Georgia lost a head-to-head battle with LSU for a defensive standout earlier today. But this afternoon Kirby Smart & Company got a commitment from a player at a position of far greater need as a consolation prize.
Madison, Alabama linebacker Monty Rice chose the Bayou Bengals over Georgia today in a ceremony at his high school. While it would have been nice having Rice in red and black, immediate help at offensive tackle was a far greater priority in the 2017 recruiting class. The Bulldogs got just that with the pledge of Mississippi Gulf Coast standout D’Marcus Hayes.
The 6’6, 320 pound Hayes is a native of Madison, Mississippi and is rated a three star prospect by 247Sports. He’s rated the #2 JUCO offensive tackle in the country behind City College of San Fransisco’s Elliot Baker, an Alabama commit who cancelled a visit to Athens this past weekend. Hayes, however, did make it to Athens and appears set to stay a little longer now.
Hayes also claimed offers from Arkansas, Auburn, Louisville, and Mississippi State. Admittedly that’s not a murderer’s row of college football powerhouses. But that doesn’t mean that Hayes isn’t a huge (pun intended) piece of the puzzle for Georgia’s 2017 class.
To be clear, you don’t offer an JUCO offensive lineman to be developed or provide depth. You bring in guys like that to play. Hayes will graduate this month and enroll with three years to play two.
He has good, if not great, feet. As a consequence you see him bailing out against pass rushers a little quickly. Hayes gives dep to buy some time in this film, but that space comes out of his QB’s pocket. I’ll be curious to see him in action against the premier speed rushers in the SEC. Hayes could also do a better job of getting his arms extended in pass rush situations and “getting fit” in rushing situations. He has a tendency to just punch guys, which allows smart defenders to disengage and make a play.
These are coaching points that I'm sure Sam Pittman and his staff can handle. The real headline is that Hayes has the lower body mass and feet to be effective at left tackle in the SEC. Georgia did not have that in 2016, and there’s no guarantee anyone on campus now was going to develop those traits by August 2017.
This was a big commitment for Georgia because it means the staff may not have to shoehorn a guard or right tackle into the left tackle spot, or have to throw freshmen D’Antne Demery and Andrew Thomas into the deep end of the pool. That's important.
Also, as we have seen before with this staff, this commitment was carefully choreographed to keep momentum moving forward despite losing out on Rice earlier. Look for another potential announcement or two in the coming days to keep that momentum going into the holidays and upcoming high school all star games.