What Will Happen on Signing Day 2014

ATHENS - This is the time of the year where you need to be as well connected as possible – and be able to read the tea leaves, too.

So that's what I am going to try to do: I am going to try to predict what will happen on Signing Day with the Georgia Bulldogs… put your seat belt on, and maybe grab a helmet.

Right now Georgia has what I would call 16 totally sold commitments. The Dawgs have three committed players who appear to be double-checking their options to make certain they want Georgia, and Georgia wants them back.

Good news for two of them – Gilbert Johnson and Lamont Gillard will sign with Georgia on Wednesday, but only after a few nervous moments in the run up to the big day. Gillard tripped to Miami. But Gillard's head coach Bill Sochovka told the Athens Banner-Herald's Marc Weiszer that Gillard's trip to Miami probably helped Georgia in the end – and you don't hear that every day.

"In my mind, it probably solidified his decision to stay with Georgia," Sochovka said. "Not saying Miami did anything wrong or bad or anything like that. It probably helped un-confuse him."

Johnson had receivers coach Tony Ball for an in-home visit last Thursday probably putting to rest any confusion those two might have about their situation. I expect Johnson to sign with Georgia at 9:30 AM.

Kendall Gant is not so lucky as it seems clear from his visit north to Marshall this past weekend that something has gone wrong with his relationship with Georgia (I have been told by numerous people that grades and qualifying are a major issue). So that means Gant will not sign with Georgia – perhaps placing him in West Virginia at Marshall.


The day will start with Marist lineman Kendall Baker signing with the Bulldogs before anyone else at 7:45 AM. He will have a ceremony later in the day to celebrate the decision, but he's going to be the first one in (if he isn't it will simply fuel my hate of Marist further – and let's be honest… that doesn't need to get any worse than it already is).

But he won't be the highest-rated prospect to sign with Bulldogs in that wave of first signees. Five-star running back Sony Michel will put ink to paper at 8 AM, and Georgia will have escaped Miami with one of the top players in the nation. The signing will prove two things: 1. Georgia's brand is national, and the program should never forget that. Getting one of the top players in Miami to play not at Miami (or Florida State) just shows the power of the SEC and specifically the Bulldogs; 2. The pull of "street agents" is overrated. All we heard after Michel's commitment was that he would eventually be pulled back into the abyss that is the 305… but that never happened.

Scoreboard: Georgia 1; Street Agents 0… (that score won't stay that way forever).

But Michel won't go to Athens on his own… in tow will be fellow American Heritage prospect and former Notre Dame commit Isaiah McKenzie. Three-star McKenzie will be considered an athlete. I am not sure what position he's going to play. He's listed as a running back, but he won't be playing there – probably slot receiver for the Bulldogs in the future. He will sign in the morning, but no one will know about him going to Georgia until about 7:30 when he has an announcement party in Hollywood, Florida.

Bleckley County athlete Tavon Ross, fresh off his first visit to Missouri, will stick with the Tigers at 8 AM in a very quiet signing at his high school. The shy Ross took at hard look at Georgia, and wound up staying with the school that offered him sooner of the two. Georgia's momentum couldn't do the trick on this one.

A hour later Bryson Allen-Williams will stick with South Carolina after nearly falling into Jeremy Pruitt's recruiting love trap. Allen-Williams' tweet Monday night all but confirms that he will pick the Gamecocks. Georgia picking him off would have sent Cock fans into full-blown meltdown. He is Carolina's top-committed prospect in a class that is currently ranked only 36th nationally – 12th best in the SEC – so he is a very necessary part of their class.

Still, the early two misses will be about the only bad news of the day for the Dawgs.

That's when the bulk of Georgia's class will start falling in place. Gilbert Johnson will sign with Georgia once and for all at 9:30 AM (but this is certainly one to watch as South Florida has been surging; Georgia wants Johnson, so if they lose him it won't be because they dropped him. It will be because he left, but I don't think that will happen).

Tucker's Dominick Sanders and Detric Dukes will sign with the Bulldogs at 10 AM (or a little later as Tucker tends to sign a fair amount of kids each year at its ceremony). Lowndes offensive lineman Dyshon Sims will sign at 11 AM.

Meanwhile Mark Richt will take to the third floor of Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall to talk recruiting with the fans in Athens – who will be half high on sugary donuts while scrounging to figure out where they can plug their phone in to get more power (here's a hint… you'd better be fully charged).

Richt and company will retire to their lair to watch as the likes of Jake Edwards, Shaquille Jones, Rico Johnson, Malkom Parrish and Isaiah Wynn sign with Georgia. The panic will slowly start to build from there.

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Georgia will get more good news when receiver Shakenneth Williams signs at 1:30. But the focus will be on McDonough where everyone will try figure out what ELCA defensive end Andrew Williams will do at 2 PM.The ongoing press conference will be the least of anyone's concern.

No one knows what's really going on with this one, but that's not going to stop Georgia's assistants from leaving the press conference as fast as possible to settle in for the announcement. Everyone will be checking their phones – anxious about what will go down.

Look, you don't want to get into a knife fight with Auburn on Signing Day, but this time Georgia will escape alive to sign Williams.

Nick Chubb, one of the top players in the state, will sign with Georgia at 3:15 – and Mark Richt will remind himself that no matter what happened with Andrew Williams and what will happen with Lorenzo Carter that "all of the attention goes to the guys who have not decided on Signing Day, and often the guys that have been committed the longest are the guys fans forget we sign. If this guy or that guy were to commit on Signing Day then… (falling asleep)"

Then the big test of the day – will the Bulldogs sign the top player in the state for the third time in four years?


Lorenzo Carter will pick Georgia during a 3:45 announcement on ESPN U.

The class, in the end, will not be highly rated. But the Bulldogs will get four major needs out of it for the coming few years: the #1 player in Georgia (Carter); a top cornerback (Parrish); running backs (two great ones – Michel and Chubb); and a quarterback (Park).

The good news is that Georgia will start the day by signing a five-star player and end the day signing a five-star player… not bad… not bad at all.

The question remains: What will this new version of Georgia football under Richt, version 4.0 if you will, will look like in 2015 with a running start? That question will be answered this time next year, but the start is looking pretty good so far.

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