This Sentell’s Intel rep takes a look at the twists and turns up ahead for the 2025 Georgia football recruiting class.
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The 2025 recruiting class is now on deck. That class has five commitments. It has already seen two decommitments from the board.
Keeping up with the day-to-day recruiting for the ‘Dawgs in this NIL era can seem like eating a grilled chicken Caesar with a spoon, but it can be done.
At this time a year ago, the most likely targets for the 2024 cycle did not reflect the eventual class. There were seven decommitments in that cycle, including three prospects who were 5-star recruits when they reset that decision.
Georgia had 10 commitments for the 2024 class on February 15, 2023, but only four of those eventually signed with the school. Those other six prospects wound up at schools like Alabama, Auburn, FSU, Kentucky, Miami and UCF.
There were 10 top targets for 2024 on our weekly “Before the Hedges” show and 14 others to watch that same week. We saw five of those eventually sign with UGA. That’s five out of 24 pretty good options at the time.
That shows several things.
- Early commits sometimes lose their shine
- Much evaluation on both sides has to take place
- Some recruits still said no to a back-to-back national title program that would win 29 straight games.
- The 2025 roller coaster ride has not yet left the boarding zone.
- The ‘Dawgs find late bloomers and undiscovered gems
- NIL continues to change the game on prospects that would otherwise be at UGA
- Georgia sorts through a massive amount of players at each position
- The key months are still late April, May, June and July. That’s when spring practice evals, camps, OV season and commitment season take place.
Here’s another key point: Georgia signed at least 10 players in its top-rated 2024 class that no one was associating with the program in February of 2023. There were a lot of those future ‘Dawgs that either didn’t have a UGA offer or had not yet visited Athens. Or both.
Remember the line about a spoon and that salad? Maybe a plastic knife works better.
That said, we’re able to point the keys on the keyboard to six big twists and turns up ahead for the 2025 class.
It will be another wild one. Those who love recruiting will be here for it. Those who don’t may want to pull their hair out along the way, but will find it hard not to stay plugged into another incredible ride. Georgia has already put itself in a position to once again do something historic this cycle.
We’ll chronicle those expected turn-by-turns below.
Are the “Dream Team” lines of scrimmage really in play?
There is a duality here for both the offensive and defensive lines. We’re talking highest-building-in-Dubai-type-stuff construction project up ahead in the trenches.
The navigation says the biggest stretch of road for the 2025 class to cover will be in the trenches. It will always be. That’s where football games are decided and won.
But the Bulldogs are trying to do something incredible here on the lines of scrimmage.
Well, they are trying to do several somethings, including:
- Signing a top-heavy OL class a year after signing the nation’s best class - Georgia will try to sign an elite group of targets that includes the likes of 4-star OT Juan Gaston Jr., 4-star IOL Cortez Smith, 5-star Josh Petty, 4-star OL Mason Short and 5-star David Sanders Jr. in 2025. The pitch will be to join a room that saw the ‘Dawgs sign six OLs in 2024.
- Signing their highest-rated OLs in years: Sanders is the nation’s No. 1 OT and the No. 3 overall prospect. He’d be the highest-rated OL signee of the Kirby Smart era. Petty is the nation’s No. 3 OT and the No. 20 overall prospect. He would alone be the highest-rated OL signee since 5-star Amarius Mims in 2021. Throw in Gaston (No. 90 overall), Smith (No. 133) and Short (No. 161) and it means that line coach Stacy Searels will have his weight belt on this cycle.
- Repeat the feat from 2020 and 2021: Georgia seeks to pair up this class with that 2024 group to stock the OL room for another strong run. The Bulldogs signed a stack of OLs in 2020 and 2021 that ranked among the nation’s top 100 prospects. UGA found Amarius Mims (No 8 overall) Broderick Jones (No. 11 overall), Tate Ratledge (no. 38 overall), Sedrick Van Pran-Granger (No. 60 overall), Micah Morris (No. 67) and Dylan Fairchild (No. 98 overall) during that span. Those six OLs plus 2022 signee Earnest Greene III have been the bulk of the two-deep for the last four seasons.
