Thursday’s AJC Recruiting Rewind

UGA head coach Mark Richt chats with defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt in Athens on June 5, 2015  (Sonny Kennedy/ Special to the AJC)

UGA head coach Mark Richt chats with defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt in Athens on June 5, 2015 (Sonny Kennedy/ Special to the AJC)

Who’s next?  Who are the shaky commits? How much longer will so-and-so wait it out? I have to coach or practice football now since its time to focus on TEAM.

Those four blanket statements by and large sum up college football recruiting heading into August.  Recruiting is a 365 business, but things “chill” a bit because college coaches have their own players and position groups to fret about next week.

The recruits are also asked to hold leadership roles on their varsity teams.  Everyone still might be going eight miles above the speed limit, but they’re not in the passing lane with their hazard lights flashing anymore.

No recruit is visiting 2-3 teams a week in August. That’s one quick point, now let’s recap what’s going on in the UGA and SEC recruiting world.

Here’s the 10 need-to-know things this morning

UGA quietly increases its cost-of-attendance figure

It may seem like I’m making a big deal out of this relatively yawner of a story, but this will be significant. UGA goosed its cost-of-attendance figure on the DL over the last year.  The AJC’s Seth Emerson has everything we need to know about that plus a side of grits this morning.

Cost-of-attendance is defined as a set figure that will now be granted to student-athletes for every two semesters to offset expenses outside of the school’s tuition, fees and room and board.

Georgia quietly increased its cost-of-attendance figure last spring, upping it from $1,798 to $3,221 for in-state students and $3,743 for out-of-state students. It’s still in the middle of the pack in the SEC — and well behind the reported out-of-state stipends for Auburn ($5,586) and Tennessee ($5,666) — but it’s enough of a spike that Mark Richt tipped his cowboy hat to university president Jere Morehead earlier this week.

Does this matter? Let’s put ourselves in the mind of an 18-year-old kid who really likes Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee. Let’s call this hypothetical player Demetris Davis or even Kyle Robertson.

This 5-star likes all of those schools just about the same, but then there’s the chance for an additional $4,000 per year from the other two.

Do not think that will not be taken into account when recruits are torn between one smooth pitch compared to another.

Mecole Hardman won't be taking official visits to UGA or Tennessee. (Rob Saye/ Special)

Mecole Hardman won’t be taking official visits to UGA or Tennessee. (Rob Saye/ Special)

Not so fast with Mecole Hardman, Jr.

Mecole Hardman Jr. ruled out UGA and Tennessee for his official visits? Huh? Weren’t those schools his shall-not-be-named leaders?

This boils down to context. Everything in Hardman’s world is fast, but do not jump to a quick conclusion.

If your interpretation includes the phrases “no big deal” or “good for him” and “wants to see college football’s titans on a big stage all expenses paid” then you have a good grasp of the situation.

The kid has already been to both UGA and Tennessee countless times. Why burn an official visit to one of those locales that are a short drive away?

Who’s next to Commit to the G?

A recent post on the AJC College Recruiting Blog wonders which recruit will be next to commit to UGA. It’s a good topic, but the story also has a dollop of reporting to it. We posed that question to a 2016 UGA commitment or two. That’s already worth a read right there.

Chad Clay said this: “I think, honestly, I’d say Isaac Nauta, Meco Hardman and Kyle Davis … I’m just close with them. I think they all know, they all say hot things about Georgia.”

Knew that would get you. Come back to the Rewind after you read that. Way-too-early prediction: If UGA gets those guys, this class ends up No. 1 in the nation.

Who’s next to commit?

Jaleel Laguins (AJC)

Jaleel Laguins (AJC)

Oconee County inside linebacker Jaleel Laguins is the answer to that question in terms of a priority prospect on the UGA board. He announced his commitment date yesterday via his Twitter account. It pointed to a link which revealed his Aug. 19 commitment date.

It sounds like Laguins wants to be coy with his leaders, but UGA is seen by most as the leader for the four-star linebacker. There’s the local connection and it was easy to see he really has a connection with the UGA coaches at one camp this summer. Ask anyone that follows this stuff. If they had to pick 4-5 names in the Class of 2016 who they felt were most likely to commit to UGA, his name would be called early and often.

24/7 looks at 2018

247sports released the Top 10 players for 2018 yesterday and those rankings have a heavy UGA and Georgia influence. First things first: These are rising sophomores, folks.

Cartersville’s 6-foot-5 QB Trevor Lawrence was tapped as the nation’s No. 1 overall prospect for the Class of 2018. He recently earned a UGA offer and also showed great moxie both during and after Dawg Night. He was in a throwing group with Jacob Eason and Bailey Hockman and looked every bit the big-timer that those two UGA commits are.

Trevor Lawrence has been rated the nation's top prospect for 2018. (Michael Carvell / AJC)

Trevor Lawrence has been rated the nation’s top prospect for 2018. (Michael Carvell / AJC)

I think Lawrence would be one of the Top 5 QB prospects  in the 2017 class, too. Easy.

There’s a lot of UGA all around that list: North Carolina RB Zamir White is the nation’s No. 2 prospect and overall No. 1 RB. No need to cue up the Todd Gurley comparisons. They’ve already been made. UGA is reportedly already in great shape with him.

South Gwinnett’s Justin Mascoll is another 5-star recruit. He likes UGA, but told the AJC he preferred Clemson this summer. Thompson DB Christian Tutt comes in at No. 11 on the list. UGA has been all over him from the jump.

