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Georgia football recruiting: The many different ways to size up this No. 1 class for 2020
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Georgia football recruiting: The many different ways to size up this No. 1 class for 2020

Georgia football recruiting: The many different ways to size up this No. 1 class for 2020

Georgia football recruiting: The many different ways to size up this No. 1 class for 2020

The Georgia football program signed up all the players it possibly could for its 2020 class. That was the big headline for DawgNation at this time a week ago.

The 247Sports Composite ratings trumpeted the work of Kirby Smart and his staff of black-belt recruiters as the best in the land. That's the second time that has happened in the last three cycles on that scale.

Rivals.com has given its own version of that honor to the Bulldogs for 2018, 2019 and 2020.

When the class was all signed and sealed, it prompted a lot of headlines. Rankings this and that. Where it class stands. The reports cards. Assessing the needs that were filled.

It is good content. Yet it does seem to fall in the realm of the same yearly assessment devices.

It led to this topic: How was this class different than the ones signed previously by Kirby Smart? What really stands out for a program that sticks every landing for every signing day?

Let's start with a handful of quick things and then follow that up with some of the more compelling elements of this 2020 group. Wecould start with geography.

Jacob Eason signed with Georgia in the 2016 class, but that was more of retention recruit for that class. The previous staff had already built that pipeline out to Eason.

Georgia's recruiting staff thrived on Pacific Standard Time for this cycle more so than ever before. The Bulldogs were able to sign a pair of All-Americans from California and also the No. 1 prospect from both Arizona and Nevada, too.

In years past, the Georgia classes had onlyreached out as far west to Oklahoma and Texas in the 2018 class. The Bulldogs didn't just recruit well out-of-state this time, they signed up 10 future Bulldogs from a different time zone than Georgia in 2020.

RELATED: Brick-by-brick on how the 2020 recruiting class came together for Georgia

What was truly different about this No. 1 class?

That heading above does not apply to how this class was different from the rest of the nation. That is a given by now with these Kirby Smart classes. This section will address how this year's class was different than the 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 classes that Smart has signed.

Let's get those quick bullets out of the way first:

  • The guy they didn't have to sign to be No. 1 : This was the class that finished No. 1 overall and .did need to accept the letter of intent from 5-star RB Zachary Evans. Evans rates as the No. 1 RB in the land for 2020. Georgia didn't have to sign him to still finish with the nation's top class.
  • The new highest-rated signees of the Smart era: The Bulldogs were able to sign the highest-rated players at these positions during Smart's time in Athens: 1)DB and CB (5-star Kelee Ringo); 2) OT (5-star Broderick Jones); 3) DT (5-star Jalen Carter) and 4) C (4-star Sedrick Van Pran-Granger)
  • Senior film now matters a great deal : This classvalidates what Smart said at SEC Media Days prior to the 2019 season. He felt that Georgia, along with Alabama in his time there, didn't take into account a prospect's senior season during the final evaluations for those players. It was a chief reason why the Bulldogs announced signings from 3-stars in OL AustinBlaske, DB Daran Branch, OL Cameron Kinnie, WR Ladd McConkey and OL Devin Willock. Don't believe that? Consider for a second that Georgia waited until December of their senior years to offer all of those guys save for Willock. When Willock's offerbecame committable in the week leading up to the early signing day, he quickly de-committed from Penn State and sought to join the next class in Athens.
  • The "sudden change" class:G o back to Dec. 11. At that point, 4-star OT Joshua Braun had just de-committed. That came after Sam Pittman had moved on to Arkansas. The less-than-stellar SEC Championship game showing with LSU was still fresh, too. When Braun bolted the class, it meant Georgia had just 14 public members left in what would be the eventual 25-man class. Matt Luke needed to be hired and all of Pittman's prized OL targets and commits needed to be re-recruited for his OL room in 2020. That's 11 new faces out of those 25, not counting the re-recruitments of Broderick Jones, Chad Lindberg, Tate Ratledge and Sedrick Van Pran-Granger. If the aim here was to conjure a "wow" number, that figure could have dropped to 10 members of that 25. Truth be told, a fewparents in this class expressed some anxiety about what hadhappened and what was about to happen next in Athens.
  • The no-doubt "freaks" for 2020. Even for a Georgia class: The simplest way to convey this point is to think about the guys who would not make this reporter's list of the bona fide "freak" athletes in thisclass. It pains us to say this, but the guy who boomed a 59-yard field goal in a game and has an NFL-level kickoff leg right now ( Jared Zirkel) didn't make the cut. Norwill Sedrick Van Pran-Granger and his brute strength. He won the bench press challenge at Under Armour All-American week and then won the "Pancake" award for the top OL in the game. 4-star WR Justin Robinson is a physical specimen in every sense of the term. Especially up close.Watching him elevate for a highpoint catch is special. That said, even he is not among of the most telling exclamation point athletes of this class.

Who are the real freaks? Let's tick them off:

1) 5-star Kelee Ringo has elite skills and speed (4.36 laser in the 40) to play the cornerbackposition. He has the hips and fluid movement. Yet he packs it into a safety's body at 6 feet, 2 inches and 205 pounds.

2) 5-star OT Broderick Jones moves like a TE and will strike any scout as one of the most fit and lean 300-pound offensive tackles they will ever see.

3) 5-star DT Jalen Carter is every bit the physical specimen and athlete Travon Walker was in the 2019 class. At6-foot-4 and 300 pounds, he's even played tight end for his Apopka High football team.

