Kirby's Wheelhouse by: Han Vance

Kirby’s Wheelhouse by: Han Vance

Georgia finishes #2 (in 2-of-3 class rankings, #1 by Rivals) in recruiting

The University of Georgia ranked the top class by Rivals but came in at 2nd by 247Sports and ESPN, as there are three primary recruiting ranking services these days. ESPN is way up in terms of most-entertaining coverage source with the visual and broad coverage TV can provide to the masses.

Their SEC Network provided excellent SEC-hued coverage, in which the conference that slipped to sub .500 in bowl games over the last two seasons, represents the nation so disproportionately well. Alabama, Georgia, Texas A&M, LSU, Florida, Tennessee, Arkansas had good classes and it’s a you-never-know until the kids can prove it on the field, in practice where they have to first crack the lineup for any significant playing time. It takes awhile. Kirby has now had the #3, #1 and #2 classes over his three full years of recruiting cycles, after coming in late and keeping Richt’s final would-be top 10 class. In the short window, UGA is only 2nd to Bama: #1, #2 and #1. Over seven full recruiting cycles, Bama’s #2 last year was their only non-#1.

Georgia’s haul was unusually out-of-state as Kirby and company were essentially able to cherrypick across the country. UGA took 14 from not inside the Peach State, including a late 5-star WR flip yesterday from old Aubie. Hello, George Pickens.

Glory, glory to Ol’ GEORGIA:

1. Nolan Smith LB 6-3 235 Savannah, Ga. (GA-) -1 IMG Academy Dec. 2019
2. Ryland Goede TE 6-6 240 Kennesaw, Ga. -2 Kennesaw Mountain HS Dec. 2019
3. Warren McClendon OL 6-4 320 Brunswick, Ga. -3 Brunswick HS Dec. 2019
4. Xavier Truss OL 6-7 330 Warwick, RI (OUTSIDE-) 1 Bishop Hendricken HS Dec. 2019
5. Travon Walker DL 6-5 290 Thomaston, Ga. -4 Upson-Lee HS Dec. 2019
6. Dominick Blaylock WR 6-1 195 Marietta, Ga. -5 Walton HS Dec. 2019
7. Zion Logue DL 6-5 295 Lebanon, Tenn. -2 Lebanon HS Dec. 2019
8. William Norton DL 6-6 265 Memphis, Tenn. -3 Christian Brothers HS Dec. 2019
9. Tymon Mitchell DL 6-3 315 Nashville, Tenn. -4 Franklin Rd. Academy Dec. 2019
10. Kenny McIntosh RB 6-1 210 Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. -5 University School Dec. 2019
11. D.J. Daniel DB 6-1 185 Griffin, Ga. -6 Georgia Military Dec. 2019
12. Jermaine Johnson LB 6-5 240 Eden Prairie, Minn. (-From a Kansas CC) -6 Independence (Kan.) CC Dec. 2019
13. Clay Webb OL 6-3 290 Oxford, Ala. -7 Oxford HS Dec. 2019
14. Makiya Tongue WR 6-2 210 Baton Rouge, La. -8 University Lab School Dec. 2019
15. Rian Davis LB 6-2 230 Apopka, Fla. -9 Wevika HS Dec. 2019
16. Lewis Cine DB 6-1 185 Cedar Hill, Tex. -10 Trinity Christian HS Dec. 2019
17. Tramel Walthour DL 6-3 280 Hinesville, Ga. -7 Liberty County HS Dec. 2019
18. Trezman Marshall LB 6-1 230 Homerville, Ga. -8 Clinch County HS Dec. 2019
19. D’Wan Mathis QB 6-6 205 Belleville, Mich. -11  
20. Nakobe Dean
21. *Stetson Bennett IV

Horn Lake, Miss. -12

JUCO in Miss./UGA re-enrollee -09
22. Brett Seither TE 6-5 228 Clearwater, Fla. -13 Clearwater Central Catholic HS
23.  George Pickens WR 6-3 190 Hoover, Ala. -14 Hoover HS  

Stetson Bennett IV is lucky player 21. The returning re-enrollee they call the “Mailman” for his passing accuracy signed between the exciting start of the Early Signing Period and its late close three days later. He will back Fromm up right away, after a year away at a JUCO in Mississippi, after running the Georgia scout team so well the year prior. Welcome back to Athens, Stetson!

For the second time, the NCAA practiced an early period where binding national letter’s of intent could be made official. Then, there was a cold period as far as signatures go, until (traditional) Signing Day.

Once nearly a national holiday in the Deep South, the first Wednesday in February is not what it used to be, for you, me, all of us, y’all. Last year, I was up and in there for Bulldawg Illustrated as Kirby still had his annual state of recruitment media session. This year, he inked two additional guys and didn’t meet with the media, giving a brief statement instead.

