Georgia football winners and losers following National Signing Day – DawgNation

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Georgia football winners and losers following 2021 National Signing Day

Winner: Georgia’s 2022 recruiting class

The Bulldogs’ lone commitment on National Signing Day actually came for its next recruiting class. Georgia earned a commitment from 4-star defensive tackle Bear Alexander. He’s the No. 140 overall player in the 2022 recruiting cycle, the No. 22 player in Texas and the No. 9 defensive tackle.

Related What Georgia football is getting in Bear Alexander

Alexander, listed at 6-foot-3 and 325 pounds, is the second defensive lineman in Georgia’s 2022 cycle, as he joins Tyre West. Georgia has the chance to put together an elite defensive line haul in the 2022 cycle, with 4-star targets Mykel Williams and Chrisitan Miller set to announce in the coming months.

Georgia now has the No. 2 ranked class in the 2022 recruiting cycle behind only Ohio State. The Bulldogs have gotten off to a much faster start to this cycle than in the past, as the Bulldogs had just three commits for the 2021 class at this point last season. In 2019, the Bulldogs had three 2020 commitments on National Signing Day.

With the early signing period allowing for programs to finish their work earlier, they’ve used the month of January to really focus on the next recruiting class, 2022 in this case, as teams try to put the finishing touches on the current.

Georgia coach Kirby Smart offered up a reason for why the Bulldogs have had more success in this cycle when it comes to working ahead than it has in the past.

“We just have a little more time now because you are on less 2021 kids because your class is pretty much done,” Smart said. “We have always put a big emphasis on that next class. That has not changed it has just seemed to be that way. Those kids are making earlier decisions with the outlook that they may not get visits, or that they may not get an opportunity to go places and do things.”

Loser: Recruiting against Alabama

The rich continue to get richer in college football, and Alabama is Jeff Bezos. The Crimson Tide officially locked up the top recruiting class of all-time on Wednesday. Then it went out and added 4-star safety Terrion Arnold on top of it.

Related: Terrion Arnold explains why he committed to Alabama

Georgia finished as the runner-up for Arnold, making him just the latest prospect in the 2021 cycle where that has been the case. Alabama beat Georgia for prospects like 5-star pass rusher Dallas Turner, defensive tackle Tim Keenan and offensive lineman Terrence Ferguson.

Alabama though didn’t just beat out Georgia for a few prospects. They beat out everyone. Nick Saban landed 5-star offensive tackle Tommy Brockermeyer out of Texas. Alabama got 5-star defensive tackle Damon Payne out of Michigan.

The Crimson Tide also dominated the state of Florida. Alabama signed seven of the top 15 prospects in the state, though one of those JC Latham played at IMG Academy after coming from Wisconsin. Florida, Florida State and Miami combined for four of the top 15 prospects from the state of Florida.

The 2020 Alabama team was one of the most dominant in recent memory. It has to replace a number of key players from that team. But with this 2021 signing class, it’s clear the Crimson Tide have staying power.

Winner: Dan Lanning

The Georgia defensive coordinator made the decision to remain at Georgia as opposed to taking the defensive coordinator job at Texas. That decision looks to have paid off, quite literally.

Lanning was one of three Georgia assistants who got a raise. Dell McGee went from making $675,000 to $800,000. Todd Harley saw his salary jump from $400,000 to $450,000 for the 2021 season.

Both of those though pail in comparison to the $550,000 raise Lanning got, as he will now make $1.7 million. That’s more in line with some of the other top defensive coordinators in sport.

Related: Georgia announces giant raise for Dan Lanning, releases Jahmile Addae salary

Georgia also signed a number of top defensive prospects in the 2021 signing class, such as 5-star linebackers Xavian Sorey and Smael Mondon as well as 4-star defensive backs Nyland Green and David Daniel.

The Georgia defense didn’t live up to the hype in 2020, but it still led the nation in rushing defense and the SEC in yards per play allowed. It wasn’t a difference-maker against the best teams in the country, but the Georgia defense was also still one of the best units in college football.

Lanning will have his work cut out for him with the new-look secondary in 2021. But it’s clear he’s seen as a top-tier defensive coordinator in the country, as his salary now reflects that.

Loser: Excitement 

Smart acknowledged that yesterday did not have the feel of a normal signing day. Georgia did not land a commitment, much less sign a prospect for the 2021 cycle as the Bulldogs signed all 20 members of its No. 3 ranked signing class in December.

“It’s kind of anticlimactic to talk about the signing class because we’ve been focused on them since they arrived mid-year and were able to practice, enroll in school and begin workouts with us,” Smart said.

Of Georgia’s 20 signees, 16 are already on campus and be able to go through spring drills with the team. That number is larger than it traditionally is due in part to the pandemic.

From Georgia’s game against Missouri on Dec. 12 through Wednesday, the Bulldogs landed only one player who would sign with the class, Sorey. In the 2020 cycle, Georgia landed commitments from 10 players who would go on to sign with Georgia after its Dec. 7 game against LSU in the SEC championship game.

Georgia was far from the only team to have an uneventful Wednesday, as neither Ohio State or Clemson added a prospect to their respective classes. It will be worth monitoring going forward if the lack of signings on National Signing Day is a byproduct of COVID-19 or if COVID-19 only accelerates more and more players signing in December once the pandemic is managed.

Winner: Will Muschamp

South Carolina gave its Muschamp $12.9 million to no longer be its head coach. Now he will earn $300,000 to work at Georgia next season in an off-field capacity.

“He’s already made a lot of strides in terms of helping me [and] helping our staff,” Smart said. “He’ll be able to help coach the coaches, and he’ll be working with the defensive side of the ball. It’s very helpful to have a guy who has been a head coach at two places in our conference.”

Muschamp had a number of reasons to be at Georgia. His son is a walk-on quarterback. It’s also his alma mater and he’s had a long-standing relationship with Smart.

As a head coach, Muschamp hasn’t worked out at either Florida or South Carolina as a head coach. But he’s still one of the top defensive minds in the sport. He’s also got a strong track record of developing defensive backs, something Georgia could really use right now.

Smart doesn’t think Muschamp’s on-field coaching days are done. And one only has to look at Alabama to see how a season or two as an analyst can help rehabilitate and reinvigorate a coach.

“His family has been his focus here recently, because I know he feels like he’s moved his family all over the country,” Smart said. “This is an opportunity for him to get back to get back to them and be with them and be able to watch his son play.”

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