UGA’s Big Board for 2016

What does the big board for Dawg Nation look like for 2016? (AJC)

UGA’s BIG BOARD FOR 2016

(**- – Indicates early enrollee in Athens in January of 2016)

QB

**Jacob Eason, 6-5.5, 220, Lake Stevens (Wash.) Lake Stevens Senior: He can launch it like Matt Stafford, but he's already at least two inches taller than the No. 1 pick of the 2009 NFL Draft. Don't expect a repeat, but look for a re-mix of the same big arm and overall skills.

Eason is one of at least two cornerstones of this class who committed on "Dawg Night" in 2014. The 5-star QB by everyone's measure is either the No. 1 or No. 2 QB in the nation according to all the services. The AJC compiled a series of summer stories on Eason.

WR

Darion Anderson, 6-1, 190, Warner Robins (Ga.) Houston County: He currently stands as the only WR commitment for this class. That will need to change. Soon. A big-time QB like Eason should be able to sling it around to a cadre of four and five-star receiver recruits.

That said, that's no knock on Anderson. He's been a dynamic playmaker and leader for his high school team. He's a 4-star wideout on the 247sports composite and regarded as the No. 54 senior receiver in the country. He's mending this summer from a knee injury.

TE

• **Garrett Walston, 6-4, 220, New Hanover (NC) New Hanover: Undervalued? That's what UGA told his prep coaches about him. There were other tight ends in the class who would've been easier commitments, but the staff held out for Walston.

Georgia beat out UNC for his pledge for his big soft hands. He's seen as a three-star recruit and the No. 17 tight end for this class, but his stock has spiked the last few months. He averaged 19.3 yards per catch last season and caught 10 touchdowns. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer told his high school coach that Walston looks like the kind of player who'd be ready to play in the NFL in three or four years.

OL

• Chris Barnes, 6-5, 270, Leesburg (Ga.) Lee County: The position trend for this year's class was getting in early on offensive line prospects it wanted and nailing them down. Barnes was the ninth member of this class to commit but was already the fourth offensive lineman. He made his decision right after G-Day.

The three-star recruit told the AJC the initial plan is for him to line up at center or guard.

• **Ben Cleveland, 6-7, 325,Toccoa (Ga.) Stephens County: "Big Ben" is the other cornerstone of the class. He also committed on Dawg Night in 2014 with Eason. The early enrollee will be the blind-side protector that every strong-arm QB needs. The two are already close friends. Cleveland is the definition of a guy to stroll down the darkest of alleys with.

The massive five-star is adept in the classroom and agile enough to play first base for the varsity baseball team. He's generally rated as the No. 3 offensive tackle in America for this class. He also likes to bring deer jerky to camps and all-star games and won't be 17 years old until August of 2015.

• Aaron Dowdell, 6-4.5, 290, Atlanta (Ga.) Creekside: Dowdell was the fourth member of this class to commit to playing in Athens. He came on board shortly after National Signing Day last February. His high school coach told the AJC when he committed that Georgia has always been Dowdell's favorite school.

He’s been rated by most of the services as a consensus three-star prospect. The 247sports composite regards him as the No. 17 offensive guard in the nation for 2016.

DL

• Tyler Clark, 6-3, 290, Americus (Ga.) Americus Sumter County South: Looking for a sleeper recruit? The Big Board places that distinction on Clark. That's projecting where he'll be after about two years in an SEC strength program and getting all the protein and calories he needs every day. He chose UGA over Auburn and Clemson.

Clark has received great technical coaching at the high school level the last few years so its not accurate to bestow the “raw” label here. Its better to say his body has yet to scratch the surface of its athletic potential. That said, he still rates as a four-star prospect and among the Top 25 defensive tackles in the country. That’s a pretty good start.

• Chauncey Manac, 6-3, 220, Homerville (Ga.) Clinch County: Manac hails from one of the state's top small school programs. He's rated as the No. 6 weak-side defensive end in the nation by the 247sports composite and among the nation's top 80 overall recruits.

The four-star prospect is athletic and pretty salty at the point of attack. He was the third commitment of the 2016 class back in September of 2014.

• Julian Rochester, 6-5.5, 320, Powder Springs (Ga.) McEachern: It has been awhile since a big-time prospect from McEachern committed and signed with UGA. Rochester — a five-star recruit — appears to be about as solid of a pledge as his tree trunk frame.

He’s rated as the No. 13 overall prospect in the 2016 class by the 247sports composite. That makes him the No. 4 defensive tackle in the nation and the No. 2 player in Georgia this year. He’ll be counted on to be a key recruiter for other big targets in this class.

DB

• Chad Clay, 6-1, 180, Suwanee (Ga.) Peachtree Ridge: The first thing to know is he's got good genes. He's the son of former Georgia Tech All-American and eight-year NFL veteran Willie "Big Play" Clay. His son is seen as a three-star recruit by majority of the recruiting services.

Clay is a terrific player in every right, but this commitment might be key in making a run at two other SEC-level recruits in the Peachtree Ridge secondary. Georgia beat out Ohio State in what Clay described as a very difficult decision. Why? Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt recruited him the hardest.

• Tyrique McGhee, 5-10, 178, Fort Valley (Ga.) Peach County: McGhee is rated as a three-star recruit for this year's signing class. He worried some Georgia fans earlier this summer by taking a visit to Auburn, but that trip has given him the chance to reaffirm his commitment to the Bulldogs.
He was the fifth commitment of the class back in February.

He initially caught Georgia's eye while Pruitt attending a prospect camp for his own son last season in South Georgia.

• Malik Young, 5-10, 175, Pompano Beach (Fla.) Coconut Creek: His inroad to Athens actually ran through Tallahassee. That's when Pruitt started recruiting him when he was the defensive coordinator at Florida State. Young has a physical college-ready body that's been honed by hard work in the weight room.

The three-star recruit has been told he can come play early at least on special teams. Young told the AJC that he’s going to do whatever it takes to get on the field early at UGA. He’s been clocked as low as 4.37 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

DE-COMMITS

RB

• B.J Emmons, 5-11, 230, Morganton (North Carolina) Freedom High: This four-star was rated the No. 4 back in the nation by the 247sports composite. He was seen as one of the Top 110 seniors in the country this year. He committed to Georgia last December but reversed that decision on June 11.

Alabama and Tennessee appear to be on his mind at this time.

OL

• E.J. Price, 6-6, 311, Lawrenceville (Ga.) Archer: Price was a big loss for the 2016 class. He committed to UGA back in April after not having the program in his Top 10 for some time.

He decided in late June he wasn't sure about his decision so he re-opened his recruitment. He did say he will continue to consider Georgia. The four-star prospect is currently rated the No. 9 offensive tackle in the nation for 2016.

Jeff Sentell covers UGA recruiting for AJC.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play Between the Hedges.

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