By R. Alan Richardson
It’s less than two months until the Dogs open their 2017 season September 2 as they host Appalachian State with a 6:15 start time. The Bulldog faithful hope the fruits of Kirby Smart’s first full off-season recruiting efforts will pay dividends this season as several recruits are projected to start and play pivotal roles around the veterans that return. After a season where the team was plagued with a lack of push from the offensive line, sack problems, and losses due to graduation, the coaches made it their mission to upgrade the offensive line. Some of the biggest names coming in will be of those linemen. Offensive tackles Isaiah Wilson, Demarcus Hayes, Andrew Thomas, and Netori Johnson are all 4 or 5-star recruits ranked in the top 10 at their position.
According to Jeff Sentel of Dawg Nation and the AJC, here’s what Coach Smart had to say about this class,
“We think we attacked a lot of areas of concern for us. I think it’s a good group. I think we did not deviate very far from our size criteria. When you look at certain positions you want to get certain sized guys. We were able to do that. We were able to hit some areas, especially on the offensive line, the defensive secondary, that we had some guys leave that we needed to replace. All in all, it was a good class. Where we didn’t succeed probably last year on the offensive front, we were able to succeed this year with a full recruiting cycle. In this day and age, you’ve got to do it again next year. We’ve already started on that, and we spent a lot of time in January targeting younger guys so that we can get ahead. We’re excited. I really am excited about the guys we’ve got coming. I’m really excited about the guys we’ve got here. Just to think about the six young men that are already here and to see them work out each day, it fires me up. I’m fired up about this team because there’s a lot of good football players and good character kids in it.”
The rankings show that Georgia did its job this off-season. 247Sports gave the Dogs a number three in the nation and a number two in the SEC while Scout.com graded the class number two in the nation. Both ESPN and Rivals.com ranked UGA number three in the nation as well.
On top of the offensive linemen, Georgia grabbed 5-star safety Richard LeCounte III out of Hinesville, D’Andre Swift (one of the highest ranked running backs in the country), the number three 4-star quarterback in the country, Jake Fromm, signed along with nearby players from Loganville, DeAngelo Gibbs (number 4 safety), and Covington, Jeremiah Holloman (4-star WR), and teammate Eric Stokes Jr. (3-star cornerback) will also wear the red and black this fall.
Here’s the full list of signees from www.dawgnation.com.