Georgia Bulldogs: Dontavius Russell

Under Armour game storylines: SEC 

December, 5, 2013
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The seventh annual Under Armour All-America Game is less than a month away. The 2014 game, which is set for 4 p.m. ET Jan. 2 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on ESPN, features 90 of the top high school football prospects in the country. Practices begin Dec. 29.

Leonard Fournette
Alex Scarborough/ESPNNo. 1 Leonard Fournette is one of several five-star prospects who haven't made a commitment.
As is usually the case, the SEC will be well represented. Here are some of the storylines:

Year of dominance: The top 15 prospects in the ESPN 300 are all scheduled to take part. That means that all 13 five-star prospects in the class will be competing, including No. 1 Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/Saint Augustine). All told, 28 of the top 30 prospects in the ESPN 300 are on an UA All-America roster.

SEC leads the way: It comes without surprise that the SEC has the most committed prospects taking part, with 34. The Big Ten and ACC have 13 each, the Big 12 has three and the Pac-12 has two. Notre Dame has five commits in the game.

The SEC West alone has 25.


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SEC class rankings analysis 

December, 4, 2013
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The latest update to the RecruitingNation class rankings features a number of moves due in large part to the release of the ESPN Junior College 50 rankings. Within the conference, Alabama still has a strong grasp on the top spot with all 14 schools in the top 35 classes nationally. Here's a look at the conference's rankings Insider.

Trending up: Both Texas A&M and Auburn are trending up thanks to the release of the ESPN JC 50. The Aggies jumped from No. 5 to No. 4 and into the top 3 in the conference rankings with junior college offensive linemen Avery Gennesy (Southhaven, Miss./East Mississippi Community College) and Jermaine Eluemunor (Rockaway, N.J./Lackawanna College) coming in at No. 13 and 15 in the ESPN JC 50. Auburn junior college commitment D'haquille Williams (Reserve, La./Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College) and Dalvon Stuckey (De Funiak Springs, Fla./Pearl River Community College) came in at No. 1 and 9 in the JC 50. Auburn jumped from No. 14 nationally to No. 12, and the Tigers are in striking position on several other highly-ranked prospects.

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Senior defensive tackle Dontavius Russell (Carrollton, Ga./Carrollton) was presented his honorary game jersey Wednesday at his school during the American Family Insurance Selection Tour for the 2014 Under Armour All-America High School Football Game. The event was part of a three-month jersey tour.

Dontavius Russell
Radi Nabulsi/ESPNGeorgia commit Dontavius Russell is ranked No. 201 in the ESPN 300.
Russell, a Georgia commitment, is one of 90 players selected to compete in the Under Armour All-America Game, a nationally televised game featuring the country’s top high school seniors. The 2014 game is set for 4 p.m. ET Jan. 2 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., and will be televised on ESPN.

“I just want to thank God and my parents for everything they do for me every day,” Russell said.

For Russell, the chance to follow in the footsteps of current NFL stars made the UA game an easy choice.

"I'm looking forward to being able to play against some of the top players in the country, and getting an opportunity to play in a different state and area. It feels great. I hope we get the same opportunity as they did, and be able to play at the same level as they got to play at,” Russell said.

The 6-foot-3, 300-pound Russell is the No. 201 prospect in the ESPN 300 and the No. 15 defensive tackle in the class. He committed to Georgia over Auburn, Florida State, Florida, Stanford, Clemson and several others.

Movers, shakers in updated ESPN 300

October, 29, 2013
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The Class of 2014 has had two months to show what it’s made of on the field. How are the nation’s elite prospects faring as we approach signing day? Here’s a look at the biggest names and notes from the most recent update of the ESPN 300:

The Big Movers

No. 37 Clifton Garrett (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield South), ILB
Prior ranking: No. 59
The 6-foot-2, 224-pound Garrett jumped more than 20 spots in the rankings as he has added bulk to his frame, and at the same time retaining quickness and his fast-filling, downhill ability. Garrett has impact-type ability with a blend of lateral quickness, discipline and a nose for the ball.

Davion Hall
Max Olson/ESPNAthlete Davion Hall, who is committed to Baylor, jumped 30 spots in the latest update of the ESPN 300.
No. 45 Davion Hall (Texarkana, Texas/Liberty-Eylau), ATH
Prior ranking: No. 75
The 6-2, 194-pound Hall is one of the most impressive athletes in the class. He has a long, stoutly-built frame, is explosive, has physicality filling the alley at safety and very good ball skills at receiver. When he settles into one position at the next level, his upside is very high.

