It’s the first week of Georgia’s 2021 football season. But every week is recruiting season in the SEC. Every Tuesday this season we’re taking a look at some of the biggest recruiting stories impacting the Red and Black.
This week’s biggest news is probably the commitment of Nashville, Tennessee offensive tackle Jacob Hood to the Bulldogs yesterday afternoon.
Hood was a bit of a mystery coming into this season. At one point the 6’8 lineman was pushing 400 pounds and it was unclear if he would have the commitment to get in shape and harness his behemoth potential. Now playing at a much more manageable 342 pounds he’s seen interest from major programs pick up, and picked the Bulldogs over offers from the likes of Auburn, Florida, LSU, Miami, Michigan, and Texas A&M.
He’s only ranked as the #39 offensive tackle in the country and #15 player in the state of Tennessee in the 247Composite rankings, so this is not a commit who’s going to supercharge the Bulldogs recruiting rankings. Candidly, I suspect that recent Alabama commit Tyler Booker out of IMG Academy was probably higher on the staff’s board as he’s just a more physically developed, polished player at this stage.
But Hood is a very intriguing prospect. He’s got a solidly built lower body, elite length, and quickness for his size.
Hood’s pad level isn’t great, and he still needs to build conditioning. Also, the above highlights don’t tell us a lot about his strength because he’s literally twice the size of a lot of players he lines up against. I’m a little concerned about him working out with those 10 pound weights in his commitment video and am just going to assume that’s because they were doing 30+ takes for each scene. But if he can make solid gains in the UGA strength and conditioning program that has done wonders for guys like Xavier Truss, Ben Cleveland, and Jordan Davis, Hood could be a steal.
Hood’s pledge is the 16th for the ‘Dawgs in this cycle. But it’s a little early to worry about running out of room. Unlike last year, when an additional year of eligibility for all players and a wave of transfers yielded uncertainty, the Red and Black appear poised to have at least 25 spots available in the 2022 class. Usually with three months left before the early signing period it also would not be surprising to see a couple of the current commitments move on to other opportunities. But this UGA class looks like it will include both some guys with a ton of upside who aren’t as highly rated nationally, and some who fill very important niches.
It will still be a top five recruiting class once all is said and done. But I don’t know that the overall wattage of star power will be the same as the last few classes. Some of that is also the fact that Georgia is a comparatively young team and doesn’t have a lot of immediate playing time to offer, in no small part because the 2018, 2019, and 2020 classes were all so loaded. 2023 however looks like a promising year, due in no small part to the state of Georgia being even more loaded with top talent than usual.
Elsewhere in the 2022 class, the Bulldogs will have a pretty impressive list of recruits coming to Charlotte to watch them take on the Clemson Tigers. West Forsyth tight end Oscar Delp (#3 TE, #97 overall in the 247Composite) will be on hand with UGA QB commit Gunner Stockton. Delp appears to pretty much be the Bulldogs’ recruiting board at tight end right now, with Michigan and South Carolina also recruiting him heavily.
Also in attendance will be Powell, Tennessee defenive lineman Walter Nolen. Nolen, the #2 player and #1 defensive lineman in the country per the 247Composite, recently named Georgia, Tennessee, and Texas A&M as his top three. The Bulldogs only have one true interior defensive lineman in the 2022 class (Tifton four star Tyre West), but remain in the hunt for several of the top ten players at the position, including Cedar Grove Christen Miller, former Bulldog commit Bear Alexander, and Florida five star Shemar Stewart. Miller is also planning to be in Charlotte.
He’ll be joined by his Cedar Grove teammate edge rusher Carlton Madden, who’s earned serious recruiting interest despite missing the 2020 season due to transfer ineligibility. Also in attendance will be Richmond, Virginia four star receiver Dre Greene, Jr., who’s been recruited by both schools, and St. John Bosco Prep (CA) guard/center Earnest Greene, arguably the top remaining uncommitted interior lineman in the 2022 class.
If anything the lineup of 2023 recruits attending this weekend is even more loaded, including the top overall junior prospect in both the state of Georgia and the nation, Milton offensive lineman Lebbeus Overton. Joining him will be the state’s #2 prospect, Warner Robins lineman Vic Burley. Also in attendance will be the nation’s top junior safety, Caleb Downs of Mill Creek and blue chip tailbacks Justice Haynes of Blessed Trinity (the son of Bulldog great Verron Haynes) and Texas five star Reuben Owens. At this stage most of these elite juniors are being recruited by both schools, and Saturday is a chance for each to make a statement and an impression. Until later . . .