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Quarterback Jake Fromm (11) and running back D'Andre Swift (7) are part of Georgia's 2017 signing class that has helped the Bulldogs win three consecutive Southeastern Conference Eastern Division titles. / Georgia photo by Chamberlain Smith

Regardless of what transpires next Wednesday night in the Sugar Bowl between Georgia and Baylor, the stars of Georgia's 2017 signing class already have played for a final time together.

Junior left tackle Andrew Thomas and redshirt sophomore right tackle Isaiah Wilson cemented that earlier this month by choosing to skip the contest in New Orleans and bypass their remaining eligibility in order to focus on preparing for NFL careers. Junior running back D'Andre Swift is expected to turn pro after the bowl.

"It's pretty amazing what we have done," Thomas said earlier this month before starting in a Southeastern Conference championship game for the third time in his career. "It's been a blessing."

Georgia's juniors and redshirt sophomores have compiled a 35-7 record that includes three straight SEC East titles, two Sugar Bowl trips and one Rose Bowl journey that yielded a 54-48 outlasting of Oklahoma in double overtime. Thomas and quarterback Jake Fromm quickly broke through as freshman starters for the 2017 team that won the league title, with Swift and safety Richard LeCounte III making contributions as well.

This season's Bulldogs seem overrun with 2017 signees, especially on defense with LeCounte, fellow backs Eric Stokes and Mark Webb, inside linebacker Monty Rice, outside linebacker Walter Grant and end Malik Herring.

"I'm really proud of that whole class," Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart said. "They've done a great job."

The 2017 signing class capped Smart's first full recruiting cycle, with Georgia third in the 247Sports.com team rankings behind Alabama and Ohio State. The Crimson Tide's 2017 class was topped by quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, running back Najee Harris, and receivers Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III and DeVonta Smith, and all those players would factor into Alabama's 26-23 overtime triumph over Georgia in the national championship game of the 2017 season.

Ohio State's 2017 signee crop was headed by defensive end Chase Young and running back J.K. Dobbins, who have helped lead the Buckeyes to a 13-0 record entering Saturday night's Fiesta Bowl national semifinal against Clemson.

Recruiting has long contained a boom-or-bust dynamic, but Georgia's top five signees from 2017 — Wilson, LeCounte, Swift, Fromm and Thomas — have been multiyear starters. Swift has compiled two consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons and has averaged 6.6 yards per carry for his career, while Thomas was the winner of this season's Jacobs Trophy as the SEC's top blocker.

Fromm has thrown for 7,986 yards with 76 touchdowns and 18 interceptions and was the most efficient quarterback in Georgia history until slipping behind Aaron Murray after the 37-10 loss to LSU earlier this month in Atlanta.

"During the whole recruiting process, we wanted to do something special," Fromm said before the SEC title game. "Obviously the whole story has not been written yet. We're still writing it, and hopefully it has a pretty good ending."

The lopsided loss to Ed Orgeron's Tigers wasn't what the Bulldogs desired, but Georgia's 2017 class has yet to win fewer than 11 games in any season. Georgia has faced a different West champ — Auburn, Alabama and LSU — each of the past three years, making the Bulldogs the most frequent visitor to Mercedes-Benz Stadium in early December.

There is also the fact that half of the SEC's 14 institutions did not play for the league championship this decade.

"I know people who never get the chance," Stokes said. "To get to go three times is unbelievable."

Said Swift: "What we've done is amazing for us as a team and for the University of Georgia."

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

 

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