Georgia Bulldogs: Jeb Blazevich

It’s almost that time. Georgia is scheduled to open spring practice next week.

In previous weeks, we've broken down several players and position groups to watch this spring. As we lead up to the Bulldogs’ first-team workout, this week we'll make five predictions related to the upcoming practices.

Today’s prediction: Jordan Davis makes a move at tight end

Like the prediction we made about redshirt freshman tailback A.J. Turman on Monday, this is another one that seems like common sense.

[+] EnlargeJordan Davis
Dale Zanine/USA TODAY SportsJordan Davis will get the lion's share of the reps at tight end during spring and could be UGA's next star at the position.
The tailbacks are a bit depth-depleted because injuries will prevent Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall from performing at 100 percent and because signees Nick Chubb and Sony Michel aren’t on campus yet. That will provide Turman with a prime opportunity to prove himself.

Depth is an even bigger issue for Davis and the tight ends. All-SEC senior Arthur Lynch just exhausted his eligibility. Jay Rome is recovering from surgery, and coach Mark Richt said last week that he expects him to either miss all or most of spring. Signees Jeb Blazevich and Hunter Atkinson won’t arrive until summer.

If redshirt freshman Davis doesn’t make good use of what should be a ton of reps this spring, that will come off as an enormous disappointment.

The Bulldogs didn’t need him to play last season since Lynch and blocking tight end Hugh Williams were seniors, and Rome was also in the mix, although injuries cut his season short.

The depth chart looks completely different now, and Davis’ combination of speed, athleticism -- he was a distinguished hurdler in high school -- and a steady work ethic should begin to pay off immediately. If anything, he needs to learn to relax a bit, as tight ends coach John Lilly insisted last season that Davis often put too much pressure on himself.

Now is the time for him to settle into the routine of operating with the regulars on offense. Georgia’s coaches said last week that fullback Quayvon Hicks might take some snaps in an H-back role on offense, but otherwise Davis is the lone scholarship tight end available if Rome misses the entire spring.

Listed at 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, Davis certainly looks the part of a pass-catching tight end with the frame to hold more size if necessary. Our prediction is that he develops the confidence this spring to accompany those physical tools, and that he will seize an on-field role for this fall.
The snowstorm that slammed the Southeast this week has kept ESPN 300 tight end and Georgia signee Jeb Blazevich (Charlotte, N.C./Charlotte Christian) cooped up the past couple of days. We thought it’d be a good time to catch up with him and see what life’s been like since he signed his letter of intent with the Bulldogs last Wednesday.

First, how are you surviving with all that snow?

[+] EnlargeJeb Blazevich, Tre' Williams
Mark LoMoglio/Icon SMIJeb Blazevich, left, says Georgia's new class can all play with a chip of their shoulders.
Jeb Blazevich: It’s been pretty crazy here. We got like two feet of snow, and I haven’t seen this much since I was a little kid. The way school works is we already had Friday and (next) Monday off for winter break, so come Tuesday afternoon we were like, ‘Hey, we have a chance to make it through the entire weekend.’ It’s pretty chill, but at the same time, you can’t really leave or go too many places.

I know you committed back in April, but what’s life been like since you signed?

Blazevich: Like you said, it’s been the same. It’s just sort of the next step of being comfortable with a school and having that reassurance. Once I committed, I knew I was good to go, but once I actually signed, I was like ‘wow, this is official.’ Now it’s time to start getting prepped.

Have you seen the controversy surrounding Rashaan Evans?

Blazevich: Yeah, I’ve seen that. That’s absolutely crazy. I retweeted one of them about his family business and all that.

What’s your take on all that?

Blazevich: Of course, you feel bad for him. If I were him, I’d be really mad, sort of frustrated and not know what to do because if he committed to Auburn, all these people would love him and he’d be getting everything free from all these restaurants. He goes to another school, and they’re just treating him awful. No person should have to go through that. But looking at it from an outside perspective as someone who’s not really involved with it, it’s actually kind of cool because it shows you how important football is down there. If he can, I would try to keep that perspective -- ‘I’m part of something really big, and this just shows it.’

When you committed, did you receive any backlash like that from fans?

Blazevich: I can’t say that I did. There was a lot of people on Twitter or what not, but I don’t really count those. That’s their opinion. There was a lot of stuff like, ‘Why didn’t we get Herschel’s [Walker] nephew? This kid sucks.’ To me, it was no big deal. It’s just an opinion. As far as people in town, nothing that furious. Some people would say, ‘Hey, you should’ve gone here or you should’ve gone there,’ but nothing where they wished ill-will towards me.

