- Kipp Adams, Reporter, RecruitingNation
The release of the updated and final ESPNU 150 for the Class of 2012 today shows that the Georgia Bulldogs are in the hunt for a possible top-five recruiting class. Georgia already has five commitments among the list, and with around 10 spots left, the Bulldogs could double that number by signing day. Last year’s class, dubbed the “Dream Team,” was rated the No. 6 class in the country, with Georgia inking six ESPNU 150 prospects. The 2012 class, dubbed the “Ring Team” by running back Keith Marshall (Raleigh, N.C./Millbrook), is already rated No. 5 in the country, with a great chance to move even higher with a strong finish over the next two weeks. Plenty of talent is already expected in Athens next season. View the ESPNU 150 here, and the latest 2012 recruiting class rankings here.
Marshall, a five-star prospect, maintains his status as the No. 2 running back in the country, but moves up one spot to the No. 5 overall prospect in the country after the Under Armour All-American impressed analysts in attendance by adding weight with no loss in explosiveness. He gives Georgia a top-five prospect at running back for a second year in a row, after Isaiah Crowell (Columbus, Ga./Carver) committed to the Bulldogs on signing day a year ago. Marshall is already in Athens and enrolled in classes.
Army All-American offensive lineman John Theus (Jacksonville, Fla./Bolles) stays at No. 28 overall, but the 6-foot-6, 295-pound prospect moves up a spot and is now ranked the No. 5 offensive tackle in the country. Theus committed to Georgia at Dawg Night last July, and he should instantly improve a thin offensive line for the Bulldogs. Defensive tackle Jonathan Taylor (Millen, Ga./Jenkins County) comes in at No. 53 overall, and is the No. 6 defensive tackle in the country. The 6-foot-4, 315-pound Under Armour All-American has immense upside, and committed to Georgia last summer over Alabama, Clemson and Georgia Tech, among others.
Earlier this month in what might be Georgia’s biggest recruiting victory in the last few years, the Bulldogs came from behind to beat out Alabama and Florida for Jordan Jenkins (Hamilton, Ga./Harris County). Jenkins, the No. 67 prospect in the country, is the No. 8 defensive end, but will play outside linebacker in defensive coordinator Todd Grantham’s 3-4 at Georgia. Jenkins had eight tackles and two sacks in the Under Armour All-America Game while playing at defensive tackle.
Another Under Armour All-American made a position change, as defensive tackle John Atkins (Thomson, Ga./Thomson) took on the task of playing offensive guard. The 6-foot-3, 315-pound lineman moved up from No. 122 to No. 119 overall, with the future Bulldog maintaining his spot as the No. 11 defensive tackle in the country.
Still to come?
With as much talent as Georgia already has among its commitments, the coaches in Athens have a chance to close out strong and potentially double their ESPNU 150 signees. At the top of the list is linebacker target Josh Harvey-Clemons (Valdosta, Ga,/Lowndes), a 6-foot-4, 210-pound prospect with elite athleticism. After impressing during the Army All-American Bowl, Harvey-Clemons moves up from the No. 25 overall prospect to No. 17, making him the No. 1 outside linebacker in the country. With an official visit to FSU coming up, right now it’s a border war between Florida and Georgia for the top prospect in Georgia.
With the departure of Auburn’s offensive coordinator, Georgia has a chance to capitalize on the Tigers’ uncertain future. Athlete Ricardo Louis (Miami Beach, Fla./Miami Beach) plans to take an official to Georgia this weekend, after being very impressed with FSU last week. The Under Armour All-American moves up from No. 21 to No. 19 in the country, and also moves up in the athlete category from No. 5 to No. 3. With Georgia’s needs at both wide receiver and defensive back, adding an impact player like Louis would be huge. Offensive lineman Brandon Greene (Ellenwood, Ga./Cedar Grove) had an up-and-down performance during Under Armour week, but the 6-foot-5, 285-pound tackle is still oozing with potential. Greene, who is committed to Alabama, comes in at No. 30 overall, and is now the No. 5 offensive tackle in the country. He visited Georgia in December, and he is scheduled to be in Tuscaloosa this weekend. With Georgia’s dire need for offensive line depth, Greene is still one to watch as signing day approaches.
One of the biggest movers in the new ESPNU 150 is offensive tackle Avery Young (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla./Palm Beach Gardens). The 6-foot-5, 292-pound lineman has the athleticism to thrive at the next level, and Young skyrocketed from No. 117 to No. 61 overall in the country. Formerly the No. 17 offensive tackle, Young now comes in at No. 8. Once again, it looks like Florida and Georgia will duke it out for the Georgia native, but Alabama, Auburn and Miami are also in the fight.
Last week, Georgia coaches watched film on one of the top defensive prospects in the entire country, and after being impressed the Bulldogs moved quickly. Under Armour All-American Dalton Santos (Van, Texas/Van) has been committed to Tennessee for months, but the departure of defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox and linebackers coach Peter Sirmon to Washington has Santos taking a step back to reevaluate his options. Santos, one of the hardest hitters in the country, comes in at No. 93 in the ESPNU 150, and the 6-foot-2, 240-pound prospect is the No. 1 inside linebacker in the country. With no inside linebackers committed and a thin depth chart looming after next year, Georgia would likely be ecstatic to add Santos. He is considering an official to Georgia next week.
Looking ahead to signing day, Georgia has a lot to be excited about, as far as the future of the football team. If everything falls into place, the Bulldogs could end up with one of the best classes of the Mark Richt era.
10hSam Khan Jr.
5dGreg Ostendorf and Alex Scarborough