Georgia’s elite 2012 college football prospects await recruiting’s celebrity status (UPDATED)

Once upon an Auburn "lean," St. Pius DB Geno Smith (blue jersey) claims to have "no favorites" among his 18 early offers (AJC)

Once upon an Auburn "lean," St. Pius DB Geno Smith (blue jersey) claims to have "no favorites" among his 18 early offers (AJC)

St. Pius cornerback Geno Smith and Harris County defensive end Jordan Jenkins will see their lives undergo a dramatic change over the next few weeks and months.

Smith and Jenkins both are high school juniors and top contenders to be ranked Georgia’s No. 1 college football prospect next year.

For now, they are relatively unknown among college football fans and recruiting junkies. They carry out each day’s activities without much special attention or notice from others. They don’t have 50 friend requests awaiting approval on Facebook.

All of that will begin to change after Wednesday.

After signing day, the public’s infatuation and idolization with this year’s group of Georgia’s elite seniors, including Carver-Columbus tailback Isaiah Crowell and Thomas County Central defensive end Ray Drew, slowly will fade.

The spotlight will shift to the state’s next group of football stars, with Smith and Jenkins leading the pack. A year of recruiting drama is yet to unfold for the elite members of the 2012 class.

“I’ve enjoyed it so far,” said Smith, who already has 18 offers, including ones from Georgia and Georgia Tech. His two most recent are from Notre Dame and Oklahoma.

“I haven’t let it become overwhelming. I’ve been to a lot of different places and met a lot of different coaches. It has been a good experience so far.”

Smith asked his mother if he could skip school Wednesday to stay home and watch media coverage of signing day. She said “no,” therefore Smith said he will catch up on the news maybe on a classroom computer, or after school on TV.

“I’m excited about the next 365 days,” Smith said. “Most importantly, I’m excited about my senior year of football at St. Pius. I think we can win state because we’ve been so close the last couple of years.

“As far as recruiting, it will probably be a long process. I’m thinking my plan will be to commit on next year’s signing day, or the week before it. I want to take my time to study the colleges after my senior year of [high school] football, and make the best possible decision.”

How "athletic" is Dillon Lee? The 6-foot-4, 227-pounder (center) did a backflip to motivate his Buford teammates before the state championship game (AJC)

How "athletic" is Dillon Lee? The 6-foot-4, 227-pounder (center) did a backflip to motivate his Buford teammates before the state championship game (AJC)

Jenkins says he doubts he will pay much attention to Wednesday’s recruiting festivities. After school, he will either attend basketball practice (he averages 12 points and eight blocks with a 40-inch vertical leap) or do light workouts in anticipation of track season.

The 6-foot-3, 235-pounder has a dozen early offers, including Alabama and Florida. Unfortunately for Georgia and Georgia Tech fans, Jenkins has no homegrown allegiance to the in-state schools — although both are in his early top five. He is a military brat, living in Alaska, California, South Carolina and Washington before his family settled near Fort Benning around five years ago.

“Recruiting has been crazy so far, but I enjoy it and wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world,” Jenkins said. “It has given me more confidence. I mean, I’m confident … but those scholarship offers make me remember that someone thinks I’ve got some talent. They also motivate me to work harder to prove that I deserve them.”

Woodward Academy defensive lineman Jordan Watkins says he is “in awe” after getting nearly 20 early offers, including ones from Georgia Tech, Penn State and Notre Dame. The 6-6, 265-pounder still is surprised by every new scholarship offer or handwritten letter from college coaches.

“Right now, I consider it to be a huge blessing — something that thousands of kids all over the country dream about,” Watkins said. “I know the next year is going to be crazy. I just have to make sure I stay focused on academics and doing everything I can to put Woodward Academy in position to win a state championship.

“After that is out of the way, I will worry about the college situation. If I get picked for one of the big all-star games, I want to bring my defensive-line coach [Matt Brennan] with me and commit on national TV.”

Will Buford LB Dillon Lee (No. 22) follow in his older brother's footsteps to UGA? Not likely -- at least at this point -- because UGA has offered at TE. Dillon likes prefers playing "D" (AJC)

Will Buford LB Dillon Lee (No. 22) follow in his older brother's footsteps to UGA? Not likely -- at least at this point -- because UGA has offered at TE. Dillon prefers playing "D" (AJC)

Buford linebacker Dillon Lee, who has around 10 offers, says he knows what to expect from the recruiting process after observing it with his older brother, Georgia offensive lineman Dallas Lee. The younger Lee counts Georgia and Georgia Tech among the offers.

