greats the Bulldogs have featured at the RB position. McGee didn’t need to go overboard with the pitches wooing Bowens, Frazier and Phillips in the current class.
He’s already coached six of the names on the Georgia “RBU” resume that led off this story.
“It wasn’t really a sell,” McGee said. “Like I’ve said previously, running backs have all flourished at the University of Georgia. That’s the expectation. They want to be a part of that, just being competitive and having the chance to better themselves as men and just the influence of me being in their life plays a big, big part of that.”
That’s how the “Dawgs were able to garner commits from three RBs that are all ranked among the top 11 prospects in the country that collectively have an average time of 10.56 seconds in the 100.
That will allow their teams in future seasons to stack up a blend of all skill sets capable of keeping opposing defensive coordinators off-guard. The backs on the field will be able to hurt the defenses in multiple areas.
Look for McGee’s room to be able to slash through defenses with a hot hand in both the third-down all-purpose “lighting” back and the traditional UGA between-the-tackles hammer with home run speed.
Have you subscribed to the DawgNation YouTube channel yet? If so, you will be able to see special 1-on-1 content with key 2024 prospects like Daniel Calhoun, Dwight Phillips Jr., Dylan Raiola and Sacovie White.
(check on the recent reads on Georgia football recruiting)