Signing day goes as planned for Georgia Bulldogs

Christen Miller-Georgia recruiting-UGA recruiting

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All-American DT Christen Miller was in attendance at the Georgia-South Carolina game as a priority recruit on Sept. 18, 2021, in Athens, Ga. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

ATHENS – It has been a good week for the Georgia Bulldogs. Lunch time Wednesday was particularly fulfilling.

Over the weekend, coach Kirby Smart announced that his buddy Mike Bobo had joined his staff as an offensive analyst. Later, UGA confirmed that Bryan McClendon, another former had been hired as passing-game coordinator and wide receivers coach. And, finally, the Bulldogs added more Bulldogs to the 2022 football roster. Some very talented ones, no less.

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It is indeed great to be a Georgia Bulldog these days.

“We were able to add a few guys to the group today, and we’re certainly proud of the ones we got,” said Smart, who added five more signees to bring the Class of 2022 to 29 players. “I’m excited about this recruiting class, No. 1, because 19 of them are midyear enrollees, and they have been very impactful and have added depth to our roster.”

Most of the hay already was in the barn at first light Wednesday. Smart and the Bulldogs signed 24 players in the December signing period. The plan was to ink only a few more during Wednesday’s second opportunity.

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