Getting back to Georgia, how do you feel about your class that just signed?

Blazevich: I love the guys I’m going in there with. I feel like all of them can compete. We all play with that chip on our shoulders. A lot of people will say we don’t have a highly ranked recruiting class, but I say that’s better. Most of the guys in the NFL are three-star, two-star and even unranked guys. I think it gives everybody something to keep working towards and fortifies the fact that we’re going to get in there and work and prove people wrong.

It seems like UGA is hiring a new coach every day. Have you met any of the new staff?

Blazevich: I haven’t yet. Luckily for me, they’ve all been on the defensive side. As long as Coach [Mike] Bobo and Coach [John] Lilly are still there, I think I’m good to go.

With the new staff, your class coming in, what are your goals for your first year?

Blazevich: My goal personally is to go in, learn as much as I can, as soon as I can and try to get prepped for game time. I’m willing to do whatever they want me to do. If that’s redshirt to get better, that is what it is. But it’s a lot easier to expect to play and get redshirted than expect to be redshirted and then have to play. I’m just trying to learn from the guys above me, work with the guys next to me and become a better all-around person through it.
Georgia has another top-10 class lined up for national signing day, but its final ranking next week could rise or fall depending on how the Bulldogs finish within their own state -- particularly whether they land their top remaining target, Lorenzo Carter.

As it stands, the Bulldogs have commitments from two of the top six players from Georgia, but that's it among the Peach State's collection of elite prospects. Heavily recruited players such as linebacker Raekwon McMillan (Ohio State) and quarterback Deshaun Watson (Clemson) were among those who checked out Georgia before committing elsewhere.

Mark Richt's staff still has a chance to finish on a strong note, however.

[+] EnlargeLorenzo Carter
Miller Safrit/ESPNLorenzo Carter is the top remaining recruiting target for Georgia.
The Bulldogs seem to be in good shape to land five-star defensive end Carter (ESPN's No. 14 overall prospect and No. 3 player at his position). Other targets such as ESPN 300 prospect Wesley Green (No. 120 overall, No. 13 cornerback, uncommitted), Bryson Allen-Williams (No. 162 overall, No. 10 outside linebacker, committed to South Carolina) and Andrew Williams (No. 174 overall, No. 17 defensive end, uncommitted) are among those lurking as possible final members of the class.

Otherwise, this recruiting class -- one that could be slightly smaller than normal -- adequately addresses Georgia's immediate needs. Let's look at how Georgia addressed some of those positions:

Secondary: Georgia's weakest position segment last season could use some immediate help -- and it will get it in cornerbacks Shattle Fenteng (No. 3 overall prospect, top cornerback on ESPN's Junior College 50) and Malkom Parrish (No. 77 overall, No. 10 athlete). Georgia recently added three-star athlete Dominick Sanders at corner. Green -- who is scheduled to join Carter and others on a visit to Athens this weekend -- and three-star athletes T.J. Harrell and Tavon Ross remain as targets.

The possible shortcoming here is that safety was an inconsistent position for Georgia last season and the Bulldogs have only three-star prospect Kendall Gant lined up so far.

With Josh Harvey-Clemons suspended to open the season, senior Corey Moore, rising sophomore Quincy Mauger and oft-injured Tray Matthews might be the only early options, but keep an eye on Harrell and Ross between now and signing day.

Running back: With Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall entering their third seasons on campus, Georgia needed insurance policies at tailback.

The Bulldogs locked that up in a big way with the current headliners in this class, Sony Michel (No. 19 overall, No. 2 running back) and Nick Chubb (No. 63 overall, No. 7 running back). It will be interesting to see how Richt's staff juggles a glut of talented ball carriers just a year after injuries to Gurley and Marshall created depth problems.

Tight end: With Ty Flournoy-Smith getting kicked off the team last summer and Arthur Lynch exhausting his eligibility in the fall, Georgia had a need at tight end. Jeb Blazevich (No. 101 overall, No. 2 tight end/H) could become Georgia's next great pass-catching tight end thanks to an impressive combination of size (6-foot-5) and soft hands.

