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A deep dive into Georgia football recruiting facts, figures and fallacies in metro Atlanta

A deep dive into Georgia football recruiting facts, figures and fallacies in metro Atlanta

A deep dive into Georgia football recruiting facts, figures and fallacies in metro Atlanta

A deep dive into Georgia football recruiting facts, figures and fallacies in metro Atlanta

Welcome to Good Day, UGA , your one-stop shop for Georgia footballnews and takes. Check us out every weekday morning for everything you need to know about Georgia football, recruiting, basketball and more.

A deeper dive into Georgia football recruiting efforts in the metro Atlanta area

Since Kirby Smart took over as Georgia's head coach in December of 2015 and including the 2021 class, the state of Georgia has produced 202 blue-chip recruits, which are defined as 4 or 5-star prospects using the 247Sports Composite database.

Of those recruits, 118 58 percent of them have come from nine counties that make up the metro Atlanta area, defined as the counties of Fulton, Gwinnett, Cobb, DeKalb, Clayton, Coweta, Douglas, Fayette and Henry per the Georgia State of Tourism website.

On average the metro Atlanta area produces more blue-chip recruits than the likes of Alabama, Louisiana and Ohio. Alvin Kamara, Derrick Brown and the Atlanta Falcons' 2020 first-round pick AJ Terrell all came from the area. It is one of the best recruiting areas in the country from both a high-end and volume standpoint.

But in recent seasons Georgia is relying less and less on the Atlanta area to add to its recruiting haul, even as it continues to sign elite recruiting classes. In the 2019 and 2020 cycles, Georgia signed just five prospects from the area and just one of the 10 5-star prospects. Over that same time span, Clemson and Tennessee have also signed five prospects with Alabama landing six.

So should Georgia be doing a better job recruiting the metro Atlanta area, or is it just too unrealistic to expect one school to dominate the area? Does Georgia need to re-prioritize how it recruits the area?

The numbers show that Georgia, over Smart's tenure, has actually done the best job of any college program in terms of recruiting the area. But a handful of schools are making not insignificant strides. And there's one county in particular that Georgia has repeatedly come up short in. And it happens to be the one that produces more blue-chip recruits than any other in the Atlanta area.

It's more metro Atlanta than the whole state

When comparing the blue-chip recruits that come from the metro Atlanta area to that of the rest of the state, the data shows that Georgia has done a much better job recruiting the elite prospects from outside the Atlanta area as opposed to those hugging Interstate-285.

Georgia has landed 21 blue-chip signees from the metro Atlanta area since Smart's first signing class in 2016. That makes up just over 20 percent of all blue-chip recruits from the area.

The rest of the state of Georgia has had 84 prospects ranked as blue-chip recruits. The Bulldogs and Smart have signed or received commitments from 29 of those prospects, good for 34.5 percent of all non-Atlanta area prospects.

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In this cycle, the metro Atlanta recruits have also made commitments sooner than some of their counterparts. For this cycle, there are 28 total blue-chip prospects in the state. Of the 15 blue-chip prospects from the metro Atlanta area, 12 have already committed. For the rest of the state, only six of those prospects have committed.

The 2021 class perhaps best illustrates how Georgia has gone about recruiting the state of Georgia in recent seasons. The Bulldogs have only one commitment from a metro Atlanta prospect, 4-star defensive lineman Jonathan Jefferson. But Georgia has commitments from three blue-chip prospects who all come from outside the metro Atlanta area, including 5-star quarterback Brock Vandagriff.

That means that while Georgia has missed out on some of those elite Atlanta prospects, such as linebacker Barrett Carter and cornerback Jordan Hancock, a number of the best players in the state, such as 5-star offensive tackle Amarius Mims and 4-star wide receiver Deion Colzie, are still available for the Bulldogs to land.

A closer look at Gwinett County

Of the 202 blue-chip prospects Georgia has produced over the past five years, 42 have come from Gwinett County. The county produces the most blue-chips in the entire state and is one of the top talent producers in the entire country.

And in Smart's time as the head coach at Georgia, he's landed just three blue-chip recruits from the area, with the last being Warren Ericson in the 2018 signing class. So when people complain about Georgia's recruiting efforts in the Atlanta area, they're most likely wondering why the Bulldogs haven't done a better job recruiting Georgia's top county.

The 2021 class once again illustrates Georgia's struggles in this part of the state. The top three players in Gwinett County also double as the top three players in the metro Atlanta area. And all of them have already committed to playing outside of the state. Carter and Hancock, teammates at Suwanee, Ga.'s North Gwinnett High School committed to Clemson. Those two both play at positions of need for Georgia in this cycle.

Speaking before his decision, Carter said that Georgia was a finalist in part because it was the hometown team. But Carter still ended up picking the Tigers, who are only about 30 minutes farther away. While being the local team does often gives Georgia a foot in the door, it's usually not enough on its own to convince one of the country's best prospects that it is the best place for his future.

