Georgia Bulldog Recruiting: Wow! Kirby Smart Learned Well from Nick Saban

I will admit that I was not at all enamored with the hire of Kirby Smart at Georgia. Sure, he is a former Georgia Bulldog Defensive Back, but he had no head coaching experience and I was less than impressed with the Alabama Defense at times under his guidance.

I may have been wrong. I will admit that I was wrong about one major thing, the man can recruit and do it big time.

4 five star recruits? That’s outrageous and that’s using the ESPN rankings as opposed to some others who are quite more easy with the star treatment. A lot of ESPN 4 stars are 5 stars on other services

lists’.

This is one incredible class for anyone not called Alabama, or Ohio State. ESPN has Alabama ranked first, followed by Ohio State and then the Georgia Bulldogs.

A lot of people say recruiting doesn’t matter, but in the last few years only one team has been in the playoffs all three seasons and that is the Crimson Tide of Alabama. The Clemson Tigers, Ohio State and Florida State have all been in the playoffs twice and they are all in the top 5 recruiting rankings every season. That says something about the fine art of recruiting. Recruiting is fun, it’s exciting and interesting, but it’s not an exact science. Coaches at those schools are probably a cut above the rest as far as evaluating talent and it shows.

The Georgia Bulldogs are new to the party and it will show up on the field as early as next season as they mix in top talent with some older talent.

Watch out for Georgia over the next few seasons. This is one phenomenal recruiting class.

One doesn’t think of Brooklyn when thinking of top football recruits, but Offensive Tackle Isaiah Wilson is ESPN’s 2nd ranked recruit. He is a monster at around 6-7, 355 and he might even need to drop a few pounds before he is an effective Left Tackle at the college level. The 5 star talent played both ways in high school and clearly dominated. He just crushes people in the run game.

The Offensive Line was a huge need and a recruiting priority for the Dogs and 7th ranked Offensive Tackle Andrew Thomas could be the real deal. The Atlanta Pace Academy product is listed as 6-5,

325 and a 4 star recruit. He is super quick at Left Tackle and he performed well against good competition on the filed and at camps. I prefer a leaner and meaner Offensive Linemen and in spite of the fact that Thomas weighs 325 he carries it extremely well.

Ellenwood, Georgia’s Offensive Guard Netori Johnson is another monster at 6-4, 348 and a 4 star. Johnson played Offensive Tackle in high school, but he projects as a Guard. He’s a road grader as a run blocker and just mutilates defenders blowing them off the football.

For instant help up front, the Bulldog coaches went the Junior College route and they signed D’Marcus Hayes from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. The 4 star 2nd ranked JC Tackle Hayes is originally from Madison, Mississippi and listed at 6-5, 325. Hayes has 2 years on the other recruits, but he still looks a little rough. He is a mauler in the run game and could mean some instant help.

The addition of riches continue with 4 star Offensive Tackle prospect D’Antne Demery. He’s 6-6, 320 and from Brunswick, Georgia. Demery moves really well laterally and he is yet another that just crushes defenders at least on the high school level.

Justin Shaffer was a high school teammate of Netori Johnson at Cedar Grove High School in Ellenwood, Georgia. He is only rated a 3 star prospect, but he’s another monster at 6-5, 356. Shaffer might be Georgia’s lowest rated Offensive Lineman, but he also might be the meanest. He looks like he enjoys crushing people and even though he’s huge, he moves really well.

That has to be the best group of Offensive Linemen signed by anyone in 2017.

Loganville, Georgia’s Grayson High School is a school that every college should assign at least one coach to recruit every season. That school puts out one great prospect after another.

This year’s phenom is 5 star Athlete DeAngelo Gibbs. Listed as 6-2, 205, the mega talented Gibbs

could play many positions at the next level. The question could be where to play him. He’s a great coverage Cornerback and a great Wide Receiver. He could be something of a Jabrill Peppers kind of guy playing all over the field. He looks like a play maker on either side of the ball.

Tray Bishop from Dawson, Georgia is another recruit on ESPN’s Athlete list. Gibbs was ranked as the 2nd best Athlete while Bishop was their 6th. Bishop played Quarterback in high school and probably should have the ball in his hands. But, a lot of people consider him a Defensive Back.