Offensive line: Replenishing the line of scrimmage is always a priority, and with Georgia losing starting guards Chris Burnette and Dallas Lee, signing a top prospect such as Isaiah Wynn (No. 106 overall, No. 6 guard) will be particularly valuable. The Bulldogs are also set to sign four-star tackle Dyshon Sims and three-star prospects Kendall Baker and Jake Edwards.

Receiver: Georgia has plenty of bodies here for 2014, but Chris Conley, Michael Bennett, Jonathon Rumph and Michael Erdman will each be seniors and Justin Scott-Wesley and Malcolm Mitchell will be fourth-year juniors.

The Bulldogs have secured commitments from ESPN 300 member Shakenneth Williams (No. 297 overall, No. 45 receiver) and three-star prospect Gilbert Johnson. They also are set to re-sign Rico Johnson, who failed to qualify after signing with the Bulldogs last February.

Defensive line/outside linebacker: Keep an eye on this group for the future. If Georgia lands Carter to go along with already-committed Lamont Gaillard (No. 55 overall, No. 4 defensive tackle), that could be the foundation for some outstanding defensive lines in the next couple of seasons.

The Bulldogs return almost everyone along the line from last season, so it is not a glaring immediate need. The 2014 line will be stocked with fourth-year players, though, so this is a good time to restock the depth charts for the future. They already have a commitment from the versatile Keyon Brown (No. 185 overall, No. 19 defensive end), with Carter and Williams potentially joining him. Like Brown, three-star outside linebacker Detric Dukes brings some versatility to the crop of commitments along the line.

Georgia's coaches never gave up on Allen-Williams even after his commitment to South Carolina in April. He insists he will still sign with the Gamecocks, but plans to visit Georgia with Carter and the others this weekend. Stay tuned.
ATHENS, Ga. -- The offseason is important for every college player, but it is particularly valuable for those hoping to make the transition from off-the-radar prospect to essential contributor.

With that in mind, let's look at five Georgia players (or groups) who need to have strong springs and summers -- once the Bulldogs move past their upcoming bowl matchup, of course -- to become useful players next season.

[+] EnlargeJonathon Rumph
Jeffrey Vest/Icon SMIReceiver Jonathon Rumph needs to prove he deserves playing time in 2014.
Jonathon Rumph: One of the more high-profile recruits in Georgia's 2013 signing class, the junior college transfer didn't play until midseason and didn't make his first catch until Game 9. Rumph's six catches for 112 yards thus far fall well short of the preseason expectations for a player who signed as the No. 7 overall prospect on ESPN's Junior College 100. Even after making a small impact after his debut, Rumph barely saw the field in Georgia's last two games of the regular season. He needs to prove that he belongs in the rotation next season because he clearly has not convinced receivers coach Tony Ball thus far that he deserves regular playing time.

Brandon Kublanow: With three offensive line positions open after the season ends, we could go several directions here. But let's stick to guard, where starters Chris Burnette and Dallas Lee will both be gone after this season. Kublanow was impressive enough after arriving on campus this summer that he won some playing time as a true freshman. It would not be at all surprising to see him grab a starting job next season if he has a strong spring and summer. He's a grinder, and he's going to become a solid offensive lineman at the college level.

The ILBs: Most likely, Amarlo Herrera and Ramik Wilson will be back for their senior seasons in 2014. But it's not a particularly good thing that they essentially played every meaningful down this fall. The Bulldogs need the freshmen who played sparingly -- Reggie Carter, Tim Kimbrough, Johnny O'Neal and Ryne Rankin -- to make a bigger impact next season. Carter is the most obvious choice for more playing time, but Georgia needs to develop more of the talent on the roster in order to be prepared for Wilson and Herrera's departure after next season. To this point, he's the only non-starter at ILB who has played an important down.

A.J. Turman: After redshirting as a freshman, Turman is in an awkward position as 2014 approaches. Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall are established stars. Brendan Douglas and J.J. Green were productive this fall while playing as true freshmen. Now verbal commits Nick Chubb and Sony Michel are on board to join the team before next season. Turman has some running skills, but he'd better do something to make himself stand out -- soon … like this winter and spring -- or he'll place himself in jeopardy of getting lost in the shuffle.

Jordan Davis: Another 2013 redshirt, Davis has the opportunity to garner major playing time next fall. Arthur Lynch and Hugh Williams will be gone and only Jay Rome will remain among the Bulldogs' 2013 regulars at tight end. Davis should be able to carve out a role -- and he could do himself a favor if he does so before highly-touted verbal commit Jeb Blazevich can establish himself. Davis is a diligent worker and should eventually become a serviceable traditional tight end, whereas Blazevich looks more like a player whose greatest strength will be his receiving skills. The Bulldogs need both skill sets to be present among players at the position.

