Georgia Bulldogs get another commitment from 5-star recruit

Jefferson quarterback Malaki Starks (24) sets up for a handoff during the second half of their Class 4A state high school football final Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020 in Atlanta. (PHOTO/Daniel Varnado for the AJC)

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Jefferson quarterback Malaki Starks (24) sets up for a handoff during the second half of their Class 4A state high school football final Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020 in Atlanta. (PHOTO/Daniel Varnado for the AJC)

ATHENS -- Georgia coach Kirby Smart was 10 minutes and 45 seconds into his post-practice videoconference briefing Thursday when a reporter’s questions were garbled by a connectivity issue. That was just the break Smart was looking for.

“I’m sorry, you went in and out there, but I will drop a big ‘Go Dawgs’ there,” Smart said with a grin. “But I’ll let you repeat your question.”

Those who follow recruiting closely know that Smart usually sends out a “Go Dawgs” tweet every time the Bulldogs get a commitment from a recruit. That was the case Thursday, and it was a big one.

Simultaneous to Smart’s briefing, 5-star recruit Malaki Starks was conducting a live-TV news conference at the Jefferson Civic Center 20 miles away. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound defensive back from Jefferson High School said Georgia’s promise that he would be given the opportunity to play offense and defense was among the reasons he chose the Bulldogs over his Nos. 2 and 3 suitors, Clemson and Alabama, respectively.

UGA’s location didn’t hurt either.

“Georgia is right down the road,” Starks told DawgNation. “The first time I ever went to Georgia it clicked. It was like a relationship that I’ve never had with somebody before, that first time I met them. They are just really special to me.”

Starks was an important recruiting victory for UGA as well. Currently rated the No. 29 overall prospect in the country, Starks is the ninth commitment for the Bulldogs in the Class of 2022 and moves them past Alabama and LSU to No. 1 in the SEC and No. 2 in the nation in the 247Sports Composite rankings.

Georgia hopes to sustain its recruiting momentum at least through the weekend as Jalon Walker, a 4-star linebacker from Salisbury, N.C., is set to announce decision. Rated the No. 50 overall prospect for 22, Walker lists a final three of Georgia, Clemson and North Carolina.

2022 GEORGIA FOOTBALL COMMITMENTS

ATH Deyon Bouie, 5-11, 185, Bainbridge, 5-star

ATH Malaki Starks, 6-1, 200, Jefferson, 5-star

QB Gunner Stockton, 6-1, 220, Tiger, 5-star

DT Bear Alexander, 6-3, 325, Denton, Texas, 4-star

CB Marquis Groves-Killebrew, 6-0, 180, Snellville, 4-star

DE Darris Smith, 6-6, 225, Baxley, 4-star

LB C.J. Washington, 6-2, 220, Cedartown, 4-star

DT Tyre West, 6-3, 280, Tifton, 4-star

LB Donovan Westmoreland, 6-1, 210, Griffin, 4-star