- Aim high, miss high: Georgia stocked its OL room with the nation’s Nos. 93, 112, 251, 265 and 361 overall prospects in 2024. Each of those guys was more than 6 feet, 5 inches and 320 pounds on the scale. Searels aims to sign two prospects rated higher than all of those guys in 2025. That’s the goal. That’s what he will do in 2025.
- The ‘Dawgs are being selective: The depth in the 2024 class allows for this, but the Bulldogs have only offered 24 OT targets and another 11 IOL prospects in the 2025 class at this time.
For the defensive line, the Bulldogs only have the framework of this dream defensive line class in mind:
5-star DL Elijah Griffin (Savannah, GA) -- Griffin is the nation’s No. 1 DL and the No. 3 overall recruit.
5-star DL Justus Terry (Manchester, GA) -- Terry, the nation’s No. 2 DL is the No. 9 overall recruit.
Let’s just stop here. Georgia has NEVER signed two DL prospects that each ranked among the nation’s top 10 prospects since Kirby Smart has been in Athens.
They’ve only signed one DL ranked among the nation’s top 10 overall prospects with Smart in town. (History note: Nolan Smith signed as the nation’s No. 1 WDE in 2019. Mykell Williams signed as the nation’s No. 2 DL and No. 4 overall prospect in 2022.)
If the 2025 class had to sign today, I think that’s what would happen with the 2025 class.
How much will the ‘Dawgs gain from a low Tide after Saban?
This turn could lead to a tunnel around a program that sat on the mountaintop of college football.
That’s how I look at this breach in the ‘Bama recruiting network. Especially in the state of Alabama. Will Kirby Smart and the ‘Dawgs be the program that takes the most advantage of the retirement of Nick Saban?
Or will it be Auburn?
I’ve long held the belief Saban and Alabama’s unmatched track record over the last decade cost the ‘Dawgs an additional 2-3 elite targets every cycle they otherwise would have signed. This year will put that theory to the litmus.
This is a good year for it. The state of Alabama has 11 prospects inside the nation’s top 125 overall recruits on the 247Sports Composite. Auburn has the state’s No. 10 and 11 prospects already committed in this cycle plus the Nos. 12 and 13 prospects in Alabama this year.
The breach here is that the Tide doesn’t have a single in-state pledge among their home state’s top 15 overall prospects. That leaves the top 10 wide open for the ‘Dawgs. There are several names in Alabama like EDGE prospects Zion Grady (No. 2 in Alabama this year) and Jared Smith (No. 3 in Alabama) that the Bulldogs have their sights on.
UGA also has its sights on the top player in Alabama this year. That’s 5-star CB Na’eem Offord. The No. 5 prospect is elite safety Anquon Fegans. Fegans was in Athens for the first big “Junior Day” last month. The ‘Dawgs have also devoted recruiting resources to the No. 7 player in Alabama in 4-star RB Alvin Henderson and the No. 8 prospect in 4-star LB Eric Winters.
Those are just the battles inside the state of Alabama. There were also another handful of national prospects yearly that Georgia and Smart always went toe-to-toe with Saban and Alabama on.
If the ‘Dawgs can get home with a couple of targets Alabama would’ve made it very hard to snag, that’s the next big stretch on the road to not just another No. 1 class, but the best group of the Smart era in Athens.
Georgia 2025 recruiting: What will the QB “Tetris” turn out to be?
Figuring out the QB comes up next on the heads-up display here.
If I didn’t have a strong belief in the playing futures of both Gunner Stockton and Ryan Puglisi, this item would be a little higher. But the belief here is the ‘Dawgs will get great football out of both of those two down the line.
That said, the Bulldogs only signed Puglisi in the 2024 class after expecting to have 5-star Dylan Raiola in Mike Bobo’s room. It meant the Bulldogs have had to play catch-up because it went last fall looking at the possibility of not taking a QB at all in the 2025 class.
