Georgia head coach Kirby Smart walks down the field. The Georgia Bulldogs lost in double-overtime to the South Carolina Gamecocks with a final score 17-20 on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019, in Athens, Georgia. (Photo/Gabriella Audi https://gabbyaudi10.wixsite.com/mysite-1)

It wasn’t until Jan. 30 — six days before national signing day — that Georgia football’s 2020 recruiting class surged to the No. 1 spot in the nation. But for the second time in three years, that’s where it landed at the end of signing day on Feb. 5. Georgia’s 2020 class included four five stars, 15 four stars and six three stars. 

Georgia’s No. 1 class wasn’t set in stone entering national signing day. Alabama head coach Nick Saban would have secured his ninth No. 1 class in the past 10 years if four-star defensive tackle McKinnley Jackson chose Alabama. But Jackson signed with Texas A&M, cementing the Bulldogs at No. 1 and the Crimson Tide at No. 2. 

Close battles for the top class have been a theme between Saban and his former defensive coordinator, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart, since 2017. Georgia finished third when Alabama was first in 2017. 

When Smart signed his first No. 1 class in 2018, Alabama had fallen to No. 5. But 2019 was another neck-and-neck year between the Bulldogs and the Crimson Tide, with Alabama claiming the top spot while Georgia fell to second. 

Smart said he doesn’t see much separation between any of the top-10 recruiting classes but that consistently recruiting well helps the Bulldogs meet their goals.

“It’s hard to go out and recruit at a high level year in and year out because so many people recruit against you based on who you signed,” Smart said. 

The Bulldogs have to replace at least seven offensive starters from 2019-20. Smart wasted little time acquiring possible replacements with the acquisitions of two graduate transfers, quarterback Jamie Newman from Wake Forest and tight end Tre’ McKitty from Florida State. 

“I like to think the early signing period is 70 to 80% [of] what you sign, and this late signing period is more of an adjustment to what you lost, early outs or where you think you have holes,” Smart said. “We feel like we have been able to fill a lot of those holes. We feel like we have a very balanced class across the board.” 

The 2020 class is led by Kelee Ringo, the No. 4 overall player in the country. Ringo is a five-star cornerback from Scottsdale, Arizona, and enters Georgia as the highest-rated defensive back in its history. The 6-foot-2-inch, 205-pound cornerback is joined by four-star defensive backs Jalen Kimber and Major Burns. 

Offensive line coach Matt Luke has only been a member of Smart’s staff since Dec. 10, but he has used the days to prove his worth as a recruiter. Georgia needed to restore depleted depth along the offensive line and did so by adding five-star offensive tackle Broderick Jones and four-stars Tate Ratledge, Sedrick Van Pran and Chad Lindberg. 

“Coach Luke was a big part of that energy,” Smart said. “Getting him on staff fast was probably one of the critical roles to that transition. It wasn’t a long time and a process where [the recruits] had to sit in the unknown.”

Smart has furnished some of the top recruiting classes in the country since arriving in 2016, with 2020 finishing as one of his best. While the class of 2020 is signed, Smart said there’s still reinvention happening in the program.

“This class doesn’t completely wrap it up,” Smart said. “There’s still moves to be made for us from a hiring standpoint, moving people around. It’s a work in progress, constant improvement, constant growth.”

All ratings and rankings courtesy of the 247Sports Composite

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