How Recruiting is a Little Different This Season... Who Could Stay & Who Might Test the NFL Waters.
Updated: Dec 10, 2020
Coach Kirby Smart and the Bulldogs (and most other teams) are put in a peculiar situation this season when it comes to recruiting and scholarship availability. Not only is the early signing day (December 16th) in the middle of a game week but Coaches need to factor in the ruling by the NCAA Council allowing upperclassmen an additional year due to the impact by Covid-19 Pandemic.
Per the NCAA Rule:
Winter sport student-athletes who compete during 2020-21 in Division I will receive both an additional season of competition and an additional year in which to complete it, the Division I Council decided. The same flexibility was provided to student-athletes after the spring season was canceled in 2020 and the fall season was seriously impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Back to the Dawgs, While trying to determine who to sign and recruit down to the signing day deadline. Coaches are now going to need to have conversations with current rostered players a bit earlier to determine the intentions. NCAA Teams are only allowed to have 85 scholarship players enrolled. The tough situation for coaches are with the early enrollees. If the recruit signs in the early signing period and decides to enroll early (January 2021). This counts against the # of scholarships allowed in a season. Current players need to decide their eligibility which is typically mid-to-late January. So if a current player changes their mind and decides to stay for "another" senior season, the Bulldogs (or any team) would need to discuss with the recruit the status of their scholarship. That's when you see "grey-shirts" and also recruits who wanted to enroll early be pushed to the fall. Kirby Smart is on the record that he predicts anywhere from 13-20 early enrollees this year.
The NCAA has decided the Returning Seniors will not count against the 85 Scholarship number next season which is a bonus for all teams. Below is a quote from Kirby Smart regarding the
On whether the NCAA has given him or the other coaches guidance as far as the 85-man roster and how to approach it going into the 2021 season…
“Yes and no. I mean, the feedback is that the seniors who choose to come back for an extra year of eligibility don’t count on the 85. So, that’s a bonus. You know you’re working off your 85. You assume those guys are going to be gone, but they’ve got the flexibility to come back. That’s great. That’s the right thing to do. I think that’s super, but now try to make decisions for your organization mid-year is a different circumstance. Everything doesn’t mesh…let’s say we have five mid-years, which isn’t the case at all, but let’s say we have five mid-years that want to come. We have to have a spot for every one of them to come, so every senior who elects to stay, we don’t have a mid-year spot. So, even though [seniors] won’t count towards the 85, we don’t have a spot for [mid-years] to come. We don’t really control what seniors stay, and we’ll certainly give them the flexibility, but if we have more mid-years that want to come than seniors who want to leave, we have a problem. I don’t think that all the things mesh real well, especially if you’re a program that has a shot at a lot of mid-years. What’s different about this year? Kids aren’t in high school, so why should [they] stay for [their] second semester? We’re looking at—and I don’t know about other schools, maybe they’re the same way—[but] we’re looking at the possibility of anywhere from 14 to 20 mid-year enrollees. Let’s say we have 20 mid-year enrollees who want to come—we don’t have 20 spots. Yet, the seniors won’t count next year, but they’re eating spots right now. It just doesn’t add up. It doesn’t make perfect sense, so it’s a dilemma that we have to deal with. You also have programs that have juniors, so you don’t know juniors who haven’t declared yet, but yet we’re having a signing date before the juniors declare. We’ve been saying for a while that the timing just isn’t accurate, and it really causes some mismanagement, and the people who suffer are the high school kids who may be told one thing and then someone say, ‘Well, I thought you could be here, but maybe you can’t be here.’ It just depends on the number of spots you have.”
Keep in mind, Scholarships are actually a year to year commitment. Universities/Coaches can change the parameters of your scholarship each year or pull your scholarship at anytime.
Its a Dog eat Dog world during this time in recruiting! Some of the recruits who have gone on Social Media and decided to "back of their commitment" might not of had a choice... Maybe the Schools have rescinded their offer or Teams are finding out there's not enough space for them or that position anymore.
So while we were giving it some thought, we decided to list the current Bulldog upperclassmen that have a decision to make as well as the players who have entered the transfer portal.
**Please keep in mind the notes next to each players name are predictions from our staff**
Senior (Not Returning):
Mark Webb - Accepted invitation to Senior Bowl
D.J. Daniel - Accepted invitation to Senior Bowl
Monty Rice - Accepted invitation to Senior Bowl
Richard LeCounte - Accepted invitation to Senior Bowl
Ben Cleveland - Accepted invitation to Senior Bowl
Malik Herring - Accepted invitation to Senior Bowl
Tre' McKitty - Accepted invitation to Senior Bowl
Nate McBride - Doubtful to take RS to return as ST player
Entered Transfer Portal:
QB D'Wan Mathis
WR Trey Blount
WR Makiya Tongue
Possibility of Foregoing Eligibility:
*Azeez Ojulari- Leads team in sacks and likely Day 1 draft pick
*Jordan Davis- Huge Run Stuffer, Projected day 1 pick in the NFL Draft
*James Cook- Increased role in Jr season, but with emergence of McIntosh/Milton/Edwards will there be enough touches to go around?
*Zamir White- Should Return, but with Knee injury history and crowded backfield would returning help draft stock?
*Eric Stokes- All-SEC Cornerback would be a surprise to see return to Dawgs.
*Tyson Campbell- Has the measurements the NFL scouts are looking for, but does he have experience to back it up?
*C Trey Hill- Would not be surprised to see him forego his senior season.
Seniors (who could return to improve draft status):
*OLB Jermaine Johnson- Likely already a late round draft pick, but a possible return could help him climb the draft boards in 2022?
*WR Demetris Robertson- Is there enough balls to go around next season for Robertson to build draft stock?
*OL Justin Shaffer- Lackluster Senior Season. May not be a spot for him to return to with young talent in the wings.
*OLB Walter Grant- The emergence of Johnson, Anderson, and Smith decimated Grant's on field time.
*DL Devonte Wyatt- Wyatt is an unsung hero on the Defensive line. He's probably a NFL player now, but could get more attention from NFL Scouts with another year in the trenches