Kirby Smart's first full recruiting class at Georgia was one for the ages. The 2017 class finished the cycle ranked number three in the nation by most recruiting services, and included blue-chip players at almost every position group.
2018, on the other hand, has not been one to remember. There’s still a long way to go until Signing Day 2018. Let's get that out of the way right now. But at this stage in the game it's hard to argue that Georgia is not soundly behind its coevals. The Red and Black have only two commitments for the class, Rome outside linebacker Adam Anderson and Florida inside linebacker Donovan Georges.
That puts UGA at a disappointing 52nd in the country* and a downright putrid 12th in the SEC according to 247Sports rankings. I suspect there are some silent commitments out there we just don't know about. But gauged solely on public information, Georgia looks to be headed toward a colossally discouraging class.
The question is, at what point does this become a real problem? I think we will have our answer within about a week. The annual G Day game is this Saturday and there are likely to be a number of star recruits on hand. Last year's event went a long way toward kickstarting the superlative 2017 class. Even if they didn't commit on the spot, several recruits later cited “#93kDay” as a critical turning point in their recruitment.
This year's event isn't going to include a halftime Ludacris concert and is unlikely to have 93,000+ raucous fans in attendance. But I think there's a safe chance that Georgia notches a commitment or two either on Saturday or soon thereafter. Kirby Smart has proven very adroit at managing momentum in recruiting. Now seems like a great time to uncork a verbal pledge to kick the 2018 class into gear.
One player we know will be making a decision following the game is Stockbridge defensive end Brenton Cox, a consensus top 10 player in the state and top 100 player in the country. Cox has said that he will choose after the G Day game between Georgia and Ohio State.
While Cox has probably been to Georgia more than any other school, he announced that he’ll be accelerating his commitment timeline right after making a visit to Ohio State along with his mother. Taken together, the timing makes it sound a little like Cox is going to be in Athens to thank coaches and players for their interest before announcing he’ll be a Buckeye.
If Cox heads out of state he’d join five star quarterbacks Trevor Lawrence (Clemson), Justin Fields (Penn State), and Emory Jones (a longtime Ohio State commit), Lassiter safety Derrik Allen (Notre Dame), and defensive linemen Robert Cooper (Florida State) and Justin Mascoll (Clemson) as players ranked in the top 10 in the Peach State leaving to play elsewhere.
It’s early in the Smart era yet, but missing out on 70% of the top prospects in the state sounds a lot like the chain of events that preceded Smart coming into possession of his current job. In short, it's something up with which a vocal segment of the Bulldog fanbase has been loathe to put.
There remain major targets, both in state and out, for whom Georgia stands a strong chance. Five star tailback Zamir White and five star offensive guard Jamaree Salyer for example are both projected by many (if not most) analysts to wind up in the Classic City. I still expect Kirby Smart to sign a top 10-12 class in 2018, which isn't bad. But we’re quickly nearing the point on the recruiting calendar when classes really start to gel. Bulldog fans would certainly feel a little better if theirs started to do the same. Or at least come out where we can actually see them. Until later....
The top class? Mark Richt’s Miami Hurricanes. That smarts a little.