Here’s Kimberley Nash’s perspective on five of the biggest UGA recruiting stories from Dawg Night that people are talking about this week:
Dawg Night 2015 is officially in the books, but there will still plenty to chat about as UGA heads into fall practices.
Some topics will be obvious, just from a need standpoint you have to still be wondering about the running back position, while others will come up simply because, given UGA’s history at the position, you want to know there is a bit of insurance coming in for the future—wide receiver and offensive tackle both come to mind.
In any event, here are five more things worth considering now that Dawg Night 2015 is a thing of the past:
1. Nowhere to Run?
It’s clear UGA wants a running back in this class, and apparently they’ve decided it’s Elijah Holyfield or bust, but Holyfield doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to make his decision.
While many see him as a done-deal for UGA—especially given his father’s obvious support of the team—the younger Holyfield appears content to sit back and let things play out however they will; after all, he’s still got plenty of time to decide what he wants to do, right? In any event, if ever there was a situation where the phrase “slow play” comes to mind, it’s this one because, whenever I see a target hem and haw about where he’s leaning, despite reports and chatter that he’s favoring one school over another, I’m tempted to wonder how mutual the interest truly is…but that’s just me.
Another option appears to be Devwah Whaley, and UGA certainly made a positive impression on him when he was there, but once the mystique of the weekend wears off, will they be able to keep his attention? He’s definitely a running back they’d like to have, particularly if Holyfield decides to play elsewhere, but they’ll have to pull him out of the state of Texas to get him and that’s a tall order.
Obviously, UGA isn’t hedging it’s bet too much on either—despite their sales pitch—as they’ve already made the position a top priority for 2017.
2. Eason’s Efforts Not Wasted?
It’s nice that Isaac Nauta stopped by, and even better that Mecole Hardman and Demetris Robertson made an appearance, but the fact that UGA was able to get Charlie Woerner on campus for the event was a very good thing; all indications point to him having made a lasting impression, thanks in large part to the Eason family, and the fostering of that relationship, between now and Signing Day could be the difference—especially since Woerner has made it clear he wants to catch the football…as a wide receiver, not a tight end.
That last point is worth noting, especially as UGA continues to go hard after not only Isaac Nauta, but Jacob Mathis as well.
Nauta, of course, is committed to Florida State, but the pull of playing close to home could certainly make things interesting for him down the line. That said, Mathis is a player UGA has a shot at, even with one tight end already committed (Garrett Walston). Why? The possibility of the two tight-end set being employed more often.
New offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer won’t be nearly as hesitant to use it as his predecessor, and Mathis recognizes the opportunity to make an early impact.
3. Would Willie Allen Consider UGA?
The fact that five-star offensive tackle Willie Allen made it to Athens last week, and stayed a few days, is definitely a good thing—especially if some of that time was spent with Jacob Eason in his ear.
Allen is a big fish, and while there is no indication, yet, that UGA will be able to reel him in, new offensive line coach Rob Sale has made a good impression on his charges, thus far. That said, if Allen walked away with at least an eye towards taking an official visit to UGA this fall, then you have to consider them a contender.
Allen doesn’t talk much about what schools he’s considering and is perfectly content keeping everything low-key until he’s ready to announce his decision, but it’ll be interesting to see what happens with him down the line.
4. Jamyest Williams wanted Pruitt to take notice, but did he?
Williams is a 2017 prospect, but the way he forced UGA’s hand is something that may end up being revisited down the line—especially with him being so high on the board for 2017.
It’s no secret that defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt looks for a particular set of attributes where his cornerbacks are concerned. He wants players that have some height, 5’10 or better, to go along with speed and ball skills.
That said, at 5-foot-9, Williams wasn’t getting as much of a look at defensive back as he felt he should be, and decided it was time UGA understood his goal is to play cornerback at the next level, not wide receiver, corner; his goal, going into Dawg Night was to get an answer, one way or another, on what UGA’s plans were going to be where he was concerned.
In other words, he needed them to let him know they were willing to recruit him at that spot. Period.
Williams wasn’t just talking, he proved himself worthy of that designation and Pruitt, in kind, let him know he would be recruited as such.
That said, how much ground did UGA lose with Williams by being so hesitant to come at him the way he wanted? Your guess is as good as mine, but it’s clear his the show and tell move worked out well for Williams and, hopefully, it won’t end up biting the UGA later.
5. Too Much of a Good thing?
There was a ton of talent on display this weekend. UGA’s yearly even was more than a success, it was a sign of just how much of an event Dawg Night has become—it was referred to as The Opening II by at least one top prospect.
However, the downside to that is, the staff was stretched so thin, some prospects felt like just another participant; they simply didn’t get the personal attention they hoped for, and likely would have gotten in the past, because there were so many other prospects on campus at the same time.
Keep in mind, Dawg Night isn’t an invitation only event, like The Opening, it’s open to all-comers, but it’s clear UGA didn’t expect such a huge turnout. It was an embarrassment of riches that evolved into a logistical nightmare. It’s a good thing they designated white tee-shirts to their committed players because that ensured they didn’t miss an opportunity to spend some time with them but, despite two sessions, it was still tough to see and meet with every single player that’s been offered—not only for 2016, but beyond.
Even so, the turnout shouldn’t be a reason for UGA to scale things back, but motivation to kick things up a notch. Big time programs use such opportunities to make themselves more relevant on a national level and that’s something UGA should certainly be looking to foster.
Kimberley Nash has blogged about UGA’s football recruiting since 2011.