That was great last year, and I’m happy to be independent here now again. I missed the full freedom to roam which being the final editor of my product ensures, and I’m not going to hold back on stating any of my opinions. I’m going to really let it rip.

ATTN: ANNOUNCEMENT ~ Georgia Sports Talk will feature Han Vance and a live studio audience from downtown Athens on FRI before Georgia games, sports talk live podcast/broadcast on all-college in the state of Georgia. Debut will be the Friday before the G-Day game, at the Gameday building (Broad Street), in the lobby on 4/19 starting at 7 p.m.

On Signing Day, ESPN 2 had former Georgia coach Mark Richt looking much better-prepared for a television appearance and more entertaining than I’d seen him on the tube, no longer consumed with head coaching Georgia and then Miami. At Miami, the Turnover Chain magic, after the 10th win of two seasons ago, ran out of juice as a gimmick as a leading program trademark, with the quarterback play – of both the original returning starter and the guy who had to play after the starter got benched – really bad in Coral Gables. The lack of talent at the position hindered Richt after coaching Brad Kaaya (as an NFL-departing junior) in Richt’s alma mater debut season. The Hurricanes actually had the #1 defense in the country last season but slipped from playing Wisconsin in an New Year’s 6 bowl to playing them in a early holiday’s bowl, getting beaten barely and around questionable officiating in the first meeting and then totally played off the field in the second matchup. Richt retired after three years at the U, after a promising start with 9 wins including a rare bowl win, a double-digit win season that had a fall-off-a-cliff second campaign, then a third and final in which the wheels fell off and the seen-as-promising coming into 2018 Hurricanes tanked. Richt would make a great future athletic director, and even being from down there, I wasn’t so sure he would be a good fit in wild, modern south Florida.

Meanwhile, the program that moved on from Richt has done quite well. Georgia went 8-5 in a transitional dip and then had an amazing 13-2 campaign, a league title and near-miss at the natty. Followed by a return trip to the SEC championship game season.

So, Georgia is looking strong, longer short trend-wise. But since beating Oklahoma in double overtime at the Rose Bowl, Georgia is actually currently downtrending in longer view on-field success, while soaring in recruiting. So let’s look at every game since then really quickly to see where the slippage is and see how the UGA staff can address it. These little trends can turn quickly and you don’t want to stay on the bad side of a negative trend for long.

Entering this year’s SEC championship game, the start of a two-game skid, Georgia was at the end of an epic 25-3 run, at that point. Here, I’m examining the most recent window of gameplay which was bookended by our Bama busts, plus the saddening NY6 loss to Texas:

Photo by: Michael Santini
  1. Georgia loses natty (0-1) in Shakespearean fashion.
  2. Georgia gets a cupcake, on a hot Southern day (1-1). I was there with fam and chief photog Michael Santini of Atlanta (he’s from Columbus).
  3. Georgia wins at Carolina in a big SEC East win (2-1).
  4. Georgia wins Cupcake Deux (3-1).
  5. Georgia wins at Mizzou, who has top-QB Drew Lock (4-1).
  6. I’m there with Hilley fam as Tennessee is toppled again (5-1).
  7. Georgia beat Vandy on Homecoming (6-1).
  8. Georgia gets blown out on bayou (6-2), after six straight wins.
  9. Georgia beat Florida 36-17. Florida finished tied with UGA in a poll and ahead of the Bulldogs in the other, a short time after Georgia fell to 5th in the final College Football Playoff poll, before the bowls (7-2).
  10. Headed on up to the Bluegrass with Merv and Trav to watch the best Kentucky team get outclassed by Georgia, the youngest team in the whole SEC (8-2).
  11. Georgia was better than Auburn, still (9-2).
  12. Three cupcakes is just gluttonous (10-2).
  13. Paul Johnson’s hard goodbye (11-2), the team was a strong 11-1.
  14. Thirteen was not “unlucky”; it was a coaching mistake (11-3).
  15. Texas busted Georgia down to size in the sUGAr (11-4).
Georgia fan Richard Hilley of Atlanta

11-4 is not terrible over 15 games, but it is also more or less what happened to Miami at the end of that second year under Richt, a swoon. The key is this: stop the mini-downturn now by starting strong in 2019. Georgia will be 3-0 easily. The JAX Gators are looming after, but game 4 and game 5 (Notre Dame in Athens and at an improving Tennessee) are losable games, Georgia should be favored in. Georgia looks to be 7-0 or 6-1 if CFP entrant ND can survive the Southern heat and sound of Sanford, heading south to Florida.

18-4 is not so drastically off pace of 25-3, so no need to worry at all.

Unless, you have been keeping up with the legitimate momentum-based glow coming from the Swamp. Dan Mullen plans to take the East.