This was not a great recruiting week for the Georgia Bulldogs.
Four-star receiver Van Jefferson of Brentwood, Tenn., committed to Georgia in August but opened his recruitment on Tuesday. Then five-star cornerback Donte Jackson of New Orleans announced Wednesday that he was picking LSU over the Bulldogs.
Yet that disappointing stint hardly puts a dent in a crop of Georgia commitments ranked No. 2 nationally by Scout.com and No. 6 by Rivals.com and 247Sports.com entering this weekend.
"The University of Georgia has a good name nationally," said JC Shurburtt, the national recruiting director for 247Sports. "They are in a situation where the state of Georgia is so heavily contested that you don't always get the cream of the crop from the state completely. You have to go out of state, and Georgia has done a good job of that. They've gone to Florida to get guys and to the Carolinas to get guys.
"They do a good job of finding guys in adjacent states and back-filling for sort of the players they inevitably lose from the Atlanta area, which is just so hotly contested now. It's impossible for them to get all of them."
Georgia and Southern California are the only programs to land Rivals top-15 recruiting classes annually since the inception of the recruiting service in 2002. This would mark the 11th top-10 class for the Bulldogs in 14 years.
The Bulldogs have raked in most of the in-state talent this year, receiving commitments from seven of Rivals' top-100 prospects: Albany defensive end Trenton Thompson (No. 7), Hogansville athlete Terry Godwin (No. 10), Atlanta defensive end Natrez Patrick (No. 42), Evans safety Rashad Roundtree (No. 56), Tucker defensive end Jonathan Ledbetter (No. 68), Fairburn defensive end D'Andre Walker (No. 85) and Stone Mountain defensive end Chauncey Rivers (No. 87). Patrick and Ledbetter enrolled earlier this month.facebook
Georgia also is considered the school to beat for Roquan Smith (No. 77), a linebacker from Montezuma.
Reasons for this year's highly rated Georgia class range from the usual to the updated. Staying close to home has long been a factor in choosing destinations, and that's what Roundtree cited when he committed in November.
"Proximity was pretty big for my parents," Roundtree told Rivals. "It wasn't so much for me, but after traveling around and seeing what I have seen, it was the best school for me. I'm used to being around SEC football, plus I'm around players I'm more comfortable with."
Yet when Thompson committed three months earlier, he praised a defensive staff headed by Jeremy Pruitt and with Tracy Rocker overseeing the line. This is the first full recruiting cycle for Georgia's four defensive assistants.
"They have national championship experience," Thompson told Rivals. "I really think that they can teach me a lot, and I'll be ready to learn. When Coach Rocker came in, he really worked hard on me, and I know he's going to stay on top of me to get better, both on the field and off."
Thompson is rated the nation's top overall prospect by 247Sports and No. 2 by Scout, making him the highest-rated Georgia recruit in the Mark Richt era.
Godwin is expected to begin his college career at receiver, which is a position of need for the Bulldogs with the departures of Michael Bennett, Chris Conley and Jonathon Rumph. The secondary also needs replenishing since Damian Swann is now an NFL draft hopeful and numerous players who were expected to be around -- most notably Tray Matthews, Josh-Harvey Clemons, Shaq Wiggins, Sheldon Dawson and J.J. Green -- are no longer with the program.
"They've recruited some guys in the defensive backfield who can definitely help them," Shurburtt said. "Rashad Roundtree is an excellent safety prospect, and I really like the corner they got out of Miami Northwestern, Deandre Baker. I think he will get on the field early at Georgia, but in his later years I think he will really become something special.
"Jeremy Pruitt is one of the very best recruiters in the country, and I think they will continue to recruit at a high level and close relatively well."
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6524.