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Improved size at OL and DB highlight stellar 2017 Georgia class

"I'll be honest, I am very happy with the size of that group," Georgia coach Kirby Smart said of his offensive line class. Andy Altenburger/Icon Sportswire

ATHENS, Ga. -- By the time Georgia coach Kirby Smart strolled on stage in front of a backdrop of eager, excited Georgia fans inside Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall, his second recruiting class had 22 of its 26 spots signed.

Fifteen of those signees were ESPN 300 members. Four of them were five-star prospects.

On a relatively drama-free, easygoing first day of February, Smart enjoyed the riches of elite recruiting that kept the stress at a minimum around Georgia's football facilities. When all was said and done, Smart's second class as Georgia's head coach signed 26 players, with 18 being ESPN 300 members and four hitting five-star status.

"It's a team success day," Smart said in front of a throng of fans Wednesday morning, "and the Dawgs got a bright future with a lot of these young men coming in here."

In what almost mirrored a Nick Saban class of past and present, Georgia's class hit all its major needs, but the area in which it absolutely cleaned up was along the offensive line -- especially in the size department. A year ago, Smart made it clear that when it came to the overall size and physical makeup of his 2016 offensive line class, the Dawgs didn't hit their mark.

In his words it wasn't "exactly what we want."

Georgia had just three offensive linemen sign, and though Ben Cleveland and Solomon Kindley passed the 330-pound mark, there just wasn't enough girth to go around.

Oh, what a difference a year makes. Nearly 365 days later, Smart signed an enormous offensive line class that doesn't just add depth and some immediate playing time. It also provides adequate, SEC-style size that Georgia needs in the trenches.

"I'll be honest, I am very happy with the size of that group," Smart said. "If we can keep that demeanor and that attitude that we're more physical and tougher than you, and we're going dominate the line of scrimmage, that's what you want to have."

The size that he's salivating over is roughly a literal ton secured with Georgia's six signees. All six, which include No. 2 offensive tackle Isaiah Wilson and No. 2 junior college offensive tackle D'Marcus Hayes, clear the 310-pound mark. Wilson, who has a chance to play right away and is the crown jewel of this group, sits at 350 pounds, while Hayes, Justin Shaffer, Netori Johnson, and Andrew Thomas all clear 335 pounds.

"It's exciting anytime you get a group like that," Smart said. "I'm certainly impressed with the stature of those guys."

Smart is also impressed with the size Georgia added, in both numbers and the physical sense, to its defensive backfield. By the time Smart started his 2:15 p.m. news conference, Georgia had signed seven defensive backs. Six of them stand at least 6 feet tall, with three -- Detravion Bishop, Deangelo Gibbs (five-star early enrollee) and Ameer Speed -- weighing at least 200 pounds.

With the ever-increasing size and height of SEC receivers, Smart said it was imperative that a team with five of its two-deep defensive backs standing shorter than 6-foot and only one, Quincy Mauger, hitting 200 pounds upgrade its secondary size.

"Length, man. We had to get length," Smart said. "I think bulk is a big part of being a good DB nowadays. ... When you have those 180-pound guys, it's tough to hit that 200-pound mark. We needed to get longer and bigger to be able to match up some guys [in the SEC]."

What makes Smart even happier about these two positions is they'll immediately challenge a group of relatively well-groomed guys already on campus. Georgia lost only Maurice Smith from its secondary, and two starters are back along the offensive line. Competition will ramp up at those positions, and Smart indicated that after some players got complacent with their starting positions last season, no one will escape intense competition going forward. This stellar 2017 class is a major reason for that.

"There were positions last year, we couldn't make a change. We couldn't motivate a guy with change because we didn't have anybody else," Smart said. "Now, at almost every position, we hope to have great competition so that those guys are motivated and give a little bit more effort in practice."