Georgia's No. 1 signing class in the recent college football recruiting cycle was undeniably bolstered by what the Bulldogs accomplished this past season.
There are 2019 Georgia commitments who saw the big year coming.
The Bulldogs had stellar hauls in the December signing period and again last Wednesday, and much of that was due to the 9-0 start Georgia had this past season and the finish that included triumphs over Auburn in the Southeastern Conference championship game and Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl. It was a far cry from Kirby Smart's debut season in 2016, when the Bulldogs lost at home to Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech.
"You've got to change the message," Smart said last week in a news conference. "When we were 8-5, a lot of this signing class sat in my office and said, "Where's this program headed?' For us to have the timing of the momentum we had and the season we had, combined with what we thought was a tremendous class, it was a perfect storm, because here you are winning at the end when all these kids have to decide in the early signing period.
"We do that, and then we go out and have one of the most visible games in all of college football in the Rose Bowl. A lot of these kids were very impacted by those games."
Dominick Blaylock didn't need such proof.
A 6-foot, 175-pounder from Walton High in the Atlanta suburb of Marietta, Blaylock is the nation's No. 2 receiver and the No. 10 prospect overall in the 2019 class, according to the 247Sports.com composite rankings. He received his first scholarship offer in eighth grade from former South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier and decided last July to commit to Georgia over Auburn and Clemson.
"Georgia is a really good school," Blaylock said a couple of days after committing, "and I think it's going to be a really good program in these next couple of years."
The Bulldogs already have seven in-state commitments for 2019, including three five-star prospects and the nation's top two receiver recruits: Jadon Haselwood of Ellenwood and Blaylock. Though all seven are homegrown, Savannah five-star defensive end Nolan Smith attends IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
Six of Georgia's 2019 commitments announced their decisions before the 2017 season.
Blaylock has been raised as the stepson of Chattanooga Lookouts co-owner John Woods, and he is the biological son of former Atlanta Hawks guard Mookie Blaylock. His two older brothers, Daron and Zack Blaylock, played football at Kentucky under both Joker Phillips and Mark Stoops.
With Blaylock, Haselwood and Smith, the Bulldogs would be assured of having at least three five-star signees for a fourth consecutive year, something that no other program can claim during this stretch. Georgia landed three five-star signees in 2016 (QB Jacob Eason, WR/DB Mecole Hardman and TE Isaac Nauta) and 2017 (RB D'Andre Swift, OT Isaiah Wilson and DB Richard LeCounte III), and the Bulldogs added seven in the recent recruiting cycle (QB Justin Fields, RB Zamir White, OG Jamaree Salyer, CB Tyson Campbell, OLB Adam Anderson, OT Cade Mays and DE Brenton Cox).
"I've seen all the recruits who have been joining Georgia, and that was a factor for me," Blaylock said. "Kirby Smart is a really good coach, and he's a really good guy, too."
Georgia has had its share of good tailback tandems in recent years, especially this past season with Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, but Blaylock is already looking forward to teaming with Haselwood to provide a potential 1-2 punch in the passing game. The biggest question between now and then is whether it will be Fields or 2017 starter Jake Fromm throwing the ball to the touted tandem.
"It's going to be exciting going to Georgia with him," Blaylock said of Haselwood. "This was what everybody wanted. I think it's going to be a blast playing next to him on the field."
Contact David Paschall at email@example.com or 423-757-6524.