Thursday, January 29, 2015

Georgia football recruiting: Bulldogs expect excellent National Signing Day 2014 class

Georgia is putting together a recruiting class that is relatively low on raw numbers but high in quality. The Bulldogs currently have 18 commitments, including a pair of five-star prospects and 10 four-star kids. It's one of the smallest classes in the SEC, but in terms of high-end talent, few are better.

A half-dozen Georgia recruits participated in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, a showcase of elite prep talent.

Early enrollees

The Bulldogs' lone early enrollee is 6'3, 202-pound pro-style quarterback Jacob Park from Goose Creek (S.C.) Stratford High School. He is a consensus four-star player, ranked as the No. 5 prospect at his position and the No. 72 overall player in the 2014 class. Park picked UGA over offers from Alabama, Florida State, Auburn, Notre Dame, Tennessee and Virginia Tech, among others. Here's SB Nation recruiting analyst Bud Elliott on Park:

Park makes a ton of plays on the run. He is able to throw the ball with good velocity even when off-balance or falling out of bounds. I think Park could be very good on play-action passes and on bootlegs.

What I'm not sure of, however, is Park's ability to read a defense and quickly distribute the football. Almost all of his highlight plays are of him scrambling and then throwing downfield. That's great, but a good spread QB must also quickly take advantage of automatic reads and checks, and must be able to read coverage.

Someone will have to fill Aaron Murray's shoes in 2014. It might not be Park, but getting a head start on his college career doesn't hurt.

Signing day highlights

The group that Georgia hopes to sign on National Signing Day is highlighted by a pair of consensus five-star running backs. One of them is Nick Chubb, a 5'11, 216-pounder from Cedartown (Ga.) High School. Home-state prospects make up nearly half of UGA's class, and like Chubb, many of them are among the state's best.

Chubb is the No. 5 player at his position and the No. 33 overall prospect in the country. He picked the Bulldogs over offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Florida, Notre Dame, Stanford and Miami, plus many more. Here's Elliott on Chubb's game:

Chubb can grind out tough yards due to his size, strength, and determination to keep his legs moving. He gets low and does not present much of a target to hit.

That said, Chubb is definitely more elusive than one might think when first looking at his frame. He has some open-field moves, but more importantly, is elusive between the tackles. While he has the ability to run through defenders, he is able to attack a half man and then run through, which will be important at the next level. And Chubb has excellent balance, making multiple highlight runs after staying upright at contact. He also runs the toss sweep play very well -- something still seen at some SEC schools like Georgia and LSU.

The other big-time running back entering the fold is the 5'11, 205-pound Sony Michel. It's not often easy to pull elite talent out of Florida, especially with the momentum FSU and Miami have established lately, but that's just what Mark Richt and company did in this case. Michel is a top-20 overall prospect, the No. 3 player at his position and the No. 3 player in Florida. He ran for more than 1,800 yards as a senior at American Heritage in Ft. Lauderdale. More on Michel:

When Michel is running he does not appear to be going that fast. Do not be fooled. While he is quite smooth, he is rarely touched by some of the better high school competition in the country. Michel has excellent moves in the open field, and displays very good vision as well, getting the most out of each play, particularly when he hits the cutback lane. He is talented enough to take over games even at the highest level of college football.

That caliber of skill-position talent is exciting, but UGA is also bringing in some outstanding players on the defensive side. The highest ranked of those is four-star cornerback Malkom Parrish, and again, the Dawgs didn't have to go far -- Parrish played for Quitman (Ga.) Brooks County High School. He is ranked as the No. 8 cornerback and No. 69 overall prospect.

In general, though, this class is weighed toward offense. In addition to the aforementioned guys, the Bulldogs have received verbal commitments from several wide receivers, several offensive linemen and a tight end. This group could be the foundation for Georgia's attack a couple of seasons down the road.

Top target

The Bulldogs still hope to land the commitment of the state's top player, five-star defensive end Lorenzo Carter. The 6'5, 232-lb. Carter played his high school football at Norcross (Ga.) High, and drew more than 30 scholarship offers. He is ranked as the second-best weakside defensive end in the Class of 2014. Carter's a pure pass rusher at the moment, but as Bud Elliott writes, could develop into an every-down defensive end with time:

Carter's greatest asset is his pass rushing. He gets off the ball and converts speed to power well, can bend under the reach of the offensive tackle, and finishes, which is an important attribute in a pass rusher.

Carter also has excellent length, and in time with college coaching, could use them as an excellent weapon in his arsenal against the pass and the run.

Georgia is competing with Florida State, Florida, and LSU for Carter's signature, and could have a slight edge after an official visit on the last weekend of the recruiting period.

This article originally appeared on SBNation.

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