Georgia Football Recruiting: 'Dawg Night' Success Sets Foundation for 2016 Class

Andrew Hall@DudeYouCrazyCorrespondent IIIJuly 21, 2014

Things are looking up for Mark Richt's 2016 recruiting class
Things are looking up for Mark Richt's 2016 recruiting classScott Cunningham/Getty Images

The Georgia Bulldogs certainly won't be accused of a slow start with their 2016 recruiting class.  Following the annual "Dawg Night" event, two of the nation's best rising juniors committed to head coach Mark Richt on Saturday.

The first big-name commitment came from a very big prospect—literally.  Ben Cleveland stands 6'7" and weighs in at 322 pounds. According to 247Sports, Cleveland is regarded as one of the nation's 25 best players in his class.

Shortly after Cleveland's announcement, more big news spread as quarterback Jacob Eason, the nation's 14th-best prospect in the class of 2016 (per 247Sports), also took to Twitter to announce his intentions.

As it turns out, the timing of the two commitments was not coincidental.  Eason's father told Jake Rowe of 247Sports that his son's commitment to the Bulldogs was very much in conjunction with Cleveland (subscription required):

He's developed this relationship with Ben Cleveland. They were talking and they wanted to make some big things happen at Georgia so they decided to commit together and start that class. That's kind of the way it went down. We were having dinner up in the press box. Ben's family and our family and the coaches and their families were up there. After dinner Ben and Jacob got up and announced their commitment to the 'G.' The coaches were hooting and hollering. We went down on the field afterward. It was great. There were kids running around and it was a total family atmosphere. It was just awesome. Coach (Mark) Richt said he has never seen anything like it - how this happened. It was really neat.

And just like that, Georgia is now poised to bring in one of the best classes in the nation in 2016.  To be fair, Richt and his staff consistently bring deep pools of talent to Athens, but with Cleveland and Eason as foundations, this class could be truly special. After all, no other school in the country already has two 5-star commitments.

Sure, national signing day for these players is more than 18 months away, but the momentum this duo has created for the 2016 signing class is undeniable.  

In Cleveland, the Bulldogs have found a strong, sturdy offensive tackle who (at just 15 years old) bench presses 425 pounds, according to Dave Krider of MaxPreps.  Undoubtedly, the Toccoa, Georgia, native will begin working to bring in other top in-state talent.  Expect him to be in the ear of other elite players like Isaac Nauta (a 5-star tight end) and Julian Rochester (a 4-star defensive tackle) at recruiting events over the next 18 months.

Eason, on the other hand, should be instrumental in attracting some of the nation's most prolific offensive playmakers.  After all, he's already being hailed as the next Matthew Stafford at Georgia thanks to his cannon of an arm and lofty recruiting ranking.

Elite Georgia QB Recruits
PlayerClassRatingPosition RankingNational Ranking
Jacob Eason20165-Star214
Jacob Park20144-Star5114
Brice Ramsey20134-Star6100
Faton Bauta20123-Star10438
Christian LeMay20114-Star171
Hutson Mason20103-Star29698
Aaron Murray20095-Star318
Logan Gray20074-Star7121
Matthew Stafford20065-Star16

Georgia's job is to now maintain this momentum.  Closing out a strong 2015 class is still a priority, but keeping the fire stoked for 2016 is the best way to capitalize on an already hot start. 

To keep things warm, the Bulldogs will rely heavily on Cleveland and Eason, whose work as Dawgs is already beginning.  While the two need to continue improving individually and mastering their own positions, they also need to put themselves in position to maintain high visibility at national events.  

Two weeks ago, The Opening showcased the nation's best talent, and according to Rusty Mansell of 247Sports, Terry Godwin (a Georgia commit) used the week as an opportunity to do some recruiting of his own.  If Cleveland and Eason can remain in the forefront of recruiting conversations, they'll be well-equipped to do some recruiting of their own.

Over the weekend, Ben Cleveland and Jacob Eason became two of the most celebrated Georgia commits in recent history.  Now, they are two of the Dawgs' most valuable recruiters.



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




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