Recruiting Rewind: Mark Richt was hardest coach to turn down

AJC Super 11 DB Kendarius Webster signed with Ole Miss over FSU and UGA (AJC)

AJC Super 11 DB Kendarius Webster signed with Ole Miss over FSU and UGA (AJC)

Ole Miss held off both Florida State and UGA to sign Kendarius Webster, the AJC Super 11 defensive back from Stockbridge High School.

But if then-FSU defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt hadn’t been hired away by UGA, Webster would’ve likely signed with the Seminoles last February.

“That was my biggest secret in recruiting — that Florida State led for me the whole time,” Webster said. “I say Florida State would’ve gotten me if Coach Pruitt had stayed. That changed when Coach Pruitt left for Georgia.”

Pruitt still tried to recruit Webster for UGA over the final weeks, but it was too late for the Bulldogs.

“Pretty much if Georgia knew which coaches they were going to have a little sooner before signing day, they would’ve had a great shot at me,” Webster said. “They came after me pretty hard. But Georgia’s new defensive staff got there late, and I already had made up my mind where I was going.

“I fell in love with Ole Miss during my official visit, and it was too close to signing day to mess things up.”

Here’s the rest of the Q&A with Webster:

The most creative thing a college did to get your attention? “I went to the Georgia-LSU game, and everybody in the crowd was chanting my name. At first, I walked through the crowd, and they were chanting my name. And about 15 minutes, Lorenzo Carter walked down, and they were chanting his name. So I really enjoyed that.”

Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze has had a lot of success with recruiting Georgia (AP)

Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze has had a lot of success with recruiting Georgia (AP)

Funniest thing a college coach said to you? “It was Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze. He sent me a video of him doing the Nae Nae dance. And that was pretty funny. He was dancing. He was like ‘I still got the moves lol.’”

How much negative recruiting is out there? “There was a lot of it, quite honestly. A lot of coaches were saying ‘Ole Miss is this, and Ole Miss is that.’ Some other colleges were talking bad about Florida State. And then a bunch of them were saying, ‘Don’t go to Georgia’ and listed all of these reasons. There was a lot of negative recruiting going around. I guess everybody was just doing their job with trying to get me to go to their school. That’s all I can really say.”

What were some negative things specifically said about Ole Miss? “That they’re racist and why would you ever want to go there. It was just crazy things like that.”

Did Freeze ever counter the negative recruiting from other schools? “Not really, because I knew negative recruiting was just part of the business. At one point in time, though, Coach Freeze had a conversation with Coach Richt at the end of the recruiting process. I’m not going to say Coach Freeze got mad, but they had a conversation. I’m not sure exactly what they talked about it, but I heard it had to do more with Laremy Tunsil. He had switched from Georgia to Ole Miss (the year before).”

Biggest recruiting rumor about you? “That I was supposed to take an official visit to UGA. They did invite me, but I was pretty solid with Ole Miss by that time. And there was some rumors that I went ahead and visited Georgia on a secret visit without telling anybody. But no, that wasn’t true. The Ole Miss coaches didn’t call me about that because they knew I wasn’t there.”

Hardest coach to turn down? “I’d say Coach Richt. I really wanted to stay closer to home, but I also wanted to go somewhere where I really felt comfortable and where I’d have a good chance of making something out of myself. It was hard to tell Coach Richt that Georgia wasn’t the place for me. He was like ‘Don’t give up on us yet. We’re not going to give up on you.’”

Which school was the biggest disappointment? “Clemson. They said they were going to recruit me hard, and I liked them a lot. They never really called me back. It was disappointing because I really liked Clemson.”



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— By Michael Carvell, AJC’s Recruiting Blog

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