What you need to know about Georgia's 2020 recruiting class
The 2020 season will be one of change for the Georgia football program.
We know that Brian Herrien will be gone, as well as Lawrence Cager and Tyler Simmons from the wide receiver corps. Andrew Thomas is a virtual lock to declare for the NFL Draft. Georgia’s 2 tight ends, Eli Wolf and Charlie Woerner, will play their final games on Jan. 1 at the Sugar Bowl, as will a host of defensive players, including ends Justin Young and David Marshall, tackle Tyler Clark, inside linebacker Tae Crowder, cornerback Tyrique McGhee and safety J.R. Reed. Popular kicker Rodrigo Blankenship is also set to say farewell.
But there are a few question marks. What will the decision be for junior quarterback Jake Fromm, as well as running back D’Andre Swift? Others, including offensive linemen Solomon Kindley and Isaiah Wilson and safety Richard LeCounte, face stay-or-go situations. Fromm’s departure could put pressure on the incoming quarterbacks, while the team has plenty of options in the backfield and along the front 5, both on campus and incoming, if Swift and one or more of the offensive linemen exit.
Kirby Smart and his staff hope that their current crop of players can join some exciting incoming recruits to finally push the program to a long-awaited national championship. Here’s what you need to know about what could potentially be yet another top-5 class:
- National rank: 6
- SEC rank: 4
- 5-stars: 2
- 4-stars: 12
- 3-stars: 1
Best player: 5-star OLB Mekhail Sherman
A testament of Kirby Smart’s deep defensive background is his ability to recruit high-level players on that side of the ball. Sherman, considered the No. 2 outside linebacker in the country by 247Sports’ composite rankings, hopes to make his mark at the college level.
He’ll play in the 2020 Under Armour All-American Game in Orlando on Jan. 2 in Orlando. And while he’ll join a crowded OLB room that includes Jermaine Johnson, Walter Grant, Azeez Ojulari and Nolan Smith, his level of talent should be enough for him to push his way into the rotation and have a strong shot at becoming a starter in 2021.
Assessing the QBs
If Jake Fromm returns, he is the unquestioned starter and all is well. The Dawgs have Stetson Bennett IV as Fromm’s backup as well as D’Wan Mathis, who is still recovering from brain surgery.
Georgia has 1 quarterback committed to the 2020 class: 4-star pro-style player Carson Beck from Florida. The program could also add another 4-star in CJ Stroud, who will take an official visit to Ohio State the weekend of Dec. 14 but who was offered by Georgia over Thanksgiving week just days after an official visit. Could either push Bennett for the QB2 slot?
Biggest need that has yet to be filled: Tight end
John FitzPatrick, Ryland Goede and Brett Seither make up Georgia’s returning crop of tight ends. The staff would love to add another piece to the puzzle by bringing in super-prospect Darnell Washington from Las Vegas. We’ve seen with Florida’s Kyle Pitts, and really with Isaac Nauta, how a tight end can acclimate himself into an offense, and the 6-7, 261-pound Washington can not only add depth to the tight end corps but have a chance to see significant playing time immediately.
Best position group: Offensive line
Part of the pride of the Dawgs is their offensive line, and they will have another strong haul at his disposal as 5 linemen are committed ahead of the Early Signing Period (Dec. 18-20).
The clear headliner of the group is Lithonia (Ga.) tackle Broderick Jones, a top 20 player nationally and the No. 2 player at his position in the class of 2020, according to 247Sports. And he might stand as good a chance as anyone to be a Day 1 starter. Thomas is a near guarantee to leave for the NFL, Georgia might also have to contend with redshirt sophomore Isaiah Wilson doing the same unless he feels he can return in 2020 and improve his draft stock. New Orleans offensive center Sedrick Van Pran is a redshirt candidate with Trey Hill and Warren Erickson returning in 2020, as is 4-star tackle Joshua Braun from Florida.
But a name to keep an eye on is the No. 3 tackle in the country in Tate Ratledge, who might figure heavily in the rotation as soon as he arrives on campus. That is if he gets to Athens after Arkansas hired former Georgia OL coach Sam Pittman.
On the day the news was announced, Ratledge posted this tweet:
I will not be answering questions on my current situation. This will stay between me and my family for now. Thank you
— Tate Ratledge (@tateratledge22) December 9, 2019
The next day, quarterback Harrison Bailey, a Tennessee pledge, tweeted this:
Ratledge, who grew up a Volunteers fan, picked the Bulldogs over Tennessee. Could Pittman’s departure lead him to flip? Or can former Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke, who was hired to replace Pittman on Tuesday, keep this group together?
Best remaining players on Georgia’s radar
We mentioned Washington, a player that could remake the tight end spot for the Bulldogs. Keep an eye on Kelee Ringo as well, as the No. 1 cornerback in the country and No. 8 player overall took an official visit to Oregon and is likely to take one to Georgia as well. Houston running back Zachary Evans is on Georgia’s radar too, but he will commit at the Under Armour All-American Game.