The Georgia Bulldogs are not going to let what happened last year become a habit.
Last year, for the 2013 recruiting class, the Peach State boasted three of the best defensive line prospects we’d seen in some time: No. 1 overall player Robert Nkemdiche (defensive end), Carl Lawson (defensive end) and Montravious Adams (defensive tackle).
The unthinkable happened: none of them picked their home-state Bulldogs. It’s rare when UGA lets a local stud prospect slip through their grasp, but three? And to make matters worse, they all chose to stay in the SEC and compete against UGA in the future.
Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt is making sure that isn’t going to happen again this year, which is one of the reasons he and his staff had been gunning so hard for four-star defensive tackle Kendall Baker, who gave a verbal pledge to the ‘Dawgs on Wednesday.
Baker, a 6-foot-6, 300-pound monster in the middle, just might be the next great interior defensive lineman for UGA. His size and playing style are eerily reminiscent of Kedric Golston, who starred at defensive tackle for the Bulldogs a decade ago.
There’s no denying the raw power Baker shows on his film, but he does tend to get a little high off the snap, which is somewhat normal for a player his height and at this stage of development. He’ll also need to learn how to use his hands to get off blocks, something he hasn’t needed to do at the Marist School (Atlanta, Ga.), since he just overwhelms blockers with his sheer mass.
But once he presumably soaks in a redshirt year to re-define his body and technique, he could become a force in the ‘Dawgs 3-4 scheme under defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. He could play either five-technique end or even put on some more weight and play the nose.
Baker is the 12th verbal commitment for the Bulldogs’ 2014 recruiting class and the second defensive tackle, joining Dontravious Russell (Carrollton, Ga.). Baker is picking Georgia over Auburn and Florida State.
Richt is off to a pretty good start making sure the top defensive linemen in the Peach State will stay at home this go-around. He’s already snagged two of the top three defensive tackles and is still in the mix for the top in-state defensive tackle, Elisha Shaw (Atlanta, Ga.). But what would really make this class is if the Dawgs can snag defensive end Lorenzo Carter (Norcross, Ga.), considered a top-five player nationally.