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Smith's Takeaways: Recruiting news, analysis from Georgia

Over the last week, was able to see some of the best players in Florida and Georgia. In today’s takeaways from the road, national recruiting analyst Greg Smith breaks down the recruiting news and scouting notes from his stops in Georgia.


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My first stop in Georgia was at Savannah Christian which has a number of talented players. The group is headlined by the top prospect in the 2025 class defensive end Elijah Griffin. There is a lot of buzz around Griffin and Georgia right now. He does love the culture that Kirby Smart has in place.

"It's important. I think coach Smart has done a great job getting coaches that have the same mentality as him. Their goal is obviously to win. That's why they're potentially three-peating this year, maybe. I feel like if you get guys with the same mentality, players as well that want to win and are overall dogs I feel like that goes a long way."

Three-star 2025 tight end Logan Brooking released a top eight of Penn State, Clemson, Miami, South Carolina, Stanford, North Carolina, Florida and Michigan a couple of days after I saw him at his school. Then he made Clemson very happy on Friday when he announced his commitment to the Tigers. He’s got great size to block inline and speed to be flexed out.

Class of 2024 linebacker David Bucey has been committed to South Carolina since June. He’s solid with his commitment and told me what made the Gamecocks the program for him.

“It was kind of a thing when I went to a game a year ago. I saw that atmosphere and got hooked on it. I went to camp and got a bunch of relationships with coaches and that just sealed the deal.”



Jake Merklinger
Jake Merklinger (

Coach Mark Stroud has some big-time players over at Savannah Calvary Day and Tennessee quarterback commit Jake Merklinger leads the way. Merklinger is smooth in the pocket and throws a good deep ball. He’ll be a great fit in Tennessee’s offense under Josh Heupel.

South Carolina might have gotten a steal with four-star tight end Michael Smith. The 6-foot-5, 230-pounder looks great running around and is an intimidating presence. He loves what coach Shane Beamer is building in Columbia and likes that it’s close to home. Smith will be a real weapon for Beamer in the future.

Things have been slower than expected in the recruitment of 2025 wide receiver Edward Coleman because he’s been hurt. Now that he’s back healthy, his recruitment is likely to take off. He’d fit nicely in the slot for a college program. He’s got a lot of good offers and has been in communication with the in-state Georgia Bulldogs more lately. Ohio State has also been keeping an eye on the playmaker.

Walter Mathis has a very productive sophomore campaign netting 50 tackles, 22 TFLs and six sacks. Programs from coast to coast are taking notice of the defensive tackle. He hasn’t taken any visits yet this season but his first one will be to Clemson for its game Nov. 4.

“What stands out about Clemson is it feels like everyone is one big family. That’s what I like in a school. The relationship the coaches have with me, how much they text me really stands out.”

The programs Mathis says are recruiting him the hardest right now are Georgia, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina and Auburn.

Another name to know at Calvary Day is 2025 wide receiver Thomas Blackshear. He’s been to South Carolina, Georgia and Clemson for visits this season. The wideout counts those schools plus Tennessee as the teams recruiting him the hardest right now.



Zayden Walker
Zayden Walker (Greg Smith/

Sometimes when you walk onto the field you know exactly who the superstar player is that night. That’s the feeling I had when seeing 2025 Rivals100 linebacker Zayden Walker in person. He’s a physical specimen and is pretty much unblockable at the high school level. Georgia appears to be way out in front for his commitment. He’s being recruited by coach Kirby Smart and defensive coordinator Glenn Schumann to play inside linebacker for the Bulldogs.

Class of 2024 Rivals100 athlete Jalewis Solomon had flashes, too. The two-way standout got more work at receiver than he did on defense the night I saw him. But you can see why the South Carolina commit is viewed by Shane Beamer as a potential shut-down cornerback. It’s going to sting Auburn for years to come that Solomon flipped his commitment to the Gamecocks.