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Georgia Recruiting Notebook: New Faces Emerge on Bulldog Big Board

As spring practice kicks off for the 2022 calendar year, SI All-American recruiting analyst Brooks Austin is out on the recruiting trail and updating new emerging faces on the board.

The University of Georgia has become a national brand, recognized across the country as a premier football program. They have been for quite some time under head coach Kirby Smart, collecting talent from as far as Clovis, California to Warwick, Rhode Island, heck even international with the signing of 2022 punter Brett Thorson. 

Though even with all of the national recruiting Smart and his dynamic recruiting staff have done over the years, it's the state of Georgia and its resounding areas that have produced the overwhelming majority of their powerhouse prospects. 

So, as the 2022 spring practice calendar kicks off, I'll bring you the latest from the recruiting trail, traveling all over the state of Georgia and perhaps beyond, covering the state's (and therefore nation's) best players. 

May 19th, 2022

Scrimmage Notes: Northside vs North Gwinnett

Isaiah Harvey and Ricardo Jones were the two players that I raved about a week ago when I was down at Northside high school watching practice. Ricardo Jones will be in the running to make the SI99 by all indications and the representation of Power5 coaches in attendance on Thursday would suggest exactly that. He's a big safety, but most importantly, he plays big. Strikes in the ally, clouds the passing lanes, clouds the box. Everything you need from a strong safety. 

As for North Gwinnett, you're going to have an issue blocking this front seven in 2022. Kayden McDonald, Grant Godfrey, and Tyler Walton are all major Power5 prospects with Walton already committed to Wake Forest, McDonald, and Godfrey remain heavily sought after. McDonald made several plays on Thursday night, particularly in the run game. He's a consistently great high school football player and has been since he was a freshman at North Gwinnett. 

Scrimmage Notes: Archer vs Marrietta 

Christian Mathis wasted no time making big plays on Thursday night. The first play from scrimmage was a 75-yard touchdown on a post route where  2023 QB Daniel Gray threw a strike as Mathis torched the defense. 

Just a few offensive possessions later, it was Mathis yet again who got being the defense for yet another explosive play. It was my first time seeing Daniel Gray in action, he was previously at Mt. Paran, and he can spin it, and throws a well-arching deep ball. 

May 18th, 2022

Buford

Perrenial powerhouse here in the state of Georgia, Buford high school is a must-stop every year during the springtime. Wednesday's intrasquad scrimmage brought plenty of moments to see Power5 prospects compete against one another. 

Whether it was watching 2023 OL Paul Mubenga battle it out with either 2024 five-star caliber edge rushers Buford has in KingJoseph Edwards and Eddrick Houston, it was competitive. KJ Bolden is in the conversation to be the best player in the state of Georgia in the class of 2024, though he wasn't available for practice on Wednesday having just come back from track this spring. 

Georgia is heavily involved here with several young prospects including rising sophomore linebacker Jadon Perlotte. Perlotte, a 2025 off-ball linebacker has double-digit SEC offers at this point and they are well earned. 

Scrimmage Notes: Parkview vs Norcross 

Our first of six scrimmages that we will see this week, a trip to Norcross high school yielded quite a bit of notes regarding Georgia recruiting. Georgia tight ends coach Todd Hartley was in attendance to watch 2024 tight end commit Lawson Luckie. Though Hartley wasn't the only SEC tight ends coach in Northeast Atlanta on Wednesday night. Alabama's Joe Cox and Ole Miss's John David Baker were in attendance as well. Luckie has exploded this offseason both physically and on the recruiting front. He's up to 235 pounds now according to Luckie. 

It's one of the more drastic physical developments I've seen on the recruiting trail this offseason. This is an athlete that was 220 pounds the last time I saw him. 

As for the Parkview side of things, Georgia is heavily involved with Mike Matthews, a 2024 wide receiver for the Panthers, and it doesn't take long to see why. Any receiver this tall (6'3) and this smooth has Bryan McClendon written all over. Georgia's new wide receiver coach has a mold and Matthews fits it. 

May 17th, 2022

Centennial 

They don't make them bigger, and I don't know if they make them cleaner than 2024 OL recruit Daniel Calhoun. At 6'7, 365 pounds he places with tremendous ankle flection, a broad chest, and violent hands. I haven't seen too many young men that are this intentional about two things: Feet and Finish. He's a can't miss, must-have type of recruit in 2024 for the Bulldogs. 

