Signing Day 2013 finished with no surprises, and Georgia filled most of its needs between the baker’s dozen of early entries and today’s signees. The news across the board appears to be about the Signing Day decisions that didn’t go our way with some elite talent rather than the young men who did decide to join the Bulldog Nation. As I did last year, here are my thoughts on where and when we’ll see the members of this class on the field.
John Atkins, DT, Thomson
Rivals had Atkins as a 3-star prospect at defensive tackle from Thomson via Hargrave Military after resigning after failing to qualify for the fall. He got his academics in order and cam to Athens in January as an early entry. With the departure of Geathers and Jenkins, Atkins will get a hard look in spring practice and be expected to contribute depth on the defensive line. With his size, he could have a large upside with the right development, and many think he may be as good as a talent as a defensive tackle that decided to go elsewhere today. Given the current state of the depth chart, I expect Atkins will play as early as the Clemson game in September.
Davin Bellamy, OLB, Chamblee
In the one big Signing Day decision that went our way, Bellamy flips from FSU to Georgia after his mother supposedly receives assurance that Coach Grantham will be in Athens as opposed to jumping to the NFL. At 6-5, 235, he definitely has upside potential with a frame that should be able to put on weight and become an edge rusher. As a consensus top 50 prospect, Bellamy will probably be given an opportunity to contribute depth at linebacker and play special teams.
Paris Bostick, S, Tampa (Plant), FL
Bostick is a consensus 3-star prospect from one of Tampa’s powerhouse programs and Aaron Murray’s high school alma mater. A top 20 player out of the Tampa Bay area and a top 100 prospect in Florida, Bostick has been committed to Georgia for a long time and is one of the players we were excited about when he committed and now people has forgotten about. At 217 pounds, I could easily see him as a redshirt candidate with the potential to add weight to move down to play closer to the line of scrimmage or contribute on special teams as a freshman.
Aulden Bynum, OT, Valdosta (Valwood)
Bynum is a consistent 3-star prospect and an early enrollee in January. At 6-5, 270, he appears to have the frame to grow into an offensive tackle. Coming from a small, private school, I have to assume that he hasn’t had an opportunity to focus on strength and conditioning. He appears to be the kind of player that those who think we need to sign with a passion to play at Georgia. Bynum is a definite redshirt candidate with the existing depth at the tackle position. I doubt we will see much of him until a couple of years of development.
Josh Cardiello, C, Buford
Cardiello is a consensus 3-star prospect. Fox Sports has him rated as highly as one of the top 5 centers in the country. He is another early enrollee that will have an opportunity to develop in the weight room and on the practice field. As a first-team all-state player for a school with a deep winning tradition, he will know what it takes to be successful at the next level. While he could develop into a back-up to David Andrews, I definitely think it would be beneficial for him to sit a year as the potential center of the future.
Reggie Carter, LB, Snellville (South Gwinnett)
Another early enrollee, Carter is 4-star prospect out of the high school that gave Georgia our winningest quarterback, David Greene. He is consistently rated as a top 25 linebacker and top 20 prospect in Georgia. Grantham and Olivadotti have not hesitated to play young guys at inside linebacker, and Carter is going to get a hard look in the spring. With the departure of multiple inside linebackers, I expect he will contribute on special teams and will break into the rotation this fall.
Jordan Davis, TE, Thomson
Davis is a 3-star prospect coming out of one of the tradition-rich programs that send players who have been successful at Georgia. A consistent top 20 tight end nationally, he comes to a situation where it’s likely that he will not have to come in and play immediately with the current state of the depth chart At 6-4 and 225, he likely is a redshirt candidate with Artie Lynch, Jay Rome, and Ty Smith in front of him. He appears to be the tight end of the future after having an opportunity to bulk up and learn the playbook.
Reggie Davis, WR, Tallahassee (Lincoln), FL
The other Davis in this class is a 3+-star prospect coming out of one of the traditional north Florida powers that has not sent players north to Georgia. He is undersized at 159 pounds and is another player that does not need to come in and immediately contribute. He must be really fast as his 4×100 team won the 7A state championship as a junior. With the current depth chart at receiver and the addition of Jonathon Rumph, he is likely headed for redshirt to develop his body into one that can take the pounding in the SEC.
