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Predicting Georgia’s odds of landing the biggest Early Signing Day targets

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NCAA Football: Appalachian State at Georgia Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

We're less than 24 hours away from college football's first early National Signing Day, and the Georgia Bulldogs are right in the thick of things for some of America's most highly-rated prospects.

The Bulldogs are riding both a wave of momentum stemming from their run to the college football playoff and a rising tide of talent in the Peach State. After a slow start Georgia will enter Wednesday with the third ranked 2018 signing class in the country. The 'Dawgs hold a very slight lead over Mark Richt's Miami Hurricanes and are within striking distance of the second place Texas Longhorns. Ohio State holds a pretty commanding lead for the top spot, though it's certainly conceivable that the Buckeyes could eventually relinquish that lead.

If Georgia lost every head-to-head battle from here to February the 'Dawgs would still have a pretty good class. But pretty good doesn't win championships. Here's a look at the recruiting battles involving Kirby Smart's team that are likely to be decided tomorrow, along with my best guess regarding Georgia's chances.

Jamaree Salyer (OG, Pace Academy). The top offensive guard prospect in the nation, and perhaps the highest rated in several recruiting classes, the 6'4, 342 pound standout has long been thought to be a safe bet to end up in Athens. Salyer is close with former Pace teammate Andrew Thomas, who is flourishing as a freshman.

The main competition for Salyer's signature is Clemson, and there was a mild panic this weekend when rumors circulated that Salyer might postpone his decision to February based on urging from the Country Gentlemen. But that now looks unlikely after Salyer's official visit to Georgia went well by all accounts.

MaconDawg's prediction: Georgia

Confidence level: 70%. It's never over until it's over, but Salyer's affinity for Sam Pittman is no secret, and his affinity for the Georgia program in general has been on display on the recruiting trail for months. It would be a bitter surprise for Georgia to lose this one.

Cade Mays (OT, Knoxville Catholic (TN). Mays is a five star offensive tackle and a Tennessee legacy who was committed to the Vols for two years before opening things back up as Rocky Top slipped into turmoil. Jeremy Pruitt spent one of his first visits on Mays, but it still appears that the 6'6, 320 pounder will decide tomorrow from among Georgia, Clemson, and Ohio State.

Mays was with Salyer this weekend in Athens for his own official visit, and seems to have had a good time. Salyer has made no secret of wanting to play with Mays in college, and he and fellow UGA commit Trey Hill have both reached out to Mays. Georgia is definitely in this one.

But it remains to be seen whether a player who has worn orange and white for as long as he can remember, and who grew up both literally and figuratively in the shadow of Neyland Stadium, can put that aside to don the red and black.

MaconDawg's prediction: Clemson.

Confidence level: 53%. I wouldn't be surprised to see Mays pick the 'Dawgs, but I think the defending national champions may get the nod in a close battle. Either way, losing the closest thing to a lock is humiliating for the Creamsicle Brigade, and we all win when that happens.

Brenton Cox (DE/OLB, Stockbridge). Another long time commit who opened things back up recently, Cox is a top five player in the state of Georgia and the #2 strongside defensive end in the nation. After pledging to Urban Meyer's Buckeyes in April Cox opened things back up earlier this month and will now select from between Alabama and Georgia.

MaconDawg's prediction: Georgia

Confidence level: 75%. If Jeremy Pruitt were still at Alabama this prediction would likely be flipped. Cox appeared bound for Tuscaloosa when he decommitted, but I really like the Dawgs' chances now.

Micah Parsons (DE, Harrisburg, PA). Parsons is the #4 player in the country and the #1 defensive end in America according to the 247Sports composite. Georgia was on the periphery of his recruitment until the last few weeks, culminating in an official visit this past weekend. There is a lot of excitement among Bulldog fans for the possibility of a "signing day surprise", and Parsons would be a big one. The Bulldogs would have to beat out the home state Nittany Lions and Oklahoma Sooners to pull it off.

MaconDawg's prediction: Penn State

Confidence level: 80%. If Kirby Smart pulls this one off it will be confirmation that he's an actual wizard. I hate to see James Franklin win at anything, but this one looks pretty inevitable to me.

Luke Ford (TE, Carterville, IL). The nation's #2 tight end isn't guaranteed to sign tomorrow and could wait a little longer. Ford has been close with Justin Fields throughout his recruitment, and there's every reason to believe that he might follow Fields to Athens.

Ford recently announced a top five of Georgia, Alabama, Texas A&M, Auburn, and Illinois. I think it comes down to Georgia and Auburn, however.

MaconDawg's prediction: Georgia

Confidence level: 80%. Georgia has a pretty appealing tight end depth chart, Shane Beamer has done a great job on Ford’s recruitment, and the chance to play with Justin Fields, Zamir White, and the Great Wall of Georgia (trademark, Sam Pittman) should be too much for Ford to turn down.

Divaad Wilson (CB, Miami Northwestern). Wilson, a former Florida commit, is the #32 corner in the nation and fits the mold of the big, physical corner Kirby Smart wants. The four star prospect is a teammate of UGA commits Rachad Wildgoose and James Cook, and will decide from amongst the Bulldogs, Florida Gators, Alabama Crimson Tide, South Carolina Gamecocks, and Louisville Cardinals.

MaconDawg's prediction: Georgia

Confidence level: 70%. If there's space available I would expect Wilson to sign with the 'Dawgs. While Georgia has recruited some other cornerbacks (including five star Californian Isaac Taylor-Stuart) Wilson looks to me like the most obvious addition at the position.

Quay Walker (OLB, Crisp County). There have been rumblings over the past couple of weeks that the longtime Alabama commit may not be that committed to the Tide, or that the Tide are no longer that committed to him. If that’s the case (not confirmed), and if Walker decides to sign tomorrow (not confirmed), then Georgia makes sense as a landing spot.

MaconDawg’s prediction: Absolutely no clue. Does Jeremy Pruitt leaving for Tennessee cause Walker to reconsider? Could Nick Saban actually not have room for one of the top ten players in the state of Georgia? Hard to say, but if Walker did commit to the G it would be another sign of how hot the UGA staff is on the recruiting trail. Georgia hasn’t gotten a coveted prospect out of Crisp County since your grandfather was a freshman. Swooping in and picking up a player ranked in the national top ten at a position of only mild need would be the kind of thing the college football elite do.

We’ll be back in the morning and throughout the day with all your Signing Day news. Until then, feel free to drop your own predictions in the comments, and . . .

Go ‘Dawgs!!!