The fate of Georgia's defense-dominated 2015 recruiting class falls squarely on an unlikely position group as national signing day approaches. As the Bulldogs anticipate an impressive haul of defensive linemen, linebackers, cornerbacks and safeties, it's actually the wide receivers that will make or break this class.
If current projections hold, Georgia should bring in a nice group of pass-catchers next week.
Terry Godwin, a 5-star athlete according to 247Sports, will contend for playing time immediately at a receiver position. Darius Slayton, the nation's 15th-best prospect at the position and a 4-star prospect, will also push for early playing time. Jayson Stanley, another 4-star prospect, is firmly committed to Georgia and even cancelled a previously scheduled visit to Miami for this weekend in exchange for another trip to Athens, according to Jake Rowe of Dawgs247.
Toss 3-star wide receiver Michael Chigbu and Shaquery Wilson (who could theoretically end up on offense) into the mix, and Georgia is poised to bring in a deep and talented class of receivers on national signing day.
But at this point, solid posturing does not necessarily equate to signed paperwork. From top to bottom, a lot could change within this group.
While Godwin made his commitment to Georgia clear to Shane Youngblood of BamaOnLine (subscription required), he didn't necessarily indicate finality with regards to an ongoing decision-making process. When asked about the impact of his recent visit to Alabama, Godwin told Youngblood, "We will have to sit down and talk about it. I might have an in-home visit with coach Saban this week."
Those words should strike terror into the hearts of Georgia fans who have longed to see Godwin making plays in red and black.
And Godwin's not the only offensive athlete drawing serious late interest from other schools.
According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Michael Carvell, Slayton's recent trip to Auburn caught Georgia "totally out of the blue." Carvell indicated that if Tigers head coach Gus Malzahn won a battle of in-home visits, Slayton could end up at Auburn.
Carvell also pointed out that Wilson—who was initially recruited by Georgia as a defensive back but will get a chance to try the wide receiver position—is getting serious interest from West Virginia as a receiver. If Wilson wants to play receiver, West Virginia may be the optimal destination regardless of his interest in Georgia.
So there's still a lot for Georgia to lose at the wide receiver position. But that doesn't mean nothing can be gained.
Earlier this week, Georgia hosted Terrell Chatman, a big, physical wide receiver standing 6'3". Chatman has been committed to Miami since July while also considering Arizona State and TCU, but the Bulldogs are making a strong, late push, perhaps at the urging of new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.
Chatman isn't a burner, but he has a big frame, long arms and tremendous ball skills, and he could be a real asset in red-zone scenarios. For a Georgia offense looking for a quarterback and improvement close to the goal line, Chatman could offer a safety net.
So how does all of this shake out?
Ultimately, the longstanding commitments of Godwin, Slayton, Stanley and Chigbu should stay firm. Wilson seems like the leading candidate for decommitment, but he is also the least likely candidate to contribute (at least early on) offensively.
And late, furious recruiting pushes tend to have a disproportionately strong impact on prospects, particularly when the delay in intentional pursuit can be blamed on a prior coaching regime. As such, don't be surprised to see Chatman choose the Dawgs.
If the assumptions come true, it could be the wide receivers that define the 2015 recruiting class.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand and all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.com.