St. Francis

Just a "Little Ole Single-A" school in Alpharetta, Georgia, St. Francis is more than worth the stop for any college football coach. An offensive line that features future five-star Nicolai Brooks in the 2025 class as well as Power-5 target Brayden Jacobs. Then you look forward to the 2023 class and Branden Strozier, who's likely to make a commitment announcement soon between Florida, Tennessee, and Clemson is a 6'2+ corner with tremendous length and ball skills. Multiple SEC coaches were in attendance to see Strozier on Tuesday. 

Freshman cornerback Tyler Redmond is a name you should know as well. You'll be hearing about him soon I'd imagine. 2025 corner that can flat out go.

Alpharetta

If you want a sign of the state of Georgia developing into a national powerhouse with regard to football talent, take a trip to Alpharetta high school. In one of the most convoluted areas of North Atlanta you'll find this school tucked away on a hill, and boy is it worth the trip. 

A 2025 recruiting class that feature Ethan Barbour has multiple P5 prospects. Though, I left fascinated with an 86" wingspan on a 6'6 offensive tackle named Obadiah Obasuyi. There's looking the part, and then there's this 2023 offensive tackle. 

May 16th, 2022

Langston Hughes 

I was excited to see class of 2023 Georgia commit Bo Hughley in action on Monday, but a shoulder injury kept him sidelined for the day, though there were plenty of power5 players practicing at Langston Hughes. Class of 2023 tight end Jelaani "Tank" Thurman is an NFL body at 6'6, 230 pounds and moves like one as well. There are a littany of SEC schools involved here. 

Christian Lockhart is an intriguing prospect as well, a 5'9 Jackson State commit, I first met Lockhart at a camp in North Georgia where I clocked him at 4.41 as a true freshman. He's every bit as explosive and more to this day. He will be a joy to watch this fall. 

I'm going to keep saying it until I'm blue in the face, 2024 graduate Air Noland is an exceptional quarterback prospect. He's been a standout in every setting this offseason, and I'll continue to write about him. I texted with one SEC staffer that was shocked at the quickness in his delivery and platform, the same things that have left me astonished this spring. So incredibly sudden. 

Creekside 

Coach Maurice Dixon at Creekside is always a must-stop for me, if for no other reason than to watch the man coach up that offensive line unit over there. A former center at West Georgia himself, Dixon always has a good-looking unit, 2022 will be no different. 2023 OL BJ Williams looks the part of a Division 1 lineman and has the offers to show for it. 2024 ATH Roderick McCrary has seen his fair share of attention this spring as well, racking up mid-major offers at the moment playing both safety and running back. 

Defensive tackle Malik Tullis continues to improve as a prospect, already a n Eastern Michigan commit, Tullis is continuing to field offers as well. Though perhaps Creekside's best player, in my opinion, is cornerback Daiquan White, whom when speaking to a few coaches in attendance Monday, we all agreed would be a Power5 corner if he were two inches taller. 

One coach said, "He moves like a Sunday guy." Indeed he does. 

Douglas County 

The final stop of the day and it was well worth it to make the 35-minute drive from Creekside to DC where I ran into Zachariah Keith. A 6'5, 265-pound defensive lineman that is nearing an offer from just about every program you can name, including Georgia. Defensive line coach Tray Scott is actively recruiting Keith, but they've yet to offer just yet. Douglas County head coach Johnny White told me he's "too big and too fast not to get an offer from a school like Georgia." 

Wide receiver Hilton Alexander II is a name in the 2023 class that Georgia fans need to know, and quickly. Wide receiver coach Bryan McClendon has been to Douglas County in the past week scouting Alexander and there could be an offer extended soon. He's perhaps one of the more polished route runners available in the class but it's his body control that has me impressed. 

May 12th, 2022

Lee County 

Lee County has been a college football factory under head coach Dean Fabrizio, and his 2022 roster is no different. The biggest name, and body, on the roster, is Omar "BooMan" White. White is one of the most highly coveted defensive tackle prospects in the 2024 class. Georgia has been well aware of this young man since his freshman season. It's a massive recruitment that only has the powerhouse recruiting programs involved. White told me Alabama, Georgia, and Texas A&M will be getting visits in the near future. 