4) While 5-star ATH Darnell Washington is still raw, he is an explosive athlete with ball skills at 6 feet, 7 inches and 265 pounds. It will ultimately make him a matchup headache onevery snap.

5) 4-star CB Jalen Kimber posted a 140.01 score at the Opening finals testing last July. That's Nick Chubb and Nolan Smith territory there. The 6-foot Kimber paired up a laser 4.44 with a 4.02 pro agility shuttle and a 42-inch vertical leap.

6) Former 5-star RB Kendall Milton is up to 227 pounds in Athens. He can run a 4.59 laser in the 40 and should play this fall at 230. The young fella can use a rock for a pillow. That's how chiseled he looked last nightwhilethe mid-years were introduced athalftime of the basketball game.

7) Did you see the viral post where 6-foot, 190-pound WR Jermaine Burton broad jumped the width of a backyard swimming pool from a running start? He doesn't make this list for that. He doesn't make the cut even for his 135.15 Opening rating. That was fueled by a 3.95 short shuttle and a 39-inch vertical. He's on the freak list for his uncommon ball skills. I'm not sure if I've seen five high school receivers in 20-plus years track a ball in the air and come down with it the way he does.

8) Former 5-star OLB Mekhail Sherman was slowed by a tough knee injury that wiped out his junior season. Prior to that, he was clocking laser 40s in the 4.5 range at the Opening finals in 2018. He made the "Fastest Man" heats as a 225-pound linebacker. Watch his senior tape below. Sherman was still recovering from that knee injury, playing a different position and doing so at 80 to 85 percent of his full athleticism.

9) Georgia WR signee Arian Smith won the "Fastest Man" competition at the Under Armour All-American Game week and he's timed at 10.3 seconds in the 100 meters as a high school junior. When he enrolls at Georgia, he will immediately become one of the fastest players in college football. He is also the nation's No. 9 WR and No. 58 overall prospect for 2020. He thinks he can clock a 10.20 or lower this spring. Sheesh.

Georgia now signs about four or five players with the eye-opening athleticism these guys have every cycle. But they don't sign eight guys quite like this and not even include guys like Robinson and Smith.

The 2018 class was filled with guys like Justin Fields, Jamaree Salyer and Zamir White. But I wouldn't label a lot of the 5-stars in that class in the rare athlete category. Adam Anderson, Tyson Campbell, Fields and White would fit into the criteria of rare athlete with this 2020 group. But a lot of those guys (Brenton Cox, Cade Mays and Salyer) were just great football players.

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Georgia football recruiting: The many different ways to size up this No. 1 class for 2020

Georgia football 2020 class: The bigtrends at work

There are a few more items which should strike DawgNation as decidedly different for this class.

1) The emphasis to reshape the OL and WR positions

Why: Georgia used 16 of its 25 scholarship in this class for the offensive side of the ball. Consider the way the 2019 season went for Georgia offensively and then let that marinate for a minute.

It is a clear tell Georgia feels it needs more playmakers for that side of the ball.

This will also reflect how the program feels it is at defensively for the 2020 season. The biggest changes here are the stark reconstruction of the OL and WR rooms. Georgia signed 12 players (7 on the OL, 5 at WR) in this class to restock the talent levels at those positions.

When one scans the team roster for next year, they will see that these new freshmen faces occupy 38 percent of Cortez Hankton's room. That's five out of 13 current scholarship slots. The number for Luke's room currently sits at 43 percent. That will be seven of the team's 16 offensive linemen.

Georgia will have at the most three receivers (Trey Blount, Demetris Robertson and Matt Landers) in 2020 who classify as a junior or a senior in eligibility. There are also only four veteran offensive linemen (Ben Cleveland, Justin Shaffer, Trey Hill and Salyer) who will classify as juniors or seniors.

Take a look at the players who will classify as a freshman or sophomore at those positions for 2020:

  • OL: 12 out of 16
  • WR: 10 out of 13

Those young guys are vastly talented, but that's also a moment for DawgNation to reach for the Pepto prior to that SEC opener in Tuscaloosa.

2) The most overlooked but essential player in this class

If folks forego the obvious answer here, they might be thinking too hard.

That guy has to be 3-star Texas kicker Jared Zirkel. He has boomed a 59-yard field goal in an actual game and his chance to start in 2020 is as good of a chance as anyone in the class.

There's no such thing as a Day 1 starter in Athens. Not given the depth that runs through the program, but Zirkel is a good bet to be a Day 10 starter in fall camp. Rodrigo "Hot Rod" Blankenship is on to the NFL, but Zirkel's kickoff leg is one area where that drop-off won't be major.

That whole part about adjusting to the pressure field goals in the SEC? That's another story. Zirkel needs the reps there. But he does stand to be the most talented player at his position on the 2020 team.

There will also not be a returning player at his position with any real advantage over him in playing time, too.

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Georgia football recruiting: The many different ways to size up this No. 1 class for 2020

3) New breed: Players who seem tailor-made for adifferent UGA offense

There were some late additions to the class who do fit more of what Todd Monken (new offensive coordinator) and new line coach (Matt Luke) like to see.

We started to see a trend emerge when January 2020 offers came out for OL Cameron Kinnie and WR Ladd McConkey. Those two players didn't have offers before Luke and Monken arrived. Kinnie is a heady interior asset for the center and guard spot. He started both ways at Collins Hill for four seasons. That experience lends itself to a high football IQ. Kinnie also has a strong academic transcript. In due time, he will be able to handle all the calls and responsibilities that go along with playing center and guard in the SEC.

