UGA Football

Georgia visits priority targets in recruiting frenzy ahead of bowl practices

Offensive tackle prospect Isaiah Wilson poses for a picture at Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall.
Offensive tackle prospect Isaiah Wilson poses for a picture at Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall. Twitter

Georgia finished its regular season at 7-5, and with 13 days until the bowl period starts, the Bulldogs’ coaching staff has hit the road in an attempt to build for the future.

In his first season at the helm, head coach Kirby Smart was tasked with leading a team comprised of players recruited by his predecessor, Mark Richt. Now, as his one-year anniversary on the job nears, he looks to fulfill his priority of bringing his own brand of high school prospects to Athens.

“Recruiting is the lifeblood of our program,” Smart said after Georgia’s regular-season finale against Georgia Tech. “We have good players now, and we’ll continue to recruit good players. We’ll relentlessly go out the next two weeks to try to get the right kind of young men to come to the University of Georgia. We’ll attack it hard.”

By rule, players can be visited six times until Jan. 28, but not more than once per week. But a recruiting dead period is enacted from Dec. 12 to Jan. 11, so teams can focus on preparation for upcoming bowl games. Before that dead period hits, Smart and his assistants are trying to make that final push to improve the 2017 class, which currently sits at eighth nationally, according to the composite team rankings.

In addition to recruiting heavily within the state of Georgia, the Bulldogs have had a steady presence in the Northeast, landing pledges from Pennsylvania in four-star running back DeAndre Swift and four-star wide receiver Mark Webb Jr. The staff also ventured to Brooklyn, New York, to visit five-star offensive tackle Isaiah Wilson.

With three starting offensive linemen in Brandon Kublanow, Tyler Catalina and Greg Pyke set to graduate, offensive line coach Sam Pittman is in search of replenishing his corps and bringing size to the position, just as he did in his tenure at Arkansas. With the Razorbacks, Pittman’s group averaged 321.1 pounds per player in 2015, and Smart indicated the importance of improving the stature at the position.

Georgia has done so early on with the four offensive line commitments for 2017 averaging 333.3 pounds,. Adding Wilson, at 6-foot-7 and 350 pounds, would be the next piece to that equation.

Wilson said that he is “very interested” in Georgia’s program, and he plans to take an official visit to Athens and LSU. Trips to Michigan, Alabama and Florida State already exhausted.

Pittman visited Wilson on Monday night, and he planned to seek a few answers during his one-on-one.

“I want to see how I fit in the town, on the team and what the plan at Georgia would be for me,” Wilson said.

Wilson declined further comment on the visit as he stated a desire for reporters to halt further interviews. Being ranked as the No. 7 offensive tackle nationally and the top overall prospect in the state of New York, according to the composite rankings, Wilson is high on Georgia’s list of priorities.

Pittman will also travel to visit five-star offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood, who ranks second at the position nationally but has been a longtime Alabama commit.

Georgia has also stayed within the state to visit prospects and committed players, with Smart visiting quarterback Jake Fromm’s family in Warner Robins, defensive back Richard LeCounte in Riceboro and receiver Jeremiah Holloman in Covington.

Holloman displayed pleasure with the visit from Smart and wide receivers coach James Coley.

“If a coach genuinely wants and needs you, they’ll go out of their way to get to you,” Holloman posted to Twitter after the conversations concluded with Georgia. “Other than that, you’re just a piece to a puzzle.”

The list of visits, both in-home and official campus trips, remains lengthy. Thus, Georgia will exhaust plenty of time and miles to shore up its recruiting class of 2017.