According to football recruiting experts, 90 percent of the nation’s major-college prospects made their choices during the December signing period. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t some drama still out there for signing day — the beginning of the old-school signing period — which begins Wednesday across the country.
At Georgia, the only real drama is whether a couple of longtime offensive line commitments will stick with their decisions. Five-star offensive tackle Broderick Jones of Lithonia has been a Bulldogs’ commitment for two years now and 4-star center Sedrick Van Pran of New Orleans has been pledged to UGA since August. But both players were loyal Sam Pittman followers and opted to take some time to reconsider after the line coach left Georgia to become Arkansas’ head coach in December.
Since then, each player has visited other schools and continued to hold their cards close to their chests. Their decisions won’t be known until they’re unveiled at signing ceremonies Wednesday at their respective high schools. The 6-foot-6, 285-pound Jones will show his cards during an assembly at Lithonia High School at 10 a.m. About an hour later in New Orleans, Van Pran will make his announcement at Warren Easton High.
Ahead of those ceremonies, both players are still considered Georgia commitments by national recruiting sites. With them included on the list, the Bulldogs enter signing day with the nation’s No. 1-ranked recruiting class, according to both 247Sports and Rivals.
“To cap off this class on signing day, Georgia has to sign Broderick Jones and Sedrick Van Pran,” said Chad Simmons, an Atlanta-based recruiting analyst for Rivals. “O-line took a big hit for them, obviously, with three guys going to the NFL and Cade Mays transferring to Tennessee. So O-line was already a priority for this class, but it’s that much more important with those two up in the air.”
Jones took official visits to Arkansas and Illinois in January, but for the last month Auburn was considered the biggest threat to his Georgia pledge. Jones was supposed to take his final official visit to The Plains this past weekend, but at the last minute he opted to skip it.
Likewise, Van Pran, considered the nation’s top center, took official visits to Alabama on Jan. 17 and Florida this past weekend. But he and Jones were both in Athens for an official visit Jan. 24-26, and the Bulldogs have remained active and ever-vigilant in their continued recruitment of both players.
“I expect both of those guys will sign with Georgia,” Simmons said. “I’d say a week-and-a-half ago or so Florida was a threat and Alabama made a push and you can never count them out. … They’ve been on other campuses and had other coaches in their homes, so you never know. But they’re still commitments and I expect them to sign with Georgia.”
The Bulldogs will sign at least two other players Wednesday. Ladd McConkey, who played quarterback and defensive back at North Murray High in Chatsworth, committed Sunday as a slot receiver. Daijun Edwards, a running back from Moultrie, committed Wednesday.
Simmons said the Bulldogs could gain at least one more “flip” before it’s over. The Bulldogs have been in hot pursuit of Daren Branch, a 6-foot-2 cornerback from Amite, La., who is committed to Ole Miss.
But even if Georgia doesn’t ink another prospect , there’s no denying that the 2020 recruiting cycle has been an unmitigated success. All told, the Bulldogs will add at least 25 players to the roster, including the graduate transfers of quarterback Jamie Newman from Wake Forest and tight end Tre’ McKitty from Florida State. Six freshmen are enrolled in classes at UGA, and 13 others signed in the early period in December and will enroll in June.
If everything remains status quo, that will give Georgia coach Kirby Smart his second No. 1-ranked recruiting class in five years. His previous four were ranked 6, 3, 1 and 2, respectively. That’s particularly impressive considering the Bulldogs have dealt with the loss of four coordinators and several position coaches in the past two years.
“Georgia has become a national brand under Kirby Smart,” Simmons said. “Playing (for) three SEC championships and (in) the national championship game, they’ve become a recognized brand. So they’re not just recruiting in Georgia or in the South anymore. They’re recruiting national guys and in California and Texas and going up north in the D.C. and New Jersey area. They’ve always recruited Florida. So they’re recruiting the best players, period, not just the best players in their backyard.”
Indeed, the 2020 class includes players from 10 states, including California, Arizona, Nevada, Texas, Louisiana and New Jersey. There are almost as many recruits coming from Florida (6) are there are from Georgia (7).
Nationally, all eyes will be on Zachary Evans in Houston. The nation’s No. 1-ranked running back signed a national letter-of-intent with Georgia in December, but the Bulldogs later rescinded that offer and waived NCAA restrictions that would otherwise keep Evans from gaining eligibility to play elsewhere as a freshman.
Simmons said Evans is not expected to make an announcement Wednesday and might not until May. He said Evans could end up enrolling at Florida or USC. Georgia, he believes, is no longer a possibility.
2020 UGA FOOTBALL RECRUITS
*Carson Beck, QB, 6-5, 225, Jacksonville, Fla.
Austin Blaske, OL, 6-5, 280, Bloomingdale
*Warren Brinson, DT, 6-4, 305, Savannah
*Major Burns, DB, 6-2, 175, Baton Rouge, La.
Jermaine Burton, WR, 6-0, 195, Calabasas, Calif.
Jalen Carter, DT, 6-3, 305, Apopka, Fla.
*Jalen Kimber, CB, 6-0, 170, Mansfield, Texas
Chad Lindberg, OL, 6-6, 315, League City, Texas
*Kendall Milton, RB, 6-1, 220, Clovis, Calif.
Tate Ratledge, OT, 6-6, 317, Rome
Kelee Ringo, DB, 6-2, 205, Scottsdale, Ariz.
*Justin Robinson, WR, 6-4, 210, McDonough
Marcus Rosemy, WR, 6-2, 195, Pompano Beach, Fla.
MJ Sherman, LB, 6-2, 235, Baltimore
Arian Smith, WR, 6-0, 185, Bradley, Fla.
Nazir Stackhouse, DT, 6-3, 305, Stone Mountain
Darnell Washington, ATH, 6-7, 260, Las Vegas
Devin Willock, OL, 6-7, 350, New Milford, N.J.
Jared Zirkel, PK, 6-3, 185, Kerrville, Texas
Daijun Edwards, RB, 5-10, 201, Moultrie
Broderick Jones, OT, 6-5, 298, Lithonia
Ladd McConkey, WR, 6-0, 175, Chatsworth
g-Tre’McKitty, TE, 6-5, 245, Wesley Chapel, Fla.
g-Jamie Newman, QB, 6-4, 230, Graham, N.C.
Sedrick Van Pran, C, 6-4, 305, New Orleans
* — Already enrolled
g — Graduate transfer
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