The recent reclassification of in-state phenom Julian “Ju Ju” Lewis adds intrigue to the Tetris here. Can the ‘Dawgs flip Lewis? I’m not sure about that, but I believe someone can.
Lewis is the rare prospect the staff has to go both barrels after to see what he needs to find the right fit. A program that competes and recruits at the highest level has to do that with every top-flight QB that shows interest the way Lewis has over the last year. The fact that he’s an in-state prospect adds to the draw.
If I had to place a gentleman’s wager on who the ‘Dawgs sign for the 2025 class, I’d go with 4-star Ohio QB Ryan Montgomery or 4-star Pennsylvania QB Matt Zollers. Those two are impressive and wouldn’t likely command major NIL dollars to sign the way the highest-rated QBs have found in the last few classes.
Montgomery was impressive to talk to recently. Check out a snippet of that conversation below.
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.
Can Georgia get an elite WR prospect to look past NIL dollars?
Road hazard up ahead? Yeah, this would be the one.
Georgia wants to sign 4-star WR Travis Smith out of Westlake High School. I also believe that Smith and his family are quite intrigued by everything that Bryan McClendon is saying about a great fit in Athens. McClendon is also from the Atlanta area and Smith says he can easily relate to his inner circle.
The ‘Dawgs were in on this one early. They prioritized him well before he rose to the No. 8 national ranking for his position by On3.com. This big-bodied WR (6-foot-4 and 195 pounds) also loves to block to get the rock.
Yet as those rankings and national appeal rise, it will lead all parties here to a crossroads.
Is the lure of a career in Athens, that top-flight NFL development and the chance to practice every day against the nation’s best group of DBs enough? Can NFL dollars > NIL dollars win out for the ‘Dawgs here?
Or will another school come in with an NIL offer that offsets all of that?
Smith seems to have all the intangibles the Bulldogs look for in their top targets. He just plays a position where other elite wideouts haven’t seen the same value in catching passes at UGA compared to other more pass-happy options.
If they don’t sign Smith in the 2025 class, I’m not sure the ‘Dawgs will ever be able to sign a Top 10 national prospect at WR in the current NIL climate. If not, the future of the elite plug-and-play talents at this position that choose UGA will largely come from the transfer portal. It is what it is here.
Smith has no doubt game-breaking ability. If he signs, he’d be the best “X” WR prospect the ‘Dawgs have signed since George Pickens in the 2019 cycle.
Think that’s lofty? Georgia all-time great WR Terrence Edwards trains Smith and used Julio Jones in his scouting evaluation.
Georgia is after other talented WRs like Milton’s CJ Wiley (No. 300 overall) and Thomas Blackshear (No. 346 overall) out of Calvary Day in Savannah. North Carolina WR Nasir Newkirk has also garnered McClendon’s attention dating back to last season.
Georgia needs a lot this cycle to restock this position. The internal position expectation losses (PEL) document I maintain yearly on the roster forecasts that UGA will lose five to six receivers off its 2024 team.
But Smith would be a real tone-setter for this class. In more ways than one.
Will the 2025 class be built around the home state this time?
Could Smart and Georgia take the Peach Pass this time to the nation’s No. 1 class this cycle? That’s what I see building up ahead here.
This is self-explanatory. Here’s the listing of players Georgia has signed in-state versus out-of-state over the last few recruiting cycles.
- 2020: In-state signees: 8, Out-of-state signees: 17
- 2021: In-state signees: 10, Out-of-state signees: 10 (*Covid-19 recruiting cycle)
- 2022: In-state signees: 13, Out-of-state signees: 17
- 2023: In-state signees: 5, Out-of-state signees: 21
- 2024: In-state signees: 9, Out-of-state signees: 19
- 2025: In-state commits: 5, Out-of-state commits: 0
Could we be in for a market correction with this class? It feels like it at this early stage. Or at least more of a balance. The ideal way that Georgia could build this class would be a lot more Peach State-centered than it has been it some time.
