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Michael CarvellMichael Carvell

Son of former Atlanta Falcons star commits to UGA

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UGA added another decorated prospect at its biggest position of need when Van Jefferson committed to the Bulldogs on Monday.

The 4-star wide receiver from Brentwood, Tenn., picked UGA over Ohio State and Tennessee.

Van Jefferson (247sports)

Van Jefferson (247sports)

The 6-foot-2, 172-pound Jefferson is commit No. 21 for UGA’s 2015 class — and at least the fifth at the critical position of wide receiver.

Jefferson is the son of Shawn Jefferson, the former Atlanta Falcons wide receiver who played 12 seasons in the NFL. Jefferson was an assistant on last year’s Tennessee Titans staff with UGA defensive line coach Tracy Rocker.

How did UGA seemingly come out of nowhere to catch and pass Ohio State and Tennessee for Jefferson within the last few weeks? Recruiting is all about the relationships.

“The connection there is Tracy Rocker, who coached with the Titans and is familiar with his dad,” 247sports.com’s Rusty Mansell said. “From my understanding, there’s a lot of trust in the offense that Georgia runs and trust that they’re going to have a good quarterback in the future, no matter which one it is.

“They just felt like it an offense and academic situation that they wanted their son to be in. Tracy Rocker and Mike Bobo were able to turn it in Georgia’s favor in the last few weeks.”

How good is Van Jefferson? He’s rated as the No. 5 overall prospect out of Tennessee, along with the nation’s No. 17 wide receiver, per the 247sports.com composite rankings.

Recruiting hasn't been a problem so far for NFL-turned-UGA assistant Tracy Rocker (AJC)

Recruiting hasn’t been a problem so far for NFL-turned-UGA assistant Tracy Rocker (AJC)

“It’s almost just like the situation with Jayson Stanley when you look at it,” Mansell said. “He’s another 6-foot-2 kid who’s bigger and faster – and definitely fits the mold of what Georgia is looking for. He has been good everywhere he has been.

“Every camp he has been to, he has been named one of the top performers, no matter which service is covering the event. Obviously with the NFL pedigree from his dad, he’s going to be well coached. He needs to add some weight. He’s in the range of 174-175 pound range. At 6-2, he’ll be able to carry 195 pounds easy. He’s just another really, really good football player.”

With Jefferson’s commitment, UGA now has at least five commitments who project to play wide receiver in college, although that could change when they report. Why would Jefferson want to pick the Bulldogs since they already have so many WR commitments in the same class?

“Opportunity,” Mansell said. “When you look at the 2013 and 2014 classes (that Georgia signed at wide receivers), there’s definitely an opportunity to play. You take guys like Uriah May, who is no longer there, and Gilbert Johnson, who didn’t come (because of grades). You look at Jonathan Rumph, who is a senior and won’t be there next year. You look at guys like Rico Johnson, who has already been moved to defense.

“Georgia needs wide receivers and they need a bunch of them. These (2015 commits) are good prospects but they’re going to play quickly. There’s immediate opportunity there to play. Georgia has 5-6 wide receivers, but they need all of those guys.”

It’s too early to judge UGA’s class of WR signees from this past year, but the two previous classes (2012 and 2013) have been a disappointment so far. They haven’t been able to make much of an impact — despite a prime opportunity after season-ending injuries to both Mitchell and Bennett in 2013. The telltale sign was significant playing time for walk-ons Rhett McGowan and Kenneth Towns during last season’s pivotal moments.

UGA could also add another wide receiver in this year’s class – Greater Atlanta Christian’s Darius Slayton, who is rumored to be favoring Auburn and UGA.

UGA WR COMMITS FOR 2015

  • Michael Chigbu, 6-2, 210 (4-star and Louisiana’s No. 10 overall prospect)
  • Terry Godwin, 6-0, 165 (5-star and state’s No. 4 overall prospect. Explosive playmaker could compete for starter’s role at WR or DB as freshman)
  • Van Jefferson, 6-2, 170 (4-star and Tennessee’s No. 5 overall prospect. Son of former Atlanta Falcons WR Shawn Jefferson, who coached with UGA assistant Tracy Rocker in NFL)
  • Christian Owens, 6-5, 205 (4-star and state’s No. 27 overall prospect. Big possession WR. Good red zone target. Listed by Rivals as a TE)
  • Jayson Stanley, 6-2, 210 (4-star and state’s No. 22 overall prospect. Combination of size, speed and athleticism maybe only matched by Malcolm Mitchell on UGA roster)

Van Jefferson to Georgia

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