The Georgia Bulldogs’ 2018 signing class is in the books. Now it’s time to hand out the annual list of Signing Day Superlatives
Most Valuable Player: Justin Fields. Landing the electrifying blue chip quarterback in October served as a catalyst for this class, really kicking things into high gear. Not only did the high profile pledge do wonders for PR, Fields had also built strong personal relationships with several players, such as Illinois tight end Luke Ford, who might not have given Georgia a long, hard look otherwise.
Biggest Steal: Tramel Walthour. Walthour was not the most highly rated recruit in this class and some fabs were wondering in the lead up to Signing Day whether he might even be encouraged to look elsewhere to make room for a more touted recruit.
That was never going to happen. This guy has the potential to become a big time player. At 6’4, 275 pounds he has the size to play any of the three down lineman positions in the Bulldog defense. He has the frame to add twenty or more pounds and eventually become a John Atkins-style space eater in the middle. Walthour is quick off the ball and plays with his eyes. As his technique and strength improve he will only get better.
Most Likely To Succeed: Jamaree Salyer. I could have gone with Justin Fields in this slot. More and more teams are realizing that mobility at the QB position adds a necessary dimension to counteract elite defenses, and Justin Fields has the size and athleticism to be incredibly disruptive. He combines that with touch and instincts in the passing game on par with any quarterback recruit in recent memory.
I could also go with Zamir White. There were some national scouts who felt that White was the only truly elite tailback in the 2018 class. While the knee injury he suffered during his senior season clouds the near term picture a bit, if he comes back healthy (as expected) White could be a transcendent talent.
But I think Salyer is the guy most likely to succeed in the long term at the collegiate and pro level. He comes to Athens physically ready to play at 6’4, 342 pounds with a 400+ pound bench press. He plays with a nasty streak, but also plays incredibly smart, displaying a good knowledge of the playbook and an understanding of angles and timing that a lot of high school linemen lack. There is a ton of competition for snaps on the Bulldog offensive line. But I like Salyer to get more than his share of playing time from day one.
The One That Got Away: K.J. Henry. Georgia didn’t miss on many big time recruits, and usually when Kirby & Co. did they landed another recruit at the same position who was just as likely to flourish. But Henry would have been a real coup in this class. The 6’6, 235 pound defensive end out of North Carolina picked Clemson and is likely to grow into a disruptive edge rusher for the Fightin’ Dabos.
Mr. Early Impact: Devonte Wyatt. The JUCO defensive tackle was supposed to be a part of the 2017 class but didn’t quite get things squared away to enroll for this season. At 6’3, 300 pounds he’s obscenely athletic for his size and has a year of physical development on the other defensive tackles in this class. With John Atkins and Trenton Thompson gone there are snaps to be had on the UGA defensive line in 2018 and I expect Devonte Wyatt will get a lot of them. Tray Scott showed this season that, like Rodney Garner before him, he likes to rotate a lot of big men. It will be interesting to see how the rotation progresses as the season rolls on.
Position of Strength: Outside linebacker. With Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy graduating the Bulldogs needed to restock the jack and sam linebacker spots. Did they ever. The ‘Dawgs landed 247Sports’ #1 (Adam Anderson), #2 (Quay Walker), and #5 (Otis Reese) outside linebackers.