UGA’s Mark Richt (AJC/Curtis Compton)
Here's Kimberley Nash's perspective on five of the biggest UGA recruiting stories people are talking about this week:
1. Jaleel Laguins: To Commit or Not Commit?
The 4-star linebacker from Oconee County has been a top target of the Georgia Bulldogs for quite some time now.
He’s one of the players they’d really like to sign in 2016 because of the need for quality Inside Linebackers on defense. Where the Bulldogs seem to have a plethora of options on the outside, they don’t have nearly enough to choose from on the inside. Case in point, they only managed to sign one prospect at that spot in 2015—Roquan Smith—and while that prospect is sure to find his way onto the football field this season, they need more options.
Laguins is a local product so he's had plenty of opportunities to visit the campus, get to know the coaches, and gain an understanding of what the program is all about and what they have to offer him as a player. He also knows that he's wanted at UGA. Really wanted.
Recently there was some chatter that he may be high enough on the Bulldogs to consider committing during their upcoming Dawg Night event, but he says he has no intention of doing that and has every desire to make his announcement a family affair.
Auburn and Tennessee remain a possibility here, but based on Laguin’s comments and the relationship he’s built with the staff, there’s little probability he ends up anywhere but UGA in 2016.
2. E.J. Price: UGA Still In It Despite De-Commitment
EJ Price (AJC)
After E.J. Price decided to reopen his commitment, many felt that his relationship with the Bulldogs had turned sour, but Price has been adamant in stating that his relationship with the coaching staff had nothing to do with his decision to open things back up. If anything, that relationship is why the Georgia Bulldogs are still very much a part of the picture.
Price said that since his decision, he still maintains a relationship with Coach Mark Richt and intends to keep Georgia at, or near the top of his list of schools. That said, he felt he committed too early and needed to take a step back and make sure he made the right decision.
Georgia would like to sign five offensive linemen in 2016. They fell short of that goal in 2015, after a couple of players failed to pan out—hence the importance of being able to add a player of Mirko Jurkovic's caliber so late in the game—and with Price no longer being a given, you can expect them to get a lot more aggressive on the trail; Tremayne Anchrum looks to be the obvious choice for some hefty attention due, but keep an eye on Willie Allen (New Orleans, LA) as well. He's currently slated to be at Dawg Night; expect the Bulldogs to roll out the red carpet for him as well.
3. Elijah Holyfield: UGA Has Made Up Ground With Him
The Bulldogs have made it a point to recruit a solid 1-2 punch at the running back spot over the last few seasons. The latest incarnation of that is certainly Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, but both of those guys figure to be shoo-ins for early NFL entry if they continue to produce at a high level, particularly Chubb who is gaining plenty of traction as one of the top backs in the nation for 2016.
Elijah Holyfield (AJC)
That said, UGA is hard after Elijah Holyfield and has made up a good deal of ground with him after losing touch for awhile, but whether that will be enough to lead him towards a signature on National Signing Day is still anybody's guess.
What is clear is that UGA doesn’t have many options for 2016. It’s an unusually weak year for running backs in Georgia, and if UGA falters on Holyfield, they will have to expand to a national search.
Ja'Qua Daniels(Athens, GA) is still a strong possibility, and Devwah Whaley (Beaumont, TX) would certainly be a steal (UGA faces stiff competition from not only Texas and Texas A&M, but Oklahoma as well), but the loss of B.J. Emmons (Morganton, NC) to de-committment means UGA currently has no running backs committed for 2016, and that won't stand.
4. Trayvon Mullen: UGA Has a Legitimate Shot?
If you listen to what Mullen has to say about UGA, the Bulldogs have a legitimate chance to impress him and move up a bit higher on his list of schools.
However, the Bulldogs would have a lot of ground to make up as LSU and Florida State appear to be the most likely destination for the Florida native.
The Bulldogs currently have three commitments at cornerback, but given Jeremy Pruitt’s love for players with both speed and good ball skills, he’s targeting more than a fair share of prospects at this spot, so if Mullen doesn’t buy in to what UGA has to offer, there are still a few options to consider.
Mecole Hardman (Elberton, GA) can play both ways, but he’s definitely a player UGA is in the mix for, assuming Tennessee doesn’t end up winning the battle for him in the end.
Beyond Hardman,thought, there are a couple of 2017 players—both of whom will be in attendance at Dawg Night—who are worth keeping an eye on down the line; Jamyest Williams (who is performing well at The Opening in Oregon thus far) is originally from Athens, and has expressed an interest in the Bulldogs. He also plays for Archer High School, a school UGA has a very strong presence in this season due to their recruitment of not only Kyle Davis (WR), but E.J. Price (OT) as well.
5. Kyle Davis: UGA Not The Best Fit?
Kyle Davis (AJC)
Kyle Davis is performing well at The Opening in Oregon, and while his 125.49 SPARQ Rating is sure to turn a few heads, it's what's being said about his interest in UGA that may have some wondering if he's destined for The Plains, or Rocky Top, as opposed to The Classic City.
According to Davis's father, the Bulldogs aren't the right fit for his son's skillset and he doesn't feel the coaches there can prepare him for the next level the way South Carolina, Tennessee, or Auburn can; the family is especially impressed with Auburn receivers coach Dameyune Craig and it's clear there is a strong relationship being built between the family and the staff.
It's also worth noting that the new Cost of Attendance guidelines—or lack thereof—places UGA at a decided disadvantage for prospects who may be looking at those numbers as a part of their decision-making process. Currently, Auburn and Tennessee can offer players a stipend in the $5,000 range, while UGA's stipend is below $3,000; that's a big enough discrepancy to warrant a conversation.
Putting all of that aside, however, Davis is still in line to attend Dawg Night and there is still plenty of time for a decision to be made about where he will sign, but stick his father’s comments in your back pocket for now, just in case.
Kimberely Nash has blogged about UGA’s football recruiting since 2011
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