Related: What Barrett Carter's decision means for Georgia and where the Bulldogs go next in 2021 recruiting

Then there's running back Cody Brown. He stars for Parkview High School in Lilburn, Ga as he rushed for 1,676 yards in his junior season. While Georgia wants to take two running backs in this class, Brown committed to Tennessee earlier in May. Georgia already has one commitment in the cycle from running back Lovasea Carroll, originally from Warrenton, Ga., before transferring to IMG Academy in Florida. The Bulldogs are also well-positioned with Donovan Edwards, a running back from West Bloomfield, Mich., who is a higher rated prospect than Brown.

In recent cycles Georgia has shown it has no problem looking outside of the Peach State to land top talent. The last cycle saw Georgia bring in Kendall Milton from Clovis, Calif. In the 2018 cycle, Georgia went to North Carolina for Zamir White and Miami for James Cook. The 2017 cycle saw them land D'Andre Swift from Philadelphia.

Given that Georgia is RBU' and can use that brand nationally, it's probably not a coincidence that Elijah Holyfield is the only metro Atlanta running back Georgia has signed since Smart has taken over.

Of the six blue-chip prospects from Gwinett in the 2021 cycle, all of them are already committed to schools other than Georgia. And each of them will play for team's Georgia will see on its 2021 schedule in Clemson, Tennessee and Florida.

The 5-star level

Gwinett currently doesn't have any 5-star prospects for this recruiting class, but the 2019 class saw the country produce five 5-star prospects. And all five of them elected to play their college football outside of the state.

Across the rest of the metro Atlanta area though, the Bulldogs have done much better at attracting the 5-star prospects. The Bulldogs have gone into Fulton, Cobb, Dekalb and Henry counties to land a 5-star prospect. Gwinett is the only county that has produced a 5-star prospect that Smart hasn't landed at least one from dating back to the 2016 cycle.

But while the Bulldogs may not have landed the likes of an Arik Gilbert or an Owen Pappoe, they've more often than not shown they can recover and land an elite prospect from outside this footprint.

Pappoe, who played for Grayson High School in Gwinett County and ultimately signed with Auburn, was a key linebacker target in the 2019 cycle. After Georgia missed out on him, it pivoted and landed Nakobe Dean out of Lake Horn, Miss. Dean was actually a higher-rated prospect in the cycle and had a promising freshman season for the Bulldogs.

Related: Georgia LB Nakobe Dean on path to greatness by all measures

Georgia did something similar at the wide receiver spot in 2019. After seeing Jadon Haselwood de-commit and sign with Oklahoma, the Bulldogs flipped George Pickens, who went on to have a better freshman season than Haselwood.

County UGA commit/signee
Fulton 6
Cobb 5
Dekalb 4
Gwinett 3
Henry 2
Douglas 1

This is where Georgia's national recruiting success, especially in the past two seasons, has really helped make up for some of those misses in the metro Atlanta area.

"We might have been second or third on a national kid that was a really good player. Say a Kendall (Milton), Say a Kelee (Ringo), but we won a lot of those," Smart said while discussing Georgia's 2020 signing class in February. "The other part is we lost some instate battles that were really, really good players."

"So I think the two of those merged just sort of happened at unique positions where we would've taken the in-state guy or the out of state guy. It just so happened we got the out of state guy."

The growing orange concern

As Smart mentioned, Georgia has been missing out more on in-state players. So with Georgia getting more and more of its elite players from outside the Peach State, which schools are hurting the Bulldogs the most, especially inside the metro Atlanta area?

The biggest one to know is the Clemson Tigers. Under Dabo Swinney the Tigers have always done well in the state, while landing the likes of Deshaun Watson and Trevor Lawrence. But in recent cycles, they've put in even more focus on the Atlanta area and it has paid off.

The Tigers signed multiple Atlanta area prospects in each of the last five signing classes, including 5-star defensive end Myles Murphy and 5-star cornerback Andrew Booth in the last two cycles. And they've gotten off to a strong start in the 2021 cycle, as Clemson already has commitments from four Atlanta-area blue-chippers, including the top two overall talents in Hancock and Carter.

The other team that has most recently made significant progress in Atlanta is Tennessee. The Volunteers have also landed multiple signees in each of the past two recruiting cycles, and have two commitments in the 2021 class in Brown and 4-star wide receiver Julian Nixon.

As Jeremy Pruitt continues to become more established at Tennessee, it's clear it Atlanta is going to become an even bigger and more crucial part of his program. And that likely will come at the expense of Georgia, even though the Bulldogs continue to do a better job of recruiting the area than any other program.

And after Alabama got shut out in the 2018 cycle, it signed six blue-chip prospects over the past two cycles. Unlike Tennessee and Clemson though it holds no 2021 commitments from one of the prospects in the area.

