In the past three years, the Bulldogs have seen their signing classes ranked sixth, third and first overall. This year, Georgia secured the No. 2 class in the nation, and reloading on talent each year is becoming the norm in Athens. This year’s class includes five five-star players, 15 four-stars and four three-stars, to total 24 new faces on Georgia’s campus.
The class is headlined by defensive end Nolan Smith, the nation’s No. 1-overall recruit, according to 247Sports. Joining Smith are fellow five-stars Nakobe Dean, Travon Walker, George Pickens and Clay Webb. The focus for this year’s class seemed to be the front-seven on defense, with pass rushing the priority.
With the dismissal of wide receiver Jeremiah Holloman, Pickens and four-star Dominick Blaylock could be the two important signings on the offensive side of the ball. The Bulldogs will be without their top five wide receivers from last year’s team, and the leading returning wide receiver, Tyler Simmons, only had nine total catches last season.
George Pickens, wide receiver
Pickens is a 6-foot 3-inch, 190-pound receiver from Hoover, Alabama. Pickens overwhelms defensive backs with his physicality and complements that with great ball skills and solid route-running. Look for Pickens to get plenty of chances to earn playing time, and, with his size, he could fill the same role Holloman had the previous season.
Dominick Blaylock, wide receiver
Simply put, Blaylock has all the tools of an electric, multi-purpose receiver. The four-star receiver from Marietta has great ball skills and can make defenses miserable after the catch. Before Blaylock enrolled at Georgia, Smart hinted at the likely possibility for Blaylock to take over as punt-returner, replacing second-round NFL Draft pick Mecole Hardman.
Nolan Smith, defensive end
At 6 feet, 3 inches and 232 pounds, the Savannah native impressed with his speed, posting a 4.51-second 40-yard dash at Nike’s “The Opening,”event last March. In only eight games last season, Smith totaled 6.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss at IMG Academy. Smith is an explosive edge rusher who could immediately help a group that only had 24 sacks last season, tied for 84th nationally.
Clay Webb, center
Webb is another five-star addition to the Bulldogs’ already formidable offensive line, nicknamed the “Great Wall of Georgia.” At 6 feet, 3 inches and 295 pounds, the Oxford, Alabama, native already has good size for his position, but it’s likely he’ll start out at guard until he can become more familiar with Georgia’s system.
Jermaine Johnson, defensive end
The former No. 1 overall junior college recruit in the country comes from Independence Community College, the school in the Netflix series “Last Chance U.” Johnson adds depth to a young but talented group of defensive ends. His versatility could put him on the field early, as he can play standing-up on the edge or in a three-point stance.
Nakobe Dean, inside linebacker
The 6-foot, 220-pound early-enrollee from Horn Lake, Mississippi has already shown great promise in the short time with the team so far. Dean has drawn comparisons to former Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith. He has great instincts to find the ball, showcased by his 127 tackles in his senior year of high school and an even more impressive 147 tackles in his junior season.
Travon Walker, defensive line
The 6-foot, 5-inch, 285-pound defensive tackle from Thomaston was one of the more significant grabs in the class. Walker has the opportunity to see playing time early and often, playing alongside sophomore Jordan Davis in a position group with little depth. Walker is athletic for his size and stands out in pass rushing situations.
Tyrique Stevenson, cornerback
A former four-star recruit from Miami, Stevenson comes to Georgia looking to help a position group that lost a first-round pick and All-American cornerback in Deandre Baker. Stevenson measures in at 6 feet, 202 pounds and is a versatile player that could see playing time at safety as well as on the corner.