We’ve hit the halfway point on the 2020 calendar, and some folks are starting to worry a bit about Georgia’s recruiting.
If this is what you’ve chosen to worry about right now when **GESTURES BROADLY AT THE ENTIRE MASSIVE PILE OF HORRIBLE THINGS HAPPENING ON PLANET EARTH** um, lots of other things are going on, then let me put your mind to ease.
Georgia’s 2020 class had some early headline stealing commitments when five-star OT Tate Ratledge, five-star DT Jalen Carter and five-star LB Mekhail Sherman all committed to the Dawgs in May.
Then came a giant lull. From August 18, 2019 to December 15, 2019 Georgia did not receive a single commitment. Four-star OT Joshua Braun flipped his commitment from the Dawgs to Florida on December 11th when Sam Pittman announced he would be taking the head coaching position at Arkansas.
Folks started doing something you should never do when it comes to recruiting- doubt Kirby Smart. Some within the Bulldog fanbase were particularly panicked about how the optics of Georgia’s blowout loss to LSU in the SEC Title Game would look to potential prospects. When taking into account how glaring the holes at wide-receiver were in that game, there seemed to be good reason to panic.
During his postgame press conference following the LSU loss Kirby Smart said something illuminating about his receiving corps. Go to the 9:30 mark of this clip.
Kirby was candid that Georgia needed better pass catchers. Four guys had gone to the NFL, and he hadn’t replaced them. Losing Cager and Blaylock to injury and having Pickens suspended in the first-half of the game hadn’t helped.
From the time that Joshua Braun de-committed on December 11th to the final signing day of the 2020 cycle on February 5th, Georgia added 11 players to its class. Among those were four-star wide-receivers Arian Smith and Jermaine Burton, three-star wide-receiver Ladd McConkey and five-star tight end Darnell Washington. A need was identified. That need was filled.
The 2020 class had some attractive star power to that point, but it lacked the type of depth that a top five class has to have. By the time February 5th rolled around, this was the result.
Georgia signed the nation’s number one class. It consisted of 4 five-stars, 15 four-stars and 6 three-stars. A lot of that work had already been done, but fans only know so much. Kids make commitments silently during the recruiting cycle. Then they wait until signing day to have their moment in the sun and announce where they’re going on national television.
A lot of fans are worried right now because Georgia’s 2021 signing class is currently ranked 16th in the 247Sports Composite Rankings. These people are paying attention to the wrong thing.
With 10 players committed, Georgia has fewer prospects on the board at this moment than any other team in the Top 25 of the rankings. There is 1 five-star, 8 four-stars and 1 three-star committed to UGA right now. Here’s where I tell you what you need to remember...
Let’s take a look at the 2020 team recruiting rankings again, but this time let’s hone in on something besides the numerical rankings...
The column I highlighted here is the average rating per a player in a class. To finish with a Top 3 to Top 5 class, a team needs to come in somewhere near or above a 93 average per a player.
Ohio State currently has the #1 ranked class for 2021, and they’re holding a ridiculous 95.71 average with 18 commitments. That will almost certainly come down as they fill out the rest of their class.
What seems to be irking Georgia fans more than anything is that the Dawgs 2021 class is currently ranked behind division rivals Tennessee and Florida. Currently Tennessee has a whopping 23 commitments. While they have gotten pledges from some high-profile players, they also lack a high ratio of blue-chip recruits. Of the Vols pledges, 13 are three-star players. Their average player ranking is an 89.92. That would have left them with the fifteenth class in the country last recruiting cycle. The Vols only have a couple spots left to sign more players, and that’s assuming they keep all of the ones who are currently committed. They won’t. Especially when some of these kids actually meet Jeremy Pruitt in person. Remember that recruits haven’t been able to have contact with coaches since Coronavirus hit the country in March.
There are a lot of players committed to schools that they have never been to. Some of them are even committed to coaches they have never met face-to-face. There are certainly exceptions to this rule, but a lot of those players have pledged during the pandemic because they want to secure a spot.
Georgia doesn’t often sign players who aren’t sure whether or not they’re good enough to get a scholarship in the SEC. Georgia signs guys that can go anywhere they want.
Florida also has a large number of signees right now. The Gators have 20 players committed. Much like Tennessee, far too many of Florida’s pledges have come from three-stars for the Gators to stay near the top of the recruiting rankings. The Gators have 9 three-star recruits committed, and their player average is a pedestrian 89.56. Historically, that would put Florida somewhere in the high teens. Dan Mullen is actually doing a worse job on the recruiting trail this cycle than he has in any year since his hiring.
So what about Georgia? The Dawgs ten current commitments have an average of 93.84. The only teams that currently have a higher player average are Ohio State and Clemson, and they are ranked first and second in the current recruiting rankings for the 2021 cycle.
Does Georgia still have work to do on the recruiting trail? Yes. But currently Georgia’s 2021 class is shaping up to be as or more talented per a player than the 2020 class that finished ranked first in the nation.
Kirby Smart hasn’t seen his team practice since the Sugar Bowl. God only knows when he will watch them play a game. Smart knows that holes need to be discovered before a class can be filled in the most effective way possible. He also knows that kids want to come to Georgia, and he can take his time evaluating prospects and what positions are most in need of help on his team.
Does Georgia have time? Yes. Does Georgia have a lot of targets on the board who can go wherever they want? Yes. Many of the biggest fish often don’t announce until the end of the cycle. Some of them may even be silently committed to the Bulldogs right now.
The Dawgs are fifteen players away from a full class, but it doesn’t mean there’s a reason to panic. Georgia will get their guys.
If you think the Dawgs won’t, then you need to remember that Kirby Smart has signed recruiting classes with the following rankings during the last four years- 1st, 2nd, 1st, 3rd.
If he thought that the blue-chips weren’t coming to Athens then you would see the Dawgs doing what Tennessee and Florida have been- offering a lot of lower ranked recruits in order to fill out the class.
Let Mullen and Pruitt eat mackerel. Kirby’s fishing for marlin. When this race gets back to the dock I promise you Smart’s haul will be as impressive as any in the country.
Until that time, I encourage you to take the advice of Kevin Bacon’s Chip Diller from Animal House.
And when the big prizes do start committing to the Dawgs, be sure to say “thank you sir may I have another” to the Head Dawg in Athens. He’s pretty damn good at this, y’all.