After a 2020 recruiting class that was centered on bringing in a large crop of offensive playmakers, the 2021 class for the University of Georgia was key on fortifying the defense for the future. The biggest recruiting battles that the Dawgs had in the class occurred at cornerback, inside linebacker, and defensive tackle. Having said that, it is important to note that Kirby Smart and company did sign key offensive pieces such as Brock Vandagriff, Brock Bowers, and Amarius Mims. All of which could play key roles in the upcoming 2021 season, and will be major parts of the plans for the future. For the most part, the pressing needs that were met in the last recruiting cycle came in the form of defensive standouts like Xavian Sorey Jr., Smael Mondon, Tyrion Ingram-Dawkins, Nyland Green, and David Daniel.
Overall, Georgia signed 20 high school players and has now brought in a transfer in Tykee Smith that will count toward the 2021 scholarship count. Smith, along with David Daniel of Woodstock, Georgia, are big pieces of the influx of talent into a secondary that is facing a near complete overhaul. Richard LeCounte, Tyrique Stevenson, Eric Stokes, Tyson Campbell, Mark Webb, and DJ Daniel are all gone. Tykee Smith, whom Georgia lured to Athens by way of the West Virginia Mountaineers upon his entering of the transfer portal, will almost certainly be the starter in the STAR position for Georgia. Mark Webb and Tyrique Stevenson manned this position for the lion share of 2020. Smith has 21 games of solid production, familiarity with Jahmile Addae, and brings experience that the Georgia secondary was highly in need of. David Daniel is the only other prospect listed as a safety in the class, however it is quite possible that fellow early enrollee Javon Bullard of Baldwin High School in Milledgeville, Georgia, could cross train at some safety.
Daniel and Bullard are two of Georgia’s 16 early enrollees in the class of 2021 that are being indoctrinated into SEC football and the college lifestyle this spring. Nyland Green was another defensive back that graduated early and is in the midst of his first spring with the Dawgs. Out of any 2021 signee, Green might have the biggest opportunity to contribute right away. The competition at cornerback is wide open. Such is to be expected when the program’s top three corners all head out for the NFL. There is not a more athletic player than Nyland Green in the class of 2021 for Georgia and reports out of spring practice to this point are that the Covington, Georgia native has flashed his freakish talents and is fighting hard to earn one of the starting spots along with Jalen Kimber, Ameer Speed, Kelee Ringo, and Daran Branch. Also, worth noting is that due to plentiful depth at running back and a dearth of depth at cornerback, 2021 signee Lovasea Carroll has switch from the offensive backfield to that of the defense in a spring experiment.
Smile Mondon, Xavier Sorey, and Jamon Dumas-Johnson all came on board in this class to bolster the depth up the middle for the Dawgs and secure the future. Nakobe Dean has first rounder written all over himself after this season and Quay Walker and Channing Tindall after getting long in the tooth as well in terms of their Georgia careers. Mondon, Sorey, and Dumas-Johnson are not expected to or, at this point, needed to play right away. However, as seen last year in the Florida game, offenses can pick on linebackers in man-to-man coverage with athletic tight ends and running backs. Mondon and Sorey can flat out run with just about anybody. It would not be shocking to see the two 5-Stars work themselves into a position to play in limited packages, especially on obvious passing downs. Not only are both fast enough and big enough to lock up running backs and, or tight ends in coverage, but they would also be tough to handle as pass rushers.
Ok, ok, since defense isn’t what puts eyeballs on the TV set or people in the seats, let’s talk about the offense. Explosive offenses and the College Football Playoff National Championship have become synonymous with one another. Georgia certainly showed signs of a juggernaut to come offensively over the last four games of the season with JT Daniels at quarterback. Also, even before that, it was apparent that Todd Monken’s scheme was designing golden opportunities to make big plays, but too many times the execution was not rising to the same level of performance. The Dawgs went out and got Brock Bowers and AD Mitchell in the class at tight end and receiver, respectively. Both of these early enrollees have been raved about by their teammates and in information that has been put out through media outlets and internal information gathered at Bulldawg Illustrated. Both Bowers and Mitchell could be beneficiaries, in terms of opportunity, the loss of George Pickens to an ACL injury.
Of course everyone wants to know about the quarterbacks. How is Brock Vandagriff, the Prince Avenue 5-Star, performing in his first spring practice? Well, the good news to start off with is that he is performing period. Vandagriff dealt with a MCL injury during his senior season at Prince Avenue and there was some thought that he’d be sidelined with a surgical repair of the knee. That turned out not to be case and Vandagriff is competing and getting valuable mental and physical reps. Vandagriff has a lot to learn and is behind in terms of playoff knowledge of Carson Beck and Stetson Bennett IV. It will be interesting to see the split of the reps and the execution of all the QBs on G-Day. Vandagriff, even if he does not win the number two quarterback position, could see action in every game this season in packages designed to take advantage of his dual threat abilities.