A decade of growth on the recruiting trail: A look at the past two decades of Georgia football recruiting

The last ten years have seen the state of Georgia grow into even more of a recruiting hotbed than it had been in decades past. Georgia has always been one of the top recruiting states in the country, only behind the large states of California, Florida, and Texas. However, Georgia has closed the gap with the other three and may have even surpassed one or more of them.

Overall, the state has produced 166 top 100 recruits over the last two decades. From 2005 to 2014, the state produced 70 top 100 players. Of those 70 players, 33 were drafted into the NFL There were seven first-round picks, four second-round picks, six third-round picks, five fourth-round picks, five fifth-round picks, one sixth-round pick, and five seventh-round picks. From 2015 to 2024, there were 96 top 100 players, 26 more than the decade before. With 28 of those players being drafted while 43 are still playing college football. Of those 26 draft picks, there were 13 first-round picks, four second-round picks, five third-round picks, four fifth-round picks, one sixth-round pick, and one seventh-round pick.

Over two decades, top 100 recruits came from 99 different schools. From 2005 to 2014, players came from 52 different schools with no one school producing more than three top 100 players. The decade after, from 2015 to 2024, 62 different schools produced a top 100 player. However, four schools produced four or more players, with Buford producing six, Cedar Grove producing five, Greater Atlanta Christian producing four, and Grayson producing four.

In that time, top 100 recruits went to 25 different college programs. From 2005 to 2014, there were 15 different schools that at least one top 100 player attended. Of those, UGA predictably had by far the most with 26 top 100 recruits. No other school had more than six, the school with the next highest amount was Florida State with six. From 2015 to 2024, 24 different schools had a top 100 player sign with them. UGA once again led the way with 36 top 100 recruits. Unlike the decade before, four schools had more than six top 100 recruits, with Clemson having 10, Alabama having eight, and Tennessee having seven.

The quarterback position, for years, was one of the positions that Georgia did not develop at a high level. From 2005 to 2014, Georgia only produced two quarterbacks ranked inside the top 100 players in the nation, those being Gainesville’s Deshaun Watson and Westlake’s Cam Newton. In the decade since, Georgia produced 13 quarterbacks that were top 100 recruits, a 650% increase from the previous 10 years. Three of those 13 quarterbacks were ranked as the number one quarterback in the country. With Harrison’s Justin Fields and Cartersville’s Trevor Lawrence being first round picks in the 2021 NFL draft.

Running back is one of the few positions that has seen a major drop in the number of players produced by the state. The state went from having eight top 100 running backs from 2005 to 2014, including notable names like Norcross’ Alvin Kamara and Cedartown’s Nick Chubb, to only having four from 2015 to 2024. However, the last decade produced some high-end players, including Dalton’s Jahmyr Gibbs, who was a first-round draft pick in the 2023 NFL draft, Callaway’s Tank Bigsby, who won SEC Freshman of the Year in 2020 and was a third-round pick in the 2023 NFL draft.

The wide receiver position has always been an interesting position in the state. The state produces high-end talent but has also seen years without major recruits. From 2013 to 2019, Georgia did not have a top 100 recruit at the position. However, some years there are multiple players like Parkview’s Mike Mathews and Colquitt County’s Ny Carr in 2023, Calhoun’s Da’Rick Rogers and Henry County’s Markeith Ambles in 2010, and Habersham Central’s Tavarres King, Norcross’ Brice Butler, and Cedar Grove’s Joshua Jarboe in 2008. From 2005 to 2014, the state produced eight top 100 wide receivers, none being drafted in the first three rounds of the draft. From 2015 to 2024, there were six top 100 wide receivers, a slight reduction from the previous decade. However, North Gwinnett’s Josh Downs was drafted higher than any other wide receiver.

The tight end position has seen a lot of growth over the past decades. From 2005 to 2014, there was only one top 100 tight end recruit, Valdosta’s Jay Rome, son of one of the greatest receivers in state history, Stan Rome. From 2015 to 2024, the state produced three top 100 tight ends, including Marietta’s Arik Gilbert, who came out of high school as the highest-rated tight end ever.

Offensive tackle has seen an explosion of talent unlike any other position. For 2005 to 2014, the state only saw two top 100 recruits, with only North Gwinnett’s Ja’Waun James making the NFL. From 2015 to 2024, the state produced 12 top 100 recruits, including players like former All-Pro Pace Academy’s Andrew Thomas, 2023 first-round pick Lithonia’s Broderick Jones, projected 2024 first-round pick Bleckley County’s Amarius Mims, current NFL player Grayson’s Wanya Morris, and former NFL player  North Gwinnett’s Mitch Hyatt, while multiple others that are expected to be drafted and play in the NFL.