I didn't have a chance to see Ousmane Kromah, the 2025 running back from Lee County, but you'll likely hear about him receiving an offer from Georgia in the near future. He rushed for 1700 yards in 6A football as a true freshman last season. Insanely talented football player. Another name to know is Javell Ferguson, a 2023 wide receiver that's on the fringe right now with regards to a potential offer. 

I'm always intrigued by elite intangibles as an evaluator. This sport requires such a professional work ethic to succeed, that I look for those tendencies at a young age and Christoper Martin, a 2024 quarterback from Lee County checks all of those boxes. He's the only sophomore to start under Fabrizio at the position and he's starting to pick up Mid Major Division 1 offers. He's a program leader. 

Colquitt County 

Moultrie, Georgia. One of the few places in this country where you can find miles of cornfields and peanut farms and then run smack dab into one of the largest and most beautiful high school campuses the state has to offer. They got good football players too, like 2024 tight end Landen Thomas. A 6'4, 225 fluid mover, Thomas is much more akin to the weapons Georiga is recruiting at the position. Though he did assure me that he has no problem blocking, and blocking

Valdosta 

The final stop of my South Georgia tour, Valdosta was a compelling team to watch practice as someone who's studied Georgia's defense as much as I have. Valdosta's head coach, Shelton Felton was on staff with Jeremy Pruitt at Tennessee and they run the same 3-4 mint defense that Georgia does. The terminology, scheme, and style of play were identical to that of Georgia's. 

That commonality happens to be one of the biggest selling points on EDGE commit Gabriel Harris. Harris was playing everything from a stand-up 7-tech to a 4i. Something that he'll likely be asked to do in college as well. 

Harris reminds me a lot of Marvin Jones Jr. A 6'5, 225+ pound high school edge rusher that is only scratching the surface of what he could potentially be. 

The best football player I saw this week though was Eric Brantley Jr. A sawed-off defensive lineman from Valdosta. He's no taller than 6'0", if that, but he's unblockable. I had one South Georgia coach tell me "He's the best player I've coached against in years, and I've got to see him for two more years." Brantley had 13.0 sacks as a sophomore in South Georgia last year. He's perhaps the most underrated player in the state. Watch this tape. 

May 10th, 2020

Eagles Landing Christian

A perennial powerhouse in what was single-A private, ELCA has now moved up to 2A football and they still might lead the classification in D1 talent. One of my favorite offensive line prospects, DJ Chester, a 2023 offensive tackle resides with the Chargers. A recent offer from Arkansas, Chester will be exploding on the SEC radars soon, though I don't expect him to land on the Georgia radar. 

His counterpart Zechariah "Flapjack" Owens is yet another major Power5 talent in the offensive line class in 2023 and will be deciding between a litany of Power5 programs like Penn State, Clemson, and many more. 

Crisp County 

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Crisp County is no stranger to Georgia Football. The former home of Quay Walker, the Middle Georgia program is known for athletic prowess and they were certainly worth the stop on Tuesday. Ahmad Brown, a 2023 ATH with SEC interest has drawn the attention of Georgia to this point in his recruitment. Sources confirmed Glenn Schumann has been on campus this spring. 

A 6'2+ athlete, Georgia is recruiting Brown to play defensive back, with Will Muschamp handling his recruitment. Additionally, 2024 offensive lineman Barry Walker is a name to know. I had a Power5 scouting director tell me "He's a first-round draft pick in four years," and the frame is certainly that projectable. 

Northside 

Georgia fans don't need to know about Isaiah Harvey but dear lord was he a joy to watch on Tuesday. So much energy, so much intensity, so much care for the performance and execution of those around him, mid-major programs would be insane to pass up on this buddle of explosion. 

Though the Georgia folks need to know about Ricardo Jones. He's a 6'2 safety out of Northside that checks every single physical box that Georgia requires. He's an absolute joy to watch as well. He's the consummate professional and clearly understands what both personal excellence and collective excellence require. He's not received a Georgia offer just yet, but he likely will.  

Warner Robins

Malik Herring was one of my favorite evaluations at Georgia I've had. A 6'4, 270-pound defensive end that plays the game with selflessness, instincts, and a certain engaged joy that few have. Those were the exact same vibes I received watching Victor Burley practice on Tuesday. He's undoubtedly a monster on the high school level. He's undoubtedly got an insanely high ceiling as a prospect. 

Though if I'm being honest, the most appetizing thing about Victor Burley is the floor. This dude, at his absolute bottom, will be a two-year starter and staple of your program. Sign this kid tomorrow. Period. 

