ATHENS, Ga. -- In keeping with an already impressive dedication to covering University of Georgia sports, 11Alive recently decided to present its viewers and readers with even more unique content. To that end, beginning today, June 2, I will be serving as an embedded reporter for WXIA here in Athens. We will have breaking news, team updates, mailbags, recruiting coverage, unbiased analysis and much more in the days ahead.
For the inaugural blog post, I thought I would answer the question I am most frequently asked this time of year: Who can Georgia expect to see commit over the summer?
Recruiting is a year-round business and incredibly fluid. Prospective student-athletes change their opinions constantly, especially after taking visits over the spring and summer. Every weekend we find top recruits taking trips to Athens to meet with the Georgia coaches and to explore the campus. So here are five recruits that are likely to wind up playing between the hedges:
Trenton Thompson (Albany, Ga./Westover) -- The No. 1 defensive tackle in the nation as well as the top overall player in the Peach State, Thompson was offered early by the Bulldogs and remains their top target. The good news for Georgia is that despite strong recruiting efforts from Alabama, Auburn, Florida State and Clemson, the 6-foot-4, 283-pound rising senior still has Georgia as his leader. Thompson is ranked as the No. 3 overall prospect in the nation according to Rivals.com and would be a huge pick-up for the Bulldogs who have not signed a top-10 prospect since 2011. A Georgia fan since childhood, Thompson will shock the nation if he doesn't wind up in Athens.
Juwan Taylor (Hallandale, Fla./Hallandale) -- The three-star linebacker from the Sunshine State was not well-known in recruiting circles last year despite his impressive accomplishments on the field. At 6-0, 196 pounds, Taylor flew under the radar until he transferred to Hallandale High School last year. Since then he has picked up eight offers from the likes of LSU, Clemson, Wisconsin and Arkansas with more offers on the way. Georgia was the first to offer Taylor, a move that has placed the Bulldogs high on his list. He also grew up imaging himself playing for Georgia, looking up to former stand-out Alec Ogletree.
Roquan Smith (Montezuma, Ga./Macon County) -- The No. 5 outside linebacker in the nation says that Georgia is one of his favorite schools. The Bulldogs will need that favorability factor as Smith's offer list reads like a Who's Who of the top college programs in the nation. Smith took visits to Clemson, Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida State and Auburn in the spring. The 6-2, 205-pound senior doesn't seem to be in a hurry to pick a school, preferring to let the process play out. Smith's versatility and pursuit skills are the most appealing factors for Georgia. He could play inside or outside linebacker and his 27 tackles for loss last season show his effectiveness on the field.
Rashad Roundtree (Evans, Ga./Lakeside) -- Speaking of ridiculous offer lists, Roundtree's name immediately comes to mind. Georgia is razor thin in the defensive backfield and the nation's No. 2 safety knows it. Roundtree would be a huge pickup for new defensive coordinator and secondary coach Jeremy Pruitt. The five-star, big-hitting safety recently postponed naming his top schools but admitted that the entire Georgia staff is recruiting him heavily. Living so close to Athens and playing a position of such dire need means the Bulldogs will stay after Roundtree until he signs.
Darius Slayton (Norcross, Ga./Greater Atlanta Christian) -- That short-handedness in the Bulldogs' secondary will also be addressed if this three-star cornerback chooses Georgia over Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, LSU, Florida State, Tennessee and South Carolina. Those are the schools that recently made Slayton's cut from his list of 23 offers. Slayton is a tall cornerback, standing at 6-1, tipping the scales at 175 pounds. His 4.4 second speed in the 40-yard dash also makes him a coveted prospect in Athens.