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UGA Recruiting Class Proves Headline OOC Matchups Matter

By Dave Holcomb
SouthernPigskin.com
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Georgia football improved their record in 2019 compared to the prior season, but it didn’t feel like that in many ways. While the LSU and Alabama offenses thrived in the SEC West, the Bulldogs struggled to keep up...Yet that didn’t matter on National Signing Day.

Georgia football improved their record in 2019 compared to the prior season, but it didn’t feel like that in many ways. While the LSU and Alabama offenses thrived in the SEC West, the Bulldogs struggled to keep up, averaging 30.8 points per game compared to LSU’s 48.4. Georgia also finished fifth in passing yards per contest with 223 while LSU and Alabama both averaged 340 yards through the air.

Yet that didn’t matter on National Signing Day. Georgia entered college football’s second signing day with the No. 1 recruiting class, and the program finished with it as well Wednesday.

The Bulldogs capped off the 2020 recruiting cycle with another 5-star offensive lineman, two additional 4-star prospects and three 3-star players.

Georgia was also No. 1 in recruiting two years ago, but that was after Kirby Smart led the Bulldogs to a National Championship Game appearance. With no playoff appearances over the last two seasons, grabbing the top spot in recruiting this year is even more impressive, and a lot of credit can go to Georgia’s administrative strategies, including scheduling more home-and-home series during the non-conference schedule this coming decade.

On top of Georgia Tech, the Bulldogs will play another non-conference Power 5 team in just about every season this decade. This year, they’ll face Virginia at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and they’ll return to Atlanta to play Oregon in 2022 and Clemson in 2024.

In the upcoming odd years, Georgia will visit Oklahoma, (2023), UCLA (2025) and Florida State (2027). Starting in 2028, Georgia will have three Power 5 non-conference matchups (counting Georgia Tech). That will remain true until at least 2031, but the slate beyond that hasn’t been completely filled yet.

It’s hard to imagine a recruit in the 2020 class caring much about Georgia’s visit to Florida State in 2027. The longest any player in this upcoming class could possibly stay in Athens is through the 2025 season, and even then, it would take two redshirt years, one of which would have to be for medical reasons.

A bulk of this upcoming class will be gone by the end of 2023 and perhaps even sooner depending on the transfer portal and NFL decisions.

So the schedule would seem to have little consequence to a recruit this year. However, the home crowd at Sanford Stadium does, and in Georgia’s non-conference Power 5 matchup with Notre Dame last fall, the Bulldogs faithful created one of the best atmospheres of the season.

This undoubtedly had a positive impact on recruiting for Georgia. Smart even said so, as he thanked the fans Wednesday for their contribution to bringing in the No. 1 recruiting class this year.

“I’d also like to take this moment to thank everyone in our organization,” Smart said according to DawgNation.com. “I’m talking about administration, I’m talking about fans, who helped bring about this signing class. The Notre Dame atmosphere was one of the keys to this signing class.”

Georgia is the only program that finished with a Top 5 recruiting class this year that hasn’t made the College Football Playoffs the last two seasons. Three of the teams in the Top 5 based on the 247Sports composite rankings were playoff teams this past season.

Winning is an excellent ingredient in recruiting. Georgia’s done plenty of that, and yet the Bulldogs have somewhat underachieved the last couple seasons, missing the playoffs. On top of that, the program lost quarterback Jake Fromm, offensive line coach and recruiting ace Sam Pittman and switched offensive coordinators.

The failure in the last two SEC Championship Games and change in leadership would normally slow down a program’s recruiting but not Georgia. Give plenty of credit to Smart, who’s building a culture to last far beyond one quarterback or offensive coordinator.

But that atmosphere from the Notre Dame visit last year should receive plenty of credit too. How else can one explain Georgia landing the top 2020 recruit from Arizona and Nevada plus the No. 2 prospect from Washington, D.C.

Georgia can thank its willingness to play the other top programs around the country for becoming a national recruiting brand. It paid great dividends again this week.