Friday’s AJC Recruiting Rewind

UGA head coach Mark Richt greets a couple of fans at Dawg Night (Joshua L Jones/ Special to the AJC)

UGA head coach Mark Richt greets a couple of fans at Dawg Night (Joshua L Jones/ Special to the AJC)

Welcome to Friday, folks.

Give us about three more of those and we’ll be watching real football around the South on Friday nights. Forget the stars and rankings. That’s still the best way to evaluate talented football players.

That’s the arena where potential translates into production. That 5-star linebacker may be able to run and shuttle and broad jump like a gazelle, but how does he fare after an angry guard and bruising fullback crushed him on back-to-back plays? That’s football.

Sure, that highlight tape is nice. But let’s see his 10 worst plays of the last month, too. Does that behemoth D-tackle take plays off? How many? Does he reappear on third down? Friday nights are where we really check the oil while evaluating a top prospect.


Kyle Davis is the nation's No. 1 WR and a HUGE UGA target. (Rob Saye / Special to the AJC)

Kyle Davis is the nation’s No. 1 WR and a HUGE UGA target. (Rob Saye / Special to the AJC)

1. Kyle Davis answers the Dad question

The AJC’s Chris Kirschner caught up with Archer’s Kyle Davis yesterday for an update on his recruiting. Kirschner was able to get the nation’s No. 1 receiver to weigh in on a topic that caught a lot of attention earlier this month at The Opening.

That’s when his father told that UGA wasn’t really a good fit for his son and other offenses would develop him better than the run-first offense in Athens.

Davis told the AJC yesterday that his father “does not affect his decision with any school” and brought up talented UGA legends like A.J. Green and Hines Ward while answering that question.

2. UGA stalking a ton of No. 1s’s Steve Wiltfong had an interesting perspective piece yesterday. He focused on UGA’s chances with five different players who are rated No.1 in the 247sports rankings at their respective positions.

  • No. 1 QB Jacob Eason: Committed
  • No. 1 TE Isaac Nauta: Recently de-committed from FSU. UGA was his No. 2. Consider the notion that Jacob Eason spent a lot of time with him after Dawg Night and then he de-committed soon after. His family is less than an hour away from Athens, too. UGA’s stock is booming in the Nauta business right now.
  • No. 1 WR Kyle Davis: Uncommitted but UGA is in great shape. Wiltfong said it would be a surprise to see Davis sign anywhere but UGA. I think UGA could be considered his favorite, but also believe his recruiting won’t be settled anytime soon.
  • No. 1 ATH Demetris Robertson: Uncommitted. He told the AJC after Dawg Night that Stanford was still his leader. Alabama and UGA were his co-No.2s.
  • No. 1 DT Rashan Gary: Wiltfong said that Gary’s mother told 247sports that UGA was in his Top 3 or 4 and he would take an official visit to Athens.

There’s only one commitment in that list. Yet the fact UGA is within the Top 4 at least on all of these guys says a lot, but the only thing that matters are signatures on scholarship papers. I wouldn’t place the odds very high at UGA landing all five of these guys, but three of these recruits could very well wind up in Athens. I’ve arranged those names in the order I THINK will wind up at UGA.

3.UGA is also on a lot of Top 5 talent

Ben Cleveland made his commitment to UGA back in 2014 at Dawg Night. (Michael Carvell / AJC)

Ben Cleveland made his commitment to UGA back in 2014 at Dawg Night. (Michael Carvell / AJC)

Wiltfong also liked UGA’s chances with four other players rated among the Top 5 at their positions. Lanier DL Derrick Brown (No. 3 DT) has 28 Crystal Ball forecasts on and all of those say UGA. OL Ben Cleveland (No. 4 OT) has already committed. Elberton 4-star Mecole Hardman, Jr.(No. 2 ATH) will likely decide between UGA and Tennessee. Peachtree Ridge safety Nigel Warrior (No. 3 safety) has UGA in his Top 10. He likely has the Bulldogs in his Top 5, too.

What does all of this mean? Get eight or nine players in a class as good or better than anyone else in the SEC has and you’re in every ballgame. That type of talent can off-set untimely on-side kicks, goal-line fumbles and Hail Mary passes that should’ve been knocked down.

4. Who will start at QB for UGA this fall?

That’s the topic going around a lot of summer activities this fall. So the AJC asked the current 2016 commitments who they felt should start at quarterback for UGA this year.

The expected tap dances around such a loaded question were executed, but a few players did go out on the limb just a bit to share a thought or two on the race between Brice Ramsey, Faton Bauta and incoming Virginia transfer Greyson Lambert.

