Georgia expects top haul on signing day

Sandalwood High School cornerback Ameer Speed signed with Georgia Wednesday morning. (Bruce Lipsky/Florida Times-Union)

Georgia is expected to land a top three class today on national signing day.

 

It begins the day ranked No. 3 by Rivals.com, the 247Sports Composite and ESPN.com and is No. 2 by Scout.com.

There seems to be less of the most high-profile players still with decisions to be revealed than in past years with only 3 of top 30 nationwide uncommitted in the 247Sports Composite.

Of course, there are always surprises.

Check below for updates throughout the day:

12:16 p.m.: Kirby Smart spoke for about 10 minutes during the UGA signing day webcast on the second floor of the Butts-Mehre building.

On last season: “This team, the past team, had a lot of ups and downs and it’s got a lot of guys that were young. To play 18 of 21 or whatever freshmen last year all those guys contributed. They’ll all be back. I think the depth that was created by this signing class, you put two really good signing classes back to back. We have some good young sophomores that played for us. When you look at the season last year as a whole, nobody’s happy with where we were. We’re certainly not. But we know we’re headed in the right direction by the amount of work the men on this campus are doing and not enough of them get credit but the ones that are joining the program today as well.”

Smart was asked by a fan on social media about what it would take to reach the SEC championship game. He said improvement in the kicking game, coverage units and the return game. He said the team needs to be more productive on offense “when it comes to scoring” by getting touchdowns in the red zone and that it needs to be better in red zone defense.

“We’ve got to play better consistently week to week, especially in those big games, those must-win games,” he said.

Much more on what Smart said about this class in separate stories to come.

12:14 p.m.: Just catching up from earlier.

When Smart was done speaking before 200 or so fans late Wednesday morning he received cheers and shouts of “Sic Em!”

But some fans shouted at the end of his 10 minute interview on the UGA webcast wondering if he would take questions. He waved to them but didn’t.

The only questions came from fans came via Facebook and Twitter that were pre-submitted and from hosts Chuck Dowdle and Kevin Butler on the UGA webcast. Smart’s back was to the crowd on the set.

That’s the second year in a row that Smart didn’t take questions during his Butts-Mehre appearance. Mark Richt did during his 15 seasons. Smart will answer questions from the media later today.

11:50 a.m: Georgia’s 25th signee is now official. Linebacker Jaden Hunter from Westlake is now in. There are no more known commitments that have yet to send in paperwork.

11:07 a.m.: Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker was just on the UGA webcast.

Some comments:

On this group of recruits: “I’m really fired up about this class. We’ve done a great job of recruiting. …If you can’t recruit to Georgia, you can’t recruit.”

On the defensive backs: “We wanted to get bigger, longer. We want to play a lot of press coverage and suffocoate people…We’ve got to get off blocks and make plays on the football. To do that you have to get bigger players.”

11:04 a.m.: Defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt from Towers in Decatur and offensive tackle D’Antne Demery are now official, making it 24 now. Only linebacker Jaden Hunter remains out of the commitments.

10:46 a.m.: Outside linebacker Walter Grant from Cairo and offensive lineman Justin Shaffer from Cedar Grove are now officially in. That’s 22 commitments signed with three still to go.

10:31 a.m.: Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney was just on the UGA signing day webcast.

Here are some of his comments”

On quarterback Jake Fromm: “Any time you can put good football players in a room regardless of position you’re better off. Jacob (Eason) is a competitive kid and Jake is also. Let them compete against each other and I think they like that. …Go out there and perform and let the best man win the job.”

On this signing class: “We’re able to sign some kids with some stature that will be able to help with our physicality. Be able to push the ball down the field with some downfield play-action passing. We have to do everything a little bit better this year.”

On the offense: “One more year with those guys to help our growth going on. We’ve got to tweak some things and freshen things on offense. Those guys understand that.

On running back D’Andre Swift: “His ball skills are unblievalbe as far as the running back. His ability to attach.

10:29 a.m.: As expected five-star defensive tackle Aubrey Solomon isn’t signing with Georgia. The Lee County product announces he is going to Michigan. Alabama was also a finalist.

10:04 a.m: Wide receiver Matt Landers from Pinellas Park, Fla. is now the 20th member of this signing class. There are five more commitments still to go.