McConkey is the ideal new slot receiver build for the Monken scheme.McConkey is another Terry Godwin/Mecole Hardman Jr./Isaiah McKenzie type for this offense. He has that type of speed, sudden change of direction and certain hands. Dominick Blaylock was the only player with the same variety of skills who had a role in Georgia's offense last season.

Colquitt County's Daijun Edwards, the late 4-star signee, is a three-down RB who will excel in the passing game. He's a tough inside runner, but his high school staff already classifies him as a steady receiver and an asset in pass protection. Edwards caught 22 passes as a freshman in the largest classification of Georgia high school football. He finished his career with another 27 catches for 408 yards as a senior when he was again featured in the Colquitt County passing game.

Early enrollee Carson Beck is a well-versed QB in all schemes and styles. He has the cognitive ability and arm talent to attack every area of the field. All-around WRs Jermaine Burton, Justin Robinson and Marcus Rosemy would be effective in any system, including a more diverse passing attack. Those three, along with freshman speedster Arian Smith, can come in and make plays like Blaylock and Pickens did in 2019.

The opinion here is that Georgia has never signed a class of receivers with this blend of athleticism, diverse skills, ratings and size in any one class. There are three top 100 receivers in this group. Georgia did not sign a pair of top 100 receivers in a class in this decade prior to Blaylock and Pickens in 2019.

In closing, there is also the enigma that is Washington. He is raw, but the 5-star ATH will be an extreme compliment to Pickens in the red zone. At least. Which secondary boasts an athlete to go up for balls with Pickens and then another special defender to shadow the 6-foot-7 Washington? He can make catches at heights approaching 11 feet in the air. Who will be able to cover him way up there?

4) Fathers and sons and the potential future teamcaptains

Train up a child in the way he should go. That verse from Proverbs brings to mind the relationships between the fathers and sons of this class.

There are many strong fathers who have trained up their sons in the way they should grow. They have taken an active role in their son's lives. Not just athletic careers. Academics have mattered. That degree will be prioritized at UGA. Community service has already mattered.

Those types in the breakout of this class are numerous. While sharing the personal stories of these young men, I've noticed more fathers who continue to make a difference. More so than in any class Smart has signed.

Teenage boys aren't expected to flash true leadership qualities. It is rare when they do. It is harder to find a player who embodies that when they have been the best player on every team they've played for.

The 2020 examples here are too many to name. Those stories are vastly different from just being a helicopter dad. As an aside, I've noticed these fathers work to recruit other like-minded families to join what they saw was a special class forming at UGA.

How prevalent is that trend? There are no less than 10 members of this class who give off a future team captain vibe. That was a clear tell in covering their recruitments. That same feeling also seemed inherent in future Bulldogs like Lewis Cine, Nakobe Dean, Jake Fromm, Azeez Ojulari, Salyer, Nolan Smith, D'Andre Swift and Andrew Thomas at the high school level, too.

There's a commonality there. These are just more good dudes and great young people in this class compared to previous years. With regard to that, there are strong parents (and grandparents) in the family picture in almost every one of those cases.

Accountability plus dependability seems to be the formula within the 2020 class. The talent is there, but that's pretty muchprerequisite with Smart at the helm.

The way that a lot of these young men have handled themselves on and off the field just seems different for this 2020 class.That is what really builds a championship-caliber team. Not stars.

The post Georgia football recruiting: The many different ways to size up this No. 1 class for 2020 appeared first on DawgNation.