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The fact that just about every major SEC power is or needs to recruit Atlanta at a high level only makes things more difficult for Georgia. It won't be like it was for USC with the Los Angeles or Miami recruiting south Florida for those super teams of the late 1980's and early 90's. There's simply too much regional competition in metro Atlanta for Georgia to dominate it, as opposed to how LSU handles New Orleans.

What you'll notice about the list above is that all but one of these teams is an SEC program, and Clemson essentially operates as one from the comfort of the ACC. Atlanta isn't just responsible for supplying the home-state Bulldogs with top recruits, it's a key part of several of the best programs in the nation's top conference.

From a pure numbers standpoint, sure Georgia could do a better job of recruiting the metro Atlanta. If Smart and his staff had ignored positional need and signed just the 22 blue-chip recruits from the metro Atlanta area in the 2020 class, Georgia would've finished with the No. 4 overall recruiting class.

But in doing so, the Bulldogs then probably don't get a Milton, a Ringo, a Mekhail Sherman or a Marcus Rosemy. All players who figure to be huge pieces of what Georgia continues to build in the coming seasons.

Missing out on a Carter or a Gilbert at the moment should be seen a miss, given in the last two cycles those two players have played at a position of need for the Georgia program. But when the Bulldogs are able to go out land a Darnell Washington and a possibly a Smael Mondon instead, the misses in the metro Atlanta aren't a reason to question Smart's recruiting results.

Georgia is still the only program in the country to sign a top-three recruiting class in each of the previous four recruiting cycles. Those first two cycles saw Georgia lean heavily on the metro Atlanta area. These last two have seen Georgia skew more nationally for those elite recruits.

And while Clemson and Tennessee have picked up a few more wins in the area, they're not exactly storming the gates and raiding the area for all of the top recruits. The Bulldogs are still getting their fair share and more so than any other program.

It's just that no program, not even a Georgia program that is among the national elite in the country, can be expected to dominate the metro Atlanta area from a recruiting standpoint. The area is just too deep and too vital to so many other programs for that to happen.

