Here are five recruiting stories heading into the weekend:
1. How do you know who is at the top of UGA’s recruiting board? You simply follow where the coaches go on the road during their first day of the spring evaluation period. Wednesday was that day, and one of UGA’s first stops was at Lanier High School to see Derrick Brown, the 5-star defensive tackle who is rated as the state’s No. 1 prospect. Brown told the AJC that it was Bulldogs assistant Thomas Brown that made the appearance, and that South Carolina’s GA Mangus also came by. Here are some other elite in-state prospects that were visited by UGA assistants on Wednesday: receiver Demetris Robertson of Savannah (committed to Alabama), defensive tackle Antwuan Jackson of Cedar Grove, defensive end Jordan Smith of Lithonia, linebacker Jaleel Laguins of Oconee County, defensive tackle Julian Rochester of McEachern, cornerback Mecole Hardman of Elbert County, defensive back Chad Clay of Peachtree Ridge, defensive tackle Tyler Clark of Americus, and tight end Charlie Woerner of Rabun County.
2. Could Georgia Tech pick up commit No. 3 at Friday’s night spring game? “I don’t know,” said Kelly Quinlan, publisher of Georgia Tech’s Rivals website, JacketsOnline.com. “There are a couple of guys who are close. It just depends on who shows up and stuff. There are a few kids a little worried about weather, especially the ones who have to drive further.” Quinlan says recruits generally like the idea of the scrimmage on a Friday night in downtown Atlanta – rather than on a Saturday afternoon like most other colleges. “They like the fireworks, and the nighttime festival environment at the school. And you get to the see the city, the skyline and all that kind of stuff.” More on Tech’s recruiting later this week.
3. What do you think about UGA’s basketball recruiting his year? I tend to agree with this assessment by Dan McDonald, basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. “I think it’s Mark Fox’s best class, without question,” McDonald told the AJC. “When you look at it from top to bottom, it’s the first time he has gotten four guys who are really going to be productive players for them.” UGA will have four signees once Michael Edwards finishes his paperwork and faxes it into the Bulldogs this week. He’s the 6-foot-10 center from Michigan who committed to UGA over Nebraska and Kansas State on Monday. The Bulldogs signed three in the early period: 6-4 guard William “Turtle” Jackson of Athens, 6-8 center Derek Ogbeide of Pebblebrook and 6-6 forward E’torrion Wilridge of Beaumont, Texas. “They’ll get some depth up front, and then they’ll have the two perimeter guys to where injuries won’t hurt them as much next season,” McDonald said. “They’ve got four guys who can be really good players for them.” Back to the first point, about the quality – even though UGA ranks at No. 53 in the nation with this class, you just get the feeling that Fox has finally turned the corner with his recruiting efforts, which was boosted tremendously after the hiring of assistants Yasir Rosemond and Jonas Hayes. The Bulldogs still have a lot of work to do with attracting elite prospects from within the state, but things appear to ticking in an upward direction.
4. Of course, nothing would forever change the perception of UGA’s in-state recruiting efforts more than winning the lottery for Jaylen Brown, the nation’s No. 2 overall prospect from Wheeler High School. That would be epic. Brown is undecided among eight schools, including UGA and Georgia Tech. But both in-state colleges are considered to be long shots, at best. Every day there’s a new rumor about Brown. This week, there was speculation about Brown-to-Cal after the state of California’s No. 1 prospect, Ivan Rabb, told reporters that he was going to “step outside” and call Brown right after he committed to Cal. Rabb later played down those comments, per SNY.tv: “I have been talking to Jaylen [Brown], especially since I committed, but at the end of the day, nobody’s going to follow me just because. It has to be the best fit for them and the best decision. I’m not going to pressure him, but I would definitely like to team up with him.”
5. Back to UGA basketball commit Michael Edwards: His high school coach, Rod Watts, thinks he can be a star. When Watts was an AAU coach in Michigan, he helped oversee the development of future college standouts such as Florida’s Al Horford (now with the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks), Michigan State’s Goran Suton and Providence’s LaDontae Henton. Watts thinks Edwards has just as much long-range potential. “Oh yeah — he has just scratched the surface,” Watts told the AJC. “He averaged 4 points and 3 rebounds last year as a junior. And this year, he put quadruple or more the numbers (averaging 23 points and 12 rebounds) against the same people. It’s so impressive the jump he made from his junior to senior year. He has just grown in so many ways. When I first got the job in May, he didn’t attempt to dunk on very many people. And then when you look at our last game of the season, he takes the ball from the right corner, drives to the basket, goes underneath, reverses, and throws down a dunk on a kid. The year before, he would’ve never done that.” What won it out for UGA with Edwards? “He likes how Coach Fox and (assistant Jonas) Hayes do business,” Watts said. “The parents were thoroughly impressed with the hospitality during the visit. There’s the fact that there’s another Michigan kid down there in Georgia (Yante Maten), and he enjoys it. There’s the fact that they feel like Mike will have an excellent opportunity to play. There were a lot of things he liked about Georgia.” McDonald of Rivals is impressed. “I think it’s a big pickup for Georgia. They are losing a couple of guys in the post area, so they needed some bodies up there. When you beat schools like Marquette, Pitt, SMU, Nebraska and Kansas State for a kid, it’s a pretty big deal. This time of year, the 6-10 kids like (Edwards) are a premium because there aren’t a ton out there.”