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Local News

  • The Clarke County School District is looking for volunteers to serve on Local School Governance Teams and on the District’s Parent Advisory Board. Deadline to apply is March 16.From the Clarke Co School District…   — The Clarke County School District is inviting community members to “bring their hands and hearts to our work,” by applying to join one of two governance and feedback bodies operating at all 21 CCSD schools. Parents, community members, faith leaders, and business representatives are encouraged to apply to serve on Local School Governance Teams (LSGTs). These governance bodies work with school leaders to set school goals, develop plans, help design strategies to boost student learning, and serve as a bridge to the full school community. Each school has three “Community Seats,” which may be filled by anyone in the community, regardless of where the school is located or where the community member resides in Clarke County. Please click here for more information on LSGTs. The Parent Advisory Board (PAB) promotes the discussion and development of a shared vision of the educational needs of all students in the Clarke County School District. PAB provides a forum for share opinions and ideas with parents, the school district administration, and the Clarke County Board of Education. Each school seeks two parents from its community to serve on PAB. The group meets monthly to learn about district-wide issues and programs and offer advice and feedback to the Superintendent. Please click here for more information on the PAB. Click here for the candidate form (for both LSGT and PAB). The deadline to apply is March 16, 2020. LSGT and PAB representatives will be chosen in a school-wide election, online election process managed by the Office of Community Engagement and Strategic Partnerships. Community Information Sessions will be held March 2nd and 16th from 6:00 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. at the Athens Community Career Academy. For more information, please contact Fenwick Broyard, Community Support Specialist at broyardf@clarke.k12.ga.us, or 706-546-7721, ext. 20741.
  • A $240,000 gift from the Thomas and Bernice Irvin Foundation will help fund a new home for Piedmont College’s School of Education. The $2.5 million project is underway and includes the complete renovation of Nielsen Hall, a long-standing 17,000-square-foot building on the Demorest campus’s quad.    From Piedmont College… A native of Hall County and long-time resident of Habersham County, Thomas Irvin was a public servant who was first elected to the Georgia General Assembly in 1962. He served as Georgia’s Commissioner of Agriculture from 1969 to 2011. No one in Georgia has held a state-wide office longer. A champion of education, Irvin served as a trustee for several colleges, Piedmont among them. The Irvin Foundation was incorporated in 1997 to support the couple’s charitable causes. Thomas and Bernice Frady Irvin died in 2017 and 2014, respectively. “Both of my parents were advocates of education, and they had a lot of affection for Piedmont College,” said James Irvin, the couple’s oldest son, a Toccoa attorney and trustee of the foundation. “This gift aligns perfectly with their values.” The School of Education, the college’s largest single academic unit, includes almost 1,400 majors and is currently housed on the ground floor of the Arrendale Library. It offers the largest graduate program for teacher education in the state and is the second-highest producer of new teachers annually among all colleges and universities in Georgia.   “Since our founding in 1897, Piedmont has been known for training teachers,” said Piedmont College President James F. Mellichamp. “Education is our signature program, and now it will have a home that reflects its prestige and history. We offer our enduring thanks to the Irvin Family for helping with this important project.”   When completed this fall, the building will be dedicated as the Charles and Catherine Sewell Center for Teacher Education.
  • The Elbert Memorial Hospital Authority votes to take out a 90-day loan of up to $500,000. Money from Northeast Georgia Bank will help the hospital in Elberton continue operations while awaiting the first Medicare reimbursements under a new Critical Access Hospital designation. There is a new economic development director for Banks County, and he will come to Homer from Canada: Richard Brooks is an engineer from Ontario. He’s expected to begin his new job after he is officially hired by Banks County Commissioners next month.  The Hall County town of Oakwood is the market for a manager: Oakwood City Manager Stan Brown is leaving after 16 years, taking a job with the Georgia Municipal Association. 
  • Four players scored in double figures, led by 22 points from junior center Jenna Staiti, but it was not enough as the Georgia Lady Bulldog basketball team fell to No. 15-ranked Kentucky, 88-77, Thursday at Memorial Coliseum.    Staiti scored in double figures for the sixth-straight game and for the seventh time in the last eight matchups. The Cumming, Ga., native also hauled in eight boards in the loss.    Kentucky’s Rhyne Howard scored 25 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter, to pace her team.    The Wildcats hit 20-of-21 from the free-throw line, compared to just a 12-of-20 effort from the Lady Bulldogs. Kentucky also made 12 3-pointers in the win.    “What’s frustrating is that if we score 77 points in a game, you expect to win,” head coach Joni Taylor said. “In the first and second quarters, we turned Kentucky loose and gave up way too many easy looks. Rhyne Howard is one of the best players in the nation and credit her for playing a great game tonight.”   In a fast-paced opening stanza, Gabby Connally led off with a 3-pointer from the left corner. Kentucky’s Howard and KeKe McKinney each added one of their own to give the Wildcats an early 10-9 lead.    Kentucky hit a barrage of 3-pointers with five in the first 10 minutes, forcing Georgia to call a timeout. Staiti then ended the quarter with seven-straight points to keep the Lady Bulldogs close, down 22-20 at the end of one.    The Wildcats finished the opening half with 10 made 3-point baskets, but the combination of Staiti and Connally kept Georgia in the game and held the damage to a minimum. Staiti finished the first 20 minutes with 15 points, while Connally added nine. Still, Kentucky led 53-46 at intermission.    The offensive explosion quieted down in the second half as neither team could reach the 20-point mark in the third quarter. Howard, Kentucky’s leading scorer and All-American, was on the bench for most of the third frame after she picked up her third foul.    Georgia stayed within striking distance, with Kentucky leading 67-60 going into the fourth quarter.    Howard came off the bench and scored 13 of her team’s 21 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Wildcats to the win.    The Lady Bulldogs return home to host Florida on Senior Day at 1:10 p.m. ET this Sunday.   
  • A high-speed police chase ends with the arrest of two people on drug and weapons charges: it happened on I-20 in Greene County. Ajee Williams is 22 years old; Keyshawn Guess is 24. Both are from Columbia South Carolina.    Accused methamphetamine traffickers are arrested in Elberton: the Elbert County Sheriff’s Office says 32 year-old Beau Bailey and 55 year-old Randy Mattox were charged after meth was found during a traffic stop.    A father and son from Maysville have spent their week in the Jackson County jail: Lewis Hall is 64 years old; Christopher Hall is 46. They are facing drug charges after their arrests on marijuana and methamphetamine possession charges.    Joshua Schultz and his wife Jamie were, at last report, still in the Hall County jail: they were arrested earlier this week after police raided their home in Gainesville. Hall County drug agents say they found dozens of firearms and $80,000 worth of drugs that included marijuana and prescription narcotics.  An investigation that began with the Sheriff’s Office in Hall County ends with an arrest in Troup County: police in LaGrange have leveled child porn charges against 32 year-old Charles Dye Jr.