Full list of all metro Atlanta recruits since 2016

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  • One of the hallmarks of Georgia under coach Kirby Smart has been a big, physical offensive line. Despite the offseason departure of offensive line coach Sam Pittman who became head coach at Arkansas and the loss of three starters to the NFL draft, expectations remain high that the Bulldogs can field a formidable unit once again. However, that will require some newcomers to the program or possibly some players who've been waiting in the wings in reserve roles to get quickly acclimated to the challenge of facing SEC defensive lines as they prepare to fill the shoes of former tackles Andrew Thomas and Isaiah Wilson, both of whom were first-round picks in April, as well as former guard Solomon Kindley, who was a fourth-round pick. Former Bulldogs offensive lineman Jon Stinchcomb, who was an All-American tackle in 2002, believes a successful transition is possible. 'There's such good options there,' Stinchcomb recently said on DawgNation Daily. 'Across the SEC, and really around the country, they would be chomping at the bit to have the level of talent Georgia has despite the uncertainty of losing three starters to the NFL draft. 'Georgia's got a bevy of players in that room that are highly capable and I think are just waiting for the opportunity to prove the merit that their names brought once they signed a letter of intent to come to the University of Georgia.' One of the easiest names to fill in as a new starter is probably rising junior Jamaree Salyer. a former five-star signee from the 2018 class. Salyer's reputation has been growing since being called upon to start at right tackle in the Bulldogs' Sugar Bowl win vs. Baylor. 'Jamaree really solidified himself in showing that he's going to be more than capable of being a starter and holding his own,' Stinchcomb said. 'That's no longer in question. Now you're talking about how good he can be.' Salyer's Sugar Bowl performance is even more impressive given the change that was happening around him at the time. In addition to players leaving for the NFL, new offensive line coach Matt Luke was also stepping in for the first time in place of Pittman. Yet the Bulldogs' offensive line still got the job done. 'Those guys stepped up to the challenge,' Luke told DawgNation after the Sugar Bowl. 'We had three normal starters out and those guys went wire to wire and played every snap. I'm really proud of those guys for stepping up.' Now Salyer could be ready to take an even bigger step this season. He's spent much of the offseason showcasing a newly slimmed-down frame, and the efforts that have led to that body transformation have some saying he could be ready to emerge as a leader and a possible starter at left tackle, arguably the offensive line's most important position. 'He's going to be a great player,' Thomas who was also a high school teammate of Salyer's at Pace Academy told DawgNation in March. 'He has kept his head up and continued to fight. He's going to be the anchor along that offensive line.' If Salyer earns the nod at left tackle, that leaves a crucial position battle at right tackle between guys who've been in the program and a couple of hyped recent arrivals. Xavier Truss was a four-star prospect from the 2019 class and the former No. 1 player in the state of Rhode Island. He appeared in three games for the Bulldogs a year ago, and is thought to be solidly in the mix to possibly replace Wilson on the right side this year. A similar statement could be made for Warren McClendon another four-star 2019 signee who played in four games for UGA last season. Owen Condon who has appeared in four games over his two years at UGA could join the fight as well as two elite 2020 signees, Broderick Jones and Tate Ratledge. Stinchcomb thinks the guys who've gained some experience in the program could have the early advantage over the incoming freshmen. 'I think [experience] makes a considerable difference because they've seen the power and speed of some of these elite outside linebackers and defensive ends in the SEC mainly because they've practiced against them on a week in and week out basis,' Stinchcomb said. 'For some of these guys, just last season, but for some of the others that's two years of facing that level of competition.' Stinchcomb says he'd favor Truss slightly in the competition for now. However, Jones because he was a five-star signee will almost certainly be the subject of much curiosity among UGA fans once practice begins. 'Having seen Broderick's film coming out of high school, he's big. He's athletic. He moves really well,' Stinchcomb said. 'I can see why he was as highly-regarded as he is. But you have to lean on the fact that these aren't scrubs we are talking about Truss, Condon, McClendon. They came in highly-touted in their own regard. 'He's not walking into an empty space. There's not this gaping void where there's no talent in-house. 'I think if I were to make a projection, it's one of your veterans that gets the starting nod. But you could see Broderick Jones get reps throughout the season in a rotational basis probably at the beginning of the season, and then who knows what happens by the end of the year. I think he's a special talent, but I think there's a lot of talent in that room.' No matter who ultimately wins the competition at right tackle, Stinchcomb believes UGA will be in good hands. 'It's not going to be a position of weakness,' Stinchcomb said. 