The class of 2022 is and will be different than any other in the history of modern college football recruiting. Period. There is no qualification to that statement; it is simply a fact that there has not been an extended dead period, the likes of which the NCAA imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of the restrictions on on-campus recruiting and the ability of coaches to visit schools and visit the homes of prospects, there has not been an opportunity for coaches and our support staff to see any of these prospects in person in quite some time. In-person evaluations are vital, and once those become readily available as of June 1st, well, everything is subject to change.
Think how much the body of a teenage male can change in 16 to 20 months. That is how long it has been since programs have been able to assess prospects in person. Many rankings and preconceived notions about rankings, talent levels, and even player position will be shattered, and movement will occur. Said movement could manifest in the form of a 3-Star skyrocketing up boards once receiving a late offer from Georgia, Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, Notre Dame, or some other national power. The movement could come in the form of decommitments and flips, as we’ve seen recently with Georgia. Also, the confluence of events that is COVID-19 recruiting and the approval of the 1-time transfer rule without penalty is something that nobody was prepared for just a little over a year ago. Change will happen, and it will happen swiftly and oftentimes unexpectedly.
However, this is not to say that Georgia will be on the short end of the stick in the movement, changes, and developments. By no means! UGA was one of the earliest programs preparing for personal branding that comes with Name, Image, and Likeness that is inevitable in college sports. That will help the Dawgs and increasingly before a bigger deal, especially in the transfer market. Also, keep in mind that entering the transfer portal is more of a mutual decision between player and program. The portal giveth and taketh away, so to speak. There is no doubt that Georgia is adding a couple more key pieces via the transfer portal, and Georgia will excel as usual in the area of on-campus recruiting. An unexpected talent will emerge and fall in love with the Classic City and the Georgia staff and program. There could be another decommitment or 2, but remember, not all of those are created equal, and Kirby Smart has a record of flipping prospects as well.
Regardless of what happens, it’s sure to happen at a breakneck pace, with more talent flowing into Athens in June than I can remember in a long time. 2022 has the early makings of a class that could rival that of 2018. That 2018 class was Kirby’s highest-ranked class, the first #1 class, and just so happens to now be responsible for collectively shouldering the role of standard-bearers for the 2021 Georgia Bulldog football team. No matter what transpires during what is set to be a wild summer, recruiting is only as strong as the momentum you create, and the 2021 team, led by veterans from the 2018 class, will have a lot to do with how the 2022 class for the Dawgs ends up.