While Georgia head coach Kirby Smart’s first year on the field didn’t go as planned, his first full recruiting class as the Bulldogs head man has fans eagerly anticipating the program's future.
The latest news to send shockwaves through Athens was the commitment of 5-star athlete DeAngelo Gibbs—who announced his pledge during the Under Armour All-America Game on Sunday.
Damon Sayles @DamonSayles
S/O to Deangelo Gibbs (@TheHercules8). Chooses #UGA over Alabama and others. Big get for Kirby Smart. #GoDawgs #UAALLAMERICA2017-1-1 20:04:39
His commitment also continued a trend of Georgia keeping its most talented prospects in-state and bound for Athens—which has clearly been a main point of emphasis for Smart since his arrival in Athens.
Back in the summer, he told Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports how Smart and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker were recruiting him harder than any other program.
"Coach (Mel) Tucker is recruiting me the hardest," he said. "I think I have a good opportunity as well to go there and play. They push their guys. I already see the development in the guys from last year to this year, their physicality and the way they work. They’re going to get their players to the next level."
Their persistence paid off as Gibbs selected the Bulldogs over fellow SEC powers Alabama, Auburn, Florida and Tennessee among others.
Tyler Donohue @TDsTake
40 of the top 50 recruits in 2017 composite rankings are now committed. Exactly half of them are pledged to Ohio State, Georgia or Alabama.2017-1-1 20:07:19
The 6’2”, 204-pounder from Grayson High School in Loganville, Georgia—who rates as the nation’s No. 13 overall prospect in the 2017 cycle—is the latest win in a class that currently rates as the No. 2 group in the country.
Smart’s success has come in an area that previous head coach Mark Richt struggled with mightily.
For example, 16 of Georgia’s 21 commitments are from homegrown products.
Radi Nabulsi @RadiNabulsi
#UGA's recruiting class after today: 🍑🍑🍑🍑🍑🍑🍑🍊🍑🍑🍑🍑🔔🔔🍑🍑🍑🎶🗽🍑🍑2017-1-1 20:36:31
Fourteen of those players are rated among the nation’s top 250 overall prospects in the 2017 cycle. Furthermore, seven of the top 11 prospects in the Peach State are bound for Athens.
In the past, Georgia has let talents such as Cam Newton and Deshaun Watson escape the state.
In more recent times, standouts such as LSU defensive end Arden Key, Clemson offensive tackle Mitch Hyatt and California receiver Demetris Robertson were all elite recruits who chose to leave the state.
|Top Georgia Prospects in 2017 Cycle|
|Rank/Position/Player||Overall Rank||Commit Status|
|5-star QB Davis Mills||3||Stanford|
|5-star ATH DeAngelo Gibbs||13||Georgia|
|5-star DT Aubrey Solomon||20||Uncommitted|
|5-star QB Jake Fromm||29||Georgia|
|4-star S Richard LeCounte III||39||Georgia|
|4-star ATH Jamyest Williams||62||South Carolina|
|4-star OL Andrew Thomas||73||Georgia|
|4-star DE Robert Beal||74||Georgia|
|4-star CB AJ Terrell||80||Clemson|
|4-star OL D'Antne Demery||92||Georgia|
|4-star LB Walter Grant||93||Georgia|
However, with Smart creating a movement among top prospects to want to stay in-state for college, the Bulldogs have a chance to reverse that trend beginning with the current class.
Georgia’s push toward a top-five class in the 2017 cycle proves that Smart’s efforts to attract talent will begin and end with the best of the best from the Peach State.
Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand and all recruiting information courtesy of Scout.com.