#AskLoogs: Comparisons to Blazevich

September, 17, 2013
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Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation senior analyst Tom Luginbill a question about your team? Tweet it to @TomLuginbill using the hashtag #AskLoogs.



With so many hybrid tight end/wide receivers in today’s game, these guys are essentially oversized possession receivers flexed out in the slot, utilized in the backfield as H-backs or movement types and are rarely utilized within the interior or the offensive line. This is the type of player Blazevich is, entering college, which makes him a similar prospect to Oregon’s Colt Lyerla. These are guys that can stretch and stress the seam pressure safeties. They are athletic enough to consistently win matchups against linebackers and even some safeties at times one-on-one.

UA Game jersey tour: Jeb Blazevich

September, 13, 2013
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Senior tight end Jeb Blazevich (Charlotte, N.Cc/Charlotte Christian) was presented his honorary game jersey during the American Family Insurance Selection Tour for the 2014 Under Armour All-America High School Football Game at Charlotte Christian High School in Charlotte, N.C. Thursday.

[+] EnlargeJeb Blazevich
Courtesy of IntersportJeb Blazevich will show his skills at the Under Armour All-America Game before heading to Georgia.
Blazevich, a Georgia commitment, is one of 90 players selected to compete in the seventh-annual Under Armour All-America Game presented by American Family Insurance, a nationally televised competition spotlighting the country’s top high school seniors. The 2014 Under Armour All-America Game is set for 4 p.m. ET Jan. 2 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., and will be televised on ESPN.

“First off, I just got to say thank you to God,” Blazevich said. “I thought about all the people I could thank, and the biggest thing for me is just I wanted to thank God for the community he put me with my parents, the coaches and every single one of y’all. Everybody had a vital role in where I want to go, and that just happens to be the Under Armour All-America Game,”

Charlotte Christian head coach Jason Estep said it’s Blazevich’s versatility that makes him a terrific tight end prospect.

“He gives that hybrid effect that I think a lot of college coaches are looking for now,” Estep said. “The ability offensively to put his hand down and play tight end and block at the point of attack, and he also has the ability to flex out and be a mismatch potentially on a linebacker or safety. So it’s a pretty unique balance.”

Blazevich is looking forward to the challenge and competition during the Under Armour practices.

“I want to go against the best. No matter who that is that week, whoever is on their ‘A’ game … I want to go against them,” the No. 94 player in the ESPN 300 said. “To be a part of this is a huge honor, just to be able to say that you are an All-American. It’s very humbling, and I understand it’s a blessing. I also understand that it’s a big responsibility and have to work out to make sure I show out down there.”

The 6-foot-5, 233-pound Blazevich is the No. 3 Tight end-H in the class. He selected Georgia over offers from Clemson, Florida, Alabama, Duke, LSU and a number of others.
ATHENS, Ga. -- The annual Dawg Night recruiting camp at the University of Georgia always draws some of the region’s most coveted prospects. This year was no different, and four of them decided to become Bulldogs. But what of the other recruits that have offers or earned new ones? Here are a load of updates and scoop from this year’s Dawg Night camp.


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2015 ESPN 300 targets: Georgia 

July, 16, 2013
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Football offers and commitments are occurring earlier and earlier. To keep in line with this new world of accelerated recruiting, ESPN announced its release of the initial ESPN 300 for the 2015 class on Tuesday.

The list is once again loaded with targets for Georgia. DawgNation takes a look at 10 targets to keep an eye on for 2015, in order of their ranking in the ESPN 300.

1. OL Mitch Hyatt (Suwanee, Ga./North Gwinnett)
6-foot-6, 270 pounds
ESPN 300 rank:
4


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Lessons Learned: Dawg Night 

July, 15, 2013
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ATHENS, Ga. -- The annual Dawg Night recruiting event at the University of Georgia overcame a couple of early setbacks and wound up being quite the success for the Bulldogs’ coaching staff. Right as the campers were finishing up running of their 40-yard dashes, a thunderstorm sent everyone inside the general use room at the Butts Mehre Heritage Hall. When we say everyone, we mean the 500-plus attendees who came to show the coaches what they could do.

