Georgia Bulldogs: Everything You Need to Know for National Signing Day
As national signing day approaches, a lot is still unknown for the Georgia Bulldogs. While head coach Mark Richt and company have a number of firm commitments from talented athletes, the recruitment process is far from finished.
At this juncture, the Dawgs must continue to fight with a two-edged sword on the recruiting trail.
On one side, keeping current verbal commits in the fold is a priority. Georgia can ill-afford to lose a prospect as a result of inattention. Simultaneously, some of the nation's most sought-after prospects are still waiting to be wooed, and Georgia appears poised to make big moves.
To help you sort through all of the moving parts and unanswered questions, here is everything you need to know about Georgia Bulldogs recruiting for national signing day.
Note: All stats, ratings and rankings courtesy of 247 Sports unless otherwise noted.
Top Remaining Targets
Lorenzo Carter, DE (Norcross, Ga.)
Undoubtedly, Lorenzo Carter is Georgia's top remaining target.
At 6'5" and 232 pounds, Carter has the size and athleticism to fill the role of an explosive outside pass-rusher. In a 3-4 scheme, he could make an appearance as an outside linebacker next year and later contribute as a defensive end with a little added bulk. Or, if Todd Grantham's replacement runs a 4-3, he may play immediately at defensive end.
According to 247 Sports, Georgia, Florida State, LSU and Florida are Carter's leaders. The Bulldogs are the home-state team and will get Carter for his final official visit prior to signing day, which gives the Dawgs an edge.
Wesley Green, CB (Lithonia, Ga.)
Georgia's deficiencies against the pass in 2013 are well-documented.
Whether those shortcomings were a reflection of coaching or personnel, one truth is evident: Georgia's secondary needs to improve in 2014. The hope is that a defensive back of Wesley Green's caliber will help.
Green, the nation's 17th-best cornerback according to 247 Sports, could push other young Bulldog defensive backs for playing time this fall. Currently, South Carolina is his leader, but he's expected to visit Athens on either January 24 or January 31.
Elisha Shaw, DT (Tucker, Ga.)
Georgia is hoping to land all 295 pounds of Elisha Shaw, yet another in-state product. Initially, Shaw was expected to make an announcement during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, but his decision has been delayed.
Shaw could contribute either as a defensive end in the mold of former Bulldog Garrison Smith or grow into the nose tackle position. Shaw is also considering Ole Miss, Alabama and Auburn, but according to 247 Sports, Georgia is his leader.
Georgia has already locked up commitments from the following recruits:
- Jacob Park: 6'3", 202 lbs QB from Stratford (Goose Creek, S.C.)
- Sony Michel: 5'11", 205 lbs RB from American Heritage (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
- Nick Chubb: 5'11", 216 lbs RB from Cedartown (Cedartown, Ga.)
- Malkom Parrish: 5'9", 186 lbs CB from Brooks County (Quitman, Ga.)
- Lamont Gaillard: 6'3", 310 lbs DT from Pine Forest (Fayetteville, N.C.)
- Isaiah Wynn: 6'2", 272 lbs OG from Lakewood (Saint Petersburg, Fla.)
- Keyon Brown: 6'3", 230 lbs DE from Hardee (Wauchula, Fla.)
- Jeb Blazevich: 6'4", 230 lbs TE from Charlotte Christian (Charlotte, N.C.)
- Dyshon Sims: 6'4", 278 lbs OT from Lowndes (Valdosta, Ga.)
- Kendall Baker: 6'6", 275 lbs OT from Marist School (Atlanta, Ga.)
- Kendall Gant: 6'2", 185 lbs S from Lake Gibson (Lakeland, Fla.)
- Shakenneth Williams: 6'1", 195 lbs WR from Rutland (Macon, Ga.)
- Shattle Fenteng: 6'2", 200 ls. CB from Hutchinson C.C. (Hutchinson, Kan.)
- Detric Dukes: 6'0", 220 lbs ILB from Tucker (Tucker, Ga.)
