Posted: 6:10 pm Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

Georgia heads into signing day with Top 10 class that could go Top 5 

By Chip Towers

See important notes regarding National Signing Day coverage below story …

ATHENS – You know national signing day is bearing down on us with all the recruiting drama we’ve witnessed the last 48 to 72 hours.

As always, the Bulldogs were right in the middle of it. In the past couple of days, we’ve seen the Bulldogs add an under-the-radar 2-star recruit, move to the top of the list with a late offer to a 4-star prospect, fail to flip two other commitments and lose a 4-star to Marshall because of academic shortcomings. Meanwhile, all kinds of unresolved outcomes await Georgia tomorrow, with the Lorenzo Carter and Andrew Williams sweepstakes and nobody knowing for sure what Homestead (Fla.) wide receiver Gilbert Johnson is going to do.

Depending on how some of those little one-act plays turn out, when it’s all said and done, experts seem to think Georgia has had a pretty good 2014. The Bulldogs head into national signing day with an aggregate national ranking of 10 for its 2014 class, according to 247Sports.com’s composite ratings. That’s especially impressive when you add in the wrinkle that the Bulldogs have had to go about their business while having to completely rebuild their defensive staff and still having one assistant’s position open.

Plus, it’s not a huge class.  UGA is expected to sign 20-23 players, including early enrollee Jacob Park. The NCAA maximum is 25 and you can back-count early enrollees overall space is available.

“It’s very good for the number (of scholarships) they’re at,” said Rusty Mansell, who covers Georgia’s recruiting for 247Sports.com and the UGA-dedicated website Dawgs247.com. “I expect that number to get better. If they were to pull in Lorenzo Carter and Andrew Williams and now Isaiah McKenzie out of Florida, another highly-rated player out of Florida, if Georgia closes with those three, they could be pushing to be a top 5 class tomorrow.”

Obviously, the top 10 in anything is good, but it’s all relative. SEC competitors Alabama (1), Texas A&M (3), LSU (4), Tennessee (6), Auburn (7) and Florida (9) were all ahead of the Bulldogs in the same ratings, as of Tuesday.

The reality is, this class is not hugely important to the Bulldogs’ immediate future. Georgia lost only 13 scholarship seniors off last year’s squad and the main position impacted by graduation – the offensive line with three starters – is generally not addressed by incoming freshmen (that said, Mansell expects tackle Dyshon Sims and Isaiah Wynn to play next season.

The Bulldogs lost three non-starters in the defensive backfield and, while young there, remain questionably talented. So they’re looking for impact players in the secondary. They believe they got at least a couple in junior college transfer Shattle Fenteng (originally from Grayson) and Brooks County’s Malkolm Parrish.

Of course, most of the buzz regarding Georgia’s class starts and ends with its commitments of two 5-star rated running backs —  Nick Chubb of Cedartown and Sony Michel of Miami. Both players appear to be head and shoulders above anybody else in the class in terms of can’t-miss qualities.

“I think when you go back and look at this class in a couple of years, you’re going to realize these are great young men,” Mansell said. “Sony Michel, Nick Chubb, Jeb Blazevich, Kendall Baker, Shakenneth Williams, all those types of kids are great young men, good players and also high-academic kids. That has impressed me as much about this class as anything else. They’re a good group of football players but just as important a group of good kids that will not be a locker room issue for you.”

As always, there were misses. That’s always going to be the case in a state that produces upward of 100 Division 1 prospects each year, you can sign only 25 and you’re getting several top-notch recruits from other states. Linebacker Raekwon McMillan, who played for former Georgia tight end Kirk Warner, would have been a nice addition. He’s an early enrollee at Ohio State. So would have Gainesville quarterback DeShaun Watson, who did the same thing at Clemson. And defensive tackle Dontavious Russell, a very early commitment to Georgia, got snatched away by former Georgia defensive line coach Rodney Garner and landed at Auburn.

Said Mansell: “There were some guys they recruited in state they didn’t get. But if you look at their out-of-state targets, with Sony as a 5-star, Isaiah Wynn a highly-rated 4-star offensifve lineman, Lamont Galliard a top five player in the state of North Carolina., they also went and got some good out-of-state players. We’ve seen Georgia do that in the past, with guys like Todd Gurley and Marshall Morgan and Arthur Lynch. Those are some out-of-state guys that panned out. They were all-conference this past year. That helps balance it out.”