There were way too many campers, but the staff managed the large crowd well. They did run the danger of not being able to spend enough time with their primary targets, but the rain delay and staggered arrival times made for a successful weekend. After watching the commitments roll in and talking to some of the prospects in attendance, here are five things we learned.

Shakenneth Williams
Tom Hauck for Student SportsAs expected, four-star WR Shakenneth Williams pulled the trigger on his Georgia offer early on Dawg Night.
Commitment class grows

The Bulldogs started Dawg Night with 12 commits and ended the evening with 15. Wide receiver Shakenneth Williams (Macon, Ga./Rutland) started the festivities by committing during the rain delay. The four-star receiver almost committed when he received his Georgia offer last month. Williams was quickly followed by Florida safety Kendall Gant (Lakeland, Fla./Lake Gibson). Gant immediately went to work on one of Georgia’s top targets, fellow Sunshine State standout Isaiah Wynn. Wynn, an ESPN 300 member and Under Armour All-American game selection, would wait until Sunday morning to make his commitment known.

Offensive tackle Dyshon Sims (Valdosta, Ga./Lowndes) indicated during the rain delay that he was about to commit and would once he found his coach. It took him until the final drills to actually pull the trigger. It helped that Mark Richt called his mother to seal the deal in the meantime.

Georgia did lose one commit over the weekend, as Krenwick Sanders (Jessup, Ga./Wayne County) told DawgNation that he had a “drastic change of plans” and was no longer part of the Bulldogs’ recruiting class.


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ATHENS, Ga. -- Christian Miller (Columbia, S.C./Spring Valley), the nation’s No. 2 outside linebacker, was in Athens on Wednesday, talking with Mark Richt and Kirk Olivadotti. Miller liked what he heard. In fact, he left campus thinking he could easily see himself suiting up for the Bulldogs.


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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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The Opening: Georgia storylines 

June, 27, 2013
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ATHENS, Ga. -- With the Elite 11 and The Opening this weekend, here are five storylines concerning Georgia commits and targets:

First look at Park

Georgia fans did not get to see the performance at the Mark Richt minicamp that earned quarterback Jacob Park (Goose Creek, S.C./Stratford) his offer from offensive coordinator Mike Bobo. Had the camp been open to the public, they could have seen the 6-foot-3, 197-pound senior make plenty of throws as Bobo put him through a workout. Park committed to Georgia a week later, catching some fans off guard, as they thought Georgia was going all-or-nothing for Clemson quarterback commit Deshaun Watson. Park will get his chance at the Elite 11 to show the Bulldogs’ faithful what Bobo saw in him.


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Georgia instant impact recruits 

June, 25, 2013
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ATHENS, Ga. -- Coaches are always looking for recruits who can have a major impact on their programs. Here is a list of prospects -- both commits and realistic targets -- that could make an impact for Georgia in 2014:

1. TE Jeb Blazevich (Charlotte, N.C./Charlotte Christian)
HT/WT: 6-5, 228 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: 94

Blazevich could easily see the field before any of the other commits or targets that Georgia is after in the Class of 2014. Arthur Lynch is a senior this year so Blazevich will join only two other tight ends -- Jay Rome and Jordan Davis -- on the roster when he arrives in Athens. Davis will bulk up and be the prototypical blocking tight end who replaces Lynch, while Blazevich will be an offensive threat downfield. He recently won the wide receiver MVP award at the Nike Football Training camp, a first for a tight end.


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Spring recruiting recap 

June, 21, 2013
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ATHENS, Ga. -- When the spring evaluation period started on April 15, the Georgia Bulldogs trailed most of the other teams in the SEC with only three commitments. By the time the period ended on May 31, Georgia had picked up two more and was poised to have a big June. But no one knew that the first camp of the year would see the Bulldogs double their class.

NEW COMMITS

Jeb Blazevich (Charlotte, N.C./Charlotte Christian)
Committed: April 23



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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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National recruiting analysts Tom Luginbill and Craig Haubert count down the top 10 recruits in the latest ESPN 300 player rankings update. The complete ESPN 300 will be released April 16.Tags: Tim Settle, CeCe Jefferson, Torrance Gibson, Mitch Hyatt, Terry Beckner Jr., Byron Cowart, Josh Sweat, Kevin Toliver II, Martez Ivey, Trevon Thompson, ESPN 300, RecruitingNation, high school football recruiting, Tom Luginbill, Craig Haubert
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