UGA Edge Targets Make SI All-American Watch List

SI All-American came up with a watch list of some of the top edge rushers in the 2022 class.
Author:
Updated:
Original:

The 2021 football season is inching ever closer to the start of college and high-school football season. SI All-American has been evaluating some of the top talents around the country as they are now putting together a watch list for those players who are in the running to be a part of the SI-99 All-American list.

Multiple Georgia targets made the watch list for SIAA and added further confirmation that the Dawgs aren't the only schools pursuing these top edge-rushing talents across the country. 

Current Alabama commit Jeremiah Alexander came in at No. 1 among all edge rushers for the class of 2022. SIAA had this to say of the 6-foot-2, 235-pound edge rusher from Alabaster, Ala. 

Alexander is the 2022 classes’ premiere fast-twitch magician off the edge. Apart from first-class instincts, he’s a fantastic tackler. He plays with linebacker skills off the edge, but he’s also done heavy damage in between the tackles off stunts. He’s got a natural ability to shed blocks, with that high football IQ to diagnose and attack. Alabama is well-positioned to develop Alexander into another tackling machine in that front seven and we could see him being utilized as a packaged pass rusher as well. Perhaps a third-down specialist early on in Tuscaloosa, but we think Alexander has got the capability to grow into a true three-down player for the Tide.

Right behind him was Shemar Stewart, who is considering multiple schools, including the Dawgs. 

One of the tougher evaluations nationally, from a position projection perspective, Stewart would be among the best ranked on the edge or as an interior defensive lineman. What pushed it over the top to keep him on the edge, where he has the most experience, is the sheer athleticism and length. Yes, Stewart has added to his frame and could work inside this fall with plenty of effectiveness, but his bend, balance and comfort lies on the outside. The Miami native hasn't sacrificed twitch as he has added good mass, with enough polish to continue to win with speed and/or counter with power. Improved work with his hands could take his game to the level that could push him to the top of the list.

Rounding out the bottom of the list for SI All-American are Darris Smith at No. 9, the Georgia commit, and Jihaad Campbell at 10, the current Clemson commit. 

Smith has your typical Georgia 3-4 outside linebacker build. Long and strong, with great hand fighting ability. If Georgia can harness Smith’s aggressiveness, they’ll have another monster on their hands with pass rushing prowess. Smith uses his long arms to keep blockers at bay, and closes in on quarterbacks with his speed. If he can play with a bit more leverage and technique, with his athletic profile, he’ll be a force out on the edge for a long time. Smith has three-sport experience, including head-turning basketball ability. He was the region player of the year this spring with above-the-rim ability at his size, something we see on occasion on Friday nights, too.

Campbell is an intriguing prospect in the sense that he excels playing off edge as well as an off-ball linebacker. He has linebacker tendencies, like driving his feet through contact, but he can turn the corner like he plays defensive end full time. Excellent blitzer from pretty much anywhere in the box. Campbell’s lateral speed is also very impressive, and is one of the reasons we’re so high on him. As dynamic as this 2022 edge class is, Campbell’s utility is what separates him from the pack. Our only quip with his game is that he needs to develop better block shedding habits, because his film for the most part revealed a reliance on pure athleticism to make blockers miss. We expect elevation now that he's at IMG Academy.