All-in-all, Georgia seems to have kept pace in the ultra-competitive SEC. And, let’s face it, what school ever thinks it did a poor job recruiting?

A NOTE FROM OUR EDITORS ON NATIONAL SIGNING DAY COVERAGE …

Start with us at 7 a.m. and come back often as the AJC will be your Signing Day Central. No matter the platform or device you prefer, our team will have your team covered in depth. Go to ajc.com to get four important features:

  • We want to display your photos documenting your athlete’s signing. Email to recruiting@ajc.com and we’ll have photo galleries showing the big day.
  • AJC recruiting expert Michael Carvell provides the latest news and a running analysis of the day.
  • You can tap into our live updates on our new Current ATL page throughout the day and find commentary from other news sources, the schools involved and updates on anyone who matters on National Signing Day in one-stop shopping for information. You can use #SigningDay or #NationalSigningDay to follow or be part of the conversation.
  • We’ll offer a new feature, a region-by-region signing list, that will be updated continuously.

Go to myajc.com to get special premium features:

  • You’ll get minute-by-minute updates from our beat writers on site at Georgia, Georgia State and Georgia Tech beginning at 7 a.m., and in the afternoon the same update on the first-ever signing class for Kennesaw State as Vince Dooley visits with new coach Brian Bohannon on the KSU campus.
  • You can get deeper insight into the signings for Georgia and Georgia Tech with a complete list of inside information for each player.
  • Each beat writer also will provide special video coverage of the day on campus.
  • Our photo coverage extends to our premium site as well with multiple galleries.

In our Print AJC Sports section:

  • You’ll find eight pages of expanded coverage including special analysis by our beat writers and columnists.
  • Complete lists of SEC, ACC, State and AJC Super 11 signings.
  • Interviews with key recruits and coaches.

In our Olive E-edition:

  • We’ll provide coverage and analysis only found in the E-edition with a page on each of the major conferences, the ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 along with information on the other Division I conferences and independents.
35 comments
THEBuckeye
THEBuckeye

Top 5? 


Not today


Today?


NATIONAL CHAMPS!

Princess_Leia
Princess_Leia

Another Mark Richt Dream Team that will fade into oblivion and shattered dreams.

Falcaints
Falcaints

Has any team done less with more than Georgia? All that talent and what to show for it?

RedandBlackDAWG
RedandBlackDAWG

Red and Black DAWG Ignores Troll's Comments


 I think UGA is poised to have a really good class of athletes signed tomorrow. There are some legitimate big time players coming in, especially at the RB position. As usual, there will be a few surprises out of the lesser rated players who will exceed expectations and become real contributors on the team.

I am really looking forward to seeing the defense improve quite a bit this year with a new staff. I believe Co9ach Pruitt has the athletes available and probably even a few coming in this year, that are the nucleus of a real solid unit. I think we will see the defense much more sure of themselves on plays and in a lot better position to make plays. 

The offense will probably be more run heavy since I don't think they will look for mason to win every game for them but manage the offense. He will have a good group of receivers to get the ball too as well, so they should be a very solid unit. Hopefully the injury bug will not bite quite so hard as last year.

HometeamFan
HometeamFan

Gentlemen, join the Buldawg Nation.  Be proud to wear the G.  Wear the Silver Britches, the Georgia Red Jersey, Georgia Red with Black G Logo Helmet. Our Offense is off the charts.  Defense will be our forte'.  Hunker Down with the Dawgs.  Glory! Glory! to O' Georgia!

LHardingDawg
LHardingDawg

Looks like a great group of good young men. Good luck to them al! Hopefully they all get something that lasts longer than football, a college degree.

TrueDawg1986
TrueDawg1986

Anyone heard who the 2014 ATH we reportedly just offered (is committed elsewhere according to 24/7)? 

RandyHall
RandyHall

I think NC Dawg is bringing up a good point...things are better in Athens....I still think CMR is too loyal to non-producers....we are now seeing how much better CJP will be than Grantham....Martinez, Grantham, Lakatos and others have just skidded along in recruting and coaching to create the situation UGA is in....others who need to be considered on the downside....Will Friend, not producing in size or numbers in recruiting and Tony Ball, missing out on gamebreakering playmaking WR's.....one more year to produce for these two!!! A more consistent Dawg Team is needed for Top 5 finishes in recruiting and the polls!!!   

reggiesofly
reggiesofly

any news on WESLEY GREEN?? Would be a very nice reward for the defense! The guy has tremendous speed and coverage!!

greenedefense
greenedefense

After seeing the film on Malkolm Parrish I am stoked! That kid is amazing!!! I look at him and think NFL.

