North Carolina TE will choose UGA or UNC ‘in a day or two’

UGA tight ends coach John Lilly (Sonny Kennedy/ Special to the AJC)

UGA tight ends coach John Lilly will hear from a top target this week from North Carolina. (Sonny Kennedy/ Special to the AJC)

Garrett Walston is set to make up his mind. Soon.

The three-star tight end from North Carolina has UGA in his final two, along with North Carolina.

New Hanover offensive coordinator Darryl Raynor told the AJC Monday the last communication he had with Walston led him to believe a decision was imminent.

“He told me it was going to be within a day or two,” Raynor said. “I’ve been texting him back and forth today and he told said a day or two. So I guess that’s tomorrow or Wednesday when he will be making his official commitment.”

It comes on the heels on Walston making a visit to Athens over the weekend.

This will be an old-school announcement. Raynor said the rising senior doesn’t have a Twitter account. Walston was going to commit at the fieldhouse on May 29 in front of the local media, but backed off that at the last minute.

“He did tell me it was kinda too much for him so now he’s just thinking he will call a coach and say he is committed,” Raynor said. “He’s not one of those kind of kids that will make a big deal out of it. He’ll probably just call those three coaches and say he’s committed. He’s a different kid. He loves to hunt. He loves to fish and then he loves to play football. That’s him.”

Raynor admitted he graduated from North Carolina. He said it appears to him the race is down to just UGA and UNC, but wanted to dispel the notion he was pointing him to Chapel Hill.

“To be honest with you if I am a big-time football player I am probably going to Georgia to play in the SEC,” Raynor said. “Then to me I think with everything I have heard recently it is between Georgia and North Carolina.”

North Carolina State was considered the favorite to land Walston at one time. The 6-foot-4, 220-pounder was told by all three schools he’ll need to bulk up to 240 pounds. Raynor placed his speed in the 40-yard dash between 4.65 and 4.75 seconds based on recent combine times.

Garrett Walston is expected to decide between UGA and UNC soon. (247sports)

Garrett Walston is expected to decide between UGA and UNC soon. (247sports)

“I think Georgia got some flack awhile back for not taking a commitment from a kid that really wanted to go there because they are holding out for Garrett,” Raynor said. “So you know when Georgia is holding out for you, then you are pretty good.”

Raynor cited Walston’s route-running and hands as something the college scouts gush about. He said he hasn’t seen the rising senior drop a pass in two years. Walston gave up basketball to concentrate on football and baseball during his junior year.

The former quarterback will also enroll early in January, he said.

“Georgia has been all-in for him the whole time,” Raynor said. “(Brian) Schottenheimer and (UGA tight ends coach John) Lilly have been up here. I’ve been led to believe he is their number one tight end choice. I was told that by Schottenheimer. He said there wasn’t another tight end  in the nation they wanted more than Garrett. He may be just recruiting me as well as he is recruiting Garrett, but he’s kind of a straight-shooter. We had a great talk one day for three or four hours waiting for Garrett. Both he and Coach (John) Lilly really love him. They want him.”

Raynor noted Walston’s rise up the rankings. He said he was rated among the Top 60 tight ends in the nation a few months ago. Now he’s the No. 17 prospect in the country (247 sports composite) at that position after offers from Georgia, North Carolina and North Carolina State.

“Schottenheimer basically told me he should be ranked higher,” Raynor said. “He said Garrett was the type of player that in three years would have been able to come play for him with the (New York) Jets in the NFL.”

He also said not to expect any flips.

“The one thing about Garrett is he’ll be a hard commit,” Raynor said. “One of the things he’s said he doesn’t like is let’s say you are committed to Alabama and then you visit Georgia. Well, he doesn’t like that. He doesn’t want to be that kid even though it happens a lot. When he commits, he’s going to be committed.”

There will be a pull for Walston to stay close to home. He’s got a younger brother that is now on the New Hanover football team.

“The only negative he has ever mentioned about Georgia was that they are five-and-half hours away,” Raynor said. “That’s the only negative I have ever heard, but then Chapel Hill is three hours away and (N.C.) State is two-and-a-half hours away.”

WHAT THIS MEANS:  There is also news today about the nation’s top-ranked tight end showing renewed interest in UGA. That’s interesting, but that’s not as important as adding an uncommitted tight end like Walston. Landing Walston would be huge for adding momentum to the 2016 signing class. The versatility of Georgia’s offense is an ideal fit for an all-around tight end who enjoys every aspect of the position. He’ll also get to play with five-star quarterback Jacob Eason.

A big-time tight end is a must-have for this signing class to pair with a talent like Eason. Check out his prep highlights. Forget about the three-star ranking. Walston delivers the goods. There are not 17 tight end prospects in any year that can make the plays he does on the first two snaps of his highlight reel.


Jeff Sentell covers UGA recruiting for and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play Between the Hedges.

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