Like most everything these days, recruiting looks different for Georgia football during the COVID-19 pandemic. The NCAA put a moratorium on on-campus recruitment and in-home coaching visits back in March, and it will stay in place until January of 2021. This is a major hurdle for the potent recruiting machine that the Georgia football program has built underneath Kirby Smart. Smart has led Georgia to having the top ranked recruiting class in the country either two of the last three years, or three years consecutively, depending on which recruiting rankings are used as the final authority.
Georgia’s staff rolls out the red carpet for prospects that come on visits and having spoken to north of 100 recruits and their families over the last couple of years, nobody makes them feel more at home than the Dawg coaching and support staff. Time and time again I have recruits tell me in interviews something to the tune of, “Georgia has a family vibe. I can see myself enjoying living there and growing there.” So not being able to provide that genuine, and decision altering, experience has cause Georgia to miss out on some recruits this cycle, no doubt. However, despite the challenges and changes, Georgia already has 19 tremendously talented commitments in the class of 2021 and many major prospects with which they are in good position to fill their remaining few spots in the class, and early signing day is fast approaching.
WHERE THE DAWGS STAND CURRENTLY IN 2021
As mentioned before, with the addition of Smael Mondon from Paulding County, Georgia now has 19 commitments in the class of 2021. While Georgia has had to alter their style from years past due to COVID and interpersonal, relational part of recruiting that UGA excels at in visits has not been able to come in play for the most part, Georgia has still stacked up a ton of talent in this class. Currently, the 19 verbal commitments on board are good for the 5th ranked class in 2021 according to 247 Sports and there are still some big fish to reel in for Kirby Smart and Company.
The latest addition to the class, Smael Mondon, was huge on multiple fronts. Not only is Smael an in-state prospect, hailing from Dallas, Georgia, but he also happens to be a freak athlete. Mondon is the sideline to sideline type of linebacker that is needed in the college game today. The 5-Star inside linebacker will be able to run in coverage with slot receivers, tight ends, and running backs. I can also see him being used in Adam Anderson and Channing Tindall type fashion to get after the passer, especially on third downs. Glenn Schumann got himself a very highly coveted ballplayer with the commitment of Mondon and this latest addition also sends a message to remaining elite targets. Georgia is the place to be for blue-chip defenders.
Defense will be the focus for the remainder of the Georgia recruiting class for the most part, however, since we’re talking where the Dawgs currently stand, let’s look at the work the offense staff has done. Georgia knew it needed a top of the line quarterback in this class, a guy that could be looked to as an anchor of the class and one that could compete early for playing time. Todd Monken and Kirby Smart got that guy when they flipped Brock Vandagriff from Oklahoma. Living 15 minutes from Athens, the Prince Avenue signal-caller and son of a coach is the prototypical 5-Star quarterback and Vandagriff shows tremendous arm talent, accuracy, and plenty of ability to get things done with his legs as well. Also, Vandagriff has proven quite the recruiting on the offensive side of the ball for Georgia as well.
Vandagriff personally helped to secure 5-Star tackle Amarius Mims and 4-Star tight end Brock Bowers. Bowers and Mims, other than Vandagriff, were the two most desired offensive targets for Georgia. Mims joins a super OL class in 2021 with 4-Stars Micah Morris, Dylan Fairchild and Jared Wilson. Lovasea Carroll, a Georgia native but product of IMG Academy, is the only Dawg running back in the class as it stands, but the lone Georgia offensive target it seems right now is Donovan Edwards. Edwards would make a great tandem with Carroll and if he does commit to Georgia, it would certainly do a lot to push the Dawgs toward the top-ranked class.
WHAT’S LEFT FOR GEORGIA IN 2021
Georgia still has needs to address on the defensive side of the ball in the 2021 class. UGA is likely to lose a lot of talented members of its secondary at the end of the 2020 season and replenishing depth at corner and safety is crucial. Georgia already has David Daniel, Javon Bullard, De’Jahn Warren, and Kamari Lassiter all on board. Each are 4-Star, versatile prospects, but there are a couple of big priorities remaining. Ideally Georgia would bring in Nyland Green, a 4-Star cornerback out of Newton High School in Covington, Georgia, and Terrion Arnold a 4-Star safety out of Florida. It seems Arnold is trending elsewhere at he moment, but Georgia is in strong position with Nyland Green and he is the most highly coveted prospect on Georgia’s board overall, bar none. Green possesses tremendous athleticism and ball skills and is a true shutdown type corner than could play very early on in his college career.
While Terrion Arnold appears to be going elsewhere, although I would not totally count Georgia out there, it appears that the Dawgs are well-positioned with safety Elijah Sabbatini out Biloxi, Mississippi. Sabbatini is versatile and dynamic. Charlton Warren and company have built a great report with the hard-hitting defensive back and I would predict that he ends up in red and black. Other than the secondary positions, I’d expect Georgia to pick up two more players to go in the front 7. Currently, the targets most likely are Xavian Sorey, Shemar Turner, Elijah Jeudy, and Jalen Williams.
Xavian Sorey is very close with Terrion Arnold, mentioned before to be trending elsewhere. Georgia will have to work very hard to close ground with Sorey as the linebacker from IMG is said to be ‘package deal’ with Arnold. Shemar Turner and Georgia’s relationship has really picked up recently and the defensive end from Texas could very well end up a Dawg before all is said and done. Finally, Elijah Jeudy was once committed to the Dawgs, but the defensive end/outside linebacker from Philadelphia is now choosing between Georgia and Texas A&M. Jeudy’s decision will likely impact the outcome of Jalen Williams, a JUCO defensive tackle from Jones College. Jones College is the same JUCO that Stetson Bennett went to and then returned to Georgia from.
Ultimately Georgia is going to finish 2021 with likely yet another top three recruiting class under Kirby Smart. In a year where Georgia did not get to play to their strength of getting recruits on campus and meeting in-home with parents and families, it’s safe to say that Kirby Smart and the Georgia staff adapted well.