KeepOnSmilingWetWillie
KeepOnSmilingWetWillie

Tuff crowd in here. Hope Pruitt can sway some of the crop facility leaning players to UGA! I keep telling the barners on AL.com that Pruitt is going to run their ash out of Georgia or they will need to get Pat Dye to get the Bagman (Garner) back up to speed. A real strong UGA helps Bama since the cow college depends on good Georgia players otherwise they're Miss Mistake in orange and blue.

SlawDawg
SlawDawg

We won't even sniff the Top 5 on NSD. Ya'll can put down the Dawg-Aide right now.

Dewnsav
Dewnsav

exciting day for college football tomorrow...UGA will be getting some great football players...and so will Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, LSU, etc. ...behavior, grades, injuries, coaching and yes, Lady Luck, will determine the future for these young men...good luck and welcome to the UGA family to all the newest dogs...go dogs

RealProblem
RealProblem

Top 5?????? You have to be kidding!!!! We will be lucky if we finish 5th in the SEC. No way are we going past Alabama, Texas A&M, Auburn, Tennessee or LSU. Fact is we are more likely to finish out of the top 10 than get in top 5. Sorry if this offends the Kool-Aid drinkers, but the numbers are just not there. I will GLADLY eat my words if I am wrong.

TrueDawg1986
TrueDawg1986

Good article Chip, factual and to the point about where the key levers reside to catapult this class.  I also think you touched on something that many "non Dawgs" overlook...or worse...try to ridicule.  Coach Richt's values and approach to trying to build young men...even if it means kicking them off the team if they can't abide by the higher standards at UGA...that is both unique and in this class in particular, very effective.  Guess we will all see how things shake out tomorrow but I'm proud of what the coaching staff has done so far and very excited about what they will do over the next few years.

And as always....Go Dawgs...and to hell with (I can't even remember that insignificant school that once was worthy of being in the song).  :-)

NCDawg
NCDawg

About 9 days ago there were some folks that were ready to slit their throats because we only had 17 commitments.  The Dawgs will end up with 22 or so.  It's a shame Gant had academic issues.  It'll be interesting to see how things shake out tomorrow.  I still think there is 1 surprise ( good one ) and a disappointment on the way.  Not sure what either will be.

HotDawg
HotDawg

There apparently will be more than a normal amount of afternoon and evening signings Wednesday.

So don't freak or be surprised if you don't hear of possible UGA commits not having all signed by 9a.m. Wednesday.

The kids are stretching this out longer and longer each year for tv.

DawgGoneIt
DawgGoneIt

Carter, Williams, McKenzie...get them and it'll be A+

SlawDawg
SlawDawg

@TrueDawg1986 Whoever it is....its probably a 2 star recruit. Coach Rick sure knows how to land those 2 star dudes.

Snagglepuss
Snagglepuss

@RealProblem(aka Single Digit IQ man/boy) 


THEBuckeye has something you can eat!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dewnsav
Dewnsav

@RealProblem  soooo, if the numbers ARE there, after eating your words you can wash them down with some Kool-Aid, right ?? go dogs

NCDawg
NCDawg

@RealProblem   the REAL problem is where your thinking starts out.  You assume that there is an unresolvable problem in Athens and let your negativity dominate your thinking process.   No one ever succeeds at anything when they have that kind of thought process.  There are many others that frequent these blogs that are in the same boat.  You start from a negative premise and that frankly is the real problem.

Things are good in Athens but they can be better.  That is the starting point.  In no way do the Georgia Bulldogs suck.  They simply aren't as good as they can be.

Dewnsav
Dewnsav

@RealProblem  if the numbers ARE there, you can drink some Kool-Aid after you eat your words...go dogs

SkokieDog
SkokieDog

@NCDawg I don't think anyone here was contemplating as much as cutting in response to the number of commitments. But then again, I could just be consumed by negativity.

TrueDawg1986
TrueDawg1986

@SlawDawg LMAO...what a true Techie Troll you are...why not be man enough to say what your REAL team is?  As best I can tell, CMR has recruited a top 10 (and as the article says...maybe a Top 5) class...so whether you are a Techie, Gamecock or whatever....$uck it! 

NCDawg
NCDawg

And a good recruiting class is coming tomorrow.  Recruiting will get even better once we have a good defense on the field.  Having a sound defense on the field will do more for locking the borders than you can even imagine.