Georgia has a big game on the gridiron with Tennessee coming to town, but it’s also a big weekend for the future of the program as a great deal of highly-touted high school prospects make their way to Sanford Stadium.
This weekend, a total of 50 recruits, both targeted players and current commitments, ranging from the class of 2017 to the class of 2020 will endure the atmosphere that promises to be raucous. Georgia hopes their experiences will lure them to join the program in the coming seasons.
As the all-important marquee matchup nears, a few of the recruits that will be on campus spoke to The Telegraph, giving their thoughts about Georgia’s recent defeat to Mississippi and what they’re looking forward to on their visit.
Four-star defensive back commit William Poole (2017 – Hapeville Charter Academy)
Poole is one of Georgia’s premier additions to the Class of 2017, and he has been out on the recruiting trail attempting to convince fellow defensive backs to come join him in Athens, such as four-star Xavier McKinney.
Poole and five-star Richard LeCounte have unofficially been named the leaders of the upcoming class as their dedication has never wavered as both of the future Bulldogs have reassured their pledges on multiple occasions. Georgia fell to Ole Miss this past weekend, and yet again Poole stated reassuring words to Bulldog fans.
"I feel like Georgia is just going through the process of a whole new coaching staff and still getting into the groove of things," Poole said. "Coming into the season I expected them to have their ups and downs, this isn't something that I was surprised about. In no regard have my thoughts about the program changed. I'm 100 percent committed to the program."
As Georgia enters their biggest home matchup, against a nationally ranked SEC rival in Tennessee, Poole believes a good weekend is ahead for him.
Poole is ranked as the 17th-ranked defensive back nationally and is also the 17th overall prospect in the state of Georgia, according to the 247Sports.com composite rankings.
"I'm looking forward to just enjoying my weekend, cheering for my team and chilling with the other recruits and commits," Poole said.
Place-kicker target Brenton King (2017 – Mill Creek High School)
Georgia’s kicking woes have been well known and the Bulldogs are inviting a place-kicker target this weekend as they try to find a dependable option for the coming seasons.
King has not yet obtained an offer from the Bulldogs but both sides display interest. King discusses the meaning of potentially having an offer from his hometown school.
King currently obtains a scholarship offer from Old Dominion as well as walk-on offers from Power 5 programs.
"Obtaining an offer would mean a whole lot," King said. "I would definitely enjoy kicking for my home state if I got an offer."
As King takes his first visit as a recruiting target to Sanford Stadium, he looks forward to seeing the staff, which he hasn’t interacted with in a face-to-face manner since the Kirby Smart football camp back in July.
King’s longest recorded field goal conversion was of 56 yards, occurring this season against Archer. In addition, the local product has drawn touchbacks on 88 percent of his kickoffs.
"I’m looking forward to seeing the coaches and catching up with them again," King said. "And I hope Georgia pulls out the win."
Four-star inside linebacker target Leonard Warner Jr. (2017 – Brookwood High School)
Warner is a recruit Georgia is in high pursuit of, and the four-star has visited the Georgia campus many times. Warner had originally planned to head west this weekend to take an official visit to Stanford but a schedule complication has led him back to Athens for his off week at Brookwood.
Warner said that his top five schools are Duke, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech and Stanford. The 6-foot-4, 226-pound linebacker ranks as the ninth highest at his position and the 22nd overall prospect in the state of Georgia for the class of 2017.
"I’ve been up there a lot, 10 or 15 times, so there’s not much more for me to learn or experience about the campus itself," Warner said. "I just want to go up there, spend time with the coaches while showing a face and go up there to have a good time and watch a good game."
Four-star offensive lineman commit Andrew Thomas (2017 – Pace Academy)
The Pace Academy trifecta of Georgia recruits are headed to Athens as class of 2017 commits Thompson and receiver Trey Blount III re-visit the school they’ve given their pledge to. Class of 2018 target and five-star offensive lineman Jamaree Salyer will join them too.
Thomas committed to Georgia back at "The Opening" event this summer and should bolster Georgia’s offensive line rotation for the coming seasons. The 6-foot-5, 310-pound big man gave his thoughts on Georgia’s recent defeat.
"It wasn't a great game but they made some improvements," Thomas said. "They also have a young team so I think they will play a great game against Tennessee."
Heading into Georgia’s upcoming SEC clash with Tennessee, Thomas said he looks forward to experiencing the game day atmosphere yet again, and he may try to create some recruiting talk among the Georgia targets as well.
Thomas ranks as the 11th overall offensive tackle nationally and the sixth overall prospect in the state of Georgia, according to the 247Sports.com composite rankings.
Four-star wide receiver target Jeremiah Holloman (2017 – Newton High School)
Georgia already has a strong base of wide receivers for the upcoming class as Blount, Mark Webb Jr. and Matt Landers have given their pledge to Kirby Smart’s program. But the Bulldogs hope to enrich their group of playmakers, and add Holloman.
Holloman makes his way to Athens with his options wide open as Georgia, Miami and Tennessee are among his contenders. As Holloman scouts his potential destinations, he gave his thoughts on Georgia’s performance this past weekend.
"I feel as if Georgia may have underestimated what Ole Miss is capable of," Holloman said. "They were relaxed going in and it showed. But nothing has changed about how I view the team, I expected Georgia to have a bit of a bumpy road."
Holloman said that he will not take a side in Saturday’s game as Georgia and Tennessee are two of his most desired programs. As a Bulldogs recruit for the weekend, he’s looking forward to a couple of things, both within the game and beyond the performances of both teams.
Holloman ranks as the 23rd best wide receiver nationally and the 18th overall prospect in the state of Georgia, according to the 247Sports.com composite rankings.
"I want to see how Georgia responds this week after being knocked down, and I hope they just come out and compete," Holloman said. "Aside from the game, I’m really looking forward to the atmosphere in Sanford Stadium."
Four-star offensive lineman commit Max Wray (2018 – Franklin High School, Franklin, Tenn.)
Wray was Georgia’s first addition to the class of 2018, although he comes right from the Volunteers backyard.
Since committing, Wray has been dead set on joining the Bulldogs in Athens, even to the point where Wray will deny having dialogue with other prestigious programs. Although Georgia played sloppy, which Wray indicates, his dedication to the program is set in stone.
"Georgia just got out-played," Wray said. "Everyone made some mistakes and it didn't really look like the players were into it. Of course, we need to get better on the offensive line to protect Jacob (Eason) and the defense needs to get back to Georgia defense. But my thoughts haven't changed at all. Like I've said many times, Georgia could lose every game and I'll still be a Bulldog, I have complete confidence in the coaches."
Wray comes into Athens for his first look at the Georgia program during the season, andwantsto see his Bulldogs be victorious. Wray added that he plans to recruit players for the class of 2018, and he may look to do that this weekend with 13 of Georgia’s targets on hand.
Wray ranks as the eighth highest ranked offensive tackle nationally, and the third overall prospect in the state of Tennessee, according to the 247Sports.com composite rankings.
"I'm ready to see my boys get out there and whip up on Tennessee," Wray said. "Also it's my first real game at Sanford Stadium so I'm really looking forward to the atmosphere."
While there will be plenty of future prospects on hand, there are also some omissions of note. Four-star defensive end Robert Beal, a Georgia commitment, has chosen to take an official visit to Alabama this weekend, despite previously stating that he wouldn’t take further visits besides going to Georgia. In addition, four-star defensive back target Xavier McKinney will be taking a visit to Clemson for its primetime showdown with Louisville.