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Georgia football coach Kirby Smart discusses his early signees during a news conference Wednesday in Athens. / Georgia photo by Chamberlain Smith

The Georgia Bulldogs have receivers who are injured and offensive linemen who are leaving early for the NFL entering their Sugar Bowl date against Baylor on New Year's night.

Reinforcements are coming, though not in time for their trip to New Orleans.

The Bulldogs signed 17 players Wednesday as college football's early signing period opened, with eight of the 17 either receivers or offensive linemen. Georgia will not have freshman receiver Dominick Blaylock and senior receiver Lawrence Cager in the Sugar Bowl due to ankle and knee injuries that required surgeries, while starting tackles Andrew Thomas and Isaiah Wilson are bypassing the bowl before forgoing their remaining college eligibility.

"We were able to address a lot of our needs today," Georgia coach Kirby Smart said in a news conference. "When you talk about wide receiver and you talk about the offensive line, with what we've got leaving and what we need on our roster, we were able to attack some of those areas and still have work left to be done hopefully in both those areas."

(Read more: Get to know the newest Georgia Bulldogs)

Georgia wound up signing three of the nation's top 15 receivers according to the 247Sports.com composite rankings: Marcus Rosemy (No. 6) of Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Jermaine Burton (No. 8) of Calabasas, California; and Arian Smith (No. 14) of Lakeland, Florida. Burton and Smith committed and signed with the Bulldogs on Wednesday.

Burton was a former LSU commitment, while Smith was a part of the Pan Am 4-by-100 relay team earlier this year that set an under-20 world record with a time of 38.62 seconds.

"I like how they used Mecole Hardman last year, and they need a fast guy, a guy who can take kick returns and punt returns back to the crib," Smith said after his announcement on ESPNU. "I think I can go there and play early, and I trust Coach Smart. I feel comfortable with all their coaches, and that's why I chose Georgia."

Topping Georgia's offensive line haul was in-state standout Tate Ratledge, the No. 3 tackle nationally, of the Darlington School in Rome. Yet the Bulldogs had two more offensive line commitments — tackle Broderick Jones from the Atlanta suburb of Lithonia and center Sedrick Van Pran of New Orleans — who chose to delay their signings until the traditional date in early February.

Jones, the No. 2 tackle nationally, is scheduled to visit both Auburn and Georgia in January.

Georgia signed four-star quarterback Carson Beck of Jacksonville, Florida, and Smart was asked Wednesday about the status of Bulldogs junior quarterback Jake Fromm, a four-star member of the 2017 class. Fromm was praised this week by ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay, who believes Fromm is the smartest and hardest-working college quarterback and could sneak into the first round.

"We do with Jake exactly what we do with every player on our team," Smart said. "We bring him in. We talk to teams. I talk to general managers. I talk to organizations. We get information, and we give those kids that information.

"When we get closer to the bowl game, we put it away, and then we come back and revisit it, and we've done those things for Jake."

 

Odds and ends

Smart said junior running back D'Andre Swift is practicing but also is still recovering from his nagging shoulder injury. ... Redshirt junior guard Ben Cleveland is academically ineligible for the bowl, according to 247Sports, but Smart would not confirm that report. ... Smart expects to have six or seven midyear enrollees.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524. Follow him on Twitter @DavidSPaschall.

 

 

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