Brendan Douglas, FB, Augusta (Aquinas)
Douglas was recognized as a consistent top 10 fullback and a consensus A All-State selection. He rushed for close to 3,000 yards over the last two seasons and was a late switch from the Trade School in Atlanta. His last minute offer appeared to be the first sign to many that Signing Day wasn’t going to go the Dawgs’ way. If we had a scholarship available and could take away talent from Paul Johnson, I’m glad Richt did it. I hope he becomes a special teams contributor and can bulk up to be a fullback in the mold of Brannan Southerland.
Leonard Floyd, LB, Eastman (Dodge County)
Floyd is a consensus 4-star player that also took a season at Hargrave after failing to gain admission to Georgia after signing last year. After a year at prep school, I expect that he is going to get a hard look in the summer on special teams and as a contributor at outside linebacker in the fall. He was a top 15 talent in state last year coming out of high school and is another player who excited the Dawg Nation last year.
Shaquille Fluker, S, Meridian (East Mississippi CC), MS
Fluker is a 4-star top 30 national JUCO prospect coming out of eastern Mississippi, which is a part of the country where we haven’t traditionally done a lot of recruiting. His size and statistics at the junior college level would indicate that he has a lot of the same traits as Bacarri Rambo as a free safety. Fluker seems to have improved his stock after his two years at the junior college level, and I expect he will get a look to contribute immediately in the fall if he can pick up the 3-4 and Scott Lakatos’ coaching.
J.J. Green, ATH, Kingsland (Camden County)
Another of the baker’s dozen of early enrollees, Green is a consistent 3-star prospect coming out of one of south Georgia’s powerhouse programs. A classmate of quarterback Brice Ramsey, he is a member of the AJC’s Super 11 and was a consensus AAAAAA All-State selection. He seems to be a candidate for a redshirt as a corner, but don’t be surprised to see him get a look as a two-way player in the mold of Branden Smith.
DeAndre Johnson, DT, Newnan (Northgate)
Johnson is a consensus 3-star prospect and top 50 prospect in Georgia. At 6-3 and 311 pounds, he seems to have the build to become a nose tackle in the 3-4 defense. Given the current depth chart, he could redshirt with the potential to grow into a nose tackle or could move to the end position similar to Abry Jones. Regardless, I don’t think that we’ll see him as a contributor this fall unless we have serious injury issues or he becomes the diamond in the rough for this recruiting cycle.
Kennar Johnson, CB, Perkinston (Gulf Coast CC), MS
Johnson is a 3-star corner out of the JUCO ranks and 247 ranked him as a top 10 JUCO corner in this year’s class. At 6-2, he appears to be the big corner that Lakatos has tended to pursue rather than the smaller and quicker player of the Willie Martinez era. If he can come in and learn the system, I expect he will be given an opportunity to play early given the current depth chart at corner opposite Damian Swann. At a minimum, he will play special teams probably from the day he steps on campus.
Rico Johnson, WR, Swainsboro
Johnson is a consistent 3-star prospect from southeast Georgia and was a state 100-meter champion as a junior. I would like to see he and Justin Scott-Wesley in a race early in the fall camp. At 5-11, 172, he’s probably a redshirt candidate given the quality of the depth chart at receiver unless he can break into the line-up as kick returner.
Tim Kimbrough, LB, Indianapolis (Warren Central), IN
Kimbrough is a consensus 4-star prospect, top 10 inside linebacker prospect nationally, and top 5 prospect from the Hoosier State. At 228 pounds and with excellent speed, he seems to be ready made to play inside as a 3-4 linebacker. I’m sure Olivadotti showed him the depth chart and how Amarlo Herrera was used as a true freshman. He is definitely one of the members of this class that will see the field early and probably as soon as our visit to Death Valley.
