We have said many times in the space that you can never count Kirby Smart out for a blue chip recruit, especially in the Peach State. But today’s breaking Recruiting News is ridiculous even for the Kirbster.
Junior Gunner Stockton of Rabun County is the top dual threat quarterback in the 2022 class according to 247Sports. In 2020 he threw for 3,128 yards and 45 touchdowns versus just 4 interceptions (2 of which were actually in a hard-fought playoff win against fellow UGA recruit Amarius Mims’ Bleckley County Royals).
Gunner is a true dual threat, also churning out 1,581 yards rushing yards and 26 rushing touchdowns in leading Rabun County to the state semifinals.
Never forget when Georgia commit Gunner Stockton— Wes Blankenship (@Wes_nship) January 28, 2021
Did this to Georgia commit Brock Vandagriff’s team pic.twitter.com/TPP6GLwbxn
Stockton’s balance is what sets him apart as a prospect. A lot of “dual threat” QBs are great runners who can sort of throw the ball. But Stockton has terrific arm strength, nice touch, and excellent pocket presence for a high school passer. In the quarterfinal game against Bleckley referenced above he took some solid hits and came right back to deliver a game-winning effort in overtime. Some of that is excellent coaching (more on that in a moment), but Stockton also has the kind of poise that’s tough to teach.
Gunner, the son of former Georgia Southern standout Rob Stockton, had committed to South Carolina, which in 2020 employed Mike Bobo as offensive coordinator (Stockton has worked with Bobo’s father George, a Rabun County resident and well-respected QB coach). The Gamecocks also employed former South Carolina standout Connor Shaw, whose father Lee Shaw played and later coached at Rabun County. Those ties made Columbia a comfortable destination for the 6’1, 220 pound standout.
But with South Carolina parting ways with Will Muschamp and Mike Bobo Stockton backed off his pledge and started looking around. Georgia had been the runner up when he committed initially, but many observers thought that the enrollment of Brock Vandagriff (247Sports’ #2 dual threat QB for 2021) would make it hard for the ‘Dawgs to land another elite signal caller in the very next class.
Guess not. Auburn was thought to be in the sweepstakes for Stockton after Bobo took over as new head Plainsman Bryan Harsin’s offensive coordinator, and I would expect the Tigers to stay in touch. But it seems that the chance to play for the home state school, and offensive coordinator Todd Monken, won out.
Another factor that likely worked in favor of the Red and Black was actually the QB already on the roster, JT Daniels. With Daniels firmly securing the starting job and coming back for 2021, Stockton should arrive in time to compete alongside Vandagriff for the starting spot, rather than risking the Prince Avenue star earning the starting nod in 2021 then having to unseat him. That’s a key distinction.
It’s also worth noting that in today’s transfer-happy college football world the recruiting rich are getting richer because players assume they’ll be able to transfer out more easily now if things don’t work out. Personally I hope Brock Vandagriff leads Georgia to national titles as a redshirt freshman and redshirt sophomore, leaves as the top pick in the NFL Draft, and hands the reins over to redshirt sophomore Stockton in 2024.
For now, the Bulldogs have a recruit to anchor what’s shaping up to be one of the top 2022 classes in America. Georgia will have at least three slots for wide receivers in the cycle, so having a passer like Stockton onboard early should help. Welcome aboard, Gunner. And...