Here’s Kimberley Nash’s perspective on five of the biggest UGA recruiting stories that people are talking about this week:
1. Isaac Nauta Changes Course. Reopens Recruitment.
The news that IMG Academy tight end Isaac Nauta de-committed from Florida State was the cherry on top of a storyline that began in late June. At that time, Nauta’s mother speculated about him possibly “flipping”; her statement sent tongues wagging because, before then, some felt Nauta’s recruitment was over.
It goes without saying that UGA has to be considered the front-runner for him. Nauta’s constant mention of playing close to home and being near family wasn’t just meant to be a soundbite. Even so, you want to be cautious in situations like his because recruiting is nothing if not unpredictable.
Case in point, there were similar reactions when Demetris Robertson de-committed from Alabama—everyone figured he was UGA’s to lose— yet, last I checked, he was certain of only two official visits: Stanford and Georgia Tech. So, there’s plenty to be said about making an assumption too quickly.
Perhaps the possibility of seeing his parents at every home game will be plenty, but Nauta is considering other options as well—TCU, Michigan, and Baylor all offer family ties as well—and when you have that many options, you can take your time and browse a bit.
These days, for my money, I only get excited when I hear confirmation that the paperwork is in because, honestly, if the word “commitment” meant to my husband what it means in the recruiting world or our last house, I’d have to keep a divorce and an asbestos lawyer on standby.
2. Offensive Lineman has UGA in Top 10
UGA has seemingly moved on from E.J. Price—it would be shocking to see him in a red and black uniform at this point—and they are exploring available options at the offensive tackle position, including some who were already on their radar, but likely didn’t garner as much attention at the start.
Garett Bolles is a JUCO guy. He was committed to BYU at one point, but he re-opened his recruitment in May, and appears to be open to a variety of schools.
When UGA offered, in early July, it intrigued him enough to place them in his top group, but they’ll have plenty of work to do if he’s going to end up in Athens.
Bolles currently has a high opinion of Arizona State, due to their NFL track record with JUCO players, and the only SEC schools he’s currently considering taking an official to are Auburn and Ole Miss.
It’s also worth noting that his fiance will enroll wherever he does (they plan to marry this December), so whatever school admits her will be the one he ultimately chooses.
To be frank, it’s difficult to see UGA being a serious player, but you certainly can’t rule them completely out—for what it’s worth, Willie Allen and Landon Dickerson are more realistic possibilities.
3. UGA Increases Cost of Attendance
UGA added a significant amount to its COA figures this week as well:
“It’s not exactly clear what went into Georgia’s old cost-of-attendance formula. The one in place for this year includes $2,346 for “miscellaneous living expenses” and $875 for transportation costs. The miscellaneous expenses include estimated costs for items such as clothing, laundry, cleaning supplies and a “communications package.” The transportation cost is an estimate calculated by assuming four trips per semester from Warner Robins, as that’s a mid-point for in-state students, while the out-of-state cost comes from the cost of a round-trip plane ticket to Chicago. The Windy City was chosen for its central location, according to UGA compliance director Jim Booz. (as reported by AJC’s Seth Emerson)”
The increase should certainly help when selling an out-of-state prospect on coming to UGA but, again, the cloak and dagger-esque way in which these numbers are accounted for will continue to raise eyebrows until someone steps in and makes every school play on the same field. After all, even with the bump UGA managed to install, they still lag better than $2,000 behind Auburn, Tennessee and, now, Alabama (the Tide found a way to go from near the bottom, to nearly tops in the SEC, after some re-jiggering of their own COA numbers).
Still, Jordan Jenkins seems happy that he’ll have more money for food. That can’t be a bad thing.
“I’m probably gonna buy food,” Georgia linebacker Jordan Jenkins said. “Maybe save it all up if I have any emergency situations. Maybe actually, finally be able to buy a nice pair of clothes instead of just going to school with what I had, and waiting till holidays to get new clothes and outfits.” (as reported by Edward Aschoff, ESPN)
This is a topic that won’t go away anytime soon, I assure you.