'It's not like you're going to have to hide the right tackle spot.' Stinchcomb's assessment, if it turns out to be true, would be good news for UGA. The Bulldogs almost certainly feel confident in the offensive line's two returning starters center Trey Hill and right guard Ben Cleveland. If Thomas and Wilson can be replaced with quality starters at the tackle spots, the offensive line should once again be one of UGA's strengths. The post Former All-American expects UGA offensive line to remain a strength despite departures appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Tralee Hale never knew she had quite this many Dawgs in her corner. Until now. Her introduction to the Georgia fan base was quick and memorable during the last recruiting cycle. Hale, a flight attendant, is the mother of 5-star cornerback prospect Kelee Ringo. She kept visiting Athens from Arizona with her son all last year. Ringo was rated as the nation's No. 1 cornerback prospect for the 2020 cycle. The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder was 6 feet, 2 inches tall and weighed more than 205 pounds. There was a 'Junior Day' visit. Then for G-Day. Then for the annual Georgia scavenger hunt recruit weekend in May. Those were just the trips that popped up over social media. He also had an official visit in early January. The Bulldogs were battling Texas and Oregon primarily for his commitment and eventual signature on a letter-of-intent. Ringo had sprinter's speed in the 100 meters. He was capable of clocking 10.40 seconds and below in the 100. But his mother also kept showing up on his viral recruiting visits. There was that timeless photo when she draped the pet python of a Georgia staffer around her neck. Her son, the chiseled and hyper-athletic 5-star would have nothing to do with that serpent. That photo opp with Georgia staffer Bryan Gantt's pet 'Sunshine' eventually led to the creation of a new NCAA rule for recruits. Of all things. Her son did eventually sign with Georgia . He committed to the Bulldogs back in January on a live announcement from the All-American Bowl out in Texas. Hale was planning to move to Georgia to be closer to her son and follow his career from not just the same time zone, but the same state as well. Life, as we all know, sometimes can bust up even the best-laid plans. Hale was diagnosed in June with an aggressive form of breast cancer. When she learned that, she went through the expected range of emotions. She eventually was faced with the reality that she was going to need some help. A lot of help. It necessitated that a GoFundme page was set up to help her raise the funds necessary to pay for those treatments and also deal with the loss of income necessary while she was set to go through all the chemotherapy. Her situation is described on that page. 'In June of this year, Tralee Hale was diagnosed with Triple Negative Ductal Carcinoma breast cancer. This is an aggressive form of cancer, and fewer treatment options are available. Tralee is being treated at Cancer Treatment Centers of America here in Arizona where she will undergo 16 rounds of chemotherapy. Before this diagnosis, Tralee has been on leave from her job as a flight attendant for American Airlines due to a work-related injury. She has had one surgery to correct a knee issue and multiple others for her knee and back are required. Shortly before this diagnosis, Tralee sent her son, Kelee, off to live his dream playing football for the Georgia Bulldogs. She has always been his biggest cheerleader but now she needs our help! Please consider donating to help Tralee with her loss of income and additional expenses not covered by insurance.' Kimberly Cochran, her cousin, set up the page and organized the online effort. As of late Thursday evening, she had 490 donations to help her in that fight. While an original goal of $25,000 was quickly established, it became clear that the support was going to provide more help in her fight than she ever imagined. Those 490 pledges have been good for a total of $26,015 so far. The quick math on that is an average of $53 per pledge. Hale was so moved that she took to her Twitter account to try to begin to share her gratitude. 'I wanted to come on and say thank you,' Hale says in the embedded video below. 'I have been brought to tears these last two days over the amount of support and messages and encouragement that I have been receiving. I am so thankful and blessed to be a part of the UGA family and a part of DawgNation.' 'I'm so thankful for everyone showing their love and support. We have a fight in front of us but I am definitely going to get through it with your help. Thank you and I look forward to seeing ya'll between the hedges.' Thank you for ALL the love and support! I feel so blessed to be a part of Dawg Nation and the UGA family! GoDawgs! pic.twitter.com/EJfvvUdTwr Tralee Hale (@HaleTralee) July 3, 2020 How Team Tralee has helped out in a big way Hale and her funding drive known as 'Team Tralee' quickly picked up $16,000 toward that original $25,000 in less than a day. When it started to get tweeted around on social media and on a few sites which cover the Bulldogs, the cause really started to gain some real momentum. Take a look at how that support quickly came to be: 8:15 AM on June 30: $1,300 approximately. The page was established early on June 30. 12:00 PM on June 30: $6,800 in less than five hours 2:45 PM on June 30:The total here is now $10,200. That's $9,000 in pledges in less than seven hours from early on June 30. 10:20 update on June 30:That total now rests at $17,595. 9:35 AM on July 1:Support for 'Team Tralee' reaches $19,480. The fund-raising effort is approximately 30 hours old. 4:30 PM on July 1:The tally moves to $21,895 with 441 donors. Thepledge goal now shows an increase to $40,000. As it started to really pick up steam, Ringo even shared a word of appreciation on his Twitter account. I really appreciate the love and prayers for my mom, She's a fighter. Kelee Ringo (@KeleeRingo) June 30, 2020 Hale replied to a tweet from Radi Nabulsi of UGAsports.com. The Rivals UGA site was one of many UGA online properties and message boards to post the news of her fight and that GoFundme.com page to help out. Thank you so very much for posting and for your support! I'm going to beat this! Next.. All I want is to get there and watch football with y'all!! GoDawgs! Tralee Hale (@HaleTralee) June 30, 2020 It wasn't just those who are charged with covering the Georgia football team, but a grassroots effort of the rank-and-file members of the Georgia fan base. Thank you soooooooo very much! I'm so blessed to be a part of the Dawg Family! I'm soooo thankful for all of the encouragement and support! Your thoughts and prayers mean so much! I will beat this! Tralee Hale (@HaleTralee) July 1, 2020 Calling all Dawgs! Let's show @KeleeRingo and his family what Dawgnation is capable of. Please share this and contribute if at all possible! #GODAWGS Join TEAM TRALEE in her fight against cancer! https://t.co/AMrixJaZ6V Jamey Goodman (@JameyGoodman) June 30, 2020 While quickly scanning through the donor lists and the comments, there's an overwhelming number of pledges from Georgia fans or those simply stating that DawgNation and the UGA fanbase has her back. 