Brandon Kublanow, C/G, Marietta (Walton)
Kublanow is a consensus 4-star recruit and is one of the top inside offensive line prospects in the nation. At 6-3 and 290, he has good size and from what many have said a nasty streak about him, which is definitely a great trait especially for a pulling or trapping guard. With the current depth chart, it may be difficult for him to break into significant playing time especially if Gates moves inside for Beard to start at left tackle. He will be one of the freshman lineman who will get a hard look this summer to determine if he will redshirt or play. I hope he sits a year and learns the system, but I think it may be hard to keep him off the field especially at center.
Brendan Langley, CB, Marietta (Kell)
As a consensus 4-star recruit, Langley was recognized as a top 20 corner in the country. Lakatos has to look at him as a rangy corner who can probably put on some additional size without losing a step. He committed to South Carolina earlier in the fall, began to look around late in the fall, and decided to become a Bulldog. I have to assume he is going to get a hard look in the fall and will probably play a lot this fall in nickel and on special teams.
Uriah LeMay, WR, Matthews (Butler), NC
Back-up quarterback Christian LeMay’s younger brother is a 3+ star recruit out of North Carolina’s powerhouse high school program. He committed to follow his brother to Athens early and really never appeared to waver in his commitment. The big question is what happens if Christian decides the QB depth chart is too crowded and moves on. At 6-2 and 197, he appears to have the body style of a young Tavarres King but without the top speed as a deep threat. LeMay is probably headed for a redshirt unless we end up with injury issues at the receiver position.
Tray Matthews, S, Newnan
Matthews is a solid 4-star recruit and may end up as the top player in this class. As an early enrollee, he will compete for a starting role at safety. Along with Shaq Wiggins, Matthews became one of the commitments that recruited others to join him in Athens, but he missed on one of his best friends, Reuben Foster. I’m not going to pencil him in as a starter yet, but he will probably see more and more of the field as the season goes on and will likely start by the end of the year.
Quincy Mauger, S, Marietta (Kell)
Mauger is a 3-start prospect at safety. In high school, he also played some wide receiver, so I wonder if he is going to be a classic “athlete” where the coaching staff determines where he fits into our scheme. He will have spring practice to get into the playbook and begin to develop into a safety of the future. He seems to be the kind of player that could be overlooked and become a solid contributor. I think he will redshirt with the idea of breaking into the rotation in 2014.
Chris Mayes, DT, Griffin
Mayes returns to Georgia after a short stint at Mississippi Gulf Coast CC to get his academic house in order. He is an early enrollee who will be given an opportunity to show what he can do in spring practice. He was one of the members of the “Dream Team” 2011 signing class. It speaks volumes for the staff’s opinion of him that they re-recruited him. He was a consensus 4-star prospect coming out of one of Georgia’s traditional middle Georgia power programs. He could slim down to become a 3-4 defensive end or could provide depth at the nose with his 6-4, 315 pound frame.
Shaun McGee, LB, Snellville (Brookwood)
McGee is a 3-star prospect at linebacker but appears to have the frame to be a good inside linebacker in the 3-4. Given our needs at inside linebacker and especially our troubles late in the season between the tackles, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was told he’ll get a hard look in the fall for playing time. While I think he probably should redshirt, the depth chart would probably indicate he’s going to play because we need size in the middle.
Johnny O’Neal, LB, Dublin (West Laurens)
O’Neal is a consensus top 20 player in Georgia and rated as a 4-star prospect by the recruiting services. ESPN rated him as a top 5 inside linebacker in the country, so it’s clear he has talent. Grantham and Olivadotti have probably told O’Neal to come in and be ready to play. He will play early on defense and special teams, and I think he becomes the heir apparent to Amarlo Herrera.
Brice Ramsey, QB, Kingsland (Camden County)
Ramsey was a consensus 4-star prospect, top 10 quarterback in the country, and top senior quarterback in Georgia. An early enrollee, he knows he will redshirt unless something absolutely bizarre happens between now and the season. If he plays as a true freshman, it means we’re in deep trouble. While playing in a running offense, he demonstrated that he has the physical tools to be a really good quarterback down the road. This class has a number of players who will redshirt, but Ramsey is the one who better redshirt.
