Ranking Each Player in the 2016 Recruiting Class

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Ranking Each Player in the 2016 Recruiting Class

Georgia defensive lineman Julian Rochester conducts interviews during National Signing Day at Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016, in Athens, Ga. (Photo by David Barnes)


This article contributed by regular commenter ManOnFire.

If any of you has ever played a Madden or NCAA football game, then you will be familiar with my style of rankings. For those who haven’t, I’ll describe it like this. I feel the star system leaves something to be desired. What is a 5 star. How does a 5 star compare to a 4 star. My way of doing things gives you a firm rating with a maximum of a 99. Now a 99 would be considered the best college football player in the country each year and maybe not even each year. Ideally, in the SEC, most of your starters will check in the mid-high 80s or 90s. Now, most Freshman won’t come anywhere close to that rating but will start in the 70 or 80 range with room to progress upward. I’ll try to use a score from a player currently on the depth chart to show a comparison to how they now stack up with the players on the roster.
I’m leaving all politics out of this. I’m only giving grades on guys that we have signed, and I won’t delve into “what ifs”. If you’re asking who this joker is giving me these random ratings, then I’ll say I worked for a high school football scouting service for three years. I covered the state of Georgia and scouted many of these players. I worked with a handful of colleges, yes, even our beloved University of Georgia.
Quarterback- Jacob Eason (84)- Eason is the most talented Quarterback that we have signed since Matthew Stafford. He might be the best Quarterback in the country and the only one I’ve seen that I could give him a run this year would be Shea Patterson. If you could build a Quarterback, it would look a lot like Eason. 6’5, north of 220 pounds, a rocket attached to his body. He can stand in the pocket and deliver the ball anywhere on the field. He should start from Day 1. The sky is the limit for Eason, and if he wants to be, he can be the number
1 NFL draft pick in 3 years.
Brice Ramsey (79)
Runningback- Elijah Holyfield (80)- Holyfield is built. He has the look of an SEC Runningback and he could see the field early in the Fall. He has quite the explosion from his lower body making quick jump cuts in the hole. He has some pull away speed and should be able to rattle off chunk yardage if given space. He can run between the tackles or stretch it to the outside. He’s well rounded and should see the field in the fall. (Runningbacks notoriously can play earlier so their rating is a bit inflated compared to other positions).
Brendan Douglas (79)
Wide Receiver – Javon Wims (83), Riley Ridley (74), Tyler Simmons (76) – Let me start off by saying I am biased against JUCO players. I don’t like the idea that you get them for no more than a year and a half. In the SEC and in a pro style system, that is not enough to catch them up to their competition. With that being said, I have high hopes for Wims. He shows the unique ability to track the ball down field and high point it over defenders. Hopefully we run a simplistic system in the fall and Cheney can find ways to get him into one on one situations down the field where he will win. Ridley can do a little bit of everything. He’s not as talented as his older brother Calvin, but Calvin also went to college as like a 20 year old. He has a bit of work to do with his route running before he’s ready to see big time college minutes. Simmons is a true burner if that 4.39 forty time is to be believed on his hudl. Very few times you see him get caught and most of the time he’s pulling away from some legitimate football teams. He’s on the smaller side at 5’11 but if he can get off a jam he should be able to do damage vertically. Also something I like to see is that he’s a punt returner for a team not short on athletes. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him get the ball on some designed plays as a freshman.
Terry Godwin (86), Jayson Stanley (78)
Tight End- Isaac Nauta (82), Charlie Woerner (76) – I’ve seen a lot of good Tight Ends in high school and I think Nauta stacks up with the best of them. He’s big, he can block, he can run the seam and catch tough routes. I fully expect him to see the field in the fall in some capacity and should join the ranks of the great Tight Ends that have played in Sanford Stadium. I put Charlie here because that’s where UGA put him. I know he has played Receiver as well as multiple other positions, but with his body type and skill set I think he’s a more natural fit as a flex Tight End where as I see Nauta as more of an on the line of scrimmage guy. Woerner might be a little more athletic at this time, but I think Nauta’s high level of competition gives him the edge to start out.
Jackson Harris (83)
