Georgia had done that by the end of breakfast. The Bulldogs locked down two previous commitments in wide receiver Dillon Bell of Houston and outside linebacker Darris Smith of Appling County before 10 a.m.
The real suspense was over the noon announcement of 4-star defensive lineman Christen Miller of Cedar Grove High. Long expected to be headed to UGA, Miller was vigorously pursued by Ohio State and Florida, among others. The 6-foot-4, 295-pound All-American took official visits and kept his decision to himself, it already was made.
But Miller made the Bulldog Nation happy when quickly revealed without much fanfare at his signing ceremony, “I’m staying home.”
“A high-character, high-quality kid,” Smart said of Miller. “He comes from a great family. ... We and Coach Tray Scott and our staff were extremely consistent with our recruitment of Christen Miller, and it paid off. He values relationships, and he saw what happens when you’ve got some continuity.”
Almost simultaneous to Miller’s announcement came the news -- long expected in the recruiting community -- that former Georgia commitment Jordan James elected to sign instead with Oregon. Oregon is, of course, the new home of Dan Lanning, the Bulldogs’ former defensive coordinator. James is a 4-star prospect from Murfreesboro, Tenn.
James’ reveal put almost perfect dramatic timing on the announcement of running back Andrew Paul in Dallas, Texas. The Bulldogs found themselves in a late-January battle with Clemson for the signature of the 5-11, 220-pound late-bloomer, who scored 44 touchdowns and gained 2,824 yards as a senior for Parish Episcopal School.
Adding to the theatre of moment, Parish Episcopal coach used the livestream format to filibuster about all his other signees for the 2022 recruiting cycle. Hilariously, the camera never left the frame of Paul and his parents.
Finally, 42 minutes after the 12:20 p.m. webcast began, Paul unzipped his blue jacket to reveal the Bulldogs as his choice. Officially, he chose Georgia over Clemson and Michigan.
“Dell (McGee) did a tremendous job of combing the country looking for the best backs we could possibly bring in to the University of Georgia,” Smart said. “Anytime you go into the state of Texas, there’s a ton of great football players. Dell reached out to me, I got to watching him and really liked him. He’s a 210-pound back with a great demeanor.”
Later in the day, Georgia signed E.J. Lightsey, a 3-star linebacker out of Fitzgerald.
“He’s a kid we had in camp, we never stopped recruiting and we felt very strongly about,” Smart said. “He ran extremely well in our camp and we put a lot of value on camp evaluations.
And that was that. Smart does not expect any other signings in the February period.
“There wasn’t much mystery,” Smart said of the how the day went. “Today was the most different signing day I’ve had. We’ve had things going on in-house we’ve been working on with our team, quality control, positions to fill, interviewing for roles on our staff. I haven’t even stopped for signing day, which most of the time that was all you did.”
Late in the day, UGA was holding out hope to add another 5-star to its roll that already included four such recruits. But defensive lineman Shemar Stewart of Opa-Locka, Fla., chose Texas A&M over the Bulldogs and Miami. That had been the projection going into the day.
Georgia signees (29)
Name, Pos., Ht., Wt., Hometown
Keithian “Bear” Alexander, DL, 6-3, 315, Denton, Texas
Aliou Bah, OL, 6-5, 330, Memphis, Tenn.
Dillon Bell, WR, 6-0, 210, Houston
Drew Bobo, OL, 6-5, 290, Auburn (Ala.)
Oscar Delp, TE, 6-5, 225, Cumming
Daylen Everette, CB, 6-1, 190, Norfolk, Va.
Earnest Greene, OL, 6-4, 330, Los Angeles
Jacob Hood, OL, 6-8, 350, Nashville, Tenn.
Julian Humphrey, DB, 6-0, 190, Webster, Texas
Marvin Jones, OLB, 6-5, 250, Sunrise, Fla.
E.J. Lightsey, ILB, 6-2, 210, Fitzgerald
C.J. Madden, DE, 6-4, 240, Ellenwood
Christen Miller, DL, 6-4, 295, Ellenwood
De’Nylon Morrissette, WR, 6-1, 200, Stone Mountain
Andrew Paul, RB, 5-11, 220, Dallas, Texas
Branson Robinson, RB, 5-10, 220, Canton, Miss.
Griffin Scroggs, OL, 6-3, 315, Grayson
Jaheim Singletary, DB, 6-1, 175, Jacksonville, Fla.
C.J. Smith, WR, 6-3, 175, Apopka, Fla.
Darris Smith, OLB, 6-5, 225, Baxley
Cole Speer, WR, 5-11, 185, Calhoun
Malaki Starks, ATH, 6-1, 205, Jefferson
Gunner Stockton, QB, 6-1, 210, Tiger
JaCorey Thomas, S, 6-0, 200, Orlando, Fla.
Brett Thorson, P, 6-2, 210, Melbourne, Australia
Jalon Walker, LB, 6-2, 225, Salisbury, N.C.
C.J. Washington, LB, 6-1, 220, Cedartown
Shone Washington, DT, 6-4, 300, New Orleans
Mykel Williams, DE, 6-5, 260, Columbus