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Can Georgia snag this talented Tennessee tailback?

Florida v Georgia Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

There’s been a lot of buzz in recruiting circles recently around Murfreesboro, TN (Blackman HS) junior tailback Master Teague, III. Teague earned offers this spring from not only Georgia, but also Auburn, the home state Vols, Notre Dame, South Carolina, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Mississippi State, and Vanderbilt. Those offers came after an exceptionally productive junior season in which the 5’11, 210 pound standout ran for 2031 yards on only 242 carries (an 8.4 ypc average), also tallying 24 rushing touchdowns.

247Sports ranks Teague the 25th best running back in the 2018 cycle, and Rivals ranks him 28th at his position. Both services label him a three star recruit. While those rankings don’t sound that impressive, Teague looks set to become a priority for the Bulldog staff over the coming months, for reasons that make sense once you watch his junior highlights:

I would caution against drawing too many conclusions from this tape. Teague is a big back, bigger in fact than most of the defenders trying to tackle him. I’d like to see what he does against slightly stiffer competition. But what I do see is very encouraging. Teague runs with decent pad level and has a low center of gravity. He has good feet in traffic. He is patient, waiting for the blocking to develop then explodes through the hole without hesitation. That’s one of those things that is hard to teach if a guy doesn’t just have it. Teague is also a physical back, willing to drive through contact for extra yardage. That's something the Bulldog coaches really love.

Again, it’s a little hard to tell because I don’t see a lot of elite speed on the field with him, but Teague appears to have very good straight line speed for his size. As I like to say, he’s usually faster than whoever is chasing him. I don’t know that he has the elite cutting ability of a Sony Michel or a pre-injury Keith Marshall. But he does have really good instincts and is a smooth runner, not wasting a lot of time jitterbugging laterally when he could be getting upfield for useful yardage.

If I had to draw a parallel with a recent Bulldog tailback, I’d say Teague reminds me a little of Washaun Ealey, though I cannot say from this film that he has Ealey’s exceptional balance. I suspect he may be a little faster in the open field, and I think he’ll ultimately get a little bigger than Ealey.

Georgia’s main target at tailback for 2018 remains North Carolina blue chipper Zamir White. While Clemson and others continue to push hard for him, the Bulldogs appear to be in good shape for the consensus top running back in the country. You might think signing a guy like White would scare off other backs at his position, but in college football today you just don’t see a lot of “feature backs” who get 30 touches a game. And high school players aren’t looking for that, either. They know that the best way to get to the NFL is to be a part of a platoon of running backs who can take turns punishing defenses, and provide options when one of them is beat up.

UGA running back coach Dell McGee has stressed this in recruiting several running backs. His pitch was effective enough last season to land D’Andre Swift out of Pennsylvania and Toneil Carter out of Texas, two consensus top ten backs. Had a numbers crunch not forced the ‘Dawgs to let Carter walk, the Bulldog backfield would be even more loaded. I wouldn’t bet against McGee signing a talented pair of backs in 2018. Georgia also continues to recruit Bainbridge tailback Dameon Pierce, who decommitted from Alabama last night.

To run the type of pro-style offense for which Kirby Smart has expressed a preference, you really need five tailbacks at a minimum. Six would be ideal. With Nick Chubb and Sony Michel leaving after 2017 Georgia will likely find itself with three scholarship tailbacks: Brian Herrien, Elijah Holyfield, and Swift. Picking up two more in the class of 2018 is therefore a must. Until later....

Go ‘Dawgs!!!