Offensive guard has seen a slight reduction in the number of players the state has produced. However, the quality of the players that have been produced have been better than the decade before. From 2005 to 2014, there were four guards that came out of the Peach State, only one of them was drafted, and none of them had major playing time in the NFL. From 2015 to 2024, Georgia only produced two top 100 guards, both were drafted and played meaningful snaps in the NFL, with McEachern’s Chuma Edoga being a third-round pick in 2019, playing in 43 games and  starting 19 games so far, while Pace Academy’s Jamaree Salyer was a sixth-round pick in 2022, in his two years he has played in all 34 games and started 31 of them.

The center position only had one top 100 player in both decades combined. Buford’s Harry Miller was the only true center to come out of the state in a 20-year period. Miller went to Ohio State, where he spent 2019 to 2021 with the team. Following the 2021 season, he left the team to become a mental health advocate after fighting his own mental health problems while with the buckeyes.

Defensive end is a position that has virtually stayed the same over the past two decades. From 2005 to 2014, there were 14 top 100 recruits at defensive end. Of those 14, two were first-round picks, including one of the top high school recruits of all time in Grayson’s Robert Nkemdiche and Georgia High School Football Hall of Famer Carver-Columbus’ Jarvis Jones. From 2015 to 2024, the state had 14 top 100 defensive ends with three first-round picks in 2022 first overall pick Upson-Lee’s Travon Walker, 2023 third overall pick Dutchtown’s Will Anderson, and 2023 28th overall pick Hillgrove’s Myles Murphy.

Much like defensive ends, defensive tackles have been developed around the same level through both decades, both decades having seven top 100 recruits. The decade from 2005 to 2014 had two drafted players in Dooly County’s Montravius Adams, who went in the third round, and Satesboro’s DeAngelo Tyson, who went in the 7th round. The following decade only saw one player drafted, that player was 2020 seventh overall pick Lanier’s Derrick Brown, who made his first Pro Bowl in 2023.

The linebacker position saw the biggest growth of any defensive position. From 2005 to 2014, there were seven top 100 linebacker recruits. Of those seven players, only two of them were drafted, with Liberty County’s Raekwon McMillan being a second-round pick and Stone Mountain’s Ukeme Eligwe being a fifth-round pick. From 2015 to 2024, there were 14 top 100 linebackers, three of which were drafted. However, six of those 14 are still in college. Of those three drafted, two of them were first-round picks, with Macon County’s Roquan Smith being drafted eighth overall in 2018 and risp County’s Quay Walker being drafted 22nd overall in 2022.

Cornerback saw a significant decrease in the number of players produced from decade to decade. From 2005 to 2014, there were seven top 100 players at the cornerback position. Of those seven players, there were three players drafted, including Georgia High School Football Hall of Famer and College Football Hall of Famer Creekside’s Eric Berry, who was drafted fifth overall in 2010. From 2015 to 2024, there were only four top 100 players, with two drafted players, including Westlake’s AJ Terrell, who was the 16th overall pick in 2020, and Archer’s Andrew Booth, who was a second-round pick in 2022. Along with them is Cedar Grove’s Kaylin Lee, who is coming off a strong freshman season with Auburn and is expected to be a future NFL draft pick.

Safety has seen major growth as a position over the past two decades. From 2004 to 2015, the state produced five top 100 safeties, four of those were drafted, with 2013 first-round draft pick Newnan’s Alec Ogletree highlighting the safety position. Along with him there was 2016 second-round pick Ridgeland’s Vonn Bell, 2010 third-round pick North Clayton’s Morgan Burnett, and 2015 fifth-round pick Washington’s Reshad Jones. From 2015 to 2024, there were eight top 100 safeties from Georgia. So far those eight have produced four NFL draft picks, including 2022 first-round pick and 2023 All-Pro Marist’s Kyle Hamilton, 2020 second-round pick Roswell’s Xavier McKinney, 2023 second-round pick Sandy Creek’s Brian Branch, and 2021 fifth-round pick Liberty County’s Richard LeCounte. Along with them is a pair of players that were the top safety in the country coming out of high school with Mill Creek’s Caleb Downs, who was the top safety in the 2023 class, and Buford’s KJ Bolden being the top safety in the 2024 class.

The state has produced some of the best players that play Multiple positions in the country. From 2005 to 2014, the state produced four top 100 athletes, with those four being underwhelming. The most accomplished of the four is Lowndes’ Josh Harvey-Clemons, who was a 2017 seventh-round pick. Outside of him, Cartersville’s Donavan Tate will forever be a question mark after graduating from high school in 2009. Tate was drafted by the MLB’s San Diego Padres third overall and never played meaningful college football. From 2015 to 2024, the state saw seven players that were listed as athletes. So far, two of the seven players have been drafted, including 2019 second-round pick Elbert County’s Mecole Hardman and 2019 seventh-round pick Terry Godwin. Along with them, there are three that are still in college, including expected 2025 first-round picks Collins Hill’s Travis Hunter and Jefferson’s Malaki Starks.


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