A couple of high profile Peach State defensive back targets recently announced that they’ll be attending college in the Palmetto State. Westlake safety A.J. Terrell committed to Clemson last week. Then on Saturday Grayson cornerback/receiver Jamyest Williams picked the South Carolina Gamecocks over the Bulldogs.
Williams was considered a UGA lean for a while, but had made it clear in recent weeks that he was looking to build his own legacy, and wanted to go somewhere where he could bring players with him. For the Athens native, that was not likely to be the case at Georgia. Liberty County defensive back Richard LeCounte is pretty clearly the pied piper of UGA’s 2017 defensive back class.
Some Bulldogs fans will inevitably say that Georgia must not have really wanted Williams, but my sense is that is far from the truth. The 5’8 Williams does not have ideal height, and if you watched him this weekend against Florida’s IMG Academy you saw that he does in fact struggle a little against bigger receivers in one-on-one matchups. But he is among the most explosive athletes in the southeast, and would likely be one of the top 10 recruits in the country if he were 6’1. He’s going to make an impact in Columbia, and Kirby Smart could have definitely found room for him in Athens. Score one for big, dumb Muschamp recruiting.*
The good news for Georgia is that the Bulldogs already have a ton of young cornerback talent on campus. Junior Malkom Parrish and sophomore Juwan Briscoe have a lock on the starting spots at corner right now. Sophomores Kirby Choates and Rico McGraw both played significant snaps in 2015 and are likely to do the same in 2016. Highly touted freshman Mecole Hardman will likely join the rotation, and fellow newcomer Tyrique McGhee has been lauded by Kirby Smart for his toughness despite working through a hamstring injury in camp.
The ‘Dawgs also have 2017 commitments from four star Hapeville Charter corner William Poole, III and big Florida corner Latavious Brini. The biggest remaining defensive back target on Georgia’s board is Grayson standout DeAngelo Gibbs, who at 6’2, 205 pounds has been playing safety so far in 2016 but could slot in at corner as well. So the cupboard’s not exactly bare, even with Williams set to head east. Kirby Smart and his staff have done an admirable job of instate recruiting, but you really cannot win them all.
*After watching Will Muschamp’s Florida teams my SB Nation colleague Spencer Hall was moved to dub their style ‘Big, dumb Muschamp football.’ I have now imported this nomenclature to all aspects of Muschamp’s gridiron stewardship. It just feels right.