Georgia Bulldogs’ Head Coach Kirby Smart is putting his stamp on the Georgia Football program with his first full recruiting class.
The 2016 Georgia Bulldog’s football season didn’t go as planned. The hiring of Kirby Smart, with his experience winning championships at Alabama, along with an incredibly experienced coaching staff, brought with it the expectations that transition didn’t necessarily mean chaos. But, somewhere along the way, that feeling was lost. In a few weeks, National Signing Day looks like it will be an historic one for the Georgia program, and the feeling of ascendancy is returning to “Dawg Nation”.
Much ink has been spilled about what went wrong for the Bulldogs in 2016. A highly touted Freshman Quarterback showed flashes of brilliance and cool, but also seemed lost at times. Five star talent at various positions, on both sides of the ball, sparked moments that made fans think, “Here we go”, only to underwhelm and get lost in crucial moments, eliciting chin rubbing and furrowed brow from fans. Pedestrian play calling from a world beater Offensive Coordinator surprised most, and was the lightening rod for much fan based consternation and murmuring. With losses to Vanderbilt, at Homecoming, no less, and to rival Georgia Tech, things seemed askew in Athens. However, if one looks at the horizon, those things now seem like the apocalyptic past.
The current 2017 recruiting class that looks possible is one that could be unmatched in modern recruiting history for UGA. Currently, according to 247Sports, Georgia has the number 3 ranked class, and the coaching staff isn’t done. One of the demarcations and metrics used by the 247Sports folks is point allocation designated to each player. The higher the number, the more talented the player (so it goes). Based on those metrics, and based on young men who have already verbally committed to play football for Georgia, for the first time ever, Georgia boasts a total numerical value of above “300” for total points. This puts them in close proximity to Ohio State and Alabama…both recent National Champions in football.
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When looking at this class, one has to start with the “early enrollees”. Names like LeCounte, Gibbs, Holloman, Hayes, Rice, and Fromm are legendary for their high school exploits on the gridiron, and they all are currently on campus and enrolled. These gentlemen are in-house, as it were. But it is the rest of this group that promises something extraordinary. By all accounts, UGA will only take 25-27 scholarship players in this class, and coupled with the six aforementioned enrollees, there are, currently, 17 “hard commits”. Most believe that most, if not all, will follow through and wind up in Athens come June. Basic math shows that equals 23. There isn’t much room left in this historic class…with just a few weeks to go before February 1, 2017.
The significance of that is that Smart and company can focus on the few spots left, and fill voids and needs. Most agree that UGA needs another Cornerback, Linebacker, and Wide Receiver. It’s been reported that Georgia is in good shape for names like Collins (WR) and Bryant (LB) to commit on National Signing Day, but it is no given. Cornerback remains a question mark for that last spot…and truly, no one really knows what will happen with that last spot and position.
No doubt, there will be a few surprises come National Signing Day, these are 17-18 year old men after all, and there will be some misses where kids decide to leave the state and play and study elsewhere. But what is shaping up is something unique. The 2017 O Line class is the best in school history, and many, many of these young men, who will don the Red and Black, will play in the NFL one day. They are that talented. That isn’t hyperbole. It is a special group of football players who seem ready for the next level. If this pans out, Kirby Smart will have put his stamp on the University of Georgia football program, and will have left memories of 2016 in rear view mirror.