“[Dallas] says everybody is going to want me to come to their school, telling me all kinds of different stuff,” Dillon said. “I just have to pick the best situation for me.”

Ironically, Dillon says that philosophy means — at this point — that he is unlikely to play on the same team with his brother in college. Georgia is recruiting the 6-foot-4, 227-pound Lee at tight end. “I can’t see myself at tight end in college, I’m not a huge fan of playing offense,” Lee said.

Is Lee serious? Many brothers dream about playing together in college.

“We played together in high school at Buford when I was a freshman,” Lee said. “We never really planned on playing together in college. I don’t know … I’d rather play against my brother because we always have fun competing against each other in everything.”

“We’re pretty close and talk all the time. That wouldn’t change if I played at another school other than Georgia. I’m not saying I won’t go there, but Georgia has never really been my top choice or dream school.”

His favorites are Alabama and Florida State. Said Lee, “I like [Nick Saban] and Alabama. [Kirby Smart] would be both my defensive coordinator and position coach if I went there. I really like the facilities and everything they have going on down there.” Lee made his first trip to Florida State this past week for a Junior Day.

At Lithonia High, offensive lineman Joe Harris may the best college prospect out of the DeKalb school in years. The 6-foot-3, 300-pounder got his first offer as a sophomore (from South Carolina) and is now up to five, including Georgia and Clemson, with many others on the brink.

“Georgia is my most recent offer,” Harris said. “It was special to see [Mark Richt] at my school. He told my coaches that I was an athletic big man who has quick feet and knows how to use my hands well. He likes the way I finish blocks.”

Will RB Kenyan Drake (No. 17) take the "Hillgrove-to-Georgia Tech pipeline?" (AJC)

Will RB Kenyan Drake (No. 17) take the "Hillgrove-to-Georgia Tech pipeline?" (AJC)

Hillgrove tailback Kenyan Drake has five offers, including from Georgia and Georgia Tech. Drake says he learned a lot about recruiting by watching his high school teammates, brothers Jabari Hunt-Days and Synjyn Days (both have committed or signed with Georgia Tech).

The Hillgrove-to-Georgia Tech pipeline? The Yellow Jackets were Drake’s first offer last summer, and the Days brothers have been heavily recruiting him ever since.

“They have been great role models with how they handled their recruiting business,” Drake said. “They were always real humble about all the attention.”

Drake said he has serious interest in Georgia Tech, but also is very high his most recent offer, Alabama. Drake said Saban told him he was athletic enough to get a look at running back, wide receiver and defensive back at Alabama.

“It’s real humbling,” Drake said. “You have all these big-name coaches that you’ve seen on TV come by your school and say they want you. And you’re thinking, ‘Wow, they want me? I wasn’t sure that coach even knew about me.’”

By February 2012, Drake and Georgia’s other elite seniors-to-be will have many, many others knowing about them.

– By Michael Carvell, AJC Prep Zone

Now it’s your TURN. Who do you think is Georgia’s No. 1 high school football player for next season? State your case below.

72 comments Add your comment


February 2nd, 2011
1:48 am

First. Always wanted to do that.

tide roll

February 2nd, 2011
2:05 am

Uga needs to get some legitimate SEC calibre offensive lineman before it’s too late for our friend Richt. Derek Dooley gets it. Les Miles gets it. Why can’t Richt figure it out. Tennesee’s offensive front, led by N. Gwinnett’s Jujuan James, will be the difference in the Georgia game this year,( just like Atlanta’s Roke Watkins was the difference for S. Carolina’s offensive line vs. Georgia last year ), and that will probably end it for Richt. Harris sounds like a great prospect, but even if he were to sign with Georgia, it’s too little too late.


February 2nd, 2011
7:17 am

yea tide roll…that vaunted UT offensive line really ran over UGA this year didn’t they??? Andrews and Ward are top rated OL in this years class….and we’ll see if they steal Richardson from UT..

Richt gets it….but just hasn’t translated on the field in 2 years.

Ted Striker

February 2nd, 2011
8:25 am

Nice article, MC. Thanks for all you do.