Bulldog News

  • INDIANAPOLIS J.R. Reed's time at Georgia has come and gone, but the departing 2019 team captain made it clear the Bulldogs still have plenty of household names. 'You guys saw it out there in the Sugar Bowl, there was no drop-off,' Reed said at the Indianapolis Convention Center on Friday during his podium interview at the NFL combine. 'Those guys prepared, I'd taught those guys how to watch film, just the rules to follow,' Reed said. 'The standard has been set in the defensive room, so the standard does not change at all.' Georgia brings back nine of the 11 starters from the Sugar Bowl team that beat Baylor 26-14. The Bulldogs' defense led the nation in 2019 in run defense and scoring defense, and it ranked No. 3 in total defense and No. 8 in pass efficiency defense. WATCH Richard LeCounte: New leadership role is bigger than football UGA defensive coordinator Dan Lanning referred to it as the 'No-Name Defense' in the days leading up to the win over the Bears in New Orleans. Reed said Georgia will likely need a new nickname for its defense with so many players on the verge of break-out seasons. 'The net defensive star, if he's not already a star, is Richard LeCounte,' Reed said. 'After him, you have Azeez Ojulari, and a bunch of guys that are going to step up. RELATED: Azeez Ojulari semifinalist for FWAA Freshman of the Year 'You've got a great corner in Tyson Campbell, Eric Stokes, Malik Herring and Monty Rice,' he said. 'I don't think it's going to be a no-name defense any more.' RELATED: Georgia football DC Dan Lanning explains No-Name Defense' moniker Reed, meanwhile, is intent on making a name for himself in Indianapolis this weekend after his draft stock inexplicably plunged this season. 'I don't know why expectations have changed, they have changed in my mind,' said Reed, who contemplated turning pro after his junior season. 'I truly, firmly, know I'm the best safety here; I can play in the box, I can play the middle of the field, I can come down and cover your best tight end, whatever you want me to do in that secondary, I can do.' Reed finished fourth on the team with 54 tackles, despite missing the Sugar Bowl while recovering from a turf toe ailment that cropped up during the bowl preparation in Athens. Reed is healthy now, and he's expecting to open some eyes with his physical testing and interviews. 'I've seen what some people think I'm going to test, and I'm going to blow those things out of the water,' Reed said. 'Just show a lot of people I'm a lot better than what they think I am, and a lot more athletic.' Reed indicated he's not the only one the NFL talent evaluators seem to be underestimating. 'We had one of the best defenses in the nation,' Reed said, before referencing some of the UGA seniors who didn't get NFL combine invites. RELATED: Top-notch Georgia football defense shut out on AP All-SEC first team 'We've got Tyler Clark missing, Tae Crowder missing, you've got Michael Barnett, guys like that that played a pivotal role in our defense. 'They're going to shock the world, they're going to work hard, they're going to do a great job at their pro day, and I believe in all of them.' Georgia is expected to hold its NFL pro day on March 18, with the NFL draft scheduled April 23-25 in Las Vegas. DawgNation Georgia at NFL combine Georgia football Mauler' Solomon Kindley on Atlanta Falcons radar Andrew Thomas in first-class form at NFL combine How Jake Fromm is handling NFL combine spotlight Isaiah Wilson sheds light on 2020 Georgia O-Line Jake Fromm, Jacob Eason reunite anf NFL combine Lawence Cager message at NFL combine high ceiling' D'Andre Swift draft stock makes Georgia football RBU' again Jake Fromm evaluation, comparison, per former Super Bowl scout Brian Herrien shares Nick Chubb story at NFL combine Is Jake Fromm hand size really a thing? The post WATCH J.R. Reed: Georgia football defense won't be No-Name' unit much longer appeared first on DawgNation.
  • INDIANAPOLIS Solomon Kindley says the Atlanta Falcons like his game, and he's ready to show them even more in the Friday workouts at the NFL combine. Kindley, who measured in at 6-foot-3 and a trimmed down 336 pounds, could see his draft stock take a jump now that he's healthy. 'I'm really ready to show them who I am and what I'm about,' Kindley said at his podium interview at the Indianapolis Convention this week. Kindley suffered an injured ankle in the Bulldogs 23-17 win over Notre Dame on Sept. 21 and missed three starts before being cleared to play. 'It really didn't feel right none of this season,' Kindley revealed. 'I played through the bowl game with a jacked up foot. So when I went to Pensacola (Fla., to train), I tried to get a lot of rehab and do things like that.' Kindley cut nine pounds off the 345 he played at this season, clearly a step slower than he was during a healthy sophomore campaign in 2018. Kindley said he's known for a while he was going to turn professional after his junior season. 'I wasn't close (to returning), to be honest, I already knew I was going to leave,' Kindley said. 'I felt like all I had to do was play pretty good, and the rest was history.' The Sugar Bowl, Kindley said, was a chance to close out his Georgia career in the right way. 'During the bowl game, I knew I was going pro,' Kindley said. 'The reason I wanted to play in that game was I wanted to end on a good note, because we'd lost to LSU in the SEC Championship. 'And I wanted to play with my brothers, with Trey (Hill) and George Pickens, because they're gonna be a really good team this year. I wanted to have one more hard-fought game with them boys.' Kindley said his talk with Atlanta went well. 'They say they like how I play, love how I play,' Kindley said. 'They say I'm a mauler, they love my game, and I have an informal (interview) with them. Kindley said he's also met with Green Bay, Seattle, Arizona, Carolina, Los Angeles Rams, New York Giants and Jacksonville. The offensive line workouts begin at 4 p.m. on Friday (TV: NFL Network). Georgia offensive tackles Andrew Thomas and Isaiah Wilson will take part in the workouts, as will tailbacks D'Andre Swift and Brian Herrien. Georgia OG Solomon Kindley DawgNation Georgia in NFL Draft Andrew Thomas in first-class form at NFL combine How Jake Fromm is handling NFL combine spotlight Isaiah Wilson sheds light on 2020 Georgia O-Line Jake Fromm, Jacob Eason reunite anf NFL combine Lawence Cager message at NFL combine high ceiling' Why Jake Fromm is not for everybody, per NFL Network analyst D'Andre Swift draft stock makes Georgia football RBU' again Jake Fromm evaluation, comparison, per former Super Bowl scout Brian Herrien shares Nick Chubb story at NFL combine Is Jake Fromm hand size really a thing? The post WATCH: Georgia offensive line mauler' Solomon Kindley on Atlanta Falcons radar appeared first on DawgNation.
