Oklahoma State turned heads in Georgia by convincing one of UGA’s longtime recruits to flip from the Bulldogs shortly before signing day.
Chris Carson is the former Parkview High School running back that grew up a fan of UGA and had committed to the Bulldogs last summer.
Carson, now playing at Butler junior college, took an official visit to Oklahoma State in mid-January, and liked it more than he thought he would. After taking more than a week to ponder his situation, Carson told reporters that he was sticking with the UGA.
However, the next day (which was the Monday before Wednesday’s signing day), Carson changed his mind and ended up signing with Oklahoma State.
“I think we have a great opportunity for Chris,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy told the AJC. “He’s a two-year player. With his family and maybe Chris, I think maybe his first love was UGA. But he just saw the opportunity here.
“We graduated a senior running back, we just don’t have any experience. It’s going to give Chris an opportunity to come in right away, and make plays. It’s an opportunity for Chris to set himself up, and get his 20 carries per game. I think he was mature enough, and at a point in his career and his life where he realized Georgia has been very fortunate. They’ve got several returning backs who have had a lot of success. Either way, when they roll the ball out there in August, those guys are going to get the first shot at it, in his opinion.
“So we were able to secure him an opportunity to play from Day One. He’ll get his carries, and he has got a dream of one day playing in the NFL. And I think he felt like this was his best shot.”
UGA will have one of the nation’s deepest backfields next season with Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and Keith Marshall. Still, it was a recruiting gamble for Oklahoma State to dedicate so much time and resources that late in the recruiting process on a kid from Georgia who grew up a UGA fan and had been committed to the Bulldogs for such a long time.
Gundy knew that it was a risk, but went for it anyway. Oklahoma State had to find a top running back after one of their longtime commits, Ronald Jones II of Mckinney, Texas, backed off his pledge to the Cowboys in mid-December (later signing with USC), igniting a chain reaction of events.
“We felt like we were good opportunity for Chris to secure his goals – he wanted to play in the NFL,” Gundy said. “We were scanning the country to find a running back. We had a young man who was committed to us for about 10 months. In the middle of January, he flipped and went to the USC. So we were in scramble mode a little bit to find a running back.
“We looked at some high school players, and most of those guys were secured with where they were going. And then we started to look at some two-year players and the reasons why they were going to that particular school. We were just fortunate with Chris being committed to Georgia, and Georgia having the depth it did at the running back position.
“We thought we would give it a shot, and at least plead our case to see if there was any interest. I think Oklahoma State kind of grew on him as the recruiting process went on. He visited here, and he liked it and he felt comfortable. He felt like it was his best opportunity. He’s a really mature young man.
“Once we got a feel for his personality and the way that he was thinking, we felt like that we had a chance, and that it was worth the time and money to invest.”
Oklahoma State has three other Georgia players on it roster, including another former UGA commit, receiver CJ Curry of Flowery Branch High School. Curry’s younger brother, cornerback Darius Curry, is also on the team, along with former Tucker High School linebacker Kirk Tucker.
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