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Georgia football coach Kirby Smart discusses his top-ranked recruiting class Wednesday in Athens. / Georgia photo by Tony Walsh

Updated with more information at 11:50 p.m. on Feb. 5, 2020.

For the second time in three years, Georgia is the king of college football recruiting.

Not that Kirby Smart is touting that fact.

Smart's Bulldogs added five signees Wednesday on the traditional national signing day, a list that included North Murray receiver recruit Ladd McConkey and five-star offensive tackle Broderick Jones from the Atlanta suburb of Lithonia. Georgia's overall class of 25 signees topped the 247Sports.com team rankings, with Alabama, Clemson, LSU, Ohio State, Texas A&M, Auburn, Florida, Texas and Tennessee rounding out the top 10.

"The excitement for this signing class started well before this day last year," Smart said in a news conference. "I don't think a lot of people understand what really goes into a signing class, because we met a lot of these kids two or three years ago, and it's a long, tough process. It's a great day for these guys, but it's kind of anticlimactic with the early signing period.

"I like to think of the early signing period as 70 to 80% of what you sign, and that this late period is more of an adjustment to what maybe you lost or what you lost to early outs or where you think you might have holes. We feel like we've been able to fill a lot of those holes, and we feel that we have a very balanced class across the board."

Alabama and Georgia are the only football programs to assemble top-10 signing classes each of the past four recruiting cycles, with Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban also choosing to downplay the rankings Wednesday.

"The focus for young players coming into a program is not on where they're ranked or rated as high school players but what they have to do to develop to be quality football players when they get to college," said Saban, who signed seven consecutive top-ranked classes from 2011 to 2017 and had the top crop last year.

Georgia added Jones, McConkey, running back Daijun Edwards and offensive linemen Cameron Kinnie and Sedrick Van Pran. The offensive line was a focus for Georgia, which lost left tackle Andrew Thomas, right tackle Isaiah Wilson and left guard Solomon Kindley early to the NFL, and lost the versatile Cade Mays, who transferred to Tennessee.

The Bulldogs wound up addressing that need by signing six at that position, with Jones (No. 11), Tate Ratledge (No. 37) and Van Pran (No. 59) ranked among the nation's top 60 prospects overall.

"With the guys we had leaving early and with the transfer we've had, we knew and anticipated this being a large offensive line class," Smart said. "I've been very pleased with the transition from Coach (Sam) Pittman to Coach (Matt) Luke in being able to recruit these kids and bringing them to our place. These guys range from large and wide to lighter and more athletic, and they will have to develop.

"I've always said that offensive linemen have the toughest time in terms of coming in and playing right away. Andrew (Thomas) was very unique in being able to do that. A lot of these guys could be littered across the two-deep, because our numbers are a little down, but they could come in and compete to start."

Smart referred to his 2020 class as "a little more out-of-state and a little less linebacker-heavy," adding that opportunities could abound for linebackers in the 2021 cycle.

Alabama, as expected, added the four-star tandem of receiver Javon Baker and defensive tackle Jamil Burroughs out of McEachern High School in the Atlanta suburb of Powder Springs. The Tide also landed three-star defensive tackle Damieon George of Houston but missed out on four-star defensive tackle McKinnley Jackson of Lucedale, Mississippi.

Jackson, the nation's No. 61 prospect overall, signed instead with Texas A&M.

"We really spent our whole day today on next year's recruiting," Saban said. "I think I talked to 22 guys today and 14 guys yesterday."

McCallie's Hardy praised

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, who now has produced top-12 classes each of his eight years with the Tigers, did not comment on McCallie School defensive end Jay Hardy during December's early period.

"He actually signed, but he wanted to keep it quiet so he could celebrate with his teammates today," Malzahn said. "Obviously, it got out. He is a wonderful player and a wonderful person. He's also a basketball player. He's very athletic.

"His team won a state championship, and he had a lot to do with that, so we are very excited to add him to our guys."

 

WEDNESDAY'S GEORGIA SIGNEES

RB Daijun Edwards

5-10, 201, Moultrie, Ga. (Colquitt County)

Edwards rushed 715 times for 4,413 yards in 55 career games for Colquitt County, and as a senior he had 27 receptions for 408 yards and two touchdowns. He is the nation's No. 21 running back and No. 279 overall prospect in the 247Sports.com composite rankings.

 

OT Broderick Jones

6-5, 275, Lithonia, Ga. (Lithonia)

Jones is the nation's No. 2 tackle and No. 11 overall prospect according to 247Sports. He had 17 tackles, five tackles for loss and four sacks as a senior defensive tackle, and he signed with Georgia over Auburn and Arkansas. Jones had a trip scheduled for Auburn this past weekend but canceled it.

 

DT Cameron Kinnie

6-3, 265, Suwanee, Ga. (Collins Hill)

Kinnie racked up 63 tackles, 18 tackles for loss and six sacks as a Collins Hill senior. He is the nation's No. 135 defensive tackle prospect and the No. 1,915 overall recruit.

 

WR Ladd McConkey

6-0, 175, Chatsworth, Ga. (North Murray)

McConkey tallied 3,051 all-purpose yards as a senior, throwing for 1,771 yards and 20 touchdowns and rushing for 924 with 10 scores. He is the nation's No. 167 receiver prospect and the No. 1,159 prospect overall.

 

OL Sedrick Van Pran

6-4, 305, New Orleans (Warren Easton)

Van Pran is rated the nation's top center and No. 59 overall prospect by 247Sports, but he could play either of the guard spots for the Bulldogs as well. Though he committed to the Bulldogs in August, Van Pran took recent trips to Alabama and Florida before sticking with Georgia. He helped Warren Easton average 39.4 points per game.

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

 

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