February 2nd, 2011
9:10 am

Brandon Greene, 6′5, 265 OL from Cedar Grove is a hidden gem. Don’t sleep on this kid. He’s got talent and size to boot. You’ll be hearing about him later on in the year. Also Marlon Coley, 5′9 200 Scrappy running back. Don’t let him break open field on you, his acceleration is sick!


February 2nd, 2011
9:11 am

Hey mike what about that 9 star out of kentucky Mickey…Mansford…Mackey..oh yeah Melvin (Mark) Bradley I hear we gotta have him get us an update on where he signs please!!!!


February 2nd, 2011
10:04 am

leave it to tide roll to take time out from watching Alabama’s signing day to come to a UGA thread and spew about how Georgia’s OL has a few whites guys in it; so, we’re not trying to win and Richt is racist…you know Clint Boling is white and gonna play about 15yrs in the NFL right?

sec moniker

February 2nd, 2011
12:38 pm

That comment by Lee has to hurt, having a brother at UGA and stating the coach and the facilities are so much better at Alabama just stings Bulldawgs.

Bobby Dodd

February 2nd, 2011
1:18 pm

I coached for a small ball school in Atlanta near Ethel Street, back in the day. Well, um, my own SON did not play for me at GT, as he went to Florida and later, in the 67 Urange Bowl he and his teamates stomped GT and that was our last major bowl until the 09 Urange Bow. Wow!! We lost em both!!!

Arghhhhhhhhh, ahhhhhhhhhhh, argh $#@^%$ CPj was heard as the kids today continued to reject him for big boy schools.

To Tide Roll and Sec moniker

February 2nd, 2011
1:28 pm

Roke Watkins was the difference in the Georgia-SC game last year? Maybe he was but I bet 99% of the people on here would think Lattimore was a bigger difference. Ealey’s fumble inside the 5 would also rank as a bigger difference in my humble opinion.

JuJuan James name keeps appearing in Tide Roll’s posts. It is not like UGA did not try to recruit him.
You cannot make someone sign with you.

UGA’s offensive line recruits will turn out very well in my opinion. Get back to us in 2-3 years and we will have a better idea as to who outrecruited who on the OL.

I did not see where Dillon Lee said Bama’s facilities are better than Georgia’s (or anyone else for that matter). Lee simply stated he liked their facilities, without comparing them to UGA or others. The bottom line is that if you take the Big Six of the SEC, I doubt if there is enough difference in the quality of the overall facilities to sway a recruit one way or the other.

Johnny Too Good

February 2nd, 2011
2:07 pm

Add Tyrie Taylor(WR/Returner) and Orlando Dixon(DB) from Beach High in Savannah as sleeper recruits for 2012


February 2nd, 2011
3:46 pm

UGA Needs Vadal Alexander from the Wolves of Buford.. He’s a BEAST on the gridiron yet a humble giant! off the field


February 2nd, 2011
4:44 pm

I’m dying to know what john anderson is doing on NSD? We’ve seen your attachment so much that its now made me curious…


February 2nd, 2011
5:10 pm

Dawggie – Not to out the kid but I searched rivals & do not even see the young man…

I have a good friend’s son that’s listed, but I would’ve not have “proped” him like JTG did this boy..

Kitaro Lewis
Suwanee (GA) North Gwinnett
– 6-3/195/- – list

[...] Georgia’s chosen 2012 college football prospects await recruiting’s luminary status (click [...]


February 2nd, 2011
9:51 pm

Well….as long as we are plugging players for 2012, check out this WR. UGA has already had him over several times and Smart showed up at his HS last week.

johnny too good

February 2nd, 2011
10:43 pm

@dawggie………… we had 4 kids sign to stillman college………. and 1 more who looks to be headed to ft. valley st

I’m now workin on c/o 2012 so these are new videos


February 3rd, 2011
12:16 am

UGA is recruiting Dillion Lee as a tight end and linebacker. A lot of schools are recruiting him as both. I personally think he is a better tightend than linebacker. Some kids have it already made up in their mind to leave the state.


