Championships are won during football season, not on the recruiting trail.
But you’d be naive to think recruiting doesn’t play a major role in the process of building a title contender. That’s exactly what Georgia head coach Kirby Smart is attempting to do with the recruiting class he’s hoping to put together by National Signing Day on Feb. 1.
So far, Georgia has 23 commitments in this class. Six of those — former Houston County quarterback Jake Fromm, along with safety Richard LeCounte III, defensive back Deangelo Gibbs, receiver Jeremiah Holloman, offensive lineman D’Marcus Hayes and linebacker Monty Rice — are already on campus as early enrollees.
The biggest area of need for the long term is the offensive line, which Georgia has clearly addressed thus far. In addition to Hayes, a junior college transfer, the Bulldogs have five other offensive linemen committed.
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The prize of the group, and perhaps the class, is Poly Prep (Brooklyn, New York) offensive tackle Isaiah Wilson. Wilson likely will start at right tackle once he’s on campus. Of the first-year linemen coming to Georgia, Wilson might have the best chance of seeing the field as a freshman.
The remaining offensive linemen in Georgia’s recruiting class are Andrew Thomas (Pace Academy, Atlanta), Netori Johnson (Cedar Grove, Ellenwood), Justin Shaffer (Cedar Grove, Ellenwood) and D’Antne Demery (Brunswick). And as far as offensive line recruiting classes goes, it’s an elite class.
It’s also a much bigger group size-wise than what the Bulldogs have been used to in previous classes. The six linemen average a height and weight of 6-foot-5 and 336.8 pounds.
That’s the kind of size offensive coordinator Jim Chaney and offensive line coach Sam Pittman prefer to have with their scheme.
Georgia also has done a good job in securing defensive back commitments. LeCounte and Gibbs could be game-changers in years to come. Tray Bishop was a huge get, considering he was previously committed to Auburn. William Poole is an impressive cornerback out of Hapeville Charter in Atlanta.
But the Bulldogs may not be done with just those players in the defensive backfield. While Grayson defensive back Jamyest Williams has been committed to South Carolina since August, Georgia has been working hard on flipping him. Williams arrived in Athens Friday for an official visit but will take his final official visit to South Carolina next weekend. Williams will either switch programs or reaffirm his commitment to South Carolina at Grayson’s signing day ceremony Feb. 1.
With 23 commitments in the class, it is likely Georgia does its best to add three or four more players. And there are quite a few players who could fill those final spots.
The biggest name remaining is Lee County defensive lineman Aubrey Solomon, who is down to Georgia, Alabama, Michigan and Southern California. Considering the Bulldogs lost the No. 1 defensive lineman in the state last year when Auburn got Derrick Brown, it would be a tough blow to lose out on such a prospect for the second consecutive year.
Brookwood (Snellville) linebacker Leonard Warner is down to Georgia, Florida State, Stanford and Georgia Tech. He would be a huge addition for depth purposes at inside linebacker, considering Roquan Smith and Natrez Patrick are both players with NFL potential.
Crisp County pass-rusher Markaviest Bryant is down to Georgia and Auburn, with this being a National Signing Day recruiting decision to watch. Georgia is also very much in the running for Tucker defensive end Aaron Sterling, Eastside (Covington) defensive back Eric Stokes, Clay-Chalkville (Pinville, Alabama) receiver Nico Collins and American Heritage (Plantation, Florida) offensive guard Tedarrell Slaton.
Regardless of how it finishes, Georgia has put together one of the best recruiting classes in recent memory. Georgia has the third-overall class nationally behind Alabama and Ohio State, according to the 247Sports.com composite.
While Georgia may not catch the Crimson Tide or Buckeyes, it’s certainly in good company with this class of 2017 recruiting cycle soon coming to a close.