Shortly after 7:00 p.m. ET on Friday evening, 6-foot-4 and 260 lbs Schley County High School defensive lineman Zykeivous Walker out of Ellaville, GA announced his decision to commit to the Auburn over Alabama, Florida, and Georgia.
One of the top-20 players from the Peach State as well a top-200 prospective student-athlete nationally, Walker has over 23 scholarship offers which he had narrowed down to a top-five of Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee back in the spring in April. Many recruiting experts had expected the four-star defensive end to commit to the Bulldogs, and he was just coming off an official visit to UGA for the Texas A&M game back this past Saturday on November 23rd. In the end, the War Eagles were able to make a late push.
So where does Georgia go from here when it comes to 2020 defensive line recruiting?
Kirby Smart and company still have an opportunity to flip Walker before National Signing Day and the Georgia coaching staff will certainly continue to keep recruiting the talented d-lineman.
Georgia stands to lose at least five seniors off its defensive line. Defensive ends David Marshall and Justin Young along with defensive tackles Michael Barnett, Michail Carter, and Tyler Clark are in their final year of eligibility with UGA. Defensive tackle Julian Rochester has only played in two of the Dawgs’ 11 games this year coming off an ACL injury from the end of the 2018 season; so, he could possibly redshirt and return as a fifth-year senior in 2020. But the Bulldogs have made d-line recruiting a priority and have three, 4-star prospects currently committed for the 2020 recruiting class that includes Warren Brinson (IMG Academy), Jalen Carter (Apoka High Schook, Apoka, FL), and Nazir Stackhouse (Columbia High School, Decatur, GA); however, it would be ideal to add one more to that group. Of the prospects left on the table who have not yet committed, here are three potential candidates.
Jordan Burch is the highest-rated target for the Bulldogs left undeclared. A 6-foot-5 and 250 lbs senior out of Hammond School from Columbia, SC, Burch is ranked as the No. 1 strong-side defensive end and a 5-star prospect by 247Sports as well as Rivals. Burch is set to announce his decision on December 19th during the Early Signing Period between his top-five schools which include Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, LSU, and South Carolina. If the UGA coaching staff can pull Burch from the Palmetto State from in-state programs Clemson and South Carolina, it would be a huge pickup for the program.
Josaih Hayes is a four-star, 6-foot-3, and 296 lbs defensive tackle out of Horn Lake, MS. Hayes was committed to Ole Miss June 3rd through October 23rd of this year when he reopened up his recruitment. While it might be a long shot to pull a prospect from the state of Mississippi that did not include UGA in his top-five, Hayes is a former teammate of current Bulldog freshman linebacker Nakobe Dean; so, there is some familiarity here. Hayes is set to take an official visit to Kentucky on December 6th.
Another prospect who was once committed but also decided to reopen his recruitment is 6-foot-3 and 294 lbs Jalen Lee out of Live Oak High School in Watson, LA. The four-star defensive tackle had been committed to LSU from June 19th to November 21st when he reopened up his recruitment. Lee has an official visit scheduled for Florida and Ole Miss in December. Another potential landing spot for the d-lineman is Alabama. I think Georgia would be a surprise here, but with Walker’s commitment to Auburn, the Dawgs could make a push here.
Branard Wright, a 6-foot-3 and 285 lbs, three-star defensive tackle out of Carter High School in Dallas, TX is another uncommitted prospect with a Georgia offer, but the Bulldogs would have a lot of work to do to make up ground here.
Of course, the UGA coaching staff could decide to stand pat with the current three verbals from Brinson, Carter, and Stackhouse, especially if they certain that Rochester will take a redshirt and return for 2020. Stay tuned…