Other recent stars on ESPN’s Athlete list were Georgia’s Todd Gurley and Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey. The term Athlete in recruiting circles just means that the services don’t really know what position the prospect will play in college because they played all over the field in high school.

Richard LeCounte III is another 5 star recruit and he hails from Liberty County High School in Hinesville, Georgia. He’s not big at 5-11, 178, but the 2nd ranked Safety prospect is incredible. He’s a more than solid hitter as a Safety. But, this guy is the most exciting player on the field on either side of the ball and on special teams. He’s an outstanding return man and he could be a great Wide Receiver. LeCounte is a guy to keep an eye on next season, with his speed he could play really early. He is a real franchise player.

A Safety with great size is Ameer Speed from Sandalwood High School in Jacksonville, Florida. The 4 star Speed is supposedly 6-4, 195 and ranked 20th among Safety recruits. I love this kid and I think he is vastly underrated. He plays Corner in high school and he is very tall and very physical. He has mad coverage skills and is on his man like glue. He is physically more suited for Safety, but if he can stick at Corner he could be special. He covers kicks, and is a great punt blocker as well. I feel he could be a surprise at the college level.

Cornerback William Poole III is listed at 6-0, 180 and he’s ESPN’s 8th ranked recruit at his position.

Along with four 5 star recruits, the Bulldogs signed an impressive haul of 4 stars with 17 and Poole is another one of those 4 stars. Poole is from Hapeville Charter School in Atlanta and he is an outstanding prospect. He is very physical and seems to love contact, but he’s also got great coverage skills and as they say great ball skills. He’s yet another recruit that could possibly play early.

Length is the new big thing at Cornerback with so many talented tall receivers in current times. Latavious Brini is only ranked a 3 star prospect, but he is 6-2, 185 and from Hialeah Gardens, Florida. Brini is a tall, fluid and gifted athlete that seems to be very physical.

I have a feeling Brini might surprise the pundits.

Football is still won and lost in the trenches and the Bulldogs helped themselves at Defensive End with the signature of Robert Beal Jr of Suwanee, Georgia. Listed as the 2nd best Defensive End recruit in the nation and 6-4, 230, the 5 star prospect has a really great chance at being outstanding. Beal has great speed off the edge and obviously is a great pass rusher. He also plays the run really well and plays contain really well. He could play Outside Linebacker early for the Georgia defense.

Helping Beal across the front is the 6-4, 265 Malik Herring. The nation’s 8th ranked Defensive End comes from Mary Persons High School in Forsyth, Georgia. Ho-hum, just another 4 star guy with a chance to be really good. Herring is another really good prospect playing both Defensive End and Tight End. He’s a lot quicker than his 40 time indicates and he can bring it off the edge. Good pass rusher and run stopper. He’s also a decent Tight End, but the Bulldogs are pretty full at that position.

The Georgia Bulldogs only signed one Defensive Tackle recruit and he is somewhat undersized at 6-4, 265. The 3 star Devonte Wyatt is another in-state product and from Decatur, Georgia’s Tower High School. I’m not sure what the experts have been smoking, but this guy is athletic enough to play Tailback in his high school’s offense. He is listed as having 4.6 speed which is surely an exaggeration, but he is still a gifted athlete.

Running Back was not a huge need with stars Nick Chubb and Sony Michel surprisingly returning for their senior seasons. They also have youngsters Brian Herrien and Elijah Holyfield. They even turned away a 4 star Running Back, Toneil Carter who signed with Texas.

But, they did sign 6th ranked D’Andre Swift from Philadelphia’s St Joseph Prep School. Swift is supposedly 5-10, 215 and a very patient runner that follows his blockers well. He has good speed and balance and he should gain some weight and strength as he enters a college weight program and he matures.

The Bulldogs rejected Toneil Carter, but they took 3 star Running Back Eric Stokes from Covington, Georgia. Stokes is listed as 6-1, 172 and the 73 best rated Running Back in the nation. Stokes has run a 10.39 100 meters and supposedly can run a 40 in the low 4.3s. I don’t know his accurate 40 time, but the kid can definitely fly. He plays Cornerback and returns kicks and he probably should be rated

better than he is.

