College football is back, for one day at least.
National Signing Day is arguably one of the best events of the offseason, with plenty of decisions and flipped commitments to be in store for 2017 high school prospects nationwide.
For Georgia, not many spots remain in its recruiting class, which currently ranks as the third-best nationally, according to the 247Sports.com composite. Nonetheless, the Bulldogs will look to land a few more of the top-tier prospects to take head coach Kirby Smart a step further in rebuilding his program.
With a loaded day of signing announcements ahead, here’s a look at the schedule of ceremonies for all of Georgia’s priority targets and a projection on where they may land.
8 a.m. – Tedarrell Slaton: Georgia found itself in the running late for Slaton, a four-star offensive lineman out of American Heritage in Plantation, Florida. The interest was first apparent when Georgia’s class leader Richard LeCounte III approached Slaton at the Army All-American Game, and offensive line coach Sam Pittman continued the efforts to the point that Bulldogs found themselves as legitimate contenders.
Georgia hosted Slaton as a member of its final official visit weekend before signing day, and it’s down to the Bulldogs and their conference rival Florida. I predict Slaton to land with Florida, due to keeping contact with Slaton for a longer period of time, and presenting the possibility of playing defensively, as well.
Adding Slaton would have been a depth move for Georgia. Despite having three offensive linemen graduate, the Bulldogs have six offensive linemen in the 2017 class – including a five-star recruit in Isaiah Wilson and a JUCO product in D’Marcus Hayes.
8 a.m. – Ameer Speed: Georgia has had its eye on the Jacksonville-area product for some time, and Speed could be beneficial to the class with only two cornerback commits – William Poole and Tray Bishop.
Speed has been to Athens on multiple occasions, most recently on the weekend of Jan. 20. The 6-foot-3 cornerback has narrowed his choices to a top-five: Georgia, Michigan State, North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Oregon. I expect Speed to decide on Georgia and for the Bulldogs to get their first uncommitted signee early on in the festivities
9 a.m. – Larrell Murchison: The Bulldogs also became a potential destination late in the recruiting process for Murchison, another junior college product who could bring immediate contribution on a young defensive line.
Murchison currently holds a pledge to Mississippi but recently told The Telegraph that it was 50-50 between the two programs. Murchison took his visit to Athens on Jan. 20, which was followed up with an in-home visit with defensive line coach Tracy Rocker. He then made the trip to Ole Miss for his final official visit before signing day. Murchison made a decision Monday night and he plans to notify both coaching staffs before announcing it Wednesday. I expect Murchison to flip his commitment and land in Athens.
9:45 a.m. – Aubrey Solomon: The addition of a five-star talent such as Solomon would be an astounding finish for the Bulldogs’ 2017 class, and it looked to be a feasible expectation for Georgia early on. As an in-state product, Solomon spent some significant time in Athens and grew closer with the current group of Georgia commitments. After sporting a "Power G" mouthpiece at the Army All-American Game, it seemed that it was another indication that Solomon would head to Athens.
Shortly thereafter, Solomon canceled his official visit to Georgia, and a person with knowledge of his recruitment told The Telegraph that he stopped communicating with recruits frequently, too. Thus, it leads me to believe that it’s down to Alabama and Michigan with Georgia no longer in the conversation.
Look for Solomon to head to the Crimson Tide and finish off another top-rated class for Alabama.
10:15 a.m. – Leonard Warner Jr.: Georgia seemed to nearly be the definite landing spot for Warner just a few weeks ago as staying in-state was of great appeal to the Brookwood product. Prior to his visits to his final four schools, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech and Stanford, his father, Leonard Warner Sr., indicated that the academic aspect was one of their top priorities.
And with the desire to study engineering, Georgia Tech and Stanford are programs that best fit his needs. Florida State has also emerged as a late contender for Warner. Georgia seemingly only has enough room for one more inside linebacker, and Markaviest Bryant seems to be a more feasible and more prioritized addition than Warner.
11 a.m. – Bryant: One of Georgia’s most prioritized prospects is Bryant, the highly regarded Crisp County defensive end. Bryant has received plenty of enhanced interest from SEC schools ahead of his signing ceremony. Bryant once indicated to The Telegraph that it was between Auburn and Georgia for his services. But an official visit to Baton Rouge allowed LSU to jump into the conversation.
Georgia’s pursuit of Bryant has never softened and Georgia was once indicated as his leader. I believe that his interest in the Bulldogs has maintained and he will be one of the final additions to the 2017 class.
1 p.m. – Latavious Brini: The situation for Brini is unique, with Georgia being back in play for the three-star cornerback after previously decommitting on Oct. 6, 2016. From that point on, it looked as if communication between Brini and Georgia had fallen off – to the point that Brini considered canceling his Jan. 20 official visit. But after the end of the dead period, the interactions were amplified once again.
Multiple Georgia coaches made the trip to south Florida to visit Brini on two occasions. Thus, the Bulldogs have a legitimate chance to land him, but I believe the possibility of remaining in-state is of greater appeal.
I project Brini to join Florida International and renowned head coach Butch Davis. The opportunities at the program outweigh those at Georgia, Miami or any other Power 5 program, and his numerous Twitter interactions with those within that program prove his interest.
2:15 p.m. – Jamyest Williams: This is the announcement that Georgia fans will be waiting for throughout the entire day. Williams, a South Carolina commitment, showed the willingness to flip that pledge in an interview with The Telegraph on Jan. 2. Williams said that playing at home – as an Athens native – is of great appeal and announced that he would take a visit to Georgia on Jan. 20. Georgia made its case, but will go toe-to-toe with South Carolina for his services as Williams visited Columbia on Jan. 27. The Gamecocks tried to convince the Grayson commitment to stay strong to his pledge.
I believe Williams is a strong candidate for a flipped commitment and will sign with Georgia. His addition would be the finisher for 2017. The opportunity to play with former teammate Deangelo Gibbs once again and join the third-ranked recruiting class will lead Williams to Georgia, and multiple committed prospects also have confidence in landing him.
2:30 p.m. – Nico Collins: Georgia is in search of one more wide receiver and Collins is a wanted prospect after standout seasons in Alabama. But Michigan and Alabama are also in the race, and I expect Collins to bypass Georgia’s offer despite heading to Athens for his final official visit.
4 p.m. – Robert Beal: Many Georgia fans seem a bit shocked that Beal could flip his pledge as he has been committed to the program since July. But it’s very much in play for the Gwinnett County native as South Carolina has gotten into the mix. Beal took a trip to Columbia for his final official visit and seemed impressed by all reports.
I believe Beal sticks to his commitment, as seen by his social media posts that reiterate his dedication to Georgia’s program. It is something to watch for, however, as nothing is ever 100 percent finalized until the documents are signed.
6 p.m. – Eric Stokes: Georgia was in the top three for Stokes, but the in-state product was not one of the Bulldogs’ biggest priorities with Speed and Williams potentially joining the program. Stokes will most likely bypass playing in Athens and sign with Ole Miss.