  • INDIANAPOLIS Lawrence Cager earned a place in Georgia-Florida history last season with his 7-catch, 132-yard performance, but he wasn't the only graduate transfer to have a big day. Florida defensive lineman Jonathan Greenard, who transferred from Louisville, made the most of his one shot at the Bulldogs with a team-high 9 tackles in Georgia's 24-17 win over the Gators. RELATED: 3 things from Georgia's win over Florida 'The Georgia game was crazy, that environment there, been in Jacksonville,' Greenard said at his NFL combine podium interview on Thursday. 'I played there in a bowl game, but seeing everything in the rivalry I grew up in, being from Georgia, I was a Florida fan coming up. 'It was mind-boggling, one of the most intense games.' Greenard, from Hiram, Ga., was a 3-star prospect coming out of high school, and 247Sports reported Kentucky and Louisville were his only two offers coming out of high school. But Greenard showed his worth against the Bulldogs, showing grit and hustle throughout the afternoon in his first game back from a high ankle sprain that had sidelined him the previous three weeks. 'I wanted to win that game so bad, I didn't want to come off the field,' Greenard said. 'Being out there, making hustle plays, finishing plays even while being dog tired, I tried to do everything in my power to make sure we won that game, but obviously we game up short.' Greenard tipped his cap to Jake Fromm, asked to assess the outgoing Georgia quarterback. 'Jake Fromm is one of those (guys) , he doesn't get rattled in the pocket, he stands tall in the pocket, obviously, if I had an offensive line like, that I would definitely be standing tall too,' Greenard said. 'But he controls the game, he never gets rattled, stays within himself, and he understands what he possesses as a player and doesn't do too much. 'He's always going to keep you guessing. If he needs to tuck it and run, he'll do that a bit. But he's a very smart guy. He's one oft he best quarterbacks I played against, and I played against the top quarterbacks.' Greenard also provided Georgia fans with an idea of the type of challenge Georgia will face in the 2020 season-opening game against Virginia on Monday, Sept. 7 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. 'Virginia, they are a hard-working team, that's one thing that kept them in the game against us,' Greenard said, referring to Florida's 36-28 Orange Bowl win over the Cavaliers. 'Even when I was at Louisville, it was the same exact way, they play their asses off, and they always want to continue to make sure they are in the game. ' And the coach (Bronco Mendenhall) , with what they are doing over there, they have really good program and guys who are willing to buy in. When you have those things, it's really tough to beat them.' Florida DL Jonathan Greenard DawgNation Georgia in NFL Draft Andrew Thomas in first-class form at NFL combine How Jake Fromm is handling NFL combine spotlight Isaiah Wilson sheds light on 2020 Georgia O-Line Jake Fromm, Jacob Eason reunite anf NFL combine Lawence Cager message at NFL combine high ceiling' Why Jake Fromm is not for everybody, per NFL Network analyst D'Andre Swift draft stock makes Georgia football RBU' again Jake Fromm evaluation, comparison, per former Super Bowl scout Brian Herrien shares Nick Chubb story at NFL combine Is Jake Fromm hand size really a thing? The post WATCH Florida's Jonathan Greenard: laments Georgia loss, warns Virginia opener will be tough appeared first on DawgNation.
  • INDIANAPOLIS Jake Fromm answered some questions at the NFL combine this week, but Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner was among those not completely convinced. Warner said during the quarterback-receiver throwing session on Thursday that he still wonders about Fromm's arm strength and physicality. 'I've been watching him down here, some of those questions about arm strength,being able to really pop the ball out,' Warner said on the NFL Network telecast of the otherwise closed workout. 'It comes to pass when you are watching him in person that you still wonder, Is there enough there?' ' Fromm's arm strength was a question for some entering the NFL combine, according to ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. RELATED: Mel Kiper Jr. calls Jake Fromm arm strength into question 'Now, you can make up for some of that with his anticipation and some things that you see on tape,' Warner said. 'But I also believe there is also a floor of the type of physical ability that you have to be to be one of those upper-echelon quarterbacks in the NFL. 'I'm still questioning whether he has that or not.' Fromm and Jacob Eason were splitting repetitions in Lucas Oil Stadium, but it was nothing like old times in Athens, Ga. Fromm and Eason, teammates at Georgia in 2017 before Eason transferred to Washington, were among the handful of quarterbacks throwing. The drills were held in alphabetical order, so Eason went first followed by Fromm. Celebrated LSU quarterback Joe Burrow elected not to work out, and Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa is still recovering from the season-ending hip surgery he underwent Nov. 18. NFL Network analyst Charles Davis suggested that 'they didn't do Fromm any favors because of the way Easton throws the football.' Fromm reportedly shook it off, telling another NFL Network reporter 'I think it's awesome.' Fromm said from the onset he was just interested in doing his best. 'I'm not the tallest, not the fastest, I know I'n not going out and run any 4.2s, but really just hone in and be the best I can,' Fromm said. 'I want to be as quick as possible and throw the ball around as good as I can..' Fromm's 40 times were reported on TV as 5.01 seconds and 5.04. Oklahoma's Jalen Hurts set the quarterbacks' bar with 40 times of 4.64 and 4.59. Eason ran duplicate 4.90 times, per the telecast. Fromm had predicted before the combine he would run a 4.9 and was aiming for a 4.8. No one, however, has any illusions that Fromm can provide a serious running threat. Fromm broad jumped 9 feet, 3 inches (9th of the 11 quarterbacks who tested in the drill) and had a 30-inch vertical jump (8th of 11 quarterbacks). But Fromm's performances in the throwing drills and interviews were deemed much more important. RELATED: Fromm ready to throw, some already believe in him NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah noted that Fromm showcased his arm strength early at the start of the 'over the shoulder' throw drill. 