Georgia’s National Signing Day 2023

Georgia’s National Signing Day came to a close on Wednesday. Georgia signed 26 recruits to the Class of 2023. The Bulldogs have the #2 ranked class in the country. The class is made up of six 5-star and 17 4-star commits. 2023 is Kirby Smart‘s sixth Top 3 class in his eight years at Georgia. Smart’s other two classes finished 4th (2021) and 6th (2016). Alabama’s the only program that’s matched and surpassed Georgia in the recruiting rankings during Smart’s tenure. Here’s how Georgia’s classes compare to other top programs between 2016 and 2022 based on 247’s rankings.

The Competition

Smart and his Georgia staff are unmatched on the recruiting trail outside of their rivals in Tuscaloosa. Here is a snapshot of how some of their rivals in the SEC and nationally made out this year.

  • Alabama and Nick Saban locked up the #1 recruiting class yet again. Saban brings in a record nine 5-stars in 2023. Rumors of the Tide’s demise appear greatly exaggerated.
  • Clemson and LSU are the only other programs besides Georgia and Alabama to win a national championship during Smart’s tenure. Dabo Swinney‘s class fell from the 7-10 range to 11 this season and finished second in their conference to Miami. Brian Kelly brings in the 6th-rated class in his first full year on the recruiting circuit in Baton Rouge.
  • Ohio State challenged Georgia to the final play this season in the semifinal. The Buckeyes finish with the #5 recruiting class.
  • Texas and Oklahoma won’t come to the SEC until 2024 or 2025. Steve Sarkisian is cleaning up on the recruiting trail and pulling out all of the stops on recruiting visits. Sark signed his second straight Top-5 class in 2023, highlighted by Arch Manning. Brent Venerables overcame a forgettable 2022 inaugural season to bring in the 4th-ranked class in the country. Both coaches have a history in the SEC and are showing they have the recruiting chops to compete.

The Southeastern Conference placed eight teams in the top 20 rankings for 2023. Georgia’s National Signing Day success and consistency illustrate why Smart’s team has been able to play at a high level and find success on the field.

Early Period Signees

The bulk of  Georgia’s class signed during the early signing period in December. Georgia has the 2nd most 5-stars (5) and 3rd most 4-stars (17) in the country. 18 of the 26 signees are already on campus and will participate in the Spring camp.

Three edge rushers ranked in the top 15 at their position: Damon Wilson (3), Samuel M’Pemba (8), and Gabriel Harris (12) highlight the class on the defensive side of the ball. 247’s Southeast recruiting analyst Andrew Ivins saw Wilson as a disruptor in passing situations. “One of the best pure pass rushers in the class of 2023. Makes his money in obvious passing situations as that’s when he tends to deplete the batteries and bring all the juice.”

Pearce Spurlin (2) and Lawson Luckie (8) add to a deep tight end room for Georgia. Spurlin is a dual sport athlete and has a 6’6”, 240-pound frame.  247’s Chris Singletary raved about Spurlin’s ability as a receiving threat. “Exceptional catch radius that he utilizes always to his advantage…Has very good ball skills and does an excellent job tracking the ball and running through to make various catches at different catch points including high-pointing 50/50 balls.”

February Signing Period

Georgia had only one player sign on Wednesday, but the Bulldogs got another elite talent. Ellis Robinson IV, the nation’s #1 cornerback, signed on Wednesday out of IMG. Ivins suggested Robinson has the makings of an elite corner. “The type of cornerback that has the tools to shut down one side of the field or take an opponent’s top receiver out of the game…One of the best in the 2024 cycle when it comes to locating the football, maintaining position, and then making a play at the catch point.”

The One That Got Away

One of the commits Georgia was waiting on was tight end, Walker Lyons. Lyons was the 5th ranked tight end in the class but decided to sign with USC. Georgia already has two tight ends committed to the class and is still waiting on a decision from the top-ranked tight end in the class, Duce Robins. Robins is also a top-ranked baseball recruit and has a chance to get drafted in July. He shared in an interview with ESPN he will continue to weigh his options with the thought he will make a decision by Memorial Day.

While Smart would surely like to have another game-changing tight end in his room, the biggest “miss” of the 2023 recruiting cycle was at quarterback. 2023 is the first year in Smart’s time at Georgia that he won’t sign a quarterback. He has cleaned up in recent years signing 5-star quarterbacks Gunner Stockton (2022), Brock Vandagriff (2021), and 4-star Carson Beck (2020). The three quarterbacks will compete this spring to take over for Stetson Bennett.

Smart had his sights set on one quarterback in 2023: Arch Manning. Smart and the Dawgs made it known they wanted the young Manning to come to Georiga. While disappointed he missed out on Manning, Smart told reporters in December that the Transfer Portal has changed the quarterback recruiting dynamics. “I think it’s irrelevant in today’s day and age. The portal is full of them.” Who knows, maybe one day it could bring Manning to Athens.

Georgia’s National Signing Day results show that complacency has no place in Athens. Smart and his staff will continue to attack recruiting with the same aggression they showed in this year’s national championship game.