'I am soooooo very thankful to have so much support from UGA fans,' she told DawgNation on Wednesday. The special bond she has with her son is clear in Ringo's tweet from back on Mother's Day. Happy Mother's day to my best friend @HaleTralee pic.twitter.com/ZyeHOjDMwX Kelee Ringo (@KeleeRingo) May 10, 2020 It doesn't matter which colors one might rep. The movement taking place here is an awesome gesture of humanity. Especially during times where a lot of families are going through their own hardships of some sort. Those donations have already led to an upgrade in her initial hopes for her patient care. 'I quite literally need to thank them for coming together for me because I am going to be able to be seen by the Cancer Treatment Centers of American because of their support,' Hale said. To support 'Team Tralee' in her fight, please visit her Gofundme page. The post Tralee Hale: The mother of freshman CB Kelee Ringo finds out she's not alone in her cancer fight appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Georgia football is the No. 1 topic every day on DawgNation Daily the daily podcast for Georgia Bulldogs fans. Catch up on everything happening with UGA athletics with host Brandon Adams and the DawgNation experts as they break down the latest Georgia football recruiting news and discuss coach Kirby Smart's quest to return the Bulldogs to the top of the SEC. On episode No. 1,229 (July 2, 2020) of the podcast, Georgia fans can hear a discussion about what ESPN's Rece Davis said about his optimism that college football will be played this fall. Georgia football podcast: ESPN personality provides some much-needed optimism about upcoming season Beginning of the show: Questions persist about what college football will look like this fall including whether or not the games will take place as the country contends with the coronavirus. There's been no shortage of dire projections from many national media members in recent days in the wake of some positive tests that have emerged from teams participating in voluntary workouts. With all that in mind, I'll share a message on today's show from ESPN's Rece Davis in which Davis shares optimism about the upcoming season. Five-minute mark: I discuss five-star quarterback and Georgia commit Brock Vandagriff's performance at the Elite 11 camp. 10-minute mark: I discuss an ESPN writer's take that Florida is UGA's most important game for the upcoming season. 15-minute mark: CBS Sports' Barrett Sallee joins the show. Some of the topics covered include The comparison between UGA and Florida in the race to win the SEC East The Bulldogs' potential quarterback competition between Jamie Newman and JT Daniels The outlook for Alabama And thoughts on how the coronavirus could impact the upcoming season 30-minute mark: I take a look at other SEC headlines including the commonly misunderstood story of Mississippi State cancelling its alumni tailgate. 35-minute mark: I discuss some UGA recruiting storylines including four-star linebacker Dallas Turner's decision to choose the Crimson Tide over the Bulldogs and a message from five-star linebacker Smael Mondon teasing a possible announcement coming soon. End of show: I share the Gator Hater Updater. DawgNation Daily Episode 1229: ESPN personality provides some much-needed optimism about upcoming season The post Georgia football podcast: ESPN personality provides some much-need optimism about upcoming season appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Tony Grimes, the 5-star Virginia CB, chose North Carolina earlier this week. Elite pass rusher Dallas Turner opted to roll with the Tide the very next day. It proved to be a swift one-two punch of 'what just happened here' with Georgia recruiting. If we're being honest, the Georgia football program hasn't seen many single days like that under Kirby Smart. But back-to-back days where the 'Power G' logo was the hat on the table which didn't get picked up was especially telling. The COVID-19 health scare which halted all on and off-campus recruiting played a factor in why those All-American recruits did not choose Georgia, but also in the timing of those announcements. They saw no need to wait and the chance to take a validation visit or two were not going to take place until at least September 1, if not later than that. We discussed those matters on this week's 'Before the Hedges' but also brought up three reasons why Georgia's recruiting has also been aided by that shutdown, too. It is not like Georgia is the only school that hasn't been able to build the necessary momentum in the pandemic for a few elite targets on the recruiting trail. There has been a lot of 'if only we could get that guy on campus' taking place with a record number of commitments to NCAA Division I schools through the end of June during the coronavirus health scare. Auburn, Penn State and South Carolina were saying the same things about Georgia offensive line verbal pledge Dylan Fairchild That is just the most recent example present with the last commitment who chose Georgia. Did you know the weekly DawgNation.com 'Before the Hedges' program is now available as an Apple podcast? Click to check it out and download it. Before the Hedges on DawgNation: This week's teaser trailer The focus of the open to this week's weekly show was to highlight three ways in which the shutdown also aided the Bulldogs on the recruiting trail for the 2021 and 2022 classes. Among the examples discussed: 5-star OT Amarius Mims was set to take a least a few unofficial or official visits to power programs like LSU and Oklahoma this spring. He's also been able to get back to Tuscaloosa. That program still looms large for the Bulldogs to have to overcome with his eventual decision. Mims remains uncommitted. 5-star ILB Smael Mondon Jr. had hoped to take a spring unofficial visit to Oklahoma this spring, too. Not to mention there was the plan to see major contenders like Auburn and Tennessee this spring, too. It seems like DawgNation is already doing a lot of nail-chewing in regard to Mondon and his eventual decision as it is. Mondon has yet to make his public decision. The Bulldogs weren't able to make the necessary gains with those repeated interactions with Grimes and Turner, but the same can also be said for other rival schools in the chase for Mims and Mondon, too. Georgia has seen five of its nine commitments make that move to commit to the G during the pandemic. We can point to feedback that at least four of them decided they didn't need to wait any longer to see if there were any other schools out there that impressed them as much as the chance to play for the Bulldogs. 