'The ball that was overthrown was Jake Fromm' Jeremiah said. 'The question was arm strength, so if you're Jake Fromm, you're not under-throwing anything out here.' Fromm's throws were accurate, other than the early overthrow. Jeremiah suggested Fromm projected to teams in the South, the West Coast, or those who play inside. 'I look at a team like the Atlanta Falcons to try to get somebody to sit behind Matt Ryan for a couple years, maybe with a payoff down the road,' Jeremiah said. 'I would imagine in that state, it would be a popular pick.' Not everyone, however, sees Fromm the same. Senior Bowl executive director and former New England and Seattle NFL scout studied Fromm before doing combine analysis for ESPN this week. 'He doesn't have the size or the arm strength of a Justin Herbert, but his arm is stronger than I gave it credit for,' Nagy said. 'He's such a quick processor. To watch this guy go through his progressions, he knows exactly where to go with the football. There's no delay when he goes from one, to two, to three. 'Jake is so smooth with his eyes, so decisive, he's very accurate. He has a great feel in the pocket, he's mobile enough.' Fromm will meet with and work out for individual teams, and he could choose to throw again at Georgia's Pro Day in Athens in mid-March. DawgNation Georgia in NFL Draft Andrew Thomas in first-class form at NFL combine How Jake Fromm is handling NFL combine spotlight Isaiah Wilson sheds light on 2020 Georgia O-Line Jake Fromm, Jacob Eason reunite anf NFL combine Lawence Cager message at NFL combine high ceiling' Why Jake Fromm is not for everybody, per NFL Network analyst D'Andre Swift draft stock makes Georgia football RBU' again Jake Fromm evaluation, comparison, per former Super Bowl scout Brian Herrien shares Nick Chubb story at NFL combine Is Jake Fromm hand size really a thing? The post Jake Fromm's NFL combine performance: Is there enough there?' appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Want to attack every day with the latest UGA football recruiting info? That's what the Intel brings. This entry introduces the DawgNation Daily reader to 5-star LB Smael Mondon Jr. of Paulding County High School in Northwest Georgia. The Smael Mondon Jr. story won't read like a lot of others in this space. This narrative won't dwell on his 5-star status. We won't hover over his slot on the 247Sports Composite as the nation's No. 2 OLB and No. 23 overall prospect for the 2021 cycle. The thinking here is that Mondon is more uncommon than even those laurels might suggest. The best play on his highlight tape might be that early jet sweep, but that's not the biggest reason why. The Paulding County program does weaponize its best athlete on both sides of the ball.It was quite impressive to see the 6-foot-3, 218-pounder tearing loose around the edge. Flashing that 11.1 speed in the 100 as a ballcarrier for his Patriots. The fact he is a triple jumper who now resets his school record yearly raises eyebrows, too. Mondon has even set his eyes on soaring 48 to 49 feet this spring. According to Milesplit.com, the state record for that event is at 53 feet and 9.25 inches. If Mondon soars 49 feet this year as a junior, that will be something. An effort like that would have won the state title in Georgia in every classification last spring except for his own Class 5A. That winning distance was 50 feet, 4 inches. We should all shake our heads at the fact UGA has its eyes on a linebacker who can run an 11.1 in the 100 meters and do so at 218 pounds who also has set his eyes on a 49-feet effort in the triple jump. Mondon is just different and that's just the tip of it. The quick-hit things to know about Smael Mondon Jr. Mondon, in stark contrast to his peers, does not attend prospect camps. He's never been to one. He has no plans to change that, either. He will not be at The Opening regional. Nor any of the Under Armour camps. Or any of the 7-on-7 showcases where the nation's elite annually add more fame to their games each spring. 'That's just not Smael,' Paulding County coach Van Spence said. 'He's just not into that. He's not about that. He's not into any of that fluff. He'll go to these schools and check out all their facilities. He'll even nod his head. But that's just not what he's about or what he is looking for.' The fact that Mondon has not appeared in any of those prospect showcase events AND is still a 5-star recruit serves as a fitting testament to his skill set. For those that scan this space for recruiting juice, let's take a minute to address the basic food groups. Mondon has just one college visit planned as of right now. That will be an unofficial visit on March 27-28 to check out Oklahoma. Lincoln Riley and inside linebackers coach Brian Odom have done a great job recruiting him so far. The Florida Gators, specifically inside linebackers coach Christian Robinson, should feel the same way. Robinson, a former Georgia linebacker, has connected with the Paulding County staff and Mondon on a personal level. Mondon does not plan to make his recruiting decision anytime soon. It might not even be during his senior season. Why does he want to do that? 'It will probably be doneafter my senior year,' he said. 'I don't want torush anything and I don't want to do it in the middle of the season. It will take attention away from theactualseason. I just want to befocused on the actual football season and make mydecision after the season.' Look for him to take his official visits during the fall. Mondon has yet to feel at liberty in paring down his list of schools. But it certainly sounds like schools like Auburn, Florida, Georgia and Oklahoma have done a good job of recruiting him up to this point. Tennessee is also in the mix here. His grade-point average rests in the 3.6-to-3.7 range and has already qualified. Stanford actually offered. Mondon will miss track season during his senior year. The plan is for him to graduate early in December and enroll with his future team in January of 2021. He's rated as an LB, but the majority of the schools after him see him as an inside linebacker, including Georgia. The plans for now calls for him to be a business major as he enters college. What is he looking for? 'It is not really like a particular recipe,' he said. 'It is just like the relationship with coaches, the team culture and the direction the program is going in.' What is the best thing he likes about Georgia right now? 