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UGA/Notre Dame visitor list jammed with top prospects

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 03 Georgia at Kentucky
“How many five stars?!?!?!”
Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Do you want to be in Sanford Stadium tomorrow night to watch the Georgia Bulldogs take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish? Of course you do.

In that respect you are not unlike many of the best high school football players in America. From various media and social media sources we’ve been able to cobble together a reliable list of the prospects visiting Athens for the Notre Dame game and it’s a doozy. As many as 10 five star prospects from the classes of 2020 and 2021 should be on hand, as well as a ton of four star recruits.

Of course the fact that a prospect is in town for this game doesn’t mean they’ll end up at Georgia. Many just want the chance to see one of the marque matchups of the college football season in what promises to be an electric night time atmosphere in one of the funnest college towns in America. But getting recruits on campus in this kind of atmosphere gives the coaching staff an ideal opportunity to pitch them on college life in the Classic City.

Here’s a quick class-by-class breakdown of some of the key visitors.

Class of 2020

Georgia is looking to sign 23-24 players in the class of 2020 and has 16 players already onboard. Those last 6-7 slots are, I suspect, largely taken behind the scenes if not publicly. And many of those committed prospects will be in town this weekend to watch their future teammates. Highlighting that group are five star tailback Kendall Milton, four star offensive linemen Tate Ratledge and Josh Braun, four star defensive linemen Nazir Stackhouse and Jalen Carter, four star corner Jalen Kimber, four star quarterback Carson Beck, and three star receiver Justin Robinson. Beck is actually on his school-funded official visit, the others are, as far as I can tell, here on their own dime.

Other significant visitors include Las Vegas prospect Darnell Washington, 247Sports’ #1 rated athlete and #13 player nationally for the class of 2020, who’ll be in town for an official visit. The 6’7, 256 pound Washington projects as a tight end, but in a nightmare scenario for defensive coordinators and 5’10 cornerbacks could honestly have the athleticism to slide outside from time to time.

Crystal ball predictions have had Washington signing with Georgia for some time, though I don’t know that I would expect him to make any public pronouncements this weekend, and I wouldn’t expect the rest of America to stop recruiting him even if he did.

Perhaps the most highly ranked prospect in attendance will be Hammond, South Carolina defensive end Jordan Burch. The #2 player in America per 247Sports (he was #1 for quite a while and may yet move back up) is the top strongside defensive end prospect in the country. At 6’5, 255 pounds he’s strong at the point of attack and a surprisingly athletic pass rusher. Clemson, South Carolina, and Alabama are the Dawgs’ main competition here, with many assuming that Burch was a lock to the Country Gentlemen. But Burch has been to Athens in April, June, July, and will be back this weekend unofficially. If you believe in “following the visits” as a recruiting indicator. it’s pretty clear that Georgia’s not out of this one at all.

Also in the Classic City from out west will be Orem, Utah middle linebacker Noah Sewell. Sewell, the nation’s #2 ILB prospect and #22 overall prospect, looks about as close to a create-a-player in the middle and you’ll find. At 6’2 and 265 pounds he still runs as well as players 40 pounds lighter and hits like a 9 pound hammer.

Sewell’s three older brothers have all played college football, including his brother, Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell. The Ducks are a competitor for his commitment, but so are the Aggies of Texas A&M as well as Alabama.

Georgia will also play host to Schley County defensive end Zykeivous Walker. The four star prospect is the nation’s #155 overall prospect and #9 defensive end. Walker is as physically impressive a player as you’ll see and at 6’4, 270 pounds has the potential to play just about anywhere on the defensive front. Auburn and Florida have both made a strong push for his services, but I still think there’s a great chance he ends up in Athens.

And coming in from the great white north (actually, just south of Detroit) is Windsor, Ontario tight end Theo Johnson. Johnson is the #3 tight end in this class and the #1 player in Canada. At 6’6, 245 pounds he has the size to grow into a solid blocker but already has excellent hands and ball skills in the open field for a guy of his size. Georgia will likely look to pair him with either Washington or Marietta five star Arik Gilbert to form the best tight end class in America.

Class of 2021

Georgia only has two commits so far for 2021 and one, Honea Path, South Carolina safety Bralyn Oliver, will be in Athens. But the list of uncommitted prospects is impressive.

Five star offensive tackle Amarius Mims of Bleckley County will be making another trip to Athens. The massive (6’7, 295) junior is the nation’s #2 offensive tackle and the #2 prospect in the state for 2021. And while he’s visited Auburn, Clemson, and Tuscaloosa among other locales in the past few weeks, Mims (whose high school coach also coached Jake Fromm and Trey Hill at Houston County) has gotten a whole lot of attention from the Pitt Boss.

Five star safety James Williams of Opa Locka, Florida will also be in Sanford Stadium. Williams (6’5, 218 pounds) is the nation’s #4 prospect, and possesses a unique combination of size and agility that could make him a weapon as a hybrid safety/linebacker.

Also in town will be the nation’s top junior defensive tackle prospect, Dudley, North Carolina’s Payton Page. Snagging the five star, 6’4, 320 pound standout away from Clemson and UNC is going to be a tall order. But getting him on campus for this kind of game can’t hurt.

Another five star prospect who’ll be on campus is dual threat quarterback Caleb Williams. The 6’2, 209 pound prospect is the #12 player regardless of position for the class of 2021 and looks like the top QB target on the Bulldog board. Georgia is the clear crystal ball leader for Williams’ signature. However he and his family have sought an offer from Stanford and some analysts believe an offer from the Cardinal would end his recruitment and send Georgia looking elsewhere at the position. This weekend will be a good chance for the UGA staff to sell the Williams family on Georgia as a total package to which they can commit.

Five Star corner Ga’Quincy McKinstry will make the trip over from Pinson, Alabama. The 5’11, 175 pound junior is one of the most explosive defensive backs in the nation, rated #2 nationally at his position and the #2 prospect in the state of Alabama. Auburn is perceived as the leader for his signature, but it’s a long way to December 2020.

Will there be any commitments over the weekend? I don’t know that I’d look for that, though it’s always possible. Again, 2020 is likely all but full unless some committed prospects head elsewhere. But this weekend is more about setting the tone for the classes of 2021 and 2022. Until later...

Go ‘Dawgs!!!