Georgia would have held its 11th of 15 spring practices Thursday if not for the coronavirus shutdown. But football recruiting, which always busy this time of year in college football, has not slowed a bit for the Bulldogs.
Georgia welcomed its second verbal commitment of the past 24 hours Thursday. The latest one came from 4-star running back Lovasea Carroll of the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. Carroll’s pledge came on the heels of one Wednesday night from Micah Morris, a 4-star offensive tackle out of Camden County High School.
The non-binding verbal commitments push to six the number of recruits now planning to sign in the Bulldogs’ class of 2021. That’s about where Georgia usually is this time of year, and that’s somewhat of a surprise to recruiting experts.
“To me, there have been more commitments to this point than I thought there would be with what’s going on in the world right now,” said Chad Simmons, an Atlanta-based recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. “But things seem to be going about like they have been the last few years. It’s very busy and very active right now.”
In 2018, the NCAA began allowing football programs to host prospects on official visits starting in April and extending into June. It was a response to the new early signing period in December, which now generates the majority of signings among elite prospects.
Of course, that’s not possible now with the world on lockdown because of the threat of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. But college coaches – especially those residing in the SEC – haven’t let that slow them down.
Without weekly practices and other obligations to slow them, they’re left a lot of time to communicate with the recruits they most covet. And, with modern technology being what it is these days, there are a lot of ways to do that.
“I can’t tell you how many recruits have told me they’re kind of getting tired of college coaches having so much free time to recruit them,” Simmons said. “They’re getting tired of the phone calls they’re getting every day, tired of them wanting them to go on Zoom or FaceTime every day. That’s triggered, I think, some of these kids committing even before they thought they did. I think they just want to get some of these coaches off their back in a nice way. Because of that, I think you’ll see other guys (commit) over the next week or so.”
Georgia’s latest commitments were both heavily pursued. Carroll – who’s first name is pronounced luh-VOSS-ee-ay — once committed to South Carolina and also was vigorously pursued by Alabama, Auburn, Florida, FSU and Georgia Tech after backing out on the Gamecocks last fall.
Carroll basically played all over the field on offense and defense at Warren County High. But he concentrated on running back after transferring to IMG before last season. The 6-foot-1, 189-pound junior had 57 carries for 571 yards and eight touchdowns while sharing the backfield load last season. He had 1,446 yards rushing and 19 touchdowns at Warren County in 2018.
“He’s a Georgia kid, and going to Georgia has been his dream since the first time I stepped into that high school when he was a sophomore,” Simmons said. “He’s always talked ‘Georgia, Georgia, Georgia,’ and people have been in his ear about playing at the University of Georgia since he was a baby. Even though he plays at IMG, he’s still a home-state kid. So, it’s kind of come full circle for him and that’s nice to see.”
Morris enjoys a bit more of a national reputation as an elite prospect. The Bulldogs were thought to be in a real tug-of-war with Alabama for Morris’ service, and he was hotly pursued by Auburn, Clemson, Florida and Florida State, among numerous others.
Meanwhile, Simmons expects the best is ahead for Morris.
“He won’t be 17 until August, and that’s one of the things I like about him – his future, the potential, his development,” Simmons said. “Still 16 and he’s already 6-4 or 6-5, 330 pounds, very well-developed and mature. He reminds me a lot of Andrew Thomas. He doesn’t do a lot of social media, not a big rah-rah guy, just gets the job done, works hard, very smart.”
Morris is the first offensive lineman in the 2021 class, and Carroll is the first running back. Simmons expects the Bulldogs to pursue another back and several more linemen.
He also doesn’t think it’s a happenstance that all six of Georgia’s commitments have in-state residences. The Bulldogs signed the No. 1-ranked class in the country last year, but many were from out of state.
“I do think Georgia is much more focused on in-state talent in this class,” Simmons said. “Now they’ll still target the best players in the country and go get those guys. But in 2021, a lot the best guys they’re looking at play in their home state. It just kind of lines up that way this year.”
Of course, times are very different for Simmons as well. Normally, he’d be all over the place this time of year, visiting spring practices, meeting recruits, attending regional and national recruiting camps.
Instead, he has been bolted down with his family at home in Paulding County.
“There’s some pros and cons to that, of course,” Simmons said. “The time away from family is one of the negatives of my job and being on the phone all the time. So that’s been the good part, being able to play old-school board games with my kids at night and still being able to do my job. The crazy part is watching my wife, a teacher, try to teach 27 kids fifth-grade math over Zoom. I give her credit seeing that firsthand. I’m blessed to have the job I have.”
Georgia’s class ranks No. 8 nationally in the 247Sports Composite. Quarterback Brock Vandagriff of Bogart is the only 5-star prospect so far.
GEORGIA 2021 COMMITMENTS
Lovesea Carroll, RB, 6-1, 189, Bradenton, Fla.
David Daniel, ATH, 6-2, 185, Woodstock
Marlin Dean, DT, 6-6, 265, Elberton
Jonathan Jefferson, DE, 6-4, 255, Douglasville
Micah Morris, OT, 6-4, 316, Kingsland
Brock Vandagriff, QB, 6-2, 199, Bogart
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