Thursday, December 6, 2012
Five remaining targets for UGA
By Kipp Adams
With 30 commitments, the University of Georgia already has the second largest class of the 2013 cycle to date, and one of its biggest in school history. But with less than 70 players on scholarship and the possibility of 15 or more graduating or leaving early for the NFL draft, the Bulldogs are looking to sign up to six more if possible. DawgNation takes a look at the top five targets to keep an eye on, as well as five others that could still end up in Athens.
OT Laremy Tunsil (Lake City, Fla./Columbia): No. 4 overall prospect; No. 1 offensive tackle, 6-foot-6, 295 pounds
Main competition: Alabama
Importance to UGA class: While Georgia’s offensive line did an admirable job against the top defense in the country, there is still room for improvement. Last year, John Theus arrived in Athens as the most talented offensive lineman signed by Mark Richt during his tenure and started from day one at right tackle. If Tunsil arrives, he would take over the top spot and contend for a starting role at left tackle. Tunsil is arguably the most important prospect in the 2013 class for the Bulldogs.
The latest: Tunsil’s season ended last week, so expect the No. 1 offensive lineman in the nation to start paying more attention to his recruitment moving forward. Georgia visited Tunsil two days before the SEC Championship Game and again on Tuesday, spending time with both Tunsil and his mom. Georgia took the lead in his recruitment over the summer because of the connection between Tunsil and the entire Bulldogs’ coaching staff and how they plan to use him in college, but Alabama is right there with them in the race for the five-star tackle. This one could go down to the wire.
Importance to UGA class: If Tunsil is 1, then Adams is 1A. Georgia is set to lose John Jenkins, Abry Jones and possibly Kwame Geathers , leaving some big shoes to fill in more ways than one. Adams is the type of lineman that can disrupt plays in the backfield as well as hold his ground at the line of scrimmage, something the roster lacks other than Garrison Smith moving forward. While Smith will be counted on to make a big impact as a senior next year, Adams has a chance to have a similar impact at both defensive line positions as a true freshman.
The Latest: Early on, Adams stated intentions on leaving Georgia to play college football. But after visiting Georgia with his mom in November, the Bulldogs skyrocketed up his list after she admitted to liking the program and staff more than anywhere else. Clemson is still right there for Adams, who has yet to take any official visits. Those will likely come next month. Also watch out for Ole Miss, who seem to be hot on the trails for every top prospect in the Southeast right now.
Importance to Georgia: After not signing an inside linebacker in 2012, the Bulldogs will likely only return one with experience -- Amarlo Herrera -- in 2012. Four talented prospects are already committed for the 2013 class, but none are considered in the same class as Foster when it comes to potential. Getting an elite prospect of his caliber – at one time a Georgia resident and the No. 2 prospect in the country – would go a long way toward reloading the defense instead of rebuilding it.
The latest: After visiting Georgia and sounding very open to the thought of switching his commitment to Georgia, Foster said during the weekend that he intended on following Trooper Taylor, whom Foster described as a father figure, wherever he ends up. With new head coach Gus Malzahn bringing in a new offensive coordinator, there is a possibility Taylor is not at Auburn next year. What effect that ultimately has on Foster remains to be seen. While the Bulldogs would love to have Foster in Athens, at the moment the situation appears to be out of their control.
Importance to Georgia: On the surface, the Bulldogs appear to have decent depth in the backfield, with two returning sophomores in Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall and a junior in Ken Malcome. But the Bulldogs found out quickly in 2011 how fast a backfield can thin out, with the team missing its top four backs and being forced to employ walk-ons by committee. Signing Kamara would not only go a long way toward preventing that, he would add a dimension Georgia lacks at the moment: a potent receiving threat. The backfield failed to produce a touchdown reception in 2012, but the addition of Kamara could allow offensive coordinator Mike Bobo a chance to open up the offense even more.
The latest: During the last few months, Alabama and Georgia have emerged as the clear leaders for Kamara, who is still trying to lead his Norcross team to a state championship. He plans to make his recruitment a priority after the season is over. Kamara knows most of the Bulldogs’ commitments, with quarterback Brice Ramsey (Kingsland, Ga./Camden County), defensive back Tray Matthews (Newnan, Ga./Newnan), and cornerback Shaq Wiggins (Tyrone, Ga./Sandy Creek) all selling Georgia in his ear on a regular basis. The only program his mother has visited is Georgia, and she likes the thought of her son staying home and playing for Mark Richt. The longer he takes to decide, the tighter the race gets, but for now, the Bulldogs should still be considered the team to beat.
DT Toby Johnson (Hutchinson, Kans./Hutchinson Community College): 6-4, 305 pounds
Main competition: Nebraska, Oklahoma
Importance to Georgia: In 2011, Georgia signed juco defensive lineman John Jenkins. There is no telling where the Bulldogs’ defense would be without the 6-3, 360-pound interior lineman. In addition to taking on multiple blockers almost every snap during the last two seasons, Jenkins contributed 78 tackles, eight tackles for loss, four sacks, an interception, one fumble forced, a pass break-up and a blocked kick. He will likely be a high first-round pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. While Johnson will likely redshirt because of a knee injury suffered last month, his talent level is considered equivalent to Jenkins. He might be just as needed in Athens.
The latest: Johnson will take his official visit to Georgia this weekend, and although he has said he could extend his recruitment into next year, the possibility exists that he could commit to the Bulldogs soon if he feels comfortable on his visit. Johnson himself has not named any leaders, but the chance for the former College Park, Ga., resident to come home is something he likes the thought of. Georgia would like to wrap this one up soon.