Kirby Smart is hopeful the University of Georgia took the appropriate steps on National Signing Day to patch up the holes left by graduation and early departures.
The Bulldogs added six more freshmen on Wednesday, including Lithonia’s Broderick Jones, the nation’s top-rated offensive tackle. Three of the players signed were offensive linemen, where the Bulldogs lost four starters from 2019.
The late boost pushed Georgia to the No. 1 class in the country in the 247Sports.com composite rankings.
“I like to think the early signing period is 70-80 percent what you sign and this late signing period is more of an adjustment to what maybe you lost or early outs or where you think you have holes,” Smart said. “We feel like we have been able to fill a lot of those holes.”
Jones, a 5-star recruit, was a longtime Georgia commitment, but was still entertaining offers, most recently from Auburn. Jones (6-foot-5, 275 pounds) will have an opportunity to move into the starting lineup this summer.
“One of the biggest areas was offensive line,” Smart said. “I’m very pleased with the transition from Coach (Sam) Pittman to Coach (Matt) Luke in being able to recruit these kids and bring them to our place. They want to compete and play at a high level.”
The Bulldogs also signed Sedrick Van Pran, a 6-4, 305-pound four-star center from New Orleans, and Collins Hill graduate Cameron Kinnie (6-2, 290), a two-way lineman who is expected to play on the offensive side. Van Pran is the No. 1-ranked center in the nation and the No. 83 overall prospect. Kinnie had an opportunity to attend Army, but opted instead to stay closer to home.
“Cameron Kinnie was a kid we targeted and felt like was, No. 1, extremely high character,” Smart said. “He is extremely high academically and a really good athlete. He played both ways and played at the highest level where he played. I think he’s a guy who is going to be a program player in that he’s always doing the right things, on and off the field. I have a lot of respect for the program he comes from and what he can provide to our depth on the offensive line.”
Georgia’s other signees were four-star running back Daijun Edwards of Colquitt County, defensive back Daran Branch of Amite, La., and wide receiver Ladd McConkey of North Murray High School in Chatsworth. The Bulldogs also signed quarterback Jamie Newman, a graduate transfer from Wake Forest who is expected to compete for the starting position.
Edwards (5-11, 205) ran for 1,008 yards as a senior and accumulated 4,413 yards and 61 touchdowns in his career with the Packers. Branch (6-2, 180) originally committed to Ole Miss, but flipped when Luke joined the Georgia staff.
McConkey (6-0, 180) was the fifth wide receiver chosen. A versatile athlete, he played quarterback in high school and threw for 1,771 yards and 20 touchdowns in helping his team win its first region championship.
The additions further enhance the school’s standing as the No. 1 signing class in the nation. Smart said the ability to import top talent has helped the Bulldogs remain a contender for the national championship. Georgia has made two straight trips to the Sugar Bowl as runner-up in the Southeastern Conference.
“What that ranking is or when that happens or how it plays out, I don’t think that necessarily correlates,” Smart said. “It’s hard to go out and recruit at a high level year in and year out because so many people recruit against you based on who you signed. You’d better have a good product to sell, which academically we do.”