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Wednesday’s AJC Recruiting Rewind

How bright is UGA's future with Isaac Nauta now? Bright enough to find a good pic with head coach Mark Richt in shades. (Mike Eden / Special to the AJC)

How bright is UGA’s future with Isaac Nauta now? Bright enough to find a good pic with head coach Mark Richt in shades. (Mike Eden / Special to the AJC)

Who says nothing happens in college football recruiting once high school practices start up. Georgia’s prep programs have already started practicing and most of the South has either joined in the heat acclimation or will start next week.

That didn’t matter. The timing was right for some of the biggest recruiting news of the summer for both Florida State and UGA fans.

What am I talking about? What did you miss? That’s what the AJC’s Daily Recruiting Rewind is for.

Here are the Top 10 things to know this morning:

1) NAUTA COMMITMENT ANY MORE

Former Buford TE Isaac Nauta made the choice to de-commit from Florida State on Tuesday. He announced that decision with a statement he released from his Twitter account.

Nauta had a spectacular day at The Opening in Oregon on Wednesday. (Michael Carvell / AJC)

Nauta is the nation’s top-rated TE. (Michael Carvell / AJC)

That’s big for several reasons: 1) His family still lives in the Atlanta area; 2) UGA has been his No. 2 for most of the summer; 3) UGA 5-star QB commitment Jacob Eason was really in his ear around Dawg Night earlier this month

What’s the biggest reason? The 5-star prospect is not only the top-rated prospect at his position this year, but he possesses a skill set that only comes around every decade or so at the position. He’s a rare athlete that can shed 4-star cornerbacks in coverage.

2) MOTHER KNOWS BEST

The AJC’s Chris Kirschner spent some time recently with a prospect I’ve deemed as one of the most important remaining pieces of UGA’s 2016 recruiting class. That’s Elbert County athlete Mecole Hardman, Jr.

What did Kirschner learn? Well, the nation’s No. 2 athlete has great family support. He found an interesting angle with Hardman’s mother. She’s big on faith and told Kirschner there’s not a better coach in America to send her son to than UGA’s Mark Richt.

It’s a mystery why some of the recruiting services have the cornerback/receiver hybrid as a 4-star recruit, but Kirschner’s piece closes the book on why the electrifying athlete from a small-town kid who already handles himself so well in the spotlight.

Mama has faith in Mark Richt, folks. I’ll keep saying this: Mama is more important in a recruiting race than dining halls and indoor practice fields.  UGA needs all three of those working in harmony soon to recruit elite talent as well as any school in America.

3) NIGEL’S TOP 10

When Peachtree Ridge senior safety Nigel Warrior released his Top 10 on Tuesday night, it didn’t include a lot of surprises. It did produce a lot of interest.

Nigel Warrior (Michael Carvell / AJC)

Nigel Warrior (Michael Carvell / AJC)

Why? UGA is in there, but so are five other SEC schools. Warrior took his first visit to UGA in over a year this summer, but this UT legacy (his father was longtime NFL vet Dale Carter) is going to provide a lot of intrigue with his recruiting over the next six months.

Why should UGA fans care? A commitment from Warrior would mean that Jeremy Pruitt has locked down two members of Peachtree Ridge’s ALL-SEC secondary. Georgia Tech legacy Chad Clay was the first. The trophy catch would be 2017 prospect DeAngelo Gibbs. He’s already seen as the top defensive back in America for his signing class.

Despite all of that, Warrior can really play, too. He showed at The Opening that his game might be good enough to win a few arguments bestowing the “Best Safety in America” title on his shoulders this fall.

4) MYSTERY MAN

Warner Robins 4-star athlete Marquez Callaway has that “Love and Basketball” thing going on. If you’re about 6 feet, 2 inches tall then you better look like Allen Iverson on the court if you desire a professional payday.

Callaway’s almost 6-foot-3 and that’s NFL first-round material as a cornerback. This guy is intriguing because he is so underexposed to the recruiting game heading into his senior year. He’s rated among the country’s Top 125 players, but didn’t even know when National Signing Day was.

He really likes UGA, but prefers to play on offense. Pruitt and Mark Richt want him at cornerback. Auburn and Tennessee have offered him there along with basically the entire SEC. Some schools have also offered him the ability to play both sports in college.

Does that even work anymore? We’ve seen who wins that face-off between big-time SEC football program and its men’s basketball program. Think Homecoming game. Well, maybe a Vanderbilt Homecoming.

