Let’s be honest folks.
It hasn’t been a great news week.
But that changed somewhat this evening with the blockbuster commitment of five star Jefferson High School prospect Malaki Starks.
Starks chose the Red and Black this evening over fellow finalists Alabama and Clemson. He selected this date in honor of his father, as it is the elder Starks’ birthday. And there’s probably no better present for a Bulldog fan on his birthday than to have a child commit to play in Athens.
In my mind there are two kinds of recruits: those who some teams believe they can develop, and others who are “no brainer” recruits, the ones every major program is after. Starks is decidedly in the latter category. 247Sports rates him the #29 player in the country regardless of position, and the #4 player in the Peach State for 2022. In addition to his three finalists the 6’1, 200 pound junior held offers from the likes of Auburn, Florida State, LSU, Notre Dame, and Southern Cal.
That list speaks to Starks’ undeniable potential at the college level. Recruiting services have evaluated him as an “athlete”, in part because he’s worn so many hats for the Jefferson Dragons. Schools have evaluated him at wide receiver, running back, safety, linebacker, star, and even quarterback with most of them agreeing that they just want to get him on campus and find a place to spotlight his innate athletic ability.
Starks has the frame to add weight and play linebacker. His quick first step and willingness to come up and deliver a hit make me think that could be where his future lies. At the same time his work on offense has helped him develop ball skills that most inside the box defenders just don’t have.
But Starks also has good hip shift and straight line speed (he’s run in the 10.8 range in the 100 meters and qualified for the AAAA state meet in the 200 as a freshman).
Big safety? Star? Sideline-to-sideline linebacker? I don’t know exactly what Dan Lanning and Kirby Smart will ultimately do with Starks, but I like that he has the ability to grow into any of those roles seamlessly. In today’s spread defenses, the ability to do a lot of different things with the same personnel is more critical than ever, and Starks is the kind of player you need for that.
Starks is the ninth commitment for UGA’s 2022 class, and the fifth to be ranked a five star by at least one recruiting service. His commitment also moves the Bulldogs up to second in 247Sports’ class rankings, behind only Ohio State (which has eleven commits so far). Until later...