May 6th, 2022

Gainesville

Gainsville was the tenth school of the week for me, ninth practice in total, and I didn't see a faster, more organized, or well-run machine the entire week. This was something different. Josh Niblett has won 7 state titles in the state of Alabama at Hoover High School, and if you watch the Red Elephants practice, you'll understand why. 

This was their third practice as a coaching staff at Gainesville high school, and they are practicing with a tremendous amount of speed and intensity. And they've got good football players too. 

2023 LB Jeremiah Telander is a name to know for Georgia fans. A 6'2, 215-pound striker, Telander has blown up on the recruiting trail this spring and will continue to do so. Sources indicate that Georgia will be visiting Gainseville very soon to put eyes on Telander. 

May 5th, 2022

Player of the Day: 2026 OLB, Tyler Atkinson 

Grayson

Always the first stop when I land in Gwinnett county, and it was half a dozen Power5 football coaches on Thursday as well. If you're looking for elite talent, it's like shooting fish in a barrel over there, so let's address the Georgia targets specifically. 

2024 DB Zion Ferguson seems to get longer and taller every time I see him. I've always been impressed with the tape and athleticism, now that he's grown even more, the sky is the limit here. 2024 DL Nasir Smith has received a visit from Georgia defensive line coach Tray Scott on Tuesday but hasn't received an offer just yet, one would assume it's a matter of time. 2024 ATH JoJo Stone is out for the spring but is perhaps Georgia's biggest target at Grayson, along with TE Kyran Fox and Center Waltclaire Flynn, or even 2025 DB Jaylen Bell. 

But of all the division one prospects on the field Thursday, I left most impressed by Tyler Atkinson, a current eighth grader who's entering his freshman season of high school, and he is a grown man. I've seen Atkinson before he's already well regarded as the nation's top edge defender in the class of 2026, but I have not seen him in this type of setting. Full speed, full pads, full go, and he's the Youngblood every old head is coming after out there and he didn't back down. I was standing next to an SEC staffer that agreed, it was Atkinson who just might be the best player on that field Thursday when things are all said and done. A truly special football player. 

Brookwood

Georgia has become somewhat of a quarterback state over the last decade with plenty of names dominating the college and NFL ranks at the position. One of those next in line is 2023 QB Dylan Lonergan, and he's been a known commodity for quite some time. A recent top-5 of Alabama, South Carolina, Florida, Stanford, and Ohio would indicate that Georgia is out of the mix here for Lonergan. The feelings seem mutual, as the Bulldogs have been transfixed on Arch Manning in this class. 

May 3rd, 2022

Player of the Day: 2023 QB, Malachi Singleton (Arkansas Commit) 

North Cobb Christian

Doesn't take long at North Cobb Christian to pick out the Division 1 football players from the others, though it oftentimes doesn't in a high school football setting. Gabriel Fortson, a 6'3, 300-pound interior offensive lineman is drawing quite a bit of SEC attention currently. I was thoroughly impressed with his movement patterns for such a big young man. Which checks out when you learn he's a 405 squatter, 335 bencher, and a near 300-pound power cleaner. There's been some time spent lifting and preparing the body here. 

2023 ATH Jacob Cruz is a fascinating study as well. A 6'5, 225 jumbo athlete, Cruz's tape has everything from clips of him playing deep safety and running the alley, to slot receiver catching balls over his shoulder for touchdowns, to him playing inside the box as an off-ball linebacker. I have no idea what Jacob Cruz is going to play in college, but he's going to play in college. 

North Cobb 

Just 1.1 miles up Old 41 Highway in Cobb County, Georgia from North Cobb Christian, you'll find the 7A North Cobb. A roster littered with Division 1 prospects and coaches on Tuesday afternoon. Arkansas QB commit Malachi Singleton was in midseason form with regards to decision-making and ball placement. Though it's always unfortunate to see Singleton in a non-contact jersey because you're not truly getting the full scope of the player, nonetheless, he was lights out. 

As for Georgia targets, 2024 ATH David Eziomume is about as elite as they come with regard to game-breaking ability. Eziomume notified me that Georgia is very high up on his list after a recent visit and that he will be narrowing things down soon. Dell McGee is the primary recruiter here and doing an excellent job. Eziomume did confirm to me that Georgia is recruiting him to play running back. 

