By Joe Vitale:
After putting together the nation’s third-rated recruiting class in 2017, Georgia appears to be off to a bit of a slow start in the 2018 recruiting cycle. With just two commitments (four-star OLB Adam Anderson from Rome and three-star ILB Donovan Georges from Hialeah, FL), the Dawgs currently have the 12th-ranked class in the SEC and 49th-ranked class in the country. In addition, several of the Peach State’s best high school players have committed elsewhere.
Elite Georgia quarterbacks Trevor Lawrence (Clemson), Justin Fields (Penn State) and Emory Jones (Ohio State) have all committed to other schools. With Jacob Eason and Jake Fromm playing quarterback for the Dawgs the next three to four years, it’s understandable the state’s top signal callers will be seeking other opportunities. However, top 20 players such as Myles Sims and Otis Reese (Michigan), Lassiter safety Derrik Allen (Notre Dame), South Gwinnett defensive linemen Robert Cooper (Florida State) and Justin Mascoll (Clemson) and Bainbridge running back Dameon Pierce (Alabama) are all committed to out of state programs.
Is it too early to hit the panic button? At this time last year, Georgia only had six commits, and two of those recruits decommitted. However, the Dawgs did have momentum going into G Day last year with the commitment of William Poole III and the commitment of several high profile preps shortly thereafter. There was a distinct buzz about the program and the energy around Georgia’s recruiting class was building. It certainly didn’t hurt that two of Georgia’s most high-profile eary commits, Richard LeCounte and Jaden Hunter, were extremely active on social media, great ambassadors for the program and unabashedly recruiting Georgia targets.
Many of this year’s recruits are on the sidelines waiting to see how the Dawgs perform on the field. The 2017 class was so loaded with talent and the elite preps want see how Kirby Smart puts that talent to work. They are looking for results — success brings success. If Georgia has a few big early wins (Notre Dame, Tennessee), those recruits will be jumping on board. Recruits also realize that Georgia signed its best class in the last 15 years. Although true Georgia freshmen saw more playing time in 2016 than at most every other school, that experience and the caliber of the 2017 class may make reps hard to come by in 2018.
Finally, it is only April. There is a long way to go in the recruiting year. Kids also seem to be more motivated to stick with a commitment today. Why not take advantage of the five official visits. Remember, every Georgia commit as of National Signing Day Eve in 2017 signed with the Dawgs. Georgia primarily has the same recruiters on campus who signed all those athletes in 2017. The 2019 class already has commitments from 2 five-star and 2 four-star recruits. There’s no need to need to be terribly concerned at this point. And let’s be realistic…..Kirby Smart could probably sit behind his desk and mail out post cards with a picture of Sanford Stadium and an RSVP box and walk away with a top 20 class.
Georgia has had a top 10 class for each of the past five years and with the quality of recruits in the Peach State, the experience and recruiting prowess of this coaching staff, the Georgia facilities, history, fan base and academic reputation, there should be no reason the trend should not continue.