4-star Philadelphia OLB Elijah Jeudy was one of those commitments who was hoping to be able to take one more trip to check out Texas A&M before deciding but ultimately decided there was no need to wait with the restoration of visits nowhere in sight. In-state RB native Lovasea' Carroll even shared on Twitter than he was thinking long and hard about a flip to the Gators and the chance to a faster path to major SEC carries, but ultimately decided that three to four years at Georgia would serve his career better in the long run. It was beneficial to consider that he had to weight that decision out from his home and not from the football building and locker room while on a visit to the University of Florida. The terrific recruiting that Georgia has been able to do during the pandemic with a rich crop of 2022 prospects in the state of Georgia. We also introduced a pair of new names to the weekly 'Top Targets' lineup for the 2021 class. That feature also included a brand new prospect in the No. 1 slot. Check out the latest episode of 'Before the Hedges' embedded below. It airs live at 6 p.m. each Wednesday on the DawgNation Facebook and YouTube channels , respectively. SENTELL'S INTEL (the recent reads on DawgNation.com) CJ Washington: The electric 2022 LB prospect drops UGA into his top 3 Elite pass rush target Dallas Turner has made his college decision Where does Georgia turn now at CB after Tony Grimes in the 2021 recruiting class? Class of 2022 ATH Malaki Starks could be a future class anchor at UGA 6-foot-7 sophomore OT Payton Kirkland shares why UGA is his dream school Andrew Thomas says to expect a lot of pancakes from Jamaree Salyer in 2020 Xavier Worthy: Can the speed demon WR be the next link in the California-UGA pipeline? Checking in on the four biggest Georgia football recruiting storylines at this time Why Malcolm 'The Jet' Johnson Jr. and his 10.38 speed is giving UGA a good look Georgia RB commit Lovasea' Carroll shuts down all talk of a Florida flip 5-star ATH James Williams changes things up a bit with his new top 2 HEDGES: Who's the best QB on the board in the class of 2022? MJ Morris: New Georgia coordinator Todd Monken has made him a priority WATCH: Georgia commit Chaz Chambliss shows he has a bright future at OLB The post HEDGES: 3 ways the lack of campus visits have also helped Georgia football recruiting appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Want to attack every day with the latest UGA football recruiting info? That's what the Intel brings. This entry takes a look at the recent top 3 dropped by Cedartown Class of 2022 linebacker prospect CJ Washington. CJ Washington has logged many a workout with Georgia all-time great RB Nick Chubb. When he does, there's not a lot of time spent shifting the plates around and back and forth. He's a rising high school junior at Cedartown High School. That's where Chubb starred and where Washington racked up 18 sacks last year as a sophomore. When you watch him work, there's no question he has a level of athleticism and physicality that will stand out on any field. Does anyone need to hear any more about what type of college football player he could out turn out to be? The 4-star ATH is likely seen as a linebacker on Saturdays. Washington played tailback and defensive end and linebacker and looked like a walking muscle on a hoverboard in whatever role he was excelling at on the field. Washington released his top schools on Wednesday night. It was something akin to what Chubb might have done. In a time where everyone fancies it appropriate to release top 8s and top 10s when they are less than six months away from signing day, he went about his process a different way. The 6-foot-2, 223-pound junior released a top 3. It was: Georgia LSU Tennessee Simple. Direct. Impressive. That's basically Washington in a nutshell. He's the type of player where hyperbole is not necessary, but his first Dawgnation profile story did bring to mind the name Nolan Smith and a reference to Fred G. Sanford. it's coming fosho @Mansell247 @ChadSimmons_ @247Sports pic.twitter.com/tOUzpnbXxh Cedric Washington (@cedric_washing4) July 1, 2020 The scouting report on CJ Washington Washington bench presses 340 pounds, will do some rep maxes with 295 for power cleans, and is already squatting 515-plus pounds. His power clean max is at 330 pounds. ( NEWS FLASH: This was where a high school sophomore was about three or four months ago in the weight room) When recruiting analysts size him up, it is a fitting comparison to liken him to former No. 1 overall recruit Nolan Smith. He's got that kind of explosion coming off the edge. He currently rates as the nation's No. 9 ATH and No. 88 overall prospect for the 2022 cycle for his standalone 247Sport rating. TBT Tuesday (Rockmart v Cedartown) 4 '22 Cedartown DE CJ Washington @cedric_washing4 pic.twitter.com/fO7kbcZCrW NwGa Football (@NwGaFootball) December 10, 2019 When he competed at the Georgia Elite Classic last December at McEachern High School, he was one of the truly great players in the sophomore game. He racked up the hurries, tackles and tackles for losses. Consider a sampling of the following quotes from his head coach at that game. Chris Hirschfield is the offensive coordinator at Walton High in Marietta. Hirschfield has experienced the great fortune and career timing to coach a pair of NFL players in Kerryon Johnson and Jordan Matthews in his lottery winner of a career so far. He also coached Georgia sophomore WR Dominick Blaylock at Walton, too. He's also been on the staff for teams that also lined up a few more high-level ACC and SEC players, too. Washington played at H-Back, defensive end and outside linebacker for the winning team in that showcase. 'When we had him out wide at d-end, we stood him up and put him an extra yard out wide basically as an outside backer,' Hirschfield said. 'Basically nobody could block him coming off a speed rush.' His roster didn't have any H-Back or fullback types on the other side of the ball. 'He obviously fit the part there, too,' he said. 'We taught him four plays literally. Power. Counter. Literally four or five plays in practice. I've never seen anybody collision and hit the way that kid does. His explosiveness might be the best I have ever seen.' 