Other Names to Know: 

  • 2023 DB, Quentin Ajiero - Ajiero is a tough eval for a lot of Power 5 programs, he's 5'10, 175 pounds but man is he a bundle of twitch. His play is reaching the point where the bigger programs coming to see North Cobb this spring won't look away. 
  • 2023 RB, Ben Hall - The Michigan commit is a tank to tackle at 5'11, 225. He's a perfect fit for that Big Ten running style. He will lean on you. 

Kell 

The final stop of the day, Kell High School. They are a roster filled with compelling unknowns in terms of prospects. Players like 2023 DB Ryan Barrett, a 6'1 defensive back that has really flown under the radar but carries Division 1 skillsets and framework. The same could be said about Davion Hampton, a safety/quarterback hybrid that is waiting to explode given the right opportunity. 

Oh, and there's this quarterback hanging out slinging it around named Bryce Clavon. Now, you might not know about Mr. Clavon just yet if you're a Georgia fan, but national baseball scouts certainly do. He's currently ranked the No. 8 overall prospect in the class of 2024 by Baseball America and he's not a bad football player either to say the least. 

May 2nd, 2022

Player of the Day: 2024 LB, Ashton Woods

Roswell

My first stop of the day was at Roswell high school. A 2021 playoff team from a year ago, the Hornets have several Division 1 caliber players, including 2023 DB Ethan Nation who currently holds an offer from Georgia. Nation spent time playing corner, safety, and wide receiver during the practice. He's certainly on the board for Georgia, as to how high will be sorted out this spring as summer as the 2023 class comes to a close. When asked who leads his recruitment at the moment, nation mentioned USC, Oregon, Clemson, Michigan, Michigan State, Florida, Alabama, and Penn State. 

Other Names to Know: 

  • 2023 LB Jayven Hall - Drawing a TON of Mid-major love now. True nose for the football. 
  • 2023 WR Chris Elko - An Ivey League prospect at this point, I loved the physicality that Elko plays the receiver position with. Not a burner, but a baller. 

Milton

The second stop of the day was just a few miles up the road to Milton High School, where now Texas A&M Aggie Lebbeus Overton would have been in attendance had he not reclassified. Though there was still plenty of Power 5 talent on display. Defensive backs Bryce Thornton and Robert Billings might be the best pairing of safeties I'll see all spring and summer. Thornton is one of the biggest playmakers in the state, impacting the ball on both sides. As for Billings, he's as physically impressive as they come. A 6'1, 195-pound safety that plays with tremendous speed and violence. Both are names to know at the safety/nickel position moving forward in this 2023 class. 

DeBron Gatling, a 2024 wide receiver for Milton has been a name Georgia fans should know for quite some time. A 6'1, 180-pound target, Gatling is extremely polished at a young age. Though a trip to Milton high school wouldn't be without a shout to the quarterback battle they have brewing. 

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Dylan Warren, a 2024 prospect, and Luke Nickel, a 2025 prospect are both Division 1 caliber signal-callers with immense ceilings. First-year head coach Ben Reaves, has the best of problems on his hands... two competent and talented throwers of the football. 

Other Names to Know:

  • 2023 LB, Caleb Moran - First off the bus. The dude looks like he could walk his way into 100 tackles in the FCS tomorrow. 
  • 2023 LB, Wyatt Smalley - A long-armed edge defender that has some plus traits and plays with good lean. 

Walton 

My last stop of the day and the best player for my money yesterday was none other than Ashton Woods. A 2024 linebacker that stands 6'3, 215 pounds, and has some of the most keen football instincts I've seen in a backer this long. Most linebackers this stretched out have issues with pad level or the ability to strike within confined spaces, and that's the furthest from the truth here. I expect Georgia to be in the mix very very soon for this linebacker. 

PS. He happens to be the half-brother of Georgia wide receiver Dominick Blaylock.

Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Southern California were all at practice yesterday, and there will be dozens more through for Woods. An ascending player for sure here. 

Other Names to Know:  

  • 2024 QB, Jeremy Hecklinski - I've seen Jeremy for some time now, one of the most gifted throwers of the football in the class. Has a limitless arm on a limited frame. I'm betting someone takes a chance on the arm. 
  • 2024 RB, Makari Bodiford - This is a prospect that was impossible to tackle at 225 pounds, and he's now down to 205 and has remained impossible to tackle while now becoming hard to catch. He's going to blow up this spring. Too many flash plays with too many coaches in attendance not to. 

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