UGA legacy drops Alabama

Westlake junior Jaden Hunter is a four-star recruit and one of the nation’s top prospects at outside linebacker for 2017. He reshuffled his leaderboard earlier this week, but then told the AJC the reasons behind those moves yesterday.

Alabama went from No. 1 to No. 5. Florida State and LSU are his co-leaders. UGA remains the No. 3 team in his pecking order.

This was a newsy story.

Big Deal No. 1: Hunter said that Alabama fell because of the quality of talent they already have in the program and also the elite recruits that will sign there before he could potentially arrive. He’s a sharp kid who isn’t afraid of competing, but give the kid credit for looking at his potential fits in terms of the best possible situations for him.

Big Deal No. 2: He also sounded like he’s ready to take a long hard look at UGA “early” in his recruiting, but it just hasn’t happened yet.  I’d expect that to change. Soon. He hopes to squeeze in a visit before the start of the season.

TE’s take: Woerner can be special

Woerner became UGA's 14th commitment for the Class of 2016. (Sonny Kennedy / Special to the AJC)

Woerner became UGA’s 14th commitment for the Class of 2016. (Sonny Kennedy / Special to the AJC)

UGA all-time great WR Terrence Edwards will be putting his two cents in on every new commitment for the AJC’s College Recruiting Blog. His take on recent commitment Charlie Woerner was a must-read.

This is the money take from TE: “UGA doesn’t have a player on their roster that reminds me of Charlie Woerner. After studying his film, I can’t think of a person with his size and speed to compare him too. He’s truly a unique athlete.”

The 6-foot-5, 230-pounder is the nephew of a UGA All-American who plays multiple positions in high school and should be a Saturday tight end and flex to receiver in the same vein as NFL All-Pro Jimmy Graham. Who’s the one commitment that UGA fans aren’t excited enough about? That’s Woerner.  The second guy would be defensive tackle Tyler Clark.

Another DB on his way to Pruittsville?

Hapeville Charter defensive back William Poole plans to be in Athens this week. He told the AJC to expect UGA to be among his leaders during his recruitment.

That’s big. The 4-star recruit is one of the nation’s top-rated corners for 2017.  Poole is versatile and can play all around the secondary. That’s the type of player UGA defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt likes to sign and leave on the field. UGA has been recruiting him for some time.

Former UGA DB Glenn Ford trains Poole and offered up this: “It’s a hard judgment with Will,” said Ford. “He likes Georgia. That’s something you’d see him wear even before he got recruited, so you know he likes the school. Again, it’s close to home. He’s an in-state kid, and to be honest with you, it’d be crazy for Georgia to let him get out of state.”

Another wave of Alabama news

Jean Delance – a four-star OL from Texas – revealed his Top 5 schools on Wednesday . He had Alabama, Michigan, Ohio State, Texas and Texas A&M in that lot.

4-star athlete Chadarius Townsend also committed to Alabama yesterday. The in-state standout for 2017 grew up a longtime Auburn fan, but committed to the in-state rival. He kept waiting to hear from Auburn, but his father told the AJC he never heard from his favored school until it was too late.

That’s intriguing. So was the fact he was a secret commitment for over a month. Townsend plays at a small school, but his head coach is one of the very best in Alabama. He is Alabama’s fifth commitment for 2017. That’s a lot of Alabama news and I’m not even going to touch that Dr. Romance Nick Saban stuff that broke yesterday.

Drake vs. Meek Mill

The purpose of this space every morning is to hopefully convey what’s going on in the recruiting world every day. Drake and Meek Mill are rappers and their entertaining back-and-forth of late dominated Twitter timelines yesterday. The players were all over this yesterday.

We won’t delve into the blow-by-blow with that, but we will share a tweet that should explain to everybody why UGA tight ends coach John Lilly is such an effective recruiter.

Lilly’s a great coach and a genuine guy, but he also can connect with recruits. He cites LL Cool J and Petey Pablo (other noted rappers) lyrics on Twitter. Then he also puts the focus back on the G.

Poor Isaac Nauta. He’s going to have to take a lot of visits and spark a lot more headlines, but Lilly is the Death Star’s tractor beam. Nauta is the Millennium Falcon. We know what will happen here. At some point, the pull will just be too hard to resist.

An SEC coach who knows about the beef between Drake and Meek Mill? Come on, man.

ONE MORE REP: South Carolina also caught a big defensive end from Lithonia yesterday. Jordan Smith committed to South Carolina yesterday over a finalist group which included UGA and several other SEC schools.

ONE MO’ ONE MORE REP:  Mays inside linebacker Tobias Little also committed to an SEC school on Wednesday.

Little opted to make his pledge to Missouri right after practice wrapped at the 7 p.m. mark. Mays coach Corey Jarvis told the AJC that Little was leaning to South Carolina at one point.

“I feel like Missouri is a great fit for him,” Jarvis said. “He was leaning more so to South Carolina but when he had the opportunity to sit down and look at Missouri’s defense and research what they are doing academically with their kids he and his Mom felt that Missouri was the best fit for him. He looks like one of their linebackers right now that I see play at Missouri. I told a guy last night I see Tobias and I think of (former Atlanta Falcon) Sean Weatherspoon. He just looks like a Missouri linebacker.”

The 6-foot, 234-pounder rates as a three-star linebacker and the No. 28 ILB for the Class of 2016 per the 247sports composite.


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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