Offensive Line- Ben Cleveland (77), Chris Barnes (76), Solomon Kindley (71) – “The Mountain” as I call him, Ben Cleveland is part man, part legend. He’s been on UGA’s radar for years now and it will be nice to finally see him in red and black. Unfortunately I don’t see him as a Tackle at the next level, especially not on the left side. That doesn’t mean he’s not great, you can’t build them much nicer looking than Cleveland. With that being said, he needs to find a bit more of a killer instinct in college. He’s always been held back considering his size and competition, so I wouldn’t expect him to play right off the bat and maybe not for a couple of years. I quite like Chris Barnes. He’s athletic, he’s got some room to grow into, and he seemingly is getting better year over year. He has some room to develop in the weight room so you know you haven’t seen him at his best yet. He’s got long arms, he moves well laterally and he plays from his waist down, if we signed a left tackle, it’s him. Kindley was a bit of a head scratcher to me. Yes he’s big, that goes without saying. He’s borderline too big, so UGA will first have to trim him up before they start adding that SEC muscle mass that he will need. I’m all for project offensive lineman, but this one is a bit of a reach for me. He has trouble with quick defenders and blocking at the second level.
Pat Allen (82), Sage Hardin (80)
Defensive Line- Michail Carter (81), Julian Rochester (80), Tyler Clark (77) David Marshall (72 ) – Carter is one of my favorites in this class. I’ve thought for a while he was the best defensive lineman in the state and that includes the one we didn’t get. He’s extremely quick and gets his momentum going. He’s strong as a bull and can lift offensive linemen if he gets them on his heels. He’s a one gap penetrator and I wouldn’t be shocked to see him on the field in the Fall. Rochester is a different type of defensive lineman, but not far off Carter. He’s huge and he should act as a 2-gap defender in Kirby’s defense. He wouldn’t be out of place getting some snaps in the fall as a 2nd or 3rd line rotation. He can hold up at the point of attack with the best of them and should be a central piece of the defense in the future. Tyler Clark isn’t a throw in here. He’s a quality player himself and could see the field if not as a freshman then likely his second season. He moves vertically well for a man of his size although leaves a bit to be desired laterally. Marshall is a curious case to me. I don’t see an edge player like I thought he would be at his size. I see a guy who needs to add another 25 pounds and be a one gap penetrator. He is extremely stiff in the hips and won’t offer a lot of explosion off the edge. His main game is power and he would be better off developing that as opposed to being put on an island and having to contain runningbacks on the edge.
Daquan Hawkins (84), Trent Thompson (88)
Edge Defender- Chauncey Manac (76)– Manac is a power player. He is strong as an ox and getting into a college S&C department could do wonders for his game. He should be able to hold up well in the run game whether it’s against a tight end or even a Tackle. He does need to add some polish to his game because he won’t get by on sheer physical dominance like he has in high school. Don’t expect to see him on the field his first season.
D’Andre Walker (82), Chauncey Rivers (79)
Off Ball Linebacker- Jaleel Laguins (79) – It’s pretty easy to see why Pruitt liked this guy, he can absolutely fly at the linebacker position. What you don’t see a lot of times with the speed merchant linebackers is strength, but let me assure you he has a lot of natural strength and can impose his will. Even better, he comes in just south of 210 pounds so he should ad 20-25 pounds pretty comfortably and be a true force in the middle. If you want a dark horse candidate for best defender in this class, Laguins is probably your guy.
Roquan Smith (83)
Cornerback- Mecole Hardman (80) Chad Clay (76), Tyrique McGhee (75) – Let’s get this out of the way, Hardman is a phenomenal athlete. Is he a corner, is he a receiver, is he a runningback is the question. I watched the Army game and to me he didn’t have the natural instincts or ball skills to play receiver. I actually think he could be an SEC runningback if we wanted him to play there. I definitely want to see he him get some touches on offense, just night as a full time receiver. So, cornerback or safety is the answer if he’s not a runningback which he can be great at given time to learn the position. I like to see my players returning kicks and punts on their high school teams, especially teams with multiple options and Clay fits that bill. He is a willing supporter against the run and has size to matchup with bigger receivers. With that being said he has played safety most of his high school career so he will take some time before he’s ready to guard some of the best receivers in the country. McGhee might not have the physical attributes of the other two, but he’s been playing corner for a while and has a feel for it. He needs to put on a good 15 pounds of muscle before he’s ready to see the field, but I could see him being a sleeper candidate as a sophomore.
Juwan Briscoe (84), Rico McGraw (84)
Safety – Josh Moran (70) – I added Josh because he deserves a spot on this roster for taking a walk-on spot when he had full ride offers from other real football schools. He wanted to come to UGA enough that he and his family are willing to take the risk that they may have to pay for tuition and college expenses. I fully expect him to contribute as a freshman on special teams. He can lay the wood as a defender and plays on all units on the field. He will likely be a reserve receiver on the roster, but he could also play safety in a pinch. Considering we didn’t sign any (unless we are counting Clay) I’m putting Moran here. I’ll be watching to see him making plays all over the field on special teams.
Kirby Choates (78)

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Greg is closing in on 11 years writing about and photographing UGA sports. While often wrong and/or out of focus, it has been a long, strange trip full of fun and new friends.