- David Ching, ESPN Staff Writer
ATHENS, Ga. -- Nick Chubb’s verbal commitment last week was big not only because it added a record-setting rusher to Georgia’s 2014 recruiting class, but also because -- together with a previous commitment from another elite tailback, Sony Michel -- it addressed Georgia’s biggest need in this class.
The Bulldogs have Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, of course, but they will be draft-eligible juniors after the 2014 season. The only other scholarship backs on the roster are brand-new freshmen A.J. Turman and Brendan Douglas, so Michel and Chubb will add depth and the talent necessary to keep Georgia’s backfield train on the tracks.
With that recruiting need addressed, it brings us to this week’s DawgNation roundtable question: Now that Georgia has addressed its most glaring need for 2014, running back, what is the next position Mark Richt’s coaching staff should square away for this recruiting class?
Kipp Adams: If there is one position where Georgia needs to continue to stockpile talent, it is the defensive line. In the first half of the SEC Championship game last year, Alabama rushed 23 times for 152 yards. In the second half, the Tide racked up 198 yards on 28 carries on their way to an game-record 350 rushing yards and another berth in the BCS Championship game. The Bulldogs’ defensive line was gashed late in the game and did not have the bodies necessary to win the battle at the line of scrimmage.
The 2013 class netted four defensive linemen: juco additions Toby Johnson and Chris Mayes, prep school signee John Atkins and DeAndre Johnson, and that is a solid start. But in order for Georgia to build enough depth to win the war in the trenches, a few upper-echelon down linemen are needed in the 2014 class as well.
Four-star prospect Dontavius Russell (Carrollton, Ga./Carrollton) committed to Georgia on April 1, yet the Bulldogs are in prime position to add two more elite defensive linemen. Kendall Baker (Atlanta/Marist) could pull the trigger and commit any day now, which might leave one spot for five-star target Lamont Gaillard (Fayetteville, N.C./Pine Forest) and ESPN 150 prospect Elisha Shaw (Tucker, Ga./Tucker). Gaillard plans to make his decision by the end of the summer and Shaw is leaning toward a decision at the Army All-American Bowl game in January.
Radi Nabulsi: In the last week, Georgia was able to double the size of its commitment class. I thought that the Bulldogs needed a couple wide receivers, some offensive and defensive linemen and another running back. With the commitments of Gilbert Johnson, Jake Edwards and Chubb, Georgia addressed those needs -- but not entirely.
The Bulldogs still need to bring in two or more offensive linemen and one of them needs to be a premier offensive tackle. Edwards can play guard or tackle but would be better suited to manning the interior with another player high on Georgia’s list, ESPN 150 guard Isaiah Wynn (Saint Petersburg, Fla./Lakewood). Lowndes (Ga.) High School star offensive tackle Dyshon Sims could be that premier blocker on the edge, plus he grew up a fan of Georgia and has a cousin on the team. Getting Sims and Wynn would give line coach Will Friend a talented group to help replace the seniors he will lose after this season.
David Ching: After missing out on Laremy Tunsil in February, it seems that a top-tier offensive tackle should be high on Georgia’s wish list. Perhaps the Bulldogs will still add DeVondre Seymour in the next year or two and he can bolster the numbers there. Mark Beard will be a senior in 2014 and both Xzavier Ward and John Theus will be juniors, so ideally Georgia would bring in an understudy in this class so he won’t have to do what Theus did and start as a true freshman. Theus handled that situation admirably, but it’s a lot of pressure to put on a freshman’s shoulders.
We posed the question to the members on our user forum, The Pound, and the posters were nearly unanimous in their hopes that Georgia solidify the line of scrimmage:
• gehrigrules: “Definitely the OL. We gotta load up on the big boys. We saw what could happen a few years back with the lack of depth on the OL and that can't happen again.”
• bigbeast40: “I believe the focus should shift over to recruiting the best D-linemen that fit our system. It all begins at the line of scrimmage and if you don’t have the linemen to control the line of scrimmage, the opposing team’s offense will do whatever they want to our defense.”
• Socrates1956: “Both offensive and defensive lines, more specifically offensive tackles and defensive ends.”
• johnclark7373: “We need some good d-line and o-line. I also think we need an elite pass rusher.”