Looking at how Georgia’s top recruits will impact the program

The Bulldogs don’t plan to go away anytime soon.

After years of underachieving and riding the treadmill, Georgia broke through in 2017, eventually falling just short of a national championship because of Alabama freshman heroics.

But Kirby Smart’s crew will have its own youthful injection next season when it welcomes the country’s top ranked recruiting class.

Here’s a quick look at the best five recruits joining the Bulldogs, according to ESPN’s rankings:

QB Justin Fields, 6-3, 225, Kennesaw

Fields has the makings of a transcendent dual-threat talent and ranks atop ESPN’s recruiting rankings. ESPN’s Tom Luginbill told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution before the season that Fields is a near clone of former Clemson quarterback and championship winner Deshaun Watson.

Fields’ decision to come to UGA was a curious one to some given Jake Fromm’s breakout freshman season. But Fields isn’t scared of competition and embraces playing for his “local” program.

“This is the greatest three-year recruiting stretch at the quarterback position in the history of modern recruiting,” CBS analyst Barton Simmons said. “Fields is a national championship quarterback. It's going to happen; it was just a matter of what uniform he would be wearing when he hoists the trophy. Smart has convinced him he looks good in red.”

DE Brenton Cox, 6-4, 250, Stockbridge

No. 13 in ESPN’s top 300, Cox is integral to Smart building the mean, physical defense he preaches so much about.

Cox withdrew from his commitment to Ohio State on Dec. 6 and signed with Georgia on Dec. 20, the first day of the early signing period. Cox projects as an elite pass rusher able to attack with his hands in the dirt or standing up.

Cox chose the Bulldogs over the Crimson Tide, acknowledged that his home of Stockbridge being 60 miles from Athens played a role.

RB Zamir White, 6-0, 210, Laurinburg, N.C.

Just what Georgia needed, another running back.

White tore his ACL but expects to be ready for camp. He’s the consensus top running back in the nation and comes in No. 15 overall on ESPN’s listing.

“They feel that I am progressing well officially and that things are going really well,” White said of UGA’s training staff.

White is already drawing comparisons to fellow North Carolina product Todd Gurley. He’ll make an impact in the rushing and passing game.

OT Cade Mays, 6-6, 318, Knoxville, Tenn.

Mays committed to Tennessee in November 2015. A Knoxville native, he appeared likely to follow his father, Kevin, in wearing the orange and white.

But upon Tennessee’s struggles, Mays rescinded his commitment. He considered Ohio State and Clemson before picking the Bulldogs.

Mays, ranked No. 19 by ESPN, is a behemoth of a human being. He’ll join guard recruits Jamaree Salyer and Trey Hill to make up one of the more impressive offensive-line hauls in recent memory.

Players built like Mays are why Smart’s program is often declared the next Alabama. Simply get bigger, faster and stronger than everyone else.

WR Kearis Jackson, 6-0, 200, Fort Valley

Opinions of Jackson are widespread depending on your scouting source, but ESPN lists him as the 26th most coveted recruit.

Smart has frequently said he loves players from Peach County because of their toughness and how they’re taught to play. That must leave him salivating over Jackson’s potential.

Jackson has been an important piece of Georgia’s recruiting cycle, pushing Fields and others to join him in Athens. He projects as a slot receiver-type, complementing some of the bigger receivers Georgia collected last cycle.

Despite being listed at 6-feet, Jackson is extremely physical and a capable blocker (going back to Smart’s praise of Peach County). As Georgia looks to maintain the culture it’s developed, players like Jackson will be critical.

Other signees to crack ESPN’s top 100:

No. 27: G Trey Hill, 6-4, 330, Warner Robins

No. 28: G Jamaree Salyer, 6-4, 325, Atlanta

No. 55: RB James Cook, 5-11, 183, Miami

No. 57: DE Adam Anderson, 6-5, 225, Rome

No. 63: TE Luke Ford, 6-6, 252, Carterville, Ill.

Note: Heights and weights are those listed by UGA when each player signed.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in UGA / DawgNation

NFL contracts for Georgia picks total $53.5 million
NFL contracts for Georgia picks total $53.5 million

Six Georgia players selected in the 2018 NFL Draft have inked deals totaling a combined $53.5 million.  With three first-round picks, the Bulldogs lay claim to being one the highest-grossing programs for draft picks in 2018.  According to Over The Cap salary tracker, this is what each draft pick from Georgia will receive over their...
Georgia football traditions: Sanford Stadium hedges
Georgia football traditions: Sanford Stadium hedges

The phrase “between the hedges,” coined by Atlanta Journal sportswriter Grantland Rice, is synonymous with Georgia football. Sanford Stadium’s privet hedges, which cover about 5,000 square feet around the playing field have survived disease, winter weather and more than one move. The hedges are not just cosmetic there is...
Rate Georgia’s upcoming football opponents
Rate Georgia’s upcoming football opponents

You recently selected which games on Georgia’s 2018 football schedule were shoo-ins and which were definite losses. Now we look further on the Bulldogs’ schedule and rate upcoming opponents for the 2018 to 2021 season. The Bulldogs’ upcoming non-SEC power conference opponents include Notre Dame and Atlantic Coast Conference teams...
UGA’s Maten invited to NBA scouting combine
UGA’s Maten invited to NBA scouting combine

Georgia senior Yante Maten has been invited to the NBA scouting combine. The power forward will be one of 69 players to take part in the pre-draft event in Chicago next week. The NBA announced the full list of participants on Monday. Maten, 6-foot-9, 240 pounds, played in 33 games, all starts, for the Bulldogs last season. He averaged 19.3 points,...
Who is the Bulldogs’ biggest rival?
Who is the Bulldogs’ biggest rival?

Who is Georgia’s biggest football rival?  Is it Auburn? Georgia first played Auburn in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park in 1892. It’s known as the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry. The Bulldogs are 58-56-8 against the Tigers.  • Notable rivalry moment: One of the most college football’s most memorable images occurred...
More Stories