Last-minute pieces could fall Georgia’s way to complete 2014 puzzle

Months and months of road trips, camps, evaluations, film study, home visits, text messages and sweet talk have led to the moment of truth for college football recruiters.

At Georgia, all that hard work will pay off when signed letters of intent from top prospects begin to roll out of the fax machine starting at 7 a.m today in the program’s recruiting department.

“We’ve tested it once, we’ve tested it twice,” said Daryl Jones, Georgia’s director of on-campus recruiting. “We’ll wind up testing it before we’re expecting things. … It’s like Christmas. I’ve got a tough time even at this age sleeping on Christmas morning knowing there are presents under that tree.”

The biggest prize still out there for Georgia is five-star defensive end Lorenzo Carter, of Norcross, who the Bulldogs and their fans would love to see in the red and black.

Georgia begins the day with 18 known commitments after Florida safety Kendall Gant came off its list due to academic concerns. Gant will sign with Marshall.

On Tuesday evening, Georgia had the nation’s No. 10 recruiting class by 247Sports and ESPN, No. 11 by Rivals.com and No. 13 by Scout.

Carter, also considering Florida, Florida State and LSU, would be the finishing kick.

He’s scheduled to make an announcement on ESPNU at about 3:30 p.m.

“If Lorenzo Carter decides to stay in Georgia, I think that will critical because he’s an in-state player and he was recruited by Jeremy Pruitt at Florida State,” ESPN national recruiting director Tom Luginbill said. “That’s the big one. If they can pull that off, I think that’s the one thing they probably really need to close this class out.”

Most recruiting analysts have projected Carter to Georgia, including Luke Stampini of Florida’s 247 sports site. He reported that Carter “will not be picking the Gators on NSD. UGA is the team that has been in the driver’s seat and the team that will land his signature on Wednesday.”

Another announcement that Georgia fans will be waiting on is defensive end Andrew Williams of Eagles Landing Christian Academy in McDonough. He is scheduled to announce at 2:15 p.m.

He’s down to Auburn, Georgia and Clemson. The Bulldogs got in the picture after Pruitt, recently hired as Georgia’s defensive coordinator, convinced Williams to take an official visit last weekend.

“I don’t think Georgia is too late to the party — no,” Williams told DawgPost.com. “That visit just showed me everything I wanted to see. I would not have taken the visit if they were too late. Georgia is in state, so of course you are going to be interested in playing for your home state team.”

Williams is rated as the No. 23 player in Georgia by Rivals.com, where national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell pointed to the Bulldogs in-state recruiting as an area that could be better.

Georgia begins the day with commitments from two of Rivals’ top-13 in-state prospects, but Carter at No. 4 in the lone uncommitted player from the state in the top 16.

Tailbacks Sony Michel from Plantation, Fla., and Nick Chubb from Cedartown are the Bulldogs’ top two commitments in national rankings, according to Scout, 247sports and Rivals.com.

“You can’t beat the 1-2 punch at running back,” Farrell said. “That’s obviously the highlight of this class.”

The Bulldogs could get Michel’s good friend and American Heritage teammate, Isaiah McKenzie, as well. He has Georgia among his finalists.

“Your guess is as good as mine,” American Heritage coach Mike Rumph said Tuesday. “I see him once a day and he’s not saying what he’s doing.”

The wide receiver/kick returner, a four-star rated prospect, by Rivals and three-star by Scout, has changed his preference throughout the recruiting process from Florida to Notre Dame to Ole Miss to Virginia Tech and Georgia among others.

The 5-foot-8, 170-pound McKenzie is a one-time Notre Dame commitment who had 41 catches for 892 yards and seven touchdowns last season, returned nine kickoffs for 424 yards and 12 punts for 369 yards and rushed for 251 yards and seven touchdowns.

“Once he was on TV in that (Under Armour) all-star game, everybody started ringing his phone,” Rumph said, “but he’s been that player since the first game of the season for us. … With the ball in his hands, he’s just dangerous.”

Another player from Florida, Gant, who committed to Georgia in July, will sign on Wednesday at Marshall, according to his coach at Lake Gibson High School in Lakeland, Fla.

Gant, a four-star prospect by Scout.com, is in danger of not qualifying academically. Marshall can take NCAA partial qualifiers while Georgia can’t.

“Marshall can do some more things for him compared to what Georgia had plans to deal with him,” Keith DeMyer said. “The whole bottom line is he really wanted to go but he put himself in a hole academically and he felt more comfortable dealing with Marshall in that respect.”

Gant still needs to better his ACT test score by two points, DeMyer said, but even if he did that, Georgia wanted him to go to Georgia Military College or a prep school in Atlanta.

“They were not walking away but they were giving up his scholarship to somebody else, so he would have been stuck,” DeMyer said. “The only option was to go to a JUCO and he didn’t want to go to JUCO.”

Georgia could still add to its safety group if it can get three-star target Tavon Ross from Bleckley County to flip from Missouri.

Marc Weiszer: twitter.com/marcweiszer

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