February 3rd, 2011
4:22 am

I am not being critical of this current recruiting process for the better or best high school players. However, I hope that it does not hurt the young men
who are involved by making them full of themselves too early in life. To me, recruiting has become a spectacle and an additional season in between bowl games and spring practice for college footbal fans.

come on man

February 3rd, 2011
7:48 am

no shaq goodwin 6′8 245 te or toran davis 6′1 190 saftey from southwest dekalb on the 2012 list

SEC Miniker is an idiot

February 3rd, 2011
8:36 am

SEC Moniker. ..How did you translate “I…really like the facilities down there”
to come up with “the facilities are so much better at Alabama”

Looks to me like you are a/ a Bama fan b/ a total idiot

Go back to the trailer with your other fans and eat some possum for breakfast you hick.

Interstate 20

February 3rd, 2011
8:38 am

By far the best thing ever to come out of Alabama

Tornado/ Ala divorcee

February 3rd, 2011
8:39 am

What do they have in common? They both get the trailer.


February 3rd, 2011
9:58 am

The QB at M.L.King is probably the best. Cedar Grove have a couple of studs.


February 3rd, 2011
11:13 am

TOP pick for next year? Good student,Good person and likes puppies. ALSO MUST BE THE BADEST BIGGEST FASTEST nice young man who lives in the state of UGA!!!!!!!!!!!


February 3rd, 2011
12:58 pm

Congratulations to all of these guys. I hope that each one considering Alabama is aware they they could be one of the ones that are cut each year due to the illegal oversigning. Didn’t Bama oversign by 10 this year?


February 3rd, 2011
3:15 pm

Blake Tibbs out of MLK best receiver in the state for 2012 write it down .


February 3rd, 2011
3:39 pm

I feel like after this year Richt know what’s he’s doing recruiting. I’ll bet Saban has told 100 Juniors he wants them…in Georgia alone. Mark and his staff focus on who they want and go after them. Riding the country side and blowing smoke,But, Bama did have the number one class, but I would love to know is the trail of broken tears and lies he left behind. Yes, we lose some. Just like the kid from Buford said, Georgia is not his dream school.


February 3rd, 2011
3:40 pm

How about this guy Tyler Dowling, OL, Camden County (Kingsland, Ga.) 6′8″, 390-pound Dowling can play the entire Defensive Line or Offensive Line!!!


February 3rd, 2011
3:45 pm

Meanwhile at Tech, they continue to clean up after the big Fish Fry signing party yesterday. Coach Johnson was ask about the seven he lost that had committed, he said, I only throw the ball when I have to and I never promise these boys anything but a job at Air Tran and a good ole North Carolina butt chewing. Punter? What in the hell would I need a punter for. Next question.


February 3rd, 2011
5:43 pm

Down in Albany, GA we got some good talent in the 2012 class.
DE Chris Green 6′2 247 lbs – Westover High
WR Kenneth Towns 6′3 199 lbs – Westover High
FB McKenny Martin 5′8″ 214 lbs – Westover High


February 3rd, 2011
6:34 pm

Keep your eye on Tucker High School. They have two or three kids that will light things up next year. DE–Josh Dawson and LB Jacob Sealand.


February 3rd, 2011
7:58 pm

We offered Cam Newton at TE as well and look how that turned out. UGA coaches should be more flexable, allow a kid to “try” their prefered position, and if they turn out like Cam… need I say more?

come on man

February 3rd, 2011
8:22 pm

@ bigdog58 how can u ignore ng joe rush from tucker he is a straight beast . he gave us problems last year. look foward to the aug26 matchup tucker vs swd that game will be a showcase of some of the most talented players in the class of 2012 and 2013

Griffin Bear

February 3rd, 2011
9:52 pm

Hey the next great product out of griffin is a kid by the name of jaylin piercy. Starter on a defense that sent a kid to Alabama and a kid to Georgia he can play and has all the measureables.He may not be a super 11 but i guarantee big time colleges will love a prospect like this

Timmy Dog

February 3rd, 2011
10:11 pm

JB, “RIcht knows what he’s doing”? We’ve recruited great every year. Heck per Scout, this class is like our 5th best our of our last 8. The guy can’t coach. That’s our problem.


February 3rd, 2011
10:27 pm

Fayette County’s best OLineman for the class of 2012 is Fayette County High’s OT Akil (Achilles) Hawkins 6′ 3″ 270 lbs # 63. He is extremely versatile Offensive lineman who played both Guard and Tackle this past season. He played in the shadow of massive offensive lineman 6′ 5″ 295 lbs Kristofer Curtis who signed with Syracuse. Achilles’ feet and lateral movement is far better and he’s much more of an explosive blocker. South Carolina is recruiting him, but it would be very disappointing if he gets out of the state.