No. 64 Nick Chubb (Cedartown, Ga./Cedartown), RB
Prior ranking: No. 106
The Georgia commit is putting together a sensational senior campaign with more than 2,000 yards and 29 touchdowns through eight games. The 5-11, 217-pound tailback continues to add strength to his compact body structure while maintaining his speed, overall athleticism and ability to bend.

No. 70 Chad Thomas (Miami/Booker T. Washington), DE
Prior ranking: No. 125
The Miami commit has flashed his high-ceiling ability, even though he is playing inside more than half the snaps as a senior. His combination of first-step quickness, arm length and the ability to play with low pad level sets him apart from most ends in the class.

No. 84 Rashaan Evans (Auburn Ala./Auburn), OLB
Prior ranking: No. 150
The 6-3, 217-pound Evans has filled out physically, and displays the quick-twitch burst and speed combination to be a factor off the edge. Evans has been dominant off the edge as a senior with double-digit sacks.

No. 92 Markell Pack (Purvis, Miss./Purvis), WR
Prior ranking: No. 144
The Florida State commit continues to flash the initial quickness, ability to get to top-end speed quickly, ability to play the ball in the air and elusiveness that makes the 6-2, 180-pound wideout one of the top playmakers in the class.

No. 128 Brad Kaaya (Hollywood, Calif./Chaminade College Prep)
Prior ranking: No. 171
The 6-4, 213-pound Miami commit is one the fastest rising quarterbacks in the class. Has added bulk to his tall frame, and continues to show the foot quickness, foot work and quick release that will be demanded of him at the next level.

Other Big Movers

WR Josh Malone (Gallatin, Tenn./Station Camp): From No. 99 to 49.
Texas A&M ATH commit Nick Harvey (Richmond, Texas/William B. Travis): From No. 101 to 60.
RB Joe Mixon (Berkeley, Calif./Freedom): From No. 100 to 72.
Georgia QB-DT commit Jacob Park (Goose Creek, S.C./Stratford): From No. 157 to 94.
Oregon RB commit Royce Freeman (Imperial, Calif./Imperial): From No. 154 to 99.
RB Derrell Scott (Havelock, N.C./Havelock): From No. 176 to 108.
Ole Miss S commit C.J. Hampton (Meridian, Miss./Meridian): From No. 201 to 134.
Alabama C commit J.C. Hassenauer (Woodbury, Minn./East Ridge): From No. 246 to 188.
Georgia DT commit Dontavius Russell (Carrollton, Ga./Carrollton): From No. 266 to 201

ESPN 300 debuts
No. 89 Frank Iheanacho (Houston/Westbury), WR
The 6-6, 215-pound pass catcher returned to the football field as a senior after playing only basketball as a junior, and has quickly become one of the most coveted uncommitted prospects in the country featuring deceptive initial quickness, and the high-point timing and size to win 50-50 balls in the air.

No. 287 Darrion Owens (Orange Park, Fla./Oakleaf), OLB
The 6-3, 220-pound Owens has transitioned from safety to outside linebacker as a senior without skipping a beat. Long, rangy and with edge-rush ability, the Miami commit is a top senior riser.

No. 295 Shakenneth Williams (Macon, Ga./Rutland), WR
The 6-1, 196-pound Georgia commit was a standout at Mark Richt Camp in June. Williams is blessed with straight-line speed, change-of-direction ability, strong hands and the physicality and strength to play through contact.

[+] EnlargeJoe Mixon
Tom Hauck for Student SportsTailback Joe Mixon is ranked No. 72 in the latest update of the ESPN 300.
More Who Moved Into The ESPN 300

Ohio State ATH commit Curtis Samuel (Brooklyn, N.Y./Erasmus Hall): No. 148.
LSU DE commit Deondre Clark (Oklahoma City/Douglass): No. 298.
Baylor WR commit Ishmael Zamora (Alief, Texas/Elsik): No. 245
Alabama OLB commit Keith Holcombe (Tuscaloosa, Ala./Hillcrest): No. 284.
DT Derrick Nnadi (Virginia Beach, Va./Ocean Lakes): No. 257.
DT Matt Elam (Elizabethtown, Ky./John Hardin): No. 292.
Minnesota RB commit Jeff Jones (Minneapolis/Washburn): No. 181.
Virginia Tech DT commit Ricky Walker (Hampton, Va./Bethel): No. 299.