- Jake Edwards: 6'4", 286 lbs OG from Heard County (Franklin, Ga.)
- Gilbert Johnson: 6'2", 190 lbs WR from Miami Southridge (Miami, Fla.)
- Rico Johnson: 5'10", 170 lbs WR from Swainsboro (Swainsboro, Ga.)
Players Who Could Contribute as Freshmen
Standing Out Among a Crowd
Conventional wisdom suggests that Georgia is loaded at the running back position. After all, the Bulldogs return their five best running backs (assuming Keith Marshall returns from his injury).
Nonetheless, a duo of Georgia commits (Nick Chubb and Sony Michel) could find space in the rotation. As JC Shurburtt of 247 Sports points out, "If Chubb is the next Todd Gurley at UGA, then Michel is the next Keith Marshall as the Dawgs figure to continue a 'thunder and lightning' combination."
Good luck keeping the next Gurley or Marshall off the field.
With a new secondary coach on the way and a shortage of upperclassmen in the defensive backfield, playing time will be up for grabs.
Malkom Parrish projects to be an undersized but aggressive corner much like Shaq Wiggins (a freshman last year). Don't be surprised to see him lined up in the slot in a nickel package.
Wesley Green, if he chooses Georgia, could also push for significant playing time at a cornerback spot.
Putting Talent on the Field
Georgia's defensive front seven is largely set with just one starter departing, but if Lorenzo Carter commits to Georgia, expect him to play early and often for the Bulldogs. Carter is too large, athletic and talented to ride the pine. The most obvious solution for getting him early playing time is on obvious passing downs, where his pass-rushing skills could terrorize opposing quarterbacks as he lines up as an outside linebacker.
Storylines to Watch
Update (1/16): Defensive Staff Turnover
Georgia locked up a big-name in Jeremy Pruitt to fill Todd Grantham's vacancy. Pruitt's arrival is sure to impact Georgia's push to signing day in a positive manner.
Interestingly enough, he quickly became the most tenured coach on Georgia's defensive staff as linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti and defensive line coach Chris Wilson took jobs elsewhere on Wednesday according to Seth Emerson of the Macon Telegraph.
Rolling the Tide
According to 247 Sports, the Alabama Crimson Tide had the nation's best recruiting class in each of the last two years. Currently, the Tide are projected to wear that crown for a third consecutive time.
Not surprisingly, Georgia is competing against Nick Saban and Alabama for the affections of a number of talented players. Defensive end Lorenzo Carter, outside linebacker Rashaan Evans and defensive tackle Elisha Shaw remain uncommitted but have both Georgia and Alabama in their top five.
Georgia's ability to hold off the Tide will make or break this class.
Changing of the Guard
Georgia's defensive coordinator hire will have a drastic effect on the Dawgs' recruiting class.
A big name could go a long way in luring uncommitted prospects, while a relative unknown could trigger some de-commitments.
Furthermore, the scheme favored by Grantham's replacement could alter the fates of commitments and make other prospects more appealing targets. Georgia had been recruiting to fill voids in Grantham's 3-4, but a switch back to a 4-3 alignment could mean new points of emphasis.
The defensive side of this recruiting class could change very quickly based on Mark Richt's decision.
Defensive end target Lorenzo Carter's athletic prowess is not limited to the football field. On Friday, January 10, he poured in 24 points as his Norcross High team defeated Collins Hill by a score of 73-58.
The video above highlights Carter's basketball career at his former school, Whitefield Academy.
Myles Autry, a teammate of Carter at Norcross, is a 5'9", 175-pound athlete whose three favorite schools are Florida State, Georgia Tech and Georgia.
Myles' older brother, Anthony, committed to Georgia Tech as a 3-star recruit in 2012. Anthony played well (but sparingly) as a wide receiver for the Yellow Jackets as a true freshman, but he missed his sophomore campaign with an injury.
The family ties obviously make Georgia Tech a compelling choice for Myles. Interestingly enough, his big brother has never suited up for a game against Georgia or Florida State, his other two leaders.