February 4th, 2011
8:48 am

the cross kid at NHHS is the best athlete in the state and it’s not even close. don’t look for him to follow his brother to GT.

Bulldog Fan

February 4th, 2011
10:07 am

Michael Robinson #55 OL/DL at B.T. Washington High Atlanta. He will be a four year starter this year and is possibly projected to play Linebacker in college. He arrived at Washington in the same year with coach Stanley Pritchett. He’s a quick and hard nosed smart player who is very active around the ball and is constantly doubled team… He is fundamentally sound and he also has a 3.4 GPA.

Virginia DAWG

February 4th, 2011
12:44 pm

At least this, and previous year’s, recruiting class dispells the theories that the only reason Richt won in the early years was because he was playing with Donnan’s recruits. He has no problem bringing in talent. I believe he lost a little fire in his belly and he might have been distracted being the team’s CEO vs. the COO. McGarity will help him turn this thing around. All we fans need is a little hope. Can’t wait till September!


February 4th, 2011
2:23 pm

If you’re an Atlanta/Georgia Sports fan and want to talk with other fans, check out our NEW message board.

We have team forums for the Falcons, Bulldogs, Hawks, Braves, Yellow Jackets, Thrashers, Recruiting, High School sports talk, etc. Please register and post! Be apart of a huge site in the early days of existence. See ya there!


February 4th, 2011
6:56 pm

MLK has the best QB&WR the in the state, you heard me this years team is gonna be SICK baby so all others please take notice the LIONS aint going no where.


February 4th, 2011
11:37 pm

Keep your eyes on #2 for the Trojans next year (Carrollton). Jonathon Jones is a shut down corner with blazing speed. SEC offers will come rolling in soon. State Champion hurldler and can hit like a linebacker.

Real Problem

February 5th, 2011
8:45 am

Bet a good buddy Bama would get both G. Lambert and J. Jenkins next year. He said they will be Dogs. Have to get both to win. Since I am a fan of both schools I am in the win win game.
Just think Bama is ahead of Georgia in the recruiting game….Saban jumps on talent quick. Love to see both teams play for SEC Championship.

Hotty Toddy

February 5th, 2011
4:01 pm

I played with Geno Smith my senior year. He is the best player that I have ever seen. I played against players like Brandon Smith, A.J. Johnson, Darren Myles, Damien Swan, and Marcus Caffey. He single handedly kept Damien Swann to something like 2 catches for 5 yards in two years and had 2 picks. I watched Andersen Russell at Marist before he went on to start 4 years at Ohio State. Geno will be the best Corner in the nation next year and best player in the state of Georgia. My bet is that he either goes to Tennessee or Auburn.

Gwinnett Football

February 5th, 2011
6:17 pm

Nick Tompkins, RB/CB at Brookwood should be considered amongst the top athletes for 2012. He’s gaining interest from D-1 programs such as Georgia Tech, Georgia, Penn State, Wisconsin, Duke, BYU, and NC State. More will be interested as schools begin to focus more effort on the 2012 class.

hall co fan

February 5th, 2011
10:19 pm

The next best thing out of hall co. will be west halls TURK TAYLOR, this kid played both ways, starting at middle linebacker and strong side tackle. 5′11 230 he played a couple years at warner robins then transferred to west hall his junior year. His brother Wyatt will be a junior and is equally good.


February 5th, 2011
10:32 pm

If you’re an Atlanta/Georgia Sports fan and want to talk with other fans, check out our NEW message board.

We have team forums for the Falcons, Bulldogs, Hawks, Braves, Yellow Jackets, Thrashers, etc. Please register and post! Be apart of a huge site in the early days of existence. See ya there! We’re looking for posters, moderators, bloggers/writers. Join up if interested. WE NEED MORE PREP POSTERS.


February 6th, 2011
10:20 am

@SEC Moniker,

Please….go back to making waffles. You don’t want to get fired from the only job you can achieve. He said nothing what you inferred. With comprehension like that, no wonder you are flipping waffles and making hash browns.

GT hulk

February 6th, 2011
10:28 am

GT will offer, but will only get the ones that ECU, Troy,UAB or Ga.Southern are after.