Review: UGA target will commit and keep it a secret

UGA (AJC file)

UGA (AJC file)

Mecole Hardman, a 4-star who has UGA and Tennessee as his co-leaders, has a creative strategy to handle his upcoming commitment.

The cornerback from Elbert County High School plans to decide sometime during his senior season and then make a “silent” commitment to the winning school. However, Hardman won’t let the public know until February’s signing day.

“I’ll probably talk to the head coach in particular,” Hardman told the AJC on Monday. “I tell him that I’m committed to him, and they got my commitment — and I’d tell that coach that I would hope he would keep it silent for me.”

Why does Hardman want to do it this way? “You only get to do the recruiting thing once,” he said. “I want enjoy it the best I can. I want to wait until signing day to let everybody know publicly what I’m going to do.”

DSC_0279 Mecole Hardman

DB Mecole Hardman (AJC)

Silent commitments are actually quite common in football recruiting. However, it’s unusual for a prospect to announce in advance that he’s going to do a silent commitment, and then be able to keep it a secret until signing day. Hardman knows it’s against the odds.

“That’s the big thing that everybody is talking about,” he said. “I don’t know how it will be kept a secret. Hopefully it will stay between the coaches and me. Hopefully they won’t tell their friends and let it get out. My parents will know, and that’s about it.

“I’m sure somebody will find out. I say that, but hopefully they don’t. I hope nobody will spoil it, and it sticks to the plan.”

Hardman said he’s already informed UGA and Tennessee about the idea of a silent commitment. “They (Georgia) said it’s my decision. They said you only get to go through recruiting once, so they’re fine with it. They said if I make a silent commitment to them that they hope that I stick to my word. Tennessee said the same thing. They are cool with the idea, too.”

Hardman is being recruited by Tennessee at receiver, while UGA is scouting him on both offense and defense. What does he see as the biggest differences between the two SEC East schools?

“One is closer, and one is farther away,” he said. “Other than that, there’s not much of a difference. I like both schools a lot. Both of the coaching staffs are great. Tennessee is a chance to get away from home for the college experience, and not be close to home. But that’s probably the only thing. Well, I also think Tennessee has better facilities than Georgia. And if I went to Georgia, I’d be closer to home. I might like that better.”

“I think Tennessee would give me the best chance at starting right away. At Georgia, I feel like I’d have to work a little harder to get in there. But there’s going to be competition wherever you go.”

This past weekend, Hardman earned an invite to The Opening all-star recruiting camp at Nike headquarters in Oregon this summer. He has also been invited to participate in the Rivals 5-star Challenge.

Here’s the rest of the five recruiting stories that people are talking about from over the weekend:

5-star WR Terry Godwin (AJC)

5-star WR Terry Godwin (AJC)

2. UGA 5-star football signee Terry Godwin will be on display for pro baseball scouts again on Tuesday. Godwin is a third baseman for Callaway High School, which plays Jefferson at 5 p.m. Tuesday in the quarterfinals of the state playoffs. Godwin is a possible late-round candidate in next month’s MLB Draft by the Braves, Rangers, and Marlins – the main three times that have been scouting him this season. The Rangers were the only team to observe Godwin in last week’s playoff series, while the Braves sent a text message of congratulations on the playoff win. Godwin, who will work out for the Braves at Turner Field later this month, is expected to report to UGA for football on June 1.

3. Basketball recruiting: Both UGA and Georgia Tech are among the five finalists for James White, a 6-foot-8 forward who has graduated from Arkansas-Little Rock, per ESPN’s Jeff Goodman. White averaged 11.9 points and 6.6 rebounds as a redshirt junior before missing the rest of the season with a leg injury. He is expected to be an impact transfer wherever he goes … Georgia Tech has already added one graduate transfer this spring, guard Adam Smith of Fayette County High School. Smith played UNC Wilmington and Virginia Tech before deciding to finish his college career at Tech. You can CLICK HERE to read about Smith’s move to Tech by the AJC’s Ken Sugiura.

4. Another UGA signee? Even more basketball: Over the weekend, Texas may have nudged ahead of UGA for Tevin Mack, a 6-6 forward out of Columbia, S.C. Mack, who signed with VCU in the early period but got his release after a coaching change, made an unofficial visit this weekend to Texas, which hired Mack’s former coach (Shaka Smart) from VCU. Mack has visited UGA, and the biggest factor in favor for the Bulldogs is that his older brother played for coach Mark Fox at Nevada.

Tennessee's Butch Jones (AP file)

Tennessee’s Butch Jones (AP file)

5. Recruiting politics: If there’s an early signing period for football (to be voted on next month), I think it makes sense to allow high school kids to start taking official visits in the summer after they complete their junior year for too many reasons to mention. However, Tennessee coach Butch Jones is against that idea. “Recruiting never stops with unofficial visits, and now with people talking about official visits in June — there is no end to it,” Jones told the AJC. “It has changed my opinion because I have three boys. And my son was a high school senior this year, and I can only imagine what parents are going through when a young man has a number of options and the stress it puts on the family. So I’ve started to see things a lot differently from a parent’s perspective, and from the eyes of a parent. We need to look at the recruiting calendar. Instead of accelerating it ourselves, maybe we need to take a step back because there are so many things that go into it. It affects the health and well-being of your (college) coaches. It affects the recruits and families of recruits, too. You want them to have a productive summer, and be able to spend time with their family. And you want the kids to have time to spend with their high school coaches and their teams as well.”