5) EASON ROCKET LAUNCHING

Have you read or heard enough about Jacob Eason yet? Well, the kid is good. There’s no denying that and UGA fans are eagerly awaiting his arrival in January. But maybe you haven’t SEEN enough of Eason yet. If that’s the case, then a recent video of his showing on the 7-on-7 circuit will be worth the click.

Eason drops back. Ready to unleash another laser. (Michael Carvell / AJC)

Eason drops back. Ready to unleash another laser. (Michael Carvell / AJC)

There’s also this nugget shared by Isaac Nauta’s father with the AJC Michael Carvell. It related to Eason’s role in his son’s de-commmitment. The two 5-star recruits spent a few days together after Dawg Night.

“I think it went well,” Jay Nauta said. “They have a good relationship. They have built a relationship over the last year or so. They spent time together at The Opening. Jacob has been trying to recruit Isaac to Georgia all along. But I don’t think that had anything to do with Isaac’s de-commitment from FSU, with as much as Isaac wanted to have a clear head. That’s what I get. ‘Dad, I want to have a clear head, and not anything that is causing me to go one way or another.’ I get it.”

6) BAMA WINS AGAIN

Alabama picked up another commitment for the Class of 2016 on Tuesday with a pledge from Dadeville (Ala.) athlete Shawn Jennings. He rates as a three-star recruit, but told the AJC that the deciding factor came down to family.

No, this wasn’t a recruit saying that a college campus filled with 99.95% new faces felt like Thanksgiving at Grandma’s house. This was because his older brother, Anfernee, is already a scholarship defensive lineman at Alabama.

7) BAMA BUMPED

UGA legacy Jaden Hunter made some waves yesterday when he released his Top 10 schools via social media. The 4-star defensive end is a rising junior who had rated Alabama and LSU higher than UGA earlier this summer.

Jaden Hunter is a rising junior and a four-star prospect at LB. (Michael Carvell / AJC)

Jaden Hunter is a rising junior and a four-star prospect at LB. (Michael Carvell / AJC)

Well, two July visits to Baton Rouge and Tallahassee sure made an impression on him. He’s got LSU and FSU now as his top two schools. UGA is at No. 2 on his revised list.

Alabama tumbled all the way to fifth. That’s quite the fall. UCLA and Clemson both came before the Crimson Tide on his list. Keep in mind that Hunter almost committed to Alabama over the summer.

8) COMMITMENT WATCH

Kirschner also spent some time this week in Lithonia. That’s not to rack up a mileage reimbursement, but for advance coverage on Wednesday’s commitment from 6-foot-5 senior Jordan Smith.

Gamecock fans can go ahead and set their watches for some good news regarding his 2 p.m. announcement. UGA is in the running, but it sounds like he’d rather be a defensive end. That’s South Carolina’s pitch. The Bulldogs offered the 4-star recruit at outside linebacker.

Kirschner predicted he would commit to South Carolina. Clemson, Florida and Tennessee are also among his final group.

9) WEBB CATCHES A NEW LEADER OR TWO

Morgan County 4-star DE MJ Webb also has an Alabama offer. (Special)

Morgan County 4-star DE MJ Webb also has an Alabama offer. (Special)

Summer must be the season for reshuffled 4-star leaderboards. Morgan County’s M.J. Webb has also tweaked his list of preferred schools. The 6-foot-3, 260-pounder just got back from Ohio State and loved that visit.

That puts the Buckeyes in a top group with Auburn, Clemson and Florida State. Where’s UGA? Webb told the AJC that he felt like the Bulldogs haven’t made him a priority.

10) WHAT ABOUT ZEB?

Oconee County quarterback Zeb Noland’s name showed up in the College Recruiting Blog on Sunday night in one of the most “interesting” college visit stories we’ve covered in a few moons.

That said, Noland is a quality prospect and Jacob Eason got to spend some time with him and Dawg Night. He really liked his attitude and demeanor.

Noland, a 3-star recruit, is rated as the No. 4 pro-style quarterback in the state this year. He committed to Appalachian State last month.  His other finalists were Middle Tennessee State and Toledo.

In the video below, Noland discusses his commitment and why he chose to play for the Mountaineers instead of the other two schools.



**BONUS: Garett Bolles, a 4-star offensive tackle out of Snow junior college who was offered earlier this month by UGA, released his list of his top seven schools via Twitter. The Bulldogs made it, along with Arizona State, Auburn, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Oregon and Utah. The frontrunners for Bolles appear to be Auburn and Oregon.

 

 

Jeff Sentell covers UGA recruiting for AJC.com 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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