How Justice Haynes’ Decision Reshapes Georgia Football Running Back Room Prospects

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What’s next for Georgia as she runs back after Justice Haynes picks Alabama?

It’s rare to see a real surprise on the recruitment front these days. With so many reporters and a thirst for knowledge, it’s difficult to really amaze those who are paying close attention to recruitment with an engagement.

That makes Judge Haynes’ announcement on Sunday all the more amazing. His decision to turn down Georgia — his father’s alma mater — for Alabama sent shockwaves across the recruiting landscape.

Related: Recruitment questions build on offensive side of ball after Georgia football lose to Justice Haynes

Haynes’ involvement also paints an even bleaker picture when it comes to state recruiting for the 2023 recruitment cycle. Of the current top 10 prospects from the state of Georgia, only one is committed to the Bulldogs. That would be Bo Hughley, the 4-star offensive tackle.

Seven of the top-10 have committed at this point, with Alabama holding commitments from two of the six top-100 overall prospects in Haynes and Lonergan. Both Georgia and Alabama are heavily recruiting 5-star safety player Caleb Downs, currently the state’s top player and one of the top players in the class regardless of position. Downs seemed tipped toward Alabama even before the decision was made by Haynes, someone he is close with and with whom he made several official visits during the recruiting process.

This isn’t the first time Georgia has dealt with such an issue, with the Bulldogs seemingly missing out on a top Georgia State player. Kirby Smart and the Bulldogs have had no trouble getting past some of those cases in the past. Owen Pappoe, a 5-star linebacker from Grayson, Georgia, signed for Auburn in the 2019 recruiting cycle. Georgia ended up with Nakobe Dean. In the same cycle, 5-star wide receiver Jadon Haselwood signed with Oklahoma. Georgia went out and got George Pickens. Both recruitments have worked for the Bulldogs.

However, sometimes that ends with Alabama landing Will Anderson or Myles Murphy signing with Clemson. Georgia State produces too many good players for the Bulldogs to get them all.

In the 2021 and 2022 recruitment cycles, Georgia has focused more on state recruitment than the national approach of 2019 and 2020. At this point in the recruitment cycle, it looks like Georgia is again casting the widest possible net when it comes to recruitment. Of the currently 14 commitments in the Georgia 2023 class, only five come from Georgia. And out-of-state targets Jamaal Jarrett and Joenel Aguero will both make their announcements for Georgia in the coming week.

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