Georgia standout Chuma Edoga announced Monday evening that he intends to sign with USC next February. His Twitter declaration left fellow finalists Tennessee, Texas A&M, Stanford and the in-state Bulldogs searching for other options:
The 5-star offensive tackle from McEachern High School (Powder Springs, Ga.) spent time in Athens earlier this month, attending the Georgia spring game on April 12. Less than two weeks later, Edoga decided he'd rather play college football on the other side of the country.
It's a tough development to take for the Bulldogs, who extended an offer to Edoga last July. At the time, he wasn't coy about his feelings toward the team.
"Right now I'm putting Georgia at the top. They are my top school," he told Rivals.com reporter Jake Rowe. "Georgia has been one of my favorite schools growing up so I've always wanted to get an offer there so that I can maybe play there in the future."
Offers from Alabama, Ohio State, Oregon and Oklahoma arrived last fall. USC extended a scholarship in February.
Despite established familiarity with the Bulldogs, an April visit to Southern California during spring break was enough to help sway his collegiate outlook.
"The most important factor was getting the best of both worlds in academics and athletics. I think USC is very strong in both areas," Edoga told Rivals.com after his commitment. "I loved the academic tour at USC. I want to study Aero Astronautical Engineering so I can design planes."
Georgia, a squad that invested significant resources into recruiting the 6'4", 276-pound lineman, could still receive an official visit from Edoga, but he maintains that USC will be hard to beat.
"I’m going to still take my visits, but it will probably take a lot to swing me to another school," he told Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Michael Carvell. "I’ll probably take all five of my official visits during the fall.”
Georgia head coach Mark Richt and his staff may not be entirely out of the running for Edoga just yet, but it's an appropriate time to turn to contingency plans at the tackle position. After missing out on one of the country's premier front-line bookends, the Bulldogs must come up with an answer.
Edoga, rated No. 4 nationally among offensive tackles in 247Sports' composite rankings, is the second 5-star Peach State blocker who plans to bolt for an opportunity elsewhere. Mitch Hyatt, ranked No. 2 at tackle and No. 5 overall in this class, committed to Clemson in February.
Georgia is packed with 2015 talent, so it's imperative for Richt to secure in-state commitments. The loss of a player like Edoga limits options when it comes to targeting upper-echelon players.
"This is up there with the best classes I’ve seen in Georgia," Daryl Jones, the Bulldogs' director of on-campus recruiting, told Bleacher Report earlier this month. "Our recruiting home base is strong."
Georgia currently holds seven commitments in its 2015 class, including four composite 4-star recruits. The Bulldogs have done a nice job addressing the defensive line but remain in search of prospects along the offensive front.
Richt signed a slew of intriguing offensive linemen in the 2014 class—headlined by 4-star Atlanta tackle Kendall Baker—but Georgia is in serious need of significant talent on the depth chart for next season.
The Bulldogs gained a pledge from promising junior college tackle DeVondre Seymour in February. The former North Gwinnett High School standout initially signed with Georgia in 2013.
Despite whiffing on the state's top two offensive linemen, several options remain in play for Georgia.
Offensive tackle Kaleb Kim (Hoschton, Ga.) is rated a composite 4-star prospect. The Bulldogs have been in the mix for his commitment throughout the year, but South Carolina and Auburn have also made inroads.
Massive Atlanta product Mike Horton picked up an offer this week. The 3-star tackle obviously received a bump on Georgia's recruiting board after Edoga's decision.
The team could also be tempted to explore options with fellow Atlanta tackles Malik Mackey and Sage Hardin, who've yet to receive an offer from the Bulldogs. Beyond state borders, Georgia will continue to keep tabs on 4-star offensive linemen Tyler Carr (Gadsden, Ala.) and Zack Bailey (Summerville, S.C.).
Edoga is the latest top-tier Georgia target seemingly headed beyond state borders. Richt and the Bulldogs are entering a pivotal stretch of this cycle, as the team attempts to reel in its first in-state commitment since March.
The coming months will be key if Georgia aims to capitalize and maximize on an outstanding crop of homegrown players. Addressing the offensive line could kick-start the process.
Recruit information and rankings courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise noted.