Mirko Jurkovic explains to AJC how he went from Ohio State to UGA

UGA head coach Mark Richt and offensive line coach Rob Sale watch prospects go through a drill in Athens, Ga. on June 5, 2015.  (Sonny Kennedy/ Special to the AJC)

UGA’s Mark Richt and Rob Sale played key roles in a late addition to the 2015 class (Sonny Kennedy/ Special to the AJC)

Former Ohio State football signee Mirko Jurkovic told the AJC that it was a phone conversation with Mark Richt on Monday evening that made him commit on the spot.

The offensive lineman from Florida’s IMG Academy picked UGA over Notre Dame and Florida after not being able to enroll at Ohio State due to an academic issue.

What exactly did Richt say to Jurkovic?

“I talked to Coach Richt about 20 minutes ago,” Jurkovic told the AJC. “He told me that I would be admitted, so then I told him that I was coming to Georgia.”

The 6-foot-5, 275-pounder went ahead and committed, despite the fact that he’s never stepped foot on UGA’s campus. He’ll take an official visit with the Bulldogs on July 13-14.

“It’s just that I know I’m going to love Georgia … that’s why I committed so quickly,” Jurkovic said. “I talked to so many people about it. I talked to my uncle about Georgia, and he told me to finish it as soon as possible. I’m going to enjoy Georgia. I just know it.”

Mirko Jurkovic (247sports)

Mirko Jurkovic (247sports)

UGA and Jurkovic had a fast and furious courtship after he found out that he wasn’t going to be admitted to Ohio State about a month ago. After Jurkovic got a release from the Buckeyes, he started reaching out to other schools. He had a pre-existing relationship with UGA offensive line coach Rob Sale.

“I knew Coach Sale late in the recruiting process, from when they first started contacting me last December after I de-committed from Nebraska,” Jurkovic said.

“So I already had a relationship with them. This summer, I found out that they (UGA) needed some more offensive linemen. I wasn’t attending Ohio State … so we started talking and stuff.”

Jurkovic talked over the phone the last few days with Richt and UGA assistants John Lilly and Brian Schottenheimer. It was Sale’s sales pitch that pushed the Bulldogs over the top.

“Yes, Coach Sale seemed like a great guy to be around – a great coach,” Jurkovic said. “He said that they needed some linemen. I felt about good about Coach Sale when we talked in December. He said he loved my tape and wanted to get me on a visit. I already had a relationship with him, so I’m excited to play for him now.”

There have been conflicting reports over what happened between Jurkovic and Ohio State. Was it really an academic issue? Or did Ohio State run out of scholarships?
“I wasn’t admitted to Ohio State,” Jurkovic explained.

“I don’t know what all went on there behind the scenes there. It just kind of was what it was. I don’t know. I wasn’t admitted to Ohio State. That’s all I know.

“And there are no hard feelings against Ohio State. It’s a business. It didn’t mess me up too much. I ended up at Georgia, so I’m not too mad or disappointed about that. Ohio State is just a thing in the past now.”

Jurkovic said he will sign financial-aid papers with UGA within the next couple of days. “There’s really not anybody in the football office right now. They will send me (financial-aid) papers to sign when they get back. I will sign them as soon as possible.”

Because this all went down too late for Jurkovic to attend summer classes, he said he will join UGA’s team for the start of training camp on Aug. 2.

“It will be a good fit,” he said. “I’m really happy with how it turned out.”

The addition of Jurkovic is a pretty big deal to UGA, which wanted to sign five offensive linemen this past year and ended up with four. Then the Bulldogs were down to three signees after DeVondre Seymour decided to give up football last month after starting summer school.

Jurkovic is originally from South Bend, Ind. He was rated as a 3-star and the No. 106 overall prospect out of Indiana.

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