Head coach Kirby Smart has made a few things abundantly clear when it comes to the 2022 recruiting class: he is going to recruit the Peach State hard, and he wants to take a full class. On his way to at least 25 commits in 2022, Smart has landed 10, with eight months to go before early national signing day. Of those 10 commits, nine hail from the state of Georgia.
The 10th commit came by way of Jefferson High School, where on Thursday night Malaki Starks pledged his services to the Bulldogs. Georgia recruited him to play both sides of the football, which was unique among his three finalists: Georgia, Clemson and Alabama.
Starks could be the most impactful Day-1 commit from the entire group, because it will be impossible to keep him off the field wherever he plays, be it wideout, running back, safety or corner. There isn't anything Starks can't do at this point.
Commits in the 2022 cycle:
- Gunner Stockton, QB
- Malaki Starks, ATHLETE
- Deyon Bouie, CB/WR
- Marquis Groves-Killebrew, CB
- Tyree West, DT
- Bear Alexander, DT
- C.J. Washington, ILB
- Darris Smith, OLB
- Donovan Westmoreland, DE
That is an impressive early list of commits for the Dawgs. There is a special quarterback talent in Stockton, two players that will be dynamic on both sides of the ball in Starks and Bouie, and a headliner corner on the defensive side with Groves-Killebrew.
West and Alexander kick-started what promises to be an impressive interior defensive line class for Georgia, while Smith and Westmoreland show promise as edge rushers to provide balance. To tie a bow on it all, Washington, from Cedartown, Ga., projects to be a great inside linebacker on the next level.
It's already top-end heavy with SI99 candidates in Stockton, Starks, Bouie, West, Alexander and Killebrew, but there's a variety of prospects at key positions.
The Bulldogs have the best of both worlds and have only a few more things to address before we can definitively call this the best class in the nation.
Here is what is perceived to be the biggest needs remaining in this class and how the Bulldogs can address them:
Top-Flight Defensive Line Talent
Solutions: Walter Nolen, Travis Shaw, Mykel Williams, Christen Miller
Both are on the interior and each are likely two of the top four players in America. Nolen was at the Under Armor All-American camp in Atlanta this past weekend and looked like the best player on the field.
Shaw is a name that isn't new to the national landscape, but he's not a name that has circulated in the Georgia space very often. That's mostly because he's been considered a heavy Clemson lean for such a long time. There's hope here for Georgia. Keep an eye on Shaw.
To continue our theme of a variety of prospects, Nolen and Shaw project to be dominant interior defensive linemen, Williams and Miller provide something a bit different. Miller projects as a 6-foot-6, 300-pound 3-technique with athleticism, while the 6-foot-5, 260-pound Williams has the ceiling of a player that resembles Chase Young.
Game-Changing Offensive Weapon
Solutions: Oscar Delp, Kojo Antwi, DeNylon Morrissette
Starks and Bouie could be talented offensive players, but since they are expected to play mostly defense, let's keep this strictly to offensive players.
Delp is the No. 1 tight end in the country by all accounts and for good reason. He brings everything to the table at the tight-end position and would continue the Bulldogs' run of success in the tight-end room.
Offensive Line Help
Solutions: Addison Nichols, Tyler Booker, Qae'Shon Sapp
The 2022 class of offensive linemen is still developing, but the good news for Georgia is that they are rather young at the position on their current roster. If there's one position that seems to have a backlog of talent, it's the offensive line group.
Nichols, Booker and Sapp are the initial names to look out for. Beyond that, the board appears to be scattered.
Time will tell on all of these, but at the moment this is the board for the Bulldogs at the offensive-line spot after taking so many in the 2021 class.