It has been a weird, strange, odd 2020 for many reasons, with a number of unexpected twists and turns at every corner. The pandemic certainly shifted the way recruiting was done as well, with the traditional in-home visits and on-campus trips being scuttled for safety concerns.

If you’re Kirby Smart and Georgia, though, you made the most of it en route to the country’s 3rd-ranked recruiting class in the 2021 cycle — behind only Alabama and Ohio State.

Granted, it’s not the No. 1 recruiting class the Dawgs enjoyed last year, but it now makes 5 years in a row that they have placed within the top 3 nationally (according to 247Sports), with a class led by offensive lineman Amarius Mims, quarterback Brock Vandagriff and outside linebacker Smael Mondon.

But the class could make a bit of a jump if the Dawgs can land 5-star IMG Academy recruit Xavian Sorey, the country’s No. 1 outside linebacker who has it down to Alabama, Florida and Georgia. The Dawgs could also gain the signature of Elijah Jeudy, a former UGA commit who still has the program in his top 2 with Texas A&M.

Here’s a closer look at the 2021 signing class for Georgia:

By the numbers

  • SEC rank: 2
  • National rank: 3
  • 5-stars: 3
  • 4-stars: 12
  • 3-stars: 5

Top player: Amarius Mims, OT, 5-star

Georgia has become something of an “O-line U” during Smart’s tenure. They hope that Mims is next in a list of offensive linemen who have excelled at the collegiate level.

The 6-foot-7, 315-pounder from Bleckley County, about 45 minutes from Macon and 35 minutes from Warner Robins, locked in his commitment on his birthday (Oct. 14), spurning Alabama, Auburn, Florida State and Tennessee to stay in-state and play for the Dawgs.

Georgia is set at the moment to have incumbents Jamaree Salyer and Warren McClendon at tackle in 2021, plus former 5-star Broderick Jones, Chad Lindberg, Owen Condon and Xavier Truss among the returnees. Don’t forget 4-star recruit Micah Morris, either.

While Mims might not crack the lineup right away, he’ll get as fair a shot as anyone to prove his worth in camp.

Class strength: Cornerback

The defensive backfield is always going to be a priority for Smart, and we saw that with the addition of 4 cornerbacks—4-star Kamari Lassiter and Nyland Green, 3-star Javon Bullard and 4-star JUCO transfer De’Jahn Warren.

The Dawgs are set to have tremendous depth here, especially with DJ Daniel and Mark Webb set to depart after this season and the potential of players like Eric Stokes and Tyson Campbell declaring for the NFL Draft. One of those 4 names at cornerback should certainly have a shot at receiving some steady playing time right out of the gate.

Class weakness: Inside linebacker

The terrific Monty Rice leaves Athens with a solid career in the rearview mirror, while junior Quay Walker will mull his next steps when the season is over. And the Dawgs are poised to sign ILB Jamon Dumas-Johnson and add him to what is a crowded linebacker room.

While it’s not a weakness per se, a few more pieces in the puzzle here could have been of benefit.

Grading the QB class: A

Granted, the Dawgs landed only 1 quarterback, but they made sure it was a good one.

And give the staff credit for convincing Vandagriff from flipping his commitment from Oklahoma to Georgia. It suggests that instead of heading to Norman to get plugged right in to Lincoln Riley’s system, Vandagriff  was persuaded that the staff in Athens is committed to molding its offense to fit what he is more comfortable with rather than vice versa, all while being a quick 20-minute drive from home.

Is he good enough to start from Day 1, though? We’ll see, but at worst he should be able to earn the QB2 job behind JT Daniels before getting the keys to the proverbial car in 2022.

So, did Georgia close the borders?

I’ll say they did. Six of the state’s top 10 players, including No. 1 (Mims), No. 2 (Vandagriff) and No. 3 (Mondon), pledged to Georgia. They also hauled in Nos. 11 (guard Dylan Fairchild) and 15 (defensive end Jonathan Jefferson).

Compare that to 2020, when they signed the Nos. 3 and 5 recruits in Georgia — offensive linemen Jones and Tate Ratledge — but were shut out of the state’s top 20 otherwise. They added No. 1 overall recruit Nolan Smith (with IMG Academy at the time but a Savannah native) and Travon Walker (No. 2 in Georgia) in 2019, along with Dominick Blaylock (No. 8).

Final thoughts: More of the same for Georgia

Smart continues to bring in high-level recruiting classes year in and year out. If the goal was to gain more of a foothold within the state, the Dawgs did that. If it was to continue to bolster their offensive line, that was accomplished as well, with the pledges of Mims, Morris and Fairchild. They continued to shore up their outside linebacking corps with the additions of Mondon and 4-star Chaz Chambliss, while the secondary also added some key pieces.

All told, the class’s needs were largely fulfilled. And with a few more undecided players to announce between the Early Signing Period and the traditional National Signing Day on Feb. 3, there could be more names added to the list.