Three things Georgian football needs to succeed on National Signing Day 2022

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Georgian football will put the finishing touches on their signing class of 2022 on Wednesday. The Bulldogs have 24 players already signed in the class which is ranked No. 3 in the country. Among these signatories, 18 are already on campus and looking to start their academic careers.

But Georgia still has room to add to the class. And Georgia is expected to make a few additional pledges to accompany the official signatures of some committed prospects.

Related: Georgian football: the national championship list is exploded, but 18 new Bulldogs are already on campus

Even in the new era of the transfer portal, recruiting is still king for the Bulldogs. This is how Kirby Smart wants and will continue to store its National Championship winning program. With that in mind, here’s what Smart and the Bulldogs need to do to count Wednesday as a success.

Land a big fish for the defensive line

Even with most of the top prospects in the recruiting class of 2022 already on campus, a few have left the decision on where they will play until the last minute. Three of the top 10 overall prospects in the Class of 2022 are unhired and a host of highly rated players behind them will end their college recruitings with decisions on Wednesday.

Of those ranked among the top 150 prospects of the 2022 cycle, the two most important to know are 5-star defensive end Shemar Stewart and 4-star defensive lineman Christen Miller. Stewart is ranked 10th overall in the class and hails from Opa Locka, Florida. The main contenders for Stewart are Georgia, Miami and Texas A&M.

Miller hails from Atlanta powerhouse Cedar Grove High School, which has produced a number of Bulldogs in recent years, including Justin Shaffer. Georgia is competing against Ohio State, Oregon and Miami for a commitment of the No. 102 player overall in the 2022 cycle.

Related: Christen Miller: Georgia? Ohio State? A big shock? Set the stage for his decision on National Signing Day

Land one of those players –– Miller is most likely or both — and it’ll be a strong day for the Bulldogs. Georgia has already signed 11 of the top 100 players in the class. Add Miller or Stewart to a class that already has 5-star defensive end Mykel Williams and 4-star defensive tackle Bear Alexander already on campus and it will be one of the best position runs Georgia has ever landed in a single. class.

The Bulldogs will likely see three defensive linemen taken early in the 2022 NFL Draft. The addition of Stewart or Miller should go a long way to offset those departures.

Take at least one running back

Georgia is slimmer in running than you might think. The Bulldogs will go through spring practice with just three stock running backs after the NFL departures of Zamir Whtie and James Cook. The Bulldogs landed 4-star prospect Branson Robinson from Mississippi already in the 2022 recruiting round. But Georgia has always had at least five running backs under Smart.

That’s why Georgia is in the market to sign at least one more running back. For a while, it was thought that Jordan James would be the second running back in this signing class. James committed to Georgia last March and is a 4-star prospect. But curiously, James didn’t sign with Georgia at the start of the signing period in December, then went to Florida and Oregon in January.

Related: Jordan James: All-American RB commit explains why he didn’t sign with UGA at the start of the signing period

Georgia was visited by 3-star prospect Andrew Paul last weekend, but the Bulldogs are battling Clemson to land a commitment from Texas running back. Clemson proposed Paul before Georgia and the Tigers were also visited by Paul in January.

Either way, Georgia needs to land one of those running backs on Wednesday. Just look at Alabama and what happened to their offense when injuries increased at running back. The Bulldogs will still have Kendall Milton, Kenny McIntosh, Daijun Edwards and Robinson in the rotation next season, but an extra running back will likely make it easier for Smart and Dell McGee to rest.

Build Leaner Positions

Two of Georgia’s committed but unsigned recruits are in needy positions. Wide receiver Dillon Bell and point carrier Darris Smith are both expected to sign with Georgia on Wednesday.

The Bulldogs have had three wide receiver transfers this offseason. While the Bulldogs signed three wide receivers in December, George Pickens’ departure for the NFL leaves Georgia where it was last season in terms of numbers at wide receiver. Depth was a major issue for the play, as injuries increased. While Bell isn’t expected to contribute right away, the 2021 season has shown the importance of having as many capable wide receivers as possible.

Related: Where every signing, rookie and target in Georgia football in 2022 finished in an updated recruiting rankings

With Smith, his need would have been much greater had Georgia not seen Nolan Smith and Robert Beal return for the 2022 season. There will be less of a need to see Smith on the court, but Georgia will need him, CJ Madden and Marvin Jones Jr. to grow quickly in first grade. Beal definitely is, and Smith likely left after next season as well, which means Georgia will likely start the 2023 season looking for full-time point guard replacements.

Georgia is also hoping to land a commitment from 3-star linebacker EJ Lightsey. With Nakobe Dean, Channing Tindall and Quay Walker all gone to the NFL, Lightsey is helping rebuild a linebacking room that will look very different going forward.

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