Which top targets for the University of Georgia could make their decisions soon? And do the Bulldogs have a chance with top in-state juniors Reuben Foster and Robert Nkemdiche? DawgNation answers these questions and more in this week’s Recruiting Mailbag.
go_dawgs93: Of the prospects considering Georgia, which ones are close to coming to a decision within the next couple of weeks?
KA: Two prospects high on Georgia’s board plan to commit soon, with a third target seriously considering announcing as well. Linebacker Jordan Jenkins (Hamilton, Ga./Harris County) is set to announce his decision on live television Jan. 9. The ESPNU 150 prospect will choose between Alabama, Auburn, Florida and Georgia. Alabama had long been considered the favorite, but the Bulldogs have made a late push by selling early playing time under defensive coordinator Todd Grantham.
Defensive back Chaz Elder (College Park, Ga./Banneker) will announce his decision during the Under Armour All-America Game on Jan. 5 on ESPN, but he is expected to choose South Carolina over Georgia.
For months now, outside linebacker target Kenderius Whitehead (Lithonia, Ga./Martin Luther King) has expressed his intentions to wait until signing day, but he recently hinted he might just go ahead and commit during the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl on Jan. 3. Clemson, Georgia and NC State are the top three in contention for the four-star pass-rusher.
ConleygA: Seeing as we aren't getting the highly touted secondary guys in '12 class, who's on our radar in '13 secondary wise? Just wondering who is out there that we can look forward to next year.
KA: Well, focusing on in-state juniors, five come to mind. Shaq Wiggins (Tyrone, Ga./Sandy Creek) J.J. Green (Kingsland, Ga./Camden County), Brandon Facyson (Newnan, Ga./Northgate), Tray Matthews (Newnan, Ga./Newnan), and Vonn Bell (Rossville, Ga./Ridgeland), who should be a new name to most in the recruiting world.
Wiggins and Green are undersized compared to the typical cornerbacks targeted by secondary coach Scott Lakatos, but they are two of the top playmakers in the Peach State right now. Facyson has the size (6-foot-1, 180 pounds) Georgia is looking for, and has been offered by North Carolina and Virginia Tech so far. He was in Athens in June for the Mark Richt Camp, and Georgia staff stopped by in October to check on him.
Matthews is committed to Georgia, although Alabama, Florida and recently LSU are still coming after the hard-hitting safety. After racking up 75 tackles and four interceptions as a sophomore, the 6-foot-2, 195-pound junior followed it up with 74 tackles and four interceptions this fall.
Bell, who transferred from Tennessee this year, has some of the most impressive highlights in the state. This year he made a school record 180 tackles, 119 solo, two tackles for loss, five interceptions, five fumbles recovered, three fumbles returned for touchdowns, three forced fumbles, 37 rushes for 280 yards and five touchdowns and 31 catches for 487 yards and six touchdowns. The 6-foot-1, 180-pound athlete was named the 7-AAA Defensive Player of the year, as well as a AAA first-team All-State selection.
Mamax1: What do you expect from the new kicker and punter? And has there been any news lately on Holsey?
KA: With Collin Barber (Cartersville, Ga./Cartersville) and Marshall Morgan (Lauderdale Lakes, Fla./American Heritage), Georgia is hoping to continue the legacy of outstanding kickers to play between the hedges. Barber earned an offer in June after getting immense hang time on his punts and causing Mark Richt, looking out from his office, to mistake Barber for Ray Guy Award winner Drew Butler. Morgan is considered one of the top kickers in the country, with schools like Florida State and Virginia Tech joining Georgia in targeting the multiple All-State selection. The two will arrive in Athens ready to compete for the starting jobs with the walk-ons.
Cornerback Joshua Holsey (Fairburn, Ga./Creekside) has made contact with Alabama and Georgia and touched base on possibly taking official visits, but as of Tuesday night he had yet to set any dates. The coaches at Georgia could be waiting to see what happens with Will Redmond (Memphis, Tenn./East) and Sheldon Dawson (Memphis, Tenn./Ridgeway) before making their next move in the secondary.
gde2233: How big of an uphill battle do the Dawgs have ahead of them in their fight to land either Reuben Foster or Robert Nkemdiche in 2013?
KA: I would not say Georgia is out of it with either prospect, but there is no denying the coaches in Athens have their work cut out for them for the coveted defensive targets. Foster is from Alabama, and both he and his family are big fans of the Tide. His recruitment is far from over, and he knows there is an opportunity to play early at Georgia. Bulldogs commitment Tray Matthews is recruiting him hard to join him at the next level.
Since I spoke to him as a freshman, Nkemdiche has spoken very fondly about Alabama. He would mention schools like LSU, Florida and Auburn, but the Tide would take up the majority of the conversation, with Georgia mentioned rarely, if at all. But after talking to him in December, I get the feeling he has warmed to the idea of staying close to home and playing for the Bulldogs. He was genuinely impressed with the defense employed by Todd Grantham this year, and acknowledged Georgia is likely in his top six at the moment.
Now before scoffing at a top-six inclusion, remember that this time last year Georgia was not considered in the top group for Jordan Jenkins (Hamilton, Ga./Harris County) or Jordan Watkins (College Park, Ga./Woodward Academy). Georgia scratched and clawed its way into the top two for Watkins, a lifelong Georgia Tech fan who ultimately decided on Stanford, and is in the final group for Jenkins.
Socrates1956: Since you are covering the Rising Seniors game, who are some of the sleepers we should watch for on ESPN?
KA: Three prospects to keep an eye on who, as of now, do not have offers are defensive lineman Jay Woods (Jackson, Ga./Jackson), defensive tackle Dominique Threatt (College Park, Ga./Tri-Cities), and offensive lineman J.P. Vonashek (Kingsland, Ga./Camden County). Woods (6-2, 270) led his team in tackles with 72 solo and 27 assisted. Threatt is a 6-2, 315-pound dominating interior lineman who had several coaches in his region say they had nightmares thinking about going up against him again. Vonashek, who recently transferred in from Glynn Academy, is a 6-foot-6, 270-pound offensive lineman with a lot of potential.