'I like the direction the program is going in,' Mondon said. 'I feel like in the next couple of years they are going to get a national championship for sure.' The two really good stories about Smael Mondon Jr. Paulding County does not pop out elite prospects. The staff at Paulding County could not recall the last time one of their own had an offer from UGA. They seem far more certain that Mondon is the first Patriot to hold offers from programs like Oklahoma and Stanford. The Georgia High School Football Historians Association tracks the Patriots with a .398 winning percentage over the school's history. When Mondon was a sophomore, his Patriots were slumping. They were forced to play 17 sophomores in key or starting roles. It led to an 0-6 start. There was a moment after a 54-20 loss to Kell that stands out. When a school like Paulding has a player like Mondon, it doesn't just attract the attention of college recruiters. Other high school programs take notice, too. It is not news to note here that coveted high school players frequently make bona fide moves per GHSA rules from one program to another. It happens all the time.With Mondon, there was a worry that the Patriots might not be able to keep him. 'Every was worried or assuming I was going to transfer out being that I was a big-time guy' and stuff like that,' Mondon said. He chose the night of a 34-point loss to put the matter to rest.When he saw Spence after the game, he thought he might have looked down while doing some post-game laundry or another matter. 'Coach Spence actually cares about his players,' he said. 'That's why I wanted to stay with him.' So he spoke up. 'I told him I wasn't going to leave or anything like that,' Mondon said. 'I was going to stay in it with him and build this program. I was just going to let my coach know that as long as he was in it here, I was going to be here. I love the people here. These are the people I grew up with. It makes football a lot more fun when you see the people around you that you know and care about have success and do well.' 'When I play football, I want to play surrounded by people that I love and care about. So that will help me play even harder. I wouldn't want to play with anybody else.' Spence had been there to support him. 'In the world of high school recruiting, I told Smael that I get it' and we played 17 sophomores last year and it was very difficult,' he said. 'I said people are going to come to you and are going to want you to go there. But I told him that all of the goals you want for you high school career and heading off to college can be attained here. We're here to support you and to help you. I know it happens with all that other stuff though because I have seen it.' Mondon's reassurance that night certainly meant a lot. 'He just said that he wasn't going anywhere and that he loves this place,' Spence said. 'He said that just after we just got beat bad. He came up and told me that. I told him that I appreciated that and I will probably always appreciate that.' Mondon has a bandanna collection. He has more than 20 and would sometimes tie them up and wear them as a belt.He cops to a keen fashion eye. The bandannas were big for him during his junior season. Not so much any more. But he wore one of those to the weight room last year. He also brought one for Spence. He put it on and they both had their bandannas on for that day's workout. He's named after his father. His father is of French descent, but he said their family roots are from the Ivory Coast in Western Africa. 'He was supposed to be named Ishmael but on my dad's birth certificate they didn't put the I' on it so it is just Smael,' Mondon said. 'That's what came off his birth certificate so they just named me after it.' He wanted to play soccer growing up, but the sign-up period was closed. 'They only thing left was football,' he said. 'So I played that. Now, I just love the sport.' The things that Georgia loves about Smael Mondon Jr. Mondon will play both ways for the Patriots. He is a running back and a blocking back for his squad. He will also play linebacker and catch the ball out of the backfield. Paulding County even had packages with him at quarterback last fall. A typical game will be somewhere around 80 yards and eight tackles. He'll log 90-to-100 snaps most nights, butthere's more. That is kind of how it always seems to be with this guy. 'He might be one of the smartest football players that I have been around in the 19 years I've been doing this,' Spence said last fall. 'It has actually gotten to the point where everybody is so dependent of him and how much he lines us up all around the ball.' Paulding crated a 'Muzzle Monday' of sorts for Mondon. Those would be the defensive practice periods when he was not allowed to speak. 'He was the guy making all the adjustments for us because he knew where every single person on the field had to go and what they were supposed to be doing from the front end to the back end,' Spence said. 'We were like Smael just be quiet because everyone else has to know if you are not in there' and we eventually just took him off the field so they could show us they knew it, too.' 'He is such a student of the game. He's a really smart person and just a really good kid.' Let's recap all of this with a quick minute: Explosiveness. Loyalty. Football IQ. Track standout. Size. Speed. Playing all over the field. He will be a four-year starter at PCHS. He can lead his team in tackles and rushing yards on any given night. When he carries the ball, he outruns theangles that defenders have on him while breaking big plays. He does that all the time. Is there any reason why he is such a priority for Georgia in the 2021 class? 'Georgia has done a phenomenal job of recruiting him,' Spence said 'When they started to recruit him, they wanted to get to know him. They wanted to get to know the kid. To get to know all those things that make him such a good kid.' Mondon has been to Georgia at least five times, including last month for a 'Junior Day' event. Those trips will include visits for the Auburn game in 2018 and the season opener last fall. Glenn Schumann has been recruiting him for some time now. He's keyed in on all the things that Mondon brings to the table. 'Just like athletic linebackers that can run,' Mondon said. 'That can help with the pass and help cover the running back.' The post Nation's No. 2 LB Smael Mondon Jr. sees national championship' future for Georgia appeared first on DawgNation.