Chad Clay‘s opinion on the topic parallels what I believe regarding the matter. Clay’s take: “I think it’ll be the kid from Virginia,” Clay said. “He’s got more experience than all of them playing in games because he’s already played. And he came a well-polished guy and I just think the experience is going to help him over there, is going to help take him over the top.”

Ramsey has an awfully good skill set. It might take Lambert awhile, but I think he’ll have the reins by that Alabama-Tennessee stretch. That’s an opinion. Here’s a fact: The guy who spends the most time in the film room and translates those efforts to the practice field best will win the job.

5. One-time UGA target picks Tennessee over Auburn

Carlin Fils-aime at Dawg Night (Mike Eden/Special to AJC)

Carlin Fils-aime at Dawg Night (Mike Eden/Special to AJC)

Naples (Fla.) RB Carlin Fils-Aime chose Rocky Top yesterday. His father said a big reason why was that his son wants to practice law. Tennessee has a law school. Auburn does not. That’s a good reason. His family also has a vacation home about two-and-half hours away from Knoxville.

UGA was in the hunt for Fils-aime earlier this summer, but he left Dawg Night thinking he wasn’t a priority. That’s further proof UGA’s chances for an elite blue-chip back come down to Woodward Academy’s Ellijah Holyfield and Texan Devwah Whaley.

If both of those guys somehow pass on UGA, it would be interesting to see what unfolds next at that position. UGA can load up with four-to-six receivers in this year’s class, but they’ll have to dig outside the nation’s top 10 prospects for a quality back. Nick Chubb should only spend three years in Athens and UGA only signed one RB in its 2015 signing class.

Jarrett Cole (Rob Saye/Special)

Jarrett Cole (Rob Saye/Special)

6. Georgia Tech adds a talented 3-star DB

Who says that North Avenue’s boys don’t get any run in the morning recruiting rewind? Well, the news from Norcoss DB Jarett Cole certainly qualifies. He becomes the No. 7 commitment for the Yellow Jackets for the 2016 signing class.

He’s rated as the No. 68 prospect in the state this year. He chose Tech over Kansas State.

“I just let them know I wanted to be a part of the Georgia Tech family,” Cole told the AJC.

7. More good news for the Yellow Jackets

Northview’s Jair Anderson is the son of longtime NFL offensive lineman Willie Anderson. The AJC profiled the relationship between the two yesterday in a story that can’t help but make its reader smile.

Jair Anderson with Tech's Paul Johnson (Special for AJC)

Jair Anderson with Tech’s Paul Johnson (Special for AJC)

It contained a quote from the son describing the question his father gets all the time. How does the big road grader wind up with a 3-star receiver at the dinner table?

“They’ll say, “‘Big Stew, how’d you push out a wide receiver?’” said Jair jokingly. “But my mom is shorter, so, it all evened out.”

Jair Anderson told the AJC that he’ll announce his leaders from 20-plus offers in the next few weeks and Georgia Tech should make the cut.

UGA is watching Anderson, too. Willie Anderson told the AJC that UGA defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt said after Dawg Night that there wasn’t one player in the state that’s made the improvements in his game that Jair has of late.

8. UGA makes cut for Nation’s No. 2 OG

Dematha Catholic (Md.) offensive guard Terrance Davis announced his Top 8 schools yesterday. That should come as no surprise to those who follow the College Recruiting Blog. The 6-foot-4, 325-pounder told the AJC after Dawg Night that UGA would get an official visit and he could see himself playing in Athens.

It sounds like Alabama, Michigan and UGA will be the major players in his decision. That news is important because Davis is teammates with 2017 5-star running back Anthony McFarland. McFarland is rated among the nation’s top all-purpose backs. He was also at Dawg Night with Davis on July 18. UGA is considered to be his top school at this time.

9. Another Ball baller

The Ball family sure sounds like an assembly line for Saturday players. First, there was Reggie Ball at Georgia Tech. Raeshown Ball (Chattanooga) and Marcus Ball (Memphis) followed after that. Marcus is still in the NFL with the Carolina Panthers. Now there’s another Ball on his way to play college ball.

Roswell 3-star safety Marcelino Ball is up next. The rising senior told the AJC he was motivated as a youth when he got the chance to watch his brothers play. He currently has a West Virginia offer and stated he’s a wait-and-see prospect at places like Auburn and North Carolina. He visited both of those schools this summer.

10. 4-star WR has an SEC-heavy list of finalists

Louisiana 4-star WR Mykel Jones named his finalists on Thursday night. Alabama, LSU, Ole Miss and Tennessee made the cut. According to the 247sports Cyrstal Ball, the 6-foot, 180-pounder is expected to choose Alabama.

Jones is rated as the No. 32 receiver in the nation for the Class of 2016 and the No. 181 player overall.


Jeff Sentell covers UGA recruiting for and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play Between the Hedges.


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