4. Has recruiting become more about style than substance?
These days it seems the recruiting process has become more about the hats on the table than the signature on the page. Prospects collect offers like Easter Eggs, run around bragging about the caliber of said offers, and then play coy about which one of those offers will net the prize of receiving the coveted commitment.
A lot of prospects are so enamored of the attention and “fame” that being a highly-touted can bring, they’re willing to pull out all the stops to make sure their final decision is the one others most want to see. They’ve learned how to leverage their talent, and their star rating, to make the most of their 15-minutes.
And while the anticipation and excitement for National Signing Day can only be enhanced by such focused positioning on the part of the day’s brightest stars, for those that take fierce pride in their alma mater, and don’t like the idea of being left at the altar at the last minute, it’s a big turnoff.
In short, it’s become a tainted business where words mean little and actions will almost always be questioned.
That’s why when a prospect states loud and clear that he’s shutting everything down—no visits, no waffling, no backtracking—it’s a breath of fresh air. That sort of thing just doesn’t happen very much anymore.
Don’t get me wrong, I can’t fault the prospects for using their talent to soak up the spotlight—being recruited is an opportunity most will never have—but sometimes I wonder when enough is enough?
5. Carlin Fils-Aime Commits to Tennessee
On Friday morning, UGA saw its running back possibility decrease by one prospect when Carlin Fils-Aime committed to the Tennessee Vols.
The former UGA target seemed excited about the program, leading up to Dawg Night—even hyping a foot-race between himself and running backs coach Thomas Brown—but it’s no secret UGA has honed in on two players at at that position (Devwah Whaley and Elijah Holyfield), with Holyfield being the guy most coveted.
Once Fils-Aime couldn’t manage a face-to-face with Mark Richt, at Dawg Night, the writing was on the wall—Fils-Aime officially moved on from UGA.
The way Fils-Aime’s situation was handled does leave a bad taste in your mouth but, again, the staff has not been shy about two things: 1) they only plan to take one running back, and 2) they want that running back to be Elijah Holyfield. Still, the thought of staking so much on the decision of one player is dangerous, especially when said player feels “at home” somewhere else (See: Auburn).
*Bonus: Kyle Davis sets the record straight:
A few weeks ago, Davis’s father made it clear he doesn’t believe UGA is a good fit for his son. However, his son made sure to let folks know that he doesn’t necessarily agree with his father’s assessment.
“He doesn’t affect my decision with any school,” Davis said. “I can only go off of what (UGA) had in the past. I mean, they had A.J. Green and Hines Ward.” (as told to the AJC’s Chris Kirschner).
UGA will continue to pursue Davis until he’s signed with them or decides to sign elsewhere. His capability as a strong receiver, with good hands, and above average physicality will make him too good to pass up—no matter what sort of offense a team runs.
Also, Davis’s relationship with Jacob Eason should be noted. Eason won’t be enrolling at UGA just to hand it to whatever running back lines up behind him. He’ll need weapons to throw to, and Davis, more than anyone else, is a player he’s made it clear he wants to see on the other end of his passes.
In my opinion, most people think of this as Nick Chubb’s team ,and while he certainly will be a powerful force over the next two seasons (if he can remain healthy), he won’t always be an option. UGA will need weapons everywhere and Davis can be that guy.
*Bonus: Mecole Hardman won’t officially visit UGA or Tennessee
The two schools most associated with Hardman won’t even receive an official from him this fall, but does that really even matter?
Hardman doesn’t have to visit either school to maintain heavy interest in both of them. He already has those relationships in place and knows precisely what each has to offer. His desire to look around has everything to do with enjoying the “process” he’s become so enamored of this year; he wants to maximize his time as a top prospect and what better way to do that than to distance himself, publicly, from the schools everyone feels have the best shot at landing him?
Again, it goes back to taking advantage of being one of the best in the nation—enjoy the spoils and keep everyone guessing until the bitter end. Right?
Kimberley Nash has blogged about UGA’s football recruiting since 2011.