Especially if a few big names like Gaston, Gibson, Griffin, Petty, Short, Smith, Smith Jr., Terry and 5-star LB Zayden Walker jump on board with the ‘Dawgs before the fall rolls around.
How can the separation from 2023 signees set up for a killer EDGE class?
DawgNation will always want to see its team get after the quarterback.
Georgia signed three All-American EDGE prospects in its 2023 class in Gabe Harris, Samuel M’Pemba and Damon Wilson. Those were all very highly-sought prospects and that made it very hard for the ‘Dawgs to attract the top pass rushers in the 2024 cycle.
This cycle sets up better for the ‘Dawgs and OLBs coach Chidera Uzo-Diribe. The ‘Dawgs have already built solid relationships with nationally-rated EDGE prospects Alabama’s Zion Grady (No. 1 EDGE, No. 23 overall), Jared Smith (No. 3 EDGE, No. 29 overall), North Carolina’s Bryce Davis (No. 8 EDGE, No. 66 overall) and Georgian Isiah Gibson (No. 15 EDGE, No. 156 overall). I wouldn’t discount the pursuit of high-riser Christian Gass at Eastside High in Covington as well. He’s just started to see his rankings populate in the three-star and four-star range from the national services.
The other boxes to check for the 2025 Georgia football class
We could call them side roads. Or pit stops to continue the theme at work here. These remaining elements look like key chapters, but maybe not pivotal plot threads, in what will be the story of the 2025 recruiting class.
- Can the “Dawgs win the race for 4-star in-state RB Ousmane Kromah? - Georgia signed three RBs in the 2024 cycle, but only one (All-American Chauncey Bowens) can do the things Kromah does. Georgia should have at least two of Andrew Paul, Branson Robinson and Roderick Robinson back for 2025. That lessens the major need for Kromah, but he’d be a great asset for Dell McGee’s room. That “thunder” or “hammer” back that teams get tired of tackling in fourth quarters will always be a priority.
- Can the ‘Dawgs hold on to 5-star TE Elyiss Williams? - Williams has been committed to UGA since April of last year, but everyone continues to jockey for the flip here. FSU continues to stay in the picture here and we can’t blame them. Gasp! The nerve of a program seeking to add a 6-foot-7 playmaker who ranks as the nation’s No. 1 TE to their program? FSU likes to commit significant resources to priority recruits so that is something to always keep an eye on. While the Seminoles have that, the Bulldogs have a (Todd) Hartley. We still like the red and black’s chances there.
- Checking off 2025 needs: That aforementioned “PEL” document sheds light on the expected roster needs this cycle given expected departures and the scholarships UGA maintains yearly at each position. Aside from the major needs at WR, the Bulldogs need a strong infusion on the OL (covered up above) and 5-star talents for both the cornerback and safety positions. The Bulldogs could lose three players to the NFL at those two positions from its 2022 class.
- How does Glenn Schumann top his 2024? -- Georgia signed a pair of 5-stars plus the underrated Jamon Dumas-Johnson in 2021. The ‘Dawgs then signed another 5-star and an All-American in 2022. They signed three of the nation’s top 6 LBs in 2023. Schumann topped that with two of the nation’s top three and three of the top nine in 2024. At this point, I believe the man could sell 8-track tapes and Member’s Only jackets to high school prospects. What will his LB crop look like this year?
- Who will be the evaluation darlings? -- Georgia finds them every cycle. We can think of countless examples like CJ Allen (2023), Dillon Bell (2022), Jordan Davis (2018), Marcus Harrison (2024), Quintavius Johnson (2024), Ladd McConkey (2020), AD Mitchell (2021), Nitro Tuggle (2024), and others. Those guys had zero buzz nationally until prioritized by Georgia. Once they were, their rankings spiked as the rest of the recruiting world caught on to what the coaches in Athens already knew. There will be more of those. It is a UGA staple and also cost-effective in the NIL era.
(check on the recent reads on Georgia football recruiting)