This may not make Dawg fans happy, but I'm not sure anyone could oturight call The University of Georgia TE-U just yet. We're getting there and are definitely one of the best programs in the nation for tight ends. We should be able to claim the title outright soon with the way things are going on the field and in recruiting, combined with the strong history at the position in Athens.
The history of the tight end position at UGA is only rivaled by the likes of Iowa, Stanford, and Notre Dame. It could be argued that more recent history favors the Dawgs. The tight end room for Georgia's second straight championship can easily be considered the best tight end room in college football history. The lineup of Brock Bowers, Darnell Washington, Oscar Delp, Arik Gilbert and others compares favorably to the 2001 Miami Hurricanes tight end room that included Jeremy Shockey and Kellen Winslow, who were a big part of what many consider the most loaded college football team of all time.
Even with the recent success of bowers and Washington so prevalent in our minds, the history of the tight end position at UGA is still more than strong. It goes all the way back to 1929-31 with Vernon "Catfish" Smith, who was Georgia's second consensus All-American.Richard Appleby (1973-75) was the first Georgia tight end to earn All-SEC honors. The late 1990's and early 2000's is the period of time that really started putting UGA on the TE-U map. Larry Brown (1995-98) had 80 receptions for 1,077 yards and six touchdowns in four seasons. Randy McMichael (1999-2001) continued the storied tradition with 1,213 yards and five touchdowns on 90 receptions in three years of play. The came Ben Watson (2001-03), who transferred in after one year at Duke. He had 65 receptions for 852 yards and six touchdowns in three years of play. Orson Charles came to Athens in 2009 and played three seasons for the Dawgs before being drafted. Charles had the best stats out of the group mentioned, hauling in 94 receptions for 1,370 yards and 10 touchdowns in his time Between the Hedges.
While Darnell Washington may not have put up the most gaudy stats (45 receptions, 774 yards, 3 touchdowns) in his three seasons with Kirby Smart and company, his contributions were a huge part in Georgia winning back to back national championships. And then there is Mr. Brock Bowers, who in my opinion is already the best tight end in UGA football history. Not only has he put up the numbers, he has also made the right plays at the right times. One of the biggest of this season being the first down reception against Ohio State that he had to stretch across the first down marker while balancing on his left hand with the entire rest of his body out of bounds already. Bowers has a chance to cross the mark of 3,000 total yards receiving in his career. He currently has 119 receptions for 1,824 yards and 20 touchdowns in his first two seasons. He's also added four rushing touchdowns.
Although there will be huge shoes to fill with Bowers sure to leave for the NFL after his junior season, Georgia is already well on the way to replacing him. Oscar Delp has already proven that he's going to be a force to be reckoned with after showing out in his freshman season. Pearce Spurlin and Lawson Luckie will be here this season to make sure Georgia continues as the best tight end room in the nation, while the Dawgs are waiting on the decision of 5* Duce Robinson. Todd Hartley has established himself as one of the best coaches and recruiters in the nation and that will not slow down with the 2024 class.
Losing: Darnell Washington, Arik Gilbert, Ryland Goede, Brett Seither
Returning: Brock Bowers (Jr), Oscar Delp (So)
2023 Class: 4* Pearce Spurlin, 4* Lawson Luckie, waiting on the decision from 5* Duce Robinson
After taking two tight ends in the 2023 class, the Dawgs are very likely to take two more in the 2024 class. With the three transfers, Georgia will have to look to Spurlin and Luckie to contribute as freshman like Delp did this season. The additions of Rara Thomas and Dominic Lovett at the receiver position might see the Dawgs use more three receiver sets, but don't be surprised to see Bowers and Delp on the field together a lot. Adding two tight ends with the 2024 class would give UGA ridiculous depth at the position for years to come.
I pick one prospect a year as my favorite recruit. It's usually because I believe they are severely underrated or because of their massive size. I loved Big Ben Cleveland when he was coming out of high school. Jamaal Jarrett is my favorite in the 2023 class, as I believe he is underrated and will be a key to the future of the UGA defense like Jordan Davis was.
My favorite prospect in the 2024 class is an athletic freak who is definitely massively underrated. He actually hasn't even been ranked yet by any of the recruiting services. At 6'5 220 pounds, Amir Jackson is the perfect size to thrive in the UGA offense. I have him as the best tight end/big receiver to come out of the state of Georgia since Arik Gilbert and actually think Gilbert is the perfect comparison for Jackson's game.
He was just recently offered by Georgia, so look for him to make it for a visit in March.
Another prospect who will likely visit after the February dead period is Jaden Redell from Missouri. The four star tight end has seen his recruitment blow up in recent months, with over 20 offers coming in since Georgia offered on December 6th. It's early in his recruitment, so don't expect any favorites to emerge until at least after he takes spring visits.
Also keep an eye on JaCorey Whitted from Alabama. The 6'5 255 pounder is just starting to make a name for himself in the national recruiting scene. Watch for the 3* tight end to make his way to Athens this spring.
As mentioned, Todd Hartley has established himself as the best tight end coach and recruiter in the country. It's almost not fair to other teams, as the ace recruiter basically just goes out and gets whoever he wants. That continues in 2024 with 5* in-state tight end Landen Thomas already Committed to the G. Like Jackson and Bowers, his athleticism is off the charts. He has the speed to outrun tight ends and the size to dominate safeties. Thomas is another in the long line of elite Georgia tight ends who could come in and see meaningful minutes as a freshman, no matter who is already on the roster.
The state of Georgia is actually loaded this year at the tight end position, but Georgia isn't really recruiting the majority of them very hard. With Hartley the helm, the Dawgs can afford to be picky about who we bring in. Otherwise there would be more action with these in-state guys, most of whom would have a chance to contribute early at many D1 programs.
Calvary Day's Michael Smith is one of the best tight ends in the country who has committed to South Carolina. The #134 prospect in the nation has athleticism for days. If he sticks with Shane Beamer and company, he'll actually remind them of Jaheim Bell. At 6'7 247 pounds, Walter Matthews is a get off the bus first type. He's ranked right above Smith as the #5 tight end in the nation and seems to be really liking Michigan right now. Carrollton's Caleb Odom is another elite pass catcher who could easily go to his choice of double digit D1 programs.
In any other year I'd be happy with any of the in-state prospects mentioned above. Now that the Georgia Bulldogs are back to back national champions, there is no shortage of players across the nation wanting to be coached by the best in Athens, Georgia. It's becoming more obvious to the top prospects that the training and development from the Bulldog staff is second to none. For that reason, it's getting eaier to bring in our top targets at every position. My top targets and the perfect tight end class for 2024 would be Landen Thomas and Amir Jackson.