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Signing Day Wrap Up: Dawgs Bulk Up On Blue Chips

NCAA Football: Georgia at Florida Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

December is a time for holiday traditions. Eggnog by the fire. Singing carols with friends and family. Annoying your neighbors with obscenely illuminated yard decorations. Kirby Smart has his holiday tradition, too. It’s signing the top recruiting class in the nation. And there’s no use messing with tradition.

Today Georgia signed 28 recruits, hailing from a total of 14 different states. The bulk of the Bulldogs class was, in fact, bulky. 17 of the 28 commitments play either on the defensive front seven or the offensive line (including two tight ends).

While the headlines elsewhere may trumpet the elite skill position talent in this class (and it’s certainly impressive), I think the real headline here is Georgia recruiting in a way that allows it to continue being Georgia. There are six defensive linemen and six offensive linemen. And it’s pretty clear that the plan was to get bigger along both fronts. Take a gander at the size of Georgia’s six offensive line commits:

Daniel Calhoun- 6’6.5, 365 lb.

Nyier Daniels- 6’8, 360 lb.

Marques Easley- 6’5.5, 335 lb.

Marcus Harrison- 6’7.5, 336 lb.

Malachi Toliver- 6’5.5, 320 lb.

Michael Uini- 6’7, 335 lb.

The Athenians were noticeably pushed around in the SEC championship game by Alabama. It wasn’t the first time this season that the Bulldogs appeared less physical at the point of attack than their opponent, and the Red and Black struggled at times to set the edge defensively in the run game. No one could imagine that Kirby Smart would let something like that go unaddressed. As he has in the past, Smart identified a weakness and reacted to the weakness with a vengeance.

Returning to that massive OL haul, Calhoun in particular looks like an intriguing prospect to me. He’s somehow even more massive in person than the above measurements would imply. While he needs to develop as a pass blocker and play with better pad level, he may have the highest ceiling of any tackle prospect in this class.

The players on the defensive front aren’t exactly tiny either. North Carolina tackle Nnamdi Ogboko (6’4, 335) looks like the type of space eater Coach Scott needed in 2023. Dublin native Nasir Johnson (6’4.5, 300) and New Jerseyan Jordan Thomas (6’5, 296) also bring elite size/athleticism to the defensive front.

Georgia has the core of a solid linebacking group for 2024 in Jalon Walker, Raylen Wilson, Smael Mondon, CJ Allen, and Troy Bowles. They added to it by signing three of 247Sports’ top ten players at the position in Justin Williams (6’2, 210), Chris Cole (6’3, 210) and Kris Jones (6’2, 220). They are as complete a combination of mobile, agile, and hostile as any school in America added today.

Elsewhere, among skill position recruits, Nate Frazier is a true headliner. The back out of California powerhouse made her day is the number nine tailback in the country, Frazier is a true one cut and go power back who can get to the end zone after making one man miss. 210 pound backs with home run speed just don’t grow on trees.

I would also keep an eye on the other two tailbacks in this class, bruiser Chauncey Bowens and lightning quick Dwight Phillips. Phillips in particular reminds me of Dillon Bell in terms of his skill set. He runs tougher than you would expect given his size, and woe be unto the defense that lets him get into the open field. Phillips may be the fastest tailback recruit to come to Athens since Keith Marshall.

The Bulldog staff has gained a reputation in recent years for late, splashy flips. This year‘s class was mostly socked away long before Signing Day. But the staff did live up to their reputation by turning the Peach State’s top player, Buford WR/DB KJ Bolden, from his commit to Florida State.

At 6’1, 195 lb. Bolden has the frame to add good weight and maintain his blazing speed, speed that jumps off the screen when you watch his film. While he could very well play some snaps on offense and will almost certainly get a look as a kick returner, Bolden looks a lot like the next iteration of Malaki Starks, a fast, ranger of a safety who can take away the middle third of the field and even erase mistakes by other defenders outside the hashes.

Bolden should pair nicely with Ellis Robinson, IV, the nation’s top cornerback for 2024 who in fact is already in Athens and practicing. But I’m also very high on Swainsboro standout Demello Jones. The #10 ranked player in Georgia, the 6’1, 176 pounder played snaps at quarterback, tailback, receiver and corner for the Tigers. He’s surprisingly physical for a guy who isn’t that big, much like Javon Bullard. He also has pretty uncanny ball skills.

In schadenfreude news, as recently as a couple of days ago Auburn’s staff seemed to feel that KJ Bolden was likely headed to the Plains. But once again, you can never count Kirby Smart out when he seriously covets an elite recruit.

Suffice it to say if there’s one human being not in a position to lecture people on commitment and honesty….it’s Bobby Petrino. But if there are two people with zero room to whine about that sort of thing, the other is Hugh Freeze. Maybe he can go cry about it to some of the folks saved under cryptic nicknames in his official Ole Miss cellphone.

Disappointments? There’s not a great deal to say about the defection of top quarterback recruit Dylan Raiola that hasn’t already been sad. I will only note that Raiola is stepping into a situation where he will have a legitimate chance to start as a true freshman in a power five conference, playing at a school where his family has a beloved legacy and his uncle is even on the staff right now as offensive line coach.

Suffice it to say it is a true champagne problem that Georgia will have to content itself with signing the #10 quarterback recruit in the nation in Ryan Puglisi.

This was the type of class that you should sign when you have won the last two national championships. Georgia went far and wide to get elite players across the roster. They went super heavy at the positions which 2023 demonstrated to be needs. I see no weaknesses. No position unaddressed, and very few where the Classic City Canines had to settle for players down their recruiting board. If Kirby Smart is indeed building Georgia football into a Death Star, this class is a nice load of lasers, sensors and sundry supplies for it. Until later…

Go ‘Dawgs!!!