Injured Reserve

David Cornwell (Norman, Okla./Norman North), QB
The Alabama commit suffered a season-ending knee injury. The 6-5, 241-pound Under Armour All-American is No. 44 after being 32nd previously.

Jalen Hurd (Hendersonville, Tenn./Beech), RB
The Tennessee commit suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in the opener, requiring a second shoulder operation in less than a year. The 6-4, 222-pound Hurd is now No. 62 after being 39th.

Drake Harris (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian), WR
The 6-3, 172-pound Harris hasn't played this season due to a lingering hamstring issue. The Michigan commit checks in at No. 85 after previously being 72nd.

Elisha Shaw (Tucker, Ga./Tucker), DT
The 6-6, 295-pound Shaw has been sidelined with a neck injury this season. He checks in at No. 186 after a prior ranking of 82nd.

Sharieff Rhaheed (Fort Pierce, Fla./Fort Pierce Central), OLB
The 6-2, 202-pound Rhaheed missed the first six games of the season before returning to the field in late October. The former LSU commit is No. 260 after being ranked 133rd previously.

Kyle Berger (Cleveland/Saint Ignatius), OLB
The Ohio State commit was sidelined his senior season with an ACL tear. He dropped out of the ESPN 300 after being ranked No. 281.

Treyvon Paulk (Milton, Ga./Milton High), RB
The Tennessee running back commitment recently suffered a season-ending knee injury. He dropped out of the ESPN 300 after previously being ranked No. 294.

Best SEC classes by position 

September, 10, 2013
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Top to bottom, the Southeastern Conference is recruiting better than any conference in the country. Thirteen of 14 SEC schools are ranked in the top 40 of the recruiting rankings, including six schools ranked in the top 10. Here's a closer look at which SEC school has the top recruiting classes at each position.

Quarterback
Strongest class: Alabama
This is the hardest position to determine who has the strongest class. Four of the top-five quarterbacks in the final Elite 11 rankings -- Sean White (Auburn), Kyle Allen (Texas A&M), Will Grier (Florida) and Jacob Park (Georgia) -- are committed to SEC schools. Alabama, however has the top-ranked quarterback, David Cornwell (Norman, Okla./Norman North) in the ESPN 300. The Under Armour All-American is the 32nd-ranked player in the nation. At 6-foot-5, 241-pounds, Cornwell has a big-time arm and ideal size for the position.

Running back

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Summer Recruit Wrap: Georgia 

July, 23, 2013
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With the camp season over and the fall season rapidly approaching, DawgNation takes a look back at the biggest recruiting news of the summer.

[+] EnlargeSony Michel
Davide De Pas/ESPN.comClass of 2014 RB Sony Michel is one of the many big names in Georgia's class.
1. Summer has been very, very good to Georgia
Heading into June, Georgia had five commitments, after going without one in May. Some analysts had pegged the Bulldogs as being off to a slow start for 2014, but with a class of 33 in 2013, Georgia has had to be very selective with this class. Even with a decommitment last week, the Bulldogs have added 12 commitments in June and July, headlined by the additions of five-star defensive tackle Lamont Gaillard (Fayetteville, N.C./Pine Forest) and ESPN 300 athlete Malkom Parrish (Quitman, Ga./Brooks County). As August approaches, Georgia can realistically pick and choose to fill its remaining spots.


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ATHENS, Ga. -- The Georgia coaching staff has addressed some of its pressing needs for the Class of 2014, but they still have half the class to go. Here are the top five positions of need for the Bulldogs:

Offensive tackle: After missing out on Laremy Tunsil last year and Avery Young the year before, the staff would love to get a bookend tackle to play opposite of John Theus. After starting all 14 games his freshman season, Theus is the perfect example of how a premier tackle can have an immediate impact. Offensive line coach Will Friend hopes that Dyshon Sims (Valdosta, Ga./Lowndes) could be that player, as Sims has Georgia on top and just completed a visit to Athens. Sims plans to return for the Dawg Night camp and a commitment would not be surprising.


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It’s Rankings Week at DawgNation. Each day this week, we’ve ranked some aspect of Georgia’s football program and the teams and players the Bulldogs will face in the 2013 season.

Today we’re ranking Georgia’s top five areas of need in the 2014 recruiting class and some of the players the Bulldogs are pursuing to fill those holes.


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With the initial release of the ESPN 300 for the 2014 class, the recent recruiting momentum by the University of Georgia shows the Bulldogs could close with another top class, even with less than 22 spots to fill.

