Georgia football recruiting: Previewing the early signing period for the 2021 class

Hunter Dyke | Mizzou AthleticsGeorgia head coach Kirby Smart. Mizzou Tigers vs. Georgia Bulldogs at Memorial Stadium in Columbia, Mo. on Saturday, Dec. 12.

College football’s fourth early signing period begins Wednesday, Dec. 16 and ends Friday, Dec. 18. Here are three Georgia football targets to watch and other storylines surrounding the Bulldogs’ 2020 class. All rankings are based on the 247Sports Composite.

Xavian Sorey 

He could be Georgia’s third recruit from the class of 2021 to play at IMG Academy. He could also be Alabama’s fourth recruit ranked in the top 20 nationally. He is Xavian Sorey, the nation’s top outside linebacker prospect and the 10th-best defensive recruit in his class.

Out of Bradenton, Florida, Sorey’s college interest is spread across SEC programs, including Georgia, Alabama and Florida. While he’s been in frequent contact with Alabama outside linebackers coach Sal Sunseri, Georgia brought out the big guns on Friday with a tailor-made video posted to head coach Kirby Smart’s Twitter account. In the video, Smart texts special teams coordinator Scott Cochran asking who’ll operate out of the new Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall barber shop. Cochran, smiling with the knowledge that Sorey’s nickname is “the barber,” replies, “I know just the guy.”

The Sorey story will likely continue Wednesday when the 6-foot-3, 214-pound linebacker is scheduled to make his commitment. If he chooses Georgia, Sorey will join fellow IMG graduate Nolan Smith and a host of young talent in Georgia’s linebacker room. It’s a crowded depth chart, but he would make a daunting addition to Georgia’s outside rush alongside sophomore Azeez Ojulari. That is, as long as Georgia doesn’t want him just for the haircuts.

Maason Smith

Expected to end up fewer than 90 miles from his hometown of Houma, Louisiana, Maason Smith has shown interest in LSU, Georgia and Alabama. A five-star recruit, Smith is the No. 1 player in his home state and the No. 2 defensive tackle in the country. Georgia’s two other defensive tackle commits are four stars.

Smith would have a tough act to follow if he chooses Georgia on Wednesday. Jalen Carter, Georgia’s lone five-star defensive tackle from the class of 2020, has racked up the most tackles of any Georgia freshman this season and even caught a three-yard touchdown pass in Georgia’s home win over Tennessee.

With four rising sophomores on the D-line and Smith’s unclear interest level, he’s a longshot for the Bulldogs. But should Smart land Smith, he’d be the third-highest rated prospect of the class behind offensive tackle Amarius Mims and quarterback Brock Vandagriff. Smith announced he would sign with a team Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. EST.

Donovan Edwards 

A final wish-list candidate for Georgia is four-star running back Donovan Edwards. The West Bloomfield, Michigan native, looks like a shoo-in to join the Wolverines next fall, but other potential landing spots include Georgia, Notre Dame and Oklahoma.

Georgia certainly isn’t in need of a young back given three of its underclassmen rushers — Kenny McIntosh, Daijun Edwards and Kendall Milton — have combined for 635 yards on 110 carries in 2020. But offensive coordinator Todd Monken has shown his willingness to spread the love in the running back room, and Georgia has again compiled a formidable ground game.

The No. 4 running back in his class, Donovan is scheduled to announce his commitment Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. EST. He’ll narrowly outrank four-star Lovasea Carroll as Smart’s top 2021 tailback if he chooses Georgia.

Storylines

The future is Vandagriff: It’s no secret the Georgia faithful are excited for incoming dual-threat quarterback Brock Vandagriff. The 6-foot-3 prospect from Athens-area Prince Avenue Christian has left Bulldog fans counting down the days until he steps foot on campus. With last week’s 38-0 victory in the third round of the Georgia High School Association Class A playoffs, Vandagriff is proving his worth as the nation’s No. 2 dual-threat quarterback and the second-best prospect in the state (after fellow Georgia commit Amarius Mims), and his expected signing Wednesday couldn’t come sooner for the Bulldogs.

Reloading the secondary: With Richard LeCounte and Eric Stokes both strong candidates for the 2021 NFL Draft, the Bulldogs are in need of some new blood in the secondary for next season. Luckily, Georgia’s current commits could help fill that need. The Bulldogs have secured commitments from five defensive backs in the current class — more than any one position thus far — and have plenty of excitement around four stars David Daniel, Kamari Lassiter and De’Jahn Warren.

Sneaking into the top: Georgia signed the country’s best class in 2020 and currently stands at No. 3 for 2021 behind Alabama and Ohio State. The Bulldogs could find themselves headed back to the front with this week’s decision from Sorey. A commitment from four-star safety Terrion Arnold would also help the Bulldogs secure another top class, but he isn’t expected to announce a decision until February.

Full list of Georgia commits as of Dec. 14

Offense

Five-star offensive tackle Amarius Mims

Five-star quarterback Brock Vandagriff

Four-star offensive tackle Micah Morris

Four-star offensive guard Dylan Fairchild

Four-star tight end Brock Bowers

Four-star running back Lovasea Carroll

Three-star wide receiver Adonai Mitchell

Three-star offensive guard Jared Wilson

Three-star wide receiver Jackson Meeks 

Defense

Five-star outside linebacker Smael Mondon

Four-star cornerback Nyland Green

Four-star athlete/defensive back David Daniel 

Four-star defensive end Jonathan Jefferson

Four-star defensive tackle Tyrion Ingram-Dawkins

Four-star inside linebacker Jamon Dumas-Johnson

Four-star cornerback Kamari Lassiter

Four-star cornerback De’Jahn Warren

Four-star outside linebacker Chaz Chambliss

Four-star defensive tackle Marlin Dean

Three-star cornerback Javon Bullard

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