Time will tell if they made the right decision.

Unlike Running Back, Wide Receiver has been a big need at Georgia for a while. They do return Terry Godwin who had 38 receptions last season and the combo of Riley Ridley and Jason Wims. But, depth has been a problem at Wide Receiver for a while.

Covington, Georgia’s Jeremiah Holloman should help out. He is ESPN’s 15th ranked Wide Receiver and he’s listed as 6-2, 192 and a 4 star. Holloman is strong and physical which means he’s a good blocker which he will have to do at Georgia. He’s also very fast and pulls away from Defensive Backs. Holloman has the talent and ability to be an early difference maker for the Bulldogs.

Mark Webb is another 4 star and good sized at 6-2, 200. Coming from Warminster, Pennsylvania the Dogs are stealing another quality prospect out of Big 10 country. Isn’t that the goal of every SEC fan, to stick it to the Big 10?

Webb is the 25th best rated Wide Receiver and he’s a physical, strong guy with deceptive speed.

The Bulldogs also signed Wide Receivers Trey Blount and Mathew Landers. Blount is a 4 star guy from Pace Academy in Atlanta where he was a teammate of outstanding Offensive Tackle prospect Andrew Thomas. Blount is another decent sized Wide Receiver at 6-2, 197. He is physically similar to the other Wide Receivers the Bulldogs signed. He’s a strong, tough blocker, and a good route runner also with deceptive speed.

Landers is really tall and thin at 6-5, 175 which is probably why the Saint Petersburg, Florida native is only ranked as a 3 star. Landers is a guy I could get really excited about and I don’t get the ranking. He has enormous potential with good speed and those really long arms. He adjusts well to the ball in the air and catches the ball with his hands. After he fills out a little, he could be a dangerous receiver.

At Linebacker, the Bulldogs signed 4 star Jaden Hunter who is probably an Outside Linebacker at 6-2, 215. Signing with Georgia from Atlanta’s Westlake High School, Hunter played a Defensive End in the 3-4 Defense but projects as an Outside Linebacker. He’s pretty aggressive, but not overly fast and will need to bulk up a bit.

They also signed Linebackers Walter Grant, Nate McBride and Monty Rice. They all should play Inside with Grant being the biggest of the bunch at 6-4, 240. Grant is the 5th ranked Inside Linebacker by ESPN and is from Cairo, Georgia. He’s a very physical and athletic Middle Linebacker and seems to love contact. He’s the perfect size to be deadly at the next level.

McBride is from Vidalia, Georgia and somewhat smaller at 6-2, 225. But, wow, is this kid an athlete,

or what? At 225, he supposedly ran a 10.5 100 meters and a 4.43 40 yard dash. From his highlight videos, he certainly looks the part. He plays Middle Linebacker, but also plays a Wingback and Tailback on Offense and even returns kicks. He diagnoses a play at Linebacker and he closes the gap in a hurry. He can run down fast Running Backs to the sideline as well. Grant could be the enforcer, but McBride might be the speed.

Rice is about 6-1, 230 and from Madison, Alabama. Don’t overlook this guy with his 4.6 speed and his nose for the football. This is an excellent group of Linebackers.

After Georgia signed Jacob Eason last year, so it’s surprising that they were able to land anyone this year. Jake Fromm is a 6-3, 225 4 star recruit from Warner Robins, Georgia. I love this kid. He’s calm and cool under pressure and has a nice smooth easy release. He can evade the pass rush and calmly hit an open man 60 yards downfield. He’s an impressive young Quarterback prospect with better athletic ability than one might think. Georgia could redshirt him as a freshman and he could back up Eason one year and then take over. But, the Bulldogs probably don’t have the depth to do that at Quarterback. The fact that he is not frightened to come in and compete with Eason is admirable.

 

 

The Bulldogs helped themselves tremendously with this last recruiting class. They already have some good talent on campus, but this could catapult them to the top of the much weaker East Division of the SEC.

 

Look out for the Bulldogs.

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