Georgia Football Recruiting: Mark Richt's Biggest National Signing Day Battles

Andrew HallCorrespondent IIIJanuary 27, 2014

Georgia Football Recruiting: Mark Richt's Biggest National Signing Day Battles

0 of 5

    Georgia head coach Mark Richt
    Georgia head coach Mark RichtJohn Bazemore/Associated Press

    While coaching changes have dominated Georgia Bulldogs football headlines for the past two weeks, it's the Dawgs' 2014 recruiting class that could be the story of the offseason.

    Already, Georgia has one early enrollee and 16 firm commitments according to 247Sports, but head coach Mark Richt's job is far from finished.  His ability to close some of the country's most talented uncommitted prospects will turn this solid class into a stellar one.

    Here are Richt's five biggest recruiting battles heading into national signing day as determined by the national ranking of each uncommitted recruit.

     

    Unless otherwise noted, all recruiting stats, rankings, ratings and news courtesy of 247Sports.com.

Lorenzo Carter, Defensive End

1 of 5

    Lorenzo Carter, a 5-star defensive end and the nation's 18th-best recruit according to the 247Sports Composite, has had the home-state Bulldogs among his leaders all along.  Earlier in January, the Norcross, Ga., native told ESPN Insider's Derek Tyson, "Georgia might have the slightest of the slight advantage just because I see them the most."

    More recently, however, Carter told Michael Carvell of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he has no leader.

     

    Other Schools in Contention

    • Alabama: Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide have a lot to offer a player of Carter's caliber.  Alabama has dominated the Southeastern Conference by in large since Saban's arrival, and the program consistently turns elite prospects into NFL draft picks.
    • Florida State: Carter took an official visit to Florida State last weekend, but with their former defensive coordinator now in Athens, the Seminoles' chances have weakened.
    • LSU: The Tigers perpetually boast one of the best defensive lines in the country.  Joining that lineage is undoubtedly appealing to Carter.
    • Florida: The Gators are in need of revival.  Getting Carter could put some pep back in Will Muschamp's step, and being a part of a turnaround would be special.

     

    Prediction

    Georgia seems like the front-runner for Carter.  Although he professes to have no favorite, the Bulldogs can offer Carter one of the best young defensive coordinators in the game and the chance to develop under a defensive line coach with extensive experience developing some of the SEC's best pass-rushers.  Alabama and LSU may be able to make similar cases, but Georgia can provide such an opportunity closer to Carter's home and his family.

Bryson Allen-Williams, Outside Linebacker

2 of 5

    Bryson Allen-Williams will likely become a Gamecock.
    Bryson Allen-Williams will likely become a Gamecock.Photo via 247Sports.

    Bryson Allen-Williams is regarded as the nation's 102nd-best prospect according to the 247 Sports Composite.  The 4-star linebacker from Ellenwood, Ga., committed to South Carolina last April, but Jeremy Pruitt and Richt continue to pursue him relentlessly.

    Allen-Williams is scheduled to visit Athens this weekend.

     

    Other School in Contention

    • South Carolina: By all accounts, the Gamecocks are a lock for Allen-Williams.  He visited Alabama last weekend and will visit Georgia in a few days, but his mother went so far as to issue a statement saying he was firm with the Gamecocks.

     

    Prediction

    While it's highly unlikely that Allen-Williams flips, stranger things have happened on national signing day.

    Allen-Williams has every right to enjoy his recruitment and the wining and dining that comes with it.  But that means Georgia has every right to pursue him, and Richt and Co. will undoubtedly roll out the red carpet for him.

    Ultimately, expect Allen-Williams to sign with the Gamecocks.

Wesley Green, Cornerback

3 of 5

    Cornerback Wesley Green may end up a Georgia Bulldogs.
    Cornerback Wesley Green may end up a Georgia Bulldogs.Photo via 247Sports.

    According to the 247Sports Composite, Wesley Green is the nation's 160th-best prospect.  The 4-star cornerback will take an official visit to Georgia this weekend and could be vital in bolstering the Bulldogs secondary.

     

    Other School in Contention

    • South Carolina: As poor as Georgia's secondary was in 2013, every key member returns in 2014 and the depth chart may be a bit crowded when Green arrives.  In theory, Steve Spurrier and the South Carolina staff will be able to offer Green more playing time early.  After an official visit to Columbia earlier this month, Green told John Whittle of 247Sports that he's down to just two schools and "South Carolina has an edge right now."

     

    Prediction

    Richt hired Pruitt to recruit and develop players exactly like Green.  Pruitt, who will coach the secondary at Georgia, will be able to sell Green on a wide-open defensive secondary.  After all, the new defensive coordinator has no pre-existing ties to current personnel.  If Green is the best man at his position, he could start from day one.

    That blank slate will give Georgia the inside path to signing Green.

Andrew Williams, Defensive End

4 of 5

    Defensive end Andrew Williams is undecided.
    Defensive end Andrew Williams is undecided.Photo via 247Sports

    Andrew Williams, considered the nation's 231st-best prospect per the 247Sports Composite, is relatively new on Georgia's recruiting board.  The 4-star defensive end has Georgia in the running primarily because of new defensive coordinator Pruitt.

    Williams told Keith Niebuhr of 247Sports that while his level of interest in Georgia is not clear, he and Pruitt "had a good relationship when he was at FSU."

     

    Other Schools in Contention

    • Clemson: Williams visited Clemson last weekend and likely heard rave reviews about Clemson's returning defensive line led by Vic Beasley.  The opportunity to learn from an established group of veteran stars is truly unique.
    • Auburn: Rodney Garner, the Tigers defensive line coach, is a tremendous recruiter.  Undoubtedly he's selling Williams on becoming the next Dee Ford and helping Auburn play in its third national championship game in five years.
    • Ole Miss: Williams lines up primarily on the weak side of the ball.  Anchoring the line opposite of Robert Nkemdiche would create countless sack opportunities for Williams if he chose to play for Hugh Freeze and the Rebels.

     

    Prediction

    Although Georgia is a dark horse in this race, the Bulldogs are in a good position.  Williams told Michael Carvell of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he wouldn't make a decision until national signing day.  This give Richt a chance to parade Pruitt and new defensive line coach Tracy Rocker in hopes of wooing Williams, who is genuinely conflicted in his decision.

Elisha Shaw, Defensive Tackle

5 of 5

    Elisha Shaw, a 3-star defensive tackle, is one of the more compelling prospects in the nation.  Last summer, he was one of the most highly sought defensive players in the nation.  After missing the entirety of his senior season with a neck injury, however, Shaw has fallen outside of the top 450 in the 247Sports Composite.

     

    Other Schools in Contention

    • Alabama: The Crimson Tide are deep at the tackle position, and Shaw would likely need a redshirt in 2014.  Fortunately, that may be exactly what the doctor orders (literally) as he continues to get healthy.
    • Ole Miss: A redshirt year would also be likely in Oxford, but head coach Hugh Freeze would be able to offer Shaw a better chance of early playing time in 2015 than the other schools on his list.
    • Auburn: Auburn is a program on the rise, and such a trajectory is compelling to a player who may be looking on from the sideline for a year or so.  Gus Malzahn and the Tigers can offer Shaw the opportunity to play for the reigning conference champion.

     

    Prediction

    Georgia has lost momentum in the recruitment of Shaw, and in some regards, that is not surprising.  Chris Wilson, who departed for Southern Cal, was crucial in the Dawgs' recruitment of Shaw.  And for the most part, Georgia seems to have prioritized the recruitment of 4-star defensive tackle Lamont Gaillard.

    Ole Miss makes the most sense for Shaw at this juncture.