Ryne Rankin, LB, Orlando (East River), FL
Rankin is another early enrollee as a 3+-star prospect out of central Florida. He skipped the high school all-star games and came to campus in December to work out with the team and participate in bowl practices. He received some praise during the bowl preparation as a guy who wasn’t afraid to be physical. At 6-1, 230, he appears to have the body to be a solid inside linebacker. He’s probably another guy who will get a hard look in spring practice to determine if he’ll be ready for the SEC wars in the fall.
Jonathan Rumph, WR, Cayce, SC (Holmes CC)
Rumph is a big, physical wide receiver, a 4-star prospect, and is one of the top 10 junior college prospects in the country. At 6-5 and 215 pounds, he looks like he has a chance to be a Marlon Brown type of receiver, too tall for a corner and too fast for a safety. Since he was also able to enroll early, I think he will play immediately and may be able play outside to allow “White Lightning” Bennett to continue to do his damage as a dangerous slot receiver.
DeVondre Seymour, T, Suwanee (North Gwinnett)
Seymour certainly has the genes as the son of Georgia All-American and All-Pro defensive tackle, Richard Seymour. He was a 3-star prospect and a top 30 player in Georgia. He has the body type for a potentially dominant offensive tackle at 6-5 and 295. The big lingering question is whether he will be able to qualify and be in Athens this summer or if he will have to take a detour to prep school or junior college. Regardless of whether he qualifies, we probably won’t see him in meaningful action for a couple of years down the road.
Tramel Terry, ATH, Goose Creek, SC
Terry is a consensus 4-star athlete who is another early enrollee, a consensus All-American, and South Carolina’s Mr. Football. In the practices leading up to the Shrine Bowl, many were saying he was the best player on the field for either side and then tore his ACL in the game. If he had ended up playing, I could have seen the recruiting services giving him a coveted 5th star. He’s a threat running or catching the ball and may be the best pure athlete in this class. If his knee heals, he will play against his home state schools the first 2 weeks of the season. If his rehabilitation is slow, I don’t think Richt will risk his redshirt, and he’ll likely be a starter in 2014 especially if Malcolm Mitchell decides to take his skills to the NFL.
A.J. Turman, TB, Orlando (Boone), FL
Turman is a solid 4-star prospect and top 40 player in Florida. He appears to be a tough between the tackles runner. At 200 pounds, he probably could put on an additional 10 pounds of muscle without losing any speed. With Boo Malcome’s transfer, Turman likely is the number 3 running back on the depth chart behind Gurshall. As with any Georgia freshman running back, the main thing that will keep him off the field will be his ability to pick up pass protection. If he can do that, I don’t doubt he will play immediately.
Shaquille Wiggins, CB, Tyrone (Sandy Creek)
Wiggins is a consensus 4-star recruit and the #1 corner in the state. He was an early commitment, and, while he flirted with other schools, he never backed away from his decision to “commit to the G.” He helped recruit others to Georgia and will likely get a chance to play immediately when he steps on campus.
Reggie Wilkerson, CB, Ocala (North Marion), FL
Wilkerson is a 4-star prospect taken from the heart of Gator country. Given his statistics, he appears to be a cover corner that teams consistently threw away from. He’s another early enrollee who will be given a look in the spring and will probably have a chance to contribute on special teams. A bit undersized, he may also redshirt given the number of defensive backs in this class.
This class is long on numbers and depth at the right positions. Yes, we didn’t have the signing day decisions go our way, but I like this class for what it is. We have 13 players who decided it was more important to throw up in trash cans, participate in spring practice, and get started in the books than to be a big man on campus in high school. I can safely say that while we didn’t “win” Signing Day in the eyes of the media, we won the recruiting battles the other 364 days this year.
As I have done the last couple of years, I looked at a broad analysis of where the 4+ star in-state talent ends up. The state produced 24 blue-chip prospects this year compared to last year’s 25. We signed 7 of them representing 29% of the total and the remaining players fanned out among 12 other schools and not one ended up at Georgia Tech. We didn’t win the 5-star players, but three of them (Nkdemiche, Lawson, and Bell) never considered us. We lost Adams when Garner left for Auburn. I think 30% is a good watermark for the blue chips, and we finished just under the mark.
That’s my take. I would like to read yours in the comments below.