9:52 a.m: Netori Johnson, the offensive guard from Cedar Grove, has sent in his letter of intent. That means that shortly should be his high school teammates, Justin Shaffer.

9:46 a.m.: Kirby Smart just spoke to ESPN’s Maria Taylor on the signing day show. Here’s what he said about this recruiting class: “We wanted to attack the offensive line, attack the front, improve the depth in the secondary and just throughout the team. We struggled on special teams to find fast guys that can run. That’s always a target area for us. To get good players and protect our state.”

9:43 a.m.: Georgia now has 18 signees after word just now that five-star offensive lineman Isaiah Wilson from Brooklyn, defensive lineman Malik Herring from Mary Persons and Nate McBride from Vidalia are now in. That’s seven more commitments still to go.

9:14 a.m.: I saw Georgia early enrollee QB Jake Fromm walking through the second floor of Butts-Mehre. Word is that the early enrollees won’t be avaiable for interviews today like they have been in the past. Jacob Eason, Isaac Nauta and Julian Rochester were available a year ago.

8:35 a.m.: Robert Beal is in. Georgia is listing him as an outside linebacker. Beal is rated as high as the No. 15 overall prospect nationally by ESPN.com. He played at IMG Academy in Florida this season before leaving and transferring back to Peachtree Ridge. Beal was heavily pursued by South Carolina and Florida State down to the wire. And cornerback Ameer Speed is now officially in, shortly after his announcement.

8:27 a.m.: Georgia has now picked up its second new commitment of the day and it’s another cornerback.

Ameer Speed from Sandalwood High School in Jacksonville announce he picked Georgia, according to Justin Barney of our sister paper, the Florida Times-Union.

“He’s a tall, long fast corner,” his coach Adam Geis said Tuesday. “He’s your ideal outside guy. He can run with anybody.”

Georgia assistant Glenn Schumann recruited the 6-foot-3, 195-pound Speed, a three-star prospect. Georgia beat out Michigan State and others.

8:22 a.m.: Defensive back Tray Bishop from Terrell County, a former Auburn commitment, is now official.

8:17 a.m.: Georgia has picked up its first new commitment of the day.

Eastisde cornerback Eric Stokes just announced he has picked the Bulldogs over Ole Miss and Florida, according to his high school coach.

“He’s got a rare combination of size and speed,” Troy Hoff. “He’s the fastest man in the state and you look at the c corner position, he’s a prototype. He’s almost 6-foot-1 and (178 pounds) running a sub 4.3 40 yard dash. There’s only a few of those guys in the nation so he brings that skill set and he’s a competitor. They like how he competes in other things. He’s a track guy. He’s the overall 100 meter champion in the state of Georgia. He brings a lot of those things to the table that you don’t find everywhere.”

He’s listed as the No. 63 cornerback nationally by the 247Sports Composite and No. 66 in the state.

8:11 a.m: Trey Blount from Pace Academy is now official. Georgia is listing him as a wide receiver.

8:05 a.m.: Offensive tackle Andrew Thomas fron Pace Academy, who had a strong week at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, is now official. He is one of at least three newcomers on the offensive line that are most likely to see early playing time.

7:50 a.m.: William Poole, the cornerback from Hapeville Charter and a longtime commitment, is now official.

“I loved Georgia, the city and the school and as a football team,” Poole said. “Once they got Kirby Smart and Mel Tucker for his staff from Alabama, I knew that was definitely where I needed to be.”

Georgia may soon add another commitment from a cornerback. Eric Stokes from Eastisde will announce shortly.

7:32: There was buzz that wide receiver Mark Webb may flip to Penn State, but Georgia landed perhaps its top wideout. The cousin of running back D’Andre Swift is from outside Philadephia. Swift also has signed.

7:05 a.m.: We are here bright and early. The donuts for fans were being brought into the facility as I arrived. A security guard stands outside the entrance to the football offices in case somebody walks off the street and wants to try to try to convince Kirby Smart to sign an under-the-radar two-star.

Georgia already has six members of its class already enrolled.

Quarterback Jake Fromm, safety Richard LeCounte II, defensive back Deangelo Gibbs, inside linebacker Monty Rice, wide receiver Jeremiah Holloman and junior college offensive tackle D’Marcus Hayes.

Keep checking back.

Follow our signing day coverage here:

http://onlineathens.com/nsd

 

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