Friday’s commitment of five-star quarterback Justin Fields to Georgia is the latest recruiting coup for Kirby Smart. Kirby’s kennel in Athens is filling up, and the talent is nothing but best in show.
What does Field’s commitment mean for the ‘Dawgs? Three thoughts come to mind:
A beast unleashed
For decades, it seems as if Georgia has been a sleeping giant with regard to recruiting and talent. Georgia always recruits well and plenty of talent has passed through the program since the modern recruiting era began with the Herschel Walker saga. For those who recall, that drama continued through Easter morning of 1980. It paid off when Walker led the team to a national title as a freshman that same fall.
The program has not won another since.
Former coaches Vince Dooley, Ray Goff, Jim Donnan and Mark Richt brought in tremendous players, and, but for a few breaks, the ‘Dawgs could have won national championships in any of a number of years (1981, ’82, ’83, ’92, ’97, 2002, ’07 and ’12). Yet they won none.
Still, the recruiting efforts of this staff appear to rank above all the others and demonstrate the potential of the program admirers long have recognized.
As an alum, I’m biased, but name another school with the location, the campus, the home-state dominance in recruiting, the stadium and the fan base. Longtime college football writer Andy Staples — a Florida alum, by the way — called Georgia the best job in the nation just two years ago.
Finally, the talent level is fully catching up to the potential.
Fields; commitment may well open the floodgates and launch Georgia to the nation’s top class in 2018. Top guards Jamaree Salyer and Trey Hill are Georgia natives and are likely to join him. Zamir White, a five-star running back from North Carolina, already has committed, and four-star running back James Cook of Miami – the brother of former FSU star Dalvin Cook — is giving serious thought to entering the ranks too.
There are recruiting battles still to come, but the Bulldogs need not back down from any program in those clashes. A recruiting beast has been fully unleashed and shouldn’t be reined in anytime soon.
It should not surprise anyone if sophomore Jacob Eason decides to transfer after the season. CBS analyst Gary Danielson alluded to that possibility during last week’s Georgia-Tennessee telecast, and you have to wonder if Kirby Smart hadn’t given Danielson some indirect or unintended hints in pregame discussions.
If true freshman Jake Fromm continues to play at his current level, there is no way to bench him. Eason has as strong an arm as there is in college football and NFL aspirations. It is difficult to see him content with a backup role for long.
Now, Fromm is a freshman and likely to struggle at some point this season. Vanderbilt and Missouri might not be the sternest tests the next couple of weeks, but with Florida, South Carolina, Kentucky, Auburn and Georgia Tech — and perhaps Alabama in the SEC championship game — on the horizon, the defensive talent and intensity will increase dramatically.
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