[+] EnlargeNick Chubb
Scott Fink for Student SportsRecent Georgia commit Nick Chubb has jumped into the latest ESPN 300 rankings.
At the top of the commitment list is running back Sony Michel (Plantation, Fla./American Heritage), the No. 17 prospect in the country. He is followed by athlete Malkom Parrish (Quitman, Ga./Brooks County) at No. 69, who is expected to play cornerback for Georgia. Tight end Jeb Blazevich (Charlotte, N.C./Charlotte Christian) is No. 94 in the latest rankings and new running back commitment Nick Chubb (Cedartown, Ga./Cedartown) jumps into the ESPN 150 at No. 142. Georgia has less than one third of last year’s class (33) committed so far, but only one less ESPN 150 commitment with four pledged to play for Mark Richt at this time. Quarterback Jacob Park (Goose Creek, S.C./Stratford) committed to Georgia on Friday, giving the Bulldogs the No. 182 prospect in the country, while defensive line commitment Dontavius Russell (Carrollton, Ga./Carrollton) is No. 263 in the initial ESPN 300.

Georgia has a shot to land several more ESPN 150 prospects as well. New five-star prospect Lorenzo Carter (Norcross, Ga./Norcross) has a spot reserved for him in Athens, Ga. Another five-star target, defensive lineman Lamont Gaillard (Fayetteville, N.C./Pine Forest) has Georgia on top and the No. 12 prospect in the country could decide in July.

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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?

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Tales From The Road: Georgia 

May, 29, 2013
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Each week, Tales From The Road will provide news and updates about where Georgia’s coaches have been and what prospects are standing out.


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ATHENS, Ga. -- The news of Sony Michel’s commitment to Georgia will not only soothe the Bulldogs coaching staff's depth chart fears, it will also serve as a salve to ease some hurt feelings among Bulldogs fans.

[+] EnlargeSony Michel
Davide De Pas/ESPN.comSony Michel will provide depth and explosiveness when he arrives at Georgia.
First and foremost, Michel is the nation’s No. 2 running back prospect and should arrive on campus when the dynamic duo of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall start their junior years and what could be their final season on campus. A year or two of their tutelage will prove helpful for Michel, who will face less pressure to come in and take over a job. In return, Michel will help spread the load at tailback.


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Inside the DawgHouse: G-Day edition 

April, 5, 2013
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DawgNation is here to take you Inside the DawgHouse -- a confidential look inside Georgia football recruiting for DawgNation subscribers only. As it will be every week, everything reported Inside the DawgHouse stays on The Pound forum. We are providing this information for our subscribers and hope that you help keep this information protected by keeping it here.

In this week's update:

  • Plenty of talent expected to visit for G-Day
  • RB recruiting close to done?
  • Latest on Stanley Williams
  • 2015 RB on the radar
  • Short visit for ESPN Watch List DE

Get Inside the DawgHouse now.


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ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia defensive line coach Chris Wilson might have thought he was the victim of an April Fool’s joke. Shortly after hosting ESPN Watch List defensive tackle Dontavius Russell (Carrollton, Ga./Carrollton) and seeing him drive off, Wilson received a phone call from the 6-foot-3, 300-pound junior, who said he wanted to commit to Georgia.

It was no joke. Russell decided he wanted to play for the Bulldogs.

“I just left Georgia,” Russell said. “It was just like every other time I visited. But when we got in the car on our way back, I just thought about, ‘What if I committed?’ The thought of that was just so peaceful, and it felt like a place that I wanted to be, so I just went ahead and made a decision.”

With his decision made, Wilson called the coaches from the car.

(Read full post)

DT Russell discusses UGA visit 

February, 20, 2013
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After making 58 tackles and three sacks during his junior season, defensive tackle Dontavius Russell (Carrollton, Ga./Carrollton) picked up his first offer from Florida before participating in the Rising Seniors' Georgia Junior Bowl. Since then, eight other programs have offered, including the University of Georgia.

The 6-foot-3, 300-pound prospect was in Athens, Ga., last weekend, and he spoke well of his time spent with the Bulldogs coaching staff.


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Scene and Heard: Top 10 Predictions
In a conversation with ESPN's Antonietta Collins, national recruiting reporter Gerry Hamilton breaks down the recruiting momentum building at Auburn and offers predictions for where the top 10 recruits will commit.Tags: Trenton Thompson, Kerryon Johnson, Jeffery Holland, Martez Ivey, Torrance Gibson, Cece Jefferson, ESPN 300, RecruitingNation, high school football recruiting, Gerry Hamilton
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