As no less a ‘Dawg than Corey Smith once observed, every ‘Dawg has its day. Nevertheless, you can’t win every game you play.
And so it is that Kirby Smart and the Bulldog coaches had another phenomenal Early Signing Day, albeit with a couple of high profile losses along the way.
In 2017 the Red and Black closed with a fury, flipping commits and getting commitments from players flipping Tennessee hats and seemingly getting every recruit they wanted on the day. This year was more about holding onto the recruits already in the fold, and frankly there wasn’t a whole lot of drama even there. Most of the players who had been rumored to be considering other destinations (Trezman Marshall, Nolan Smith) came out strongly in the days leading up to Signing Day to reaffirm their commitments.
The news of Justin Fields’ impending transfer had cast a pall over Bulldog Nation for a couple of days. It also moved the quarterback position from one of some need to absolutely critical among priorities for this class. The staff addressed that need by extending an offer on Sunday to Michigan standout Dwan Mathis, who had been committed to Ohio State.
Such is the power of what Kirby Smart has begun building at Georgia. Lose the #2 quarterback from the class of 2018 48 hours before Signing Day? Just go offer the #9 QB in the class of 2019 and get him to decommit from a team right down the road which also happens to be coming off its own stellar season, based on the promise that he’ll be able to compete for the job in two seasons. That’s called “brand power”, son.
Again, Georgia didn’t win every battle. The nation’s top tailback, IMG Academy standout Trey Sanders, chose Alabama over Georgia and Florida following a recruitment which saw every recruiting analyst in the southeast throwing their collective hands in the air. Sanders is a phenomenal back, but Georgia’s still in great shape in the backfield. The ‘Dawgs did get a letter of intent from versatile Florida standout Kenny McIntosh, who had been expected to wait until later to sign.
It’s also sounding more and more like Elijah Holyfield may be back to serve as the thunder to D’Andre Swift’s lightning. James Cook may well be poised for a bigger role in 2019, and we have yet to see what Zamir White can do following knee surgery. Add in the fact that Georgia is already in contention for a couple of five star tailbacks in the 2020 class, and Sanders’ loss was one we could absorb.
The same could be said for his IMG Academy teammate Evan Neal. The behemoth offensive tackle also chose the Tide over the ‘Dawgs. But Sam Pittman already has trouble finding enough space for his meeting room full of large adult sons and all their accumulated recruiting stars. And that’s before you count Warren McClendon and Xavier Truss, four star offensive tackles in this class, and the nation’s top offensive tackle, Darnell Wright, who will not sign until February.
Where did Georgia really need some help? Linebacker. So the staff went out and signed the nation’s top linebacker recruit, Nakobe Dean. Dean is a heat-seeking missile who will push for playing time from the moment he steps on campus. He joins a linebacking corps that will undoubtedly be among the 2-3 best in the nation in 2019.
The class is so good that Tennessee defensive lineman Zion Logue, the #11 player in the Volunteer State and a four star recruit, is the 18th highest ranked player in this class. He would be among the top six recruits in nIne SEC classes. That’s what you call depth.
If you’re going off Rivals’ rankings, Georgia signed 16 five star recruits from 2002 to 2015. They’ve signed the same number in the past three recruiting cycles under Kirby Smart. Georgia signed seven players today who are rated among the top three in the nation at their position. This is truly elite recruiting.
There were pledges from the top players in the states of Alabama, Rhode Island, Kansas, and Mississippi. Depending on how you look at things Bulldog signee Nolan Smith is either the top player in Georgia, where he’s originally from, or Florida, where he’s attending IMG. Either way he’s 247Sports’ top rated recruit in the nation regardless of position. Which is kind of cool, right?
And, as with last season, the Bulldogs may not be done. While they have ground to make up they’re still in the mix for the aforementioned top offensive tackle Wright, as well as south Florida safety/corner Tyrique Stevenson, who may have more upside than any defensive back in this class. There’s also Jadon Haselwood, who may be headed to his father’s alma mater Oklahoma, may be going to Ohio State, or may be sticking with Georgia.
There’s also the very real chance that this staff begins rolling up commitments for 2020. That class looks much better than the current one at quarterback and tailback, and on the defensive line, where Georgia May sign its best class in recent memory. And the state of Georgia once again has a couple of prospects who could become the top-ranked prospect in the country. That’s the thing about recruiting. It never, ever stops.
Did Georgia win every battle today? Nope. But Kirby Smart and his staff did assemble a class that will help them continue to lap the field in the SEC East (more on that later) and stay right on the hip of the Alabama Crimson Tide. I know we keep saying this, but it bears repeating: Georgia football is going to be a factor in the national title race for the foreseeable future, and today they signed players who will be a part of that. Until later....