'Absolutely explosive. Full speed and does not shy away from contact and he's so powerful. He doesn't just hit. He drives people backward.' They gave him maybe four or five reps in practice at those positions. Those reps had to come after the defensive period.Washington had it from that point on. Hirschfield even handed him the ball a few times in the game, too. 'He's special,' he said. 'I didn't even teach him the name of all the plays I would just tell him Right Strong' or Left Strong' as far as his alignment and I gave him three words. Counter. Down call which is our power. He'd kick out the play-side defensive end. Or Insert. He then knew to insert there and get that middle backer. He was really really good at it.' That was his part-time job. His main duty was flying off the edge. 'He couldn't be blocked,' Hirschfield said. 'He's special. Absolutely special.' That goes for on and off the field. 'Great kid, too,' he said. 'I talked to him outside of practice and the game. Polite. Spoke to him at the bowling alley event. Extremely humble. Very well-spoken young man. Very gracious. Just a very very nice kid.' Check out a few clips of Cedartown sophomore OLB CJ Washington in action tonight at the @GAEliteClassic at McEachern. @cedric_washing4 played on both sides of the ball in a night fit for a Gore-Tex photo shoot. pic.twitter.com/HXtNKu1l0i Jeff Sentell (@jeffsentell) December 23, 2019 Matthews was a receiver. So was Blaylock. Johnson was one of the best running backs in college football at Auburn back in 2017. 'Those were all offensive playmakers and we are talking about a defensive playmaker here,' Hirschfield said. 'But he's just so versatile. So much athleticism. He's got wide shoulders. His frame. He's long. He is going to carry weight and he has no fat on him.' 'He's definitely going to be a defensive player in college.' Washington showed physicality as an H-Back at that event. It was enough to convince Hirschfield that he could be an inside linebacker in college, too. 'The way he closes space down as a blocker I see that and think about a middle linebacker and filling a gap so quickly the other way around,' he said. 'I do think he can be that type of impact player there, too.' Washington could be pretty impressive at either LB spot at that next level. Especially as an ILB in a 3-4 front. 'Where ever you want to play me,' he said last September. 'I'll get it done.' CJ Washington on the potential fit at Georgia Washington was able to visit Georgia earlier this year. Dell McGee has been his primary recruiter up to this point. He had some unique feedback on the trip and shared that with DawgNation earlier this year. 'They were telling me how they look at me as not even a one-spot player,' he said. 'They see me playing all around for them.' 'They see I can do middle, outside linebacker and possibly play running back. They were also talking about the school and once they got into the school stuff I really started listening.' 'The way they were describing it is everyone learns differently. Basically. They were telling us that all players learn differently. Once you get there and open up to Georgia, you go to the academic counselors and you tell them how you learn things and study. Then they help identify the way you learn and show you the way you learn and the best way they are going to be able to help you from an academic support standpoint.' He did say that Georgia felt like home, but I get the sense he'd like to check out what those other great programs have to offer as well. That will have to take place when college visits open back up. He still has time to wait that out as a member of the class of 2022. LSU and Tennessee were both recent offers. Georgia and Tennessee have been hitting him up and recruiting him consistently during the pandemic shutdown of all on-campus visits. It will be interesting to see where this recruitment goes. There are elements to his game that will also bring to mind former LSU great and current NFL vet Kwon Alexander, too. Especially for a pair of eyes who have now seen both players up close in high school. Thankful to receive an offer from LSU TIGERS!! @CoachOsborneLSU @Mansell247 @ChadSimmons_ @LSUfootball @Coach_EdOrgeron #GoTigers pic.twitter.com/BSnzlOtuDr Cedric Washington (@cedric_washing4) June 10, 2020 Washington has all the potential in the world to be one of the special players in the nation for the 2022 class. While he doesn't have elite size or length for an OLB, his athleticism, explosion and strength will stand out as uncommon among his peers. Those traits are nice, but his mindset and work ethic are what will really set him apart. He has a mentality to just put his head down and go to work. There's not a sense of entitlement to his personality and approach to being a great football player in every facet of his game. 'God first, school after and then family,' he told DawgNation last year. 'The reason I said school right after God is that I know I am blessed with this talent. But without my grades what am I? I'm just thankful for this life I have.' Did you know the weekly DawgNation.com 'Before the Hedges' program is now available as an Apple podcast? Click to check it out and download. SENTELL'S INTEL (the recent reads on DawgNation.com) Elite pass rush target Dallas Turner has made his college decision Where does Georgia turn now at CB after Tony Grimes in the 2021 recruiting class? Class of 2022 ATH Malaki Starks could be a future class anchor at UGA 6-foot-7 sophomore OT Payton Kirkland shares why UGA is his dream school Andrew Thomas says to expect a lot of pancakes from Jamaree Salyer in 2020 Xavier Worthy: Can the speed demon WR be the next link in the California-UGA pipeline? Checking in on the four biggest Georgia football recruiting storylines at this time Why Malcolm 'The Jet' Johnson Jr. and his 10.38 speed is giving UGA a good look Georgia RB commit Lovasea' Carroll shuts down all talk of a Florida flip 5-star ATH James Williams changes things up a bit with his new top 2 HEDGES: Who's the best QB on the board in the class of 2022? MJ Morris: New Georgia coordinator Todd Monken has made him a priority WATCH: Georgia commit Chaz Chambliss shows he has a bright future at OLB The post CJ Washington: Electric 2022 LB prospect places Georgia in his top 3 appeared first on DawgNation.