Georgia football’s latest recruiting class replenishes talent on one of the nation’s most loaded rosters.
The Bulldogs’ haul ranked No. 3 nationally Wednesday evening with 23 players on the first day of the early signing period. That trailed only Texas A&M and Alabama. The Bulldogs look headed for a sixth straight top 4 class in the 247Sports Composite.
The group boosted fills gaps in one particular area of need in quality if not quantity: the Bulldogs secondary.
Coach Kirby Smart and his staff reeled in three 5-star DB signees including Jefferson’s Malaki Starks along with cornerbacks Jaheim Singletary from Jacksonville and Daylen Everette from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. All are top 30 national prospects…
Smart spoke before safety Kamari Wilson, a five-star UGA target, announced on ESPN2 that he’s signing with Florida, but later in the broadcast edge rusher Marvin Jones Jr. from American Heritage in Fort Lauderdale, announced for Georgia. That gave Georgia five five-stars in the class.
It’s one of the ten best recruiting classes of all time, as measured by the 247Sports Composite. And yet… and yet… I can’t help but feel that’s there’s a whiff of, if not outright dissatisfaction out there in Dawgland, at least one of disappointment. Here’s macondawg’s take on the moment:
It felt more like a Mark Richt signing day than a Kirby Smart signing day. 18 of Georgia’s 27 current commitments had their paperwork in by 11:00 am. Three more won’t actually sign until February. There simply wasn’t the excitement, the tidal wave of momentum we’ve come to expect over the past five years…
… But for the first time it feels a little like we’ve come back to the pack in recruiting, and that Georgia could have better addressed some real needs. This staff has earned every benefit of every doubt given the performance of guys like Jordan Davis, Ladd McConkey, and yes, Stetson Bennett.
But today feels a little like a day when Georgia continues to excel where it already excels and stayed the same rather than getting demonstrably better in the places where improvement is necessary.
He chalks that up to several factors: (1) a post-SECCG hangover; (2) lack of pizzazz at the o-line and receiver positions; and (3) signing only four of the top ten players in state.
This class is very good. But it’ll look a whole lot better if Georgia wins two more football games before they all report this summer. If that doesn’t happen, and Georgia reports as expected with no more than 3 returning starters on defense and 5-7 on offense, this class will start with the same Sysiphean charge as Kirby Smart’s last five top three recruiting classes: to finally win a national title for a fan base that has aches for one for four decades. Bulldog fans are rightly wondering how many National Signing Days they have to win in December to win the last college football game of the season in January.
Maybe it’s a sense of déjà vu. Maybe we as a fan base have grown a little jaded. Maybe Texas A&M’s off the charts class takes a little of the gleam off Georgia’s. I get it. But I look at this 2022 class so far and think it registers a little better than just very good, despite that I agree with macondawg about this o-line group. With this class, Georgia has a balanced quarterback room, a loaded tight end room and a running back in Branson Robinson who looks like a total stud. There’s also ridiculous help at edge and ILB, which is needed.
For one thing, Smart was consumed with the state of his secondary, and given that we just saw them get roasted by Alabama, his focus is understandable.
“We’re still lower than we’ve ever been in terms of defensive backs,” Smart said. “We have more leaving than we do coming. We were already below and if you have more leaving than you have coming than you’re actually a negative net gain. …It’s been tough for us this year because we have not been able to play dime packages (six DBs). We have not been able to do so many things we want to do.”
Beyond that, I think there are a few factors that have to be baked into the cake before we can reach a full assessment. This staff has shown itself to be extremely confident about identifying talent better than the recruiting sites do, and given their success as seen this season with players like Davis, Bowers and McConkey, they’re entitled to the benefit of the doubt in that regard.
Also worth taking into account is that Kirby’s done good work in the transfer portal and I have no reason to think that won’t come into play in the next few months. One tell regarding that is, despite leaving a few roster spots open yesterday, there are three commits who are putting off their decisions until February.
Three players committed to Georgia–Appling County outside linebacker Darris Smith, wide receiver Dillon Bell and running back Jordan James revealed they play to sign in February.
“It’s still not over as far as guys we’ll sign in February,” Smart said.
That smells like a mutual decision. Smart wants to see who leaves after the playoffs in order to determine how many total open spots he has to work with. (Remember, with the temporary NCAA rule, he could sign as many as 32, depending on who leaves for the portal.)
In other words, sure, there are things I question about Smart, but roster management ain’t one of them.
What’s your take?