Since 2013, Deshaun Watson, Robert Nkemdiche, Carl Lawson, Montravious Adams, Arden Key, Mitch Hyatt, Demetris Robertson, Kyle Davis and Raekwon McMillan were just a handful of top 100 players in the ESPN 300 from the state of Georgia that didn’t sign with the in-state Bulldogs.
While Georgia’s recruiting classes during that period ranked 10th, ninth, eighth and seventh, respectively, Mark Richt’s staff was often criticized for those players that left.
Enter Kirby Smart.
The first year head coach, a former safety at Georgia, has made the state of Georgia a recruiting priority for the Bulldogs. His efforts are paying off.
In the 2017 recruiting class, Georgia has landed verbal commitments from four five-star players -- more than any other team in the country. Of the five-star commits, three of them -- defensive back Richard LeCounte III, defensive end Robert Beal and most recent commit, athlete DeAngelo Gibbs, are from the state of Georgia.
In all, Georgia has 14 ESPN 300 commitments from the Peach State including seven that are ranked in the top 100.
Despite the success in-state, Smart and his staff haven’t abandoned out-of-state prospects. Georgia has targeted a handful of targets from outside of Georgia’s borders. The Bulldogs went to New York to land five-star offensive tackle Isaiah Wilson and to Pennsylvania to land the sixth-ranked running back in the country, D’Andre Swift, and also got ESPN 300 linebacker and Alabama native Monty Rice to flip his commitment from LSU to Georgia recently.
With the recent commitments of Wilson, Gibbs, Rice and ESPN 300 safety Tray Bishop, Georgia is the hottest recruiting team in the country. Georgia ranks second, behind only Alabama in the team recruiting rankings and could add another few prospects before signing day including in-state ESPN 300 defensive tackle Aubrey Solomon.
The state of Georgia is loaded with talent, and with Georgia Tech, a team that runs a significantly different system than Georgia, as the only in-state competition. Smart and his staff are doing an excellent job of building a fence around the fertile recruiting state.