Want to attack every day with the latest UGA football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel brings. This entry is about a pair of lifelong friends, their many fights and why preferred walk-on Cade Brock should help Georgia more than probably than anyone ever thinks. Except for Cade Brock.
Sedrick Van Pran-Granger can bench press approximately 375 pounds. The nation’s No. 1 center (247Sports Composite) signed with Georgia. He’s maybe repped out about 375 interviews in his time as a recruit. At least.
But maybe not one quite like the conversation he recently had with DawgNation. The subject for this one was Cade Brock.
Brock is a preferred walk-on DL in the 2020 class out of Darlington School in Rome.
“I quite honestly didn’t even know he was a preferred walk-on in our class until he told me,” Van Pran-Granger said. “I just thought he was another one of the guys.”
Just one of the guys. That’s a spot preferred walk-ons don’t reach with the signees before they enroll at UGA.
Brock has zero stars on the 247Sports Composite. The good folks at 247Sports gave him a pure 2-star rating.
What’s so different about Brock? Well, a lot.
Imagine Joe Pesci from any of his classic “tough guy” roles in mob movies. Ditch the accent. Now super-size him. Broaden those shoulders. A lot. Grant him the strength to bench press 330 pounds.
He can already bench press 225 pounds an impressive 21 times. Brock goes about 5-foot-9 (maybe) on the growth chart and will weigh around 260 pounds. To place this in the right context, he’s about seven inches and 45 pounds smaller than the prototype defensive line recruit at UGA.
If DawgNation labeled him as tough as any member of the 2020 class in Athens, we wouldn’t be wrong.
If we labeled him the 2020 freshman most likely to get into a fight the first week of practice, we might even get the one right, too.
Those traits broadly skim the surface here. He’s the sort who will ask if he can take his shirt off during an interview. He says it in a way that he’s not joking.
He might be as entertaining as Pesci on the big screen, too.
“He’s always telling me that he looks forward to beating me and things like that,” Van Pran-Granger said. “He jokes about that. So I’ll be excited when we actually get in pads and start working out and stuff. Seeing him work and in action.”
Van Pran-Granger is right at 6 feet, 4 inches and about 300 svelte pounds. He is a deserving No. 1 center in this class.
“He does tell me he looks forward to beating me,” Van Pran-Granger said. “So….we’ll just have to see. He just might be the most fearless guy in our class. You’ve got to love that. Got to love that.”
100000% dawg thank you god 🙏🏼 pic.twitter.com/j5wenZ6XRt
— CADE BROCK (@cade_brock_) August 10, 2019
The things to know here about Cade Brock
When looking up in Sanford Stadium’s recruiting bleachers in the West End zone last fall, he was there for every home game. Mingling. Laughing. Right in the center of it all with his good buddy Tate Ratledge.
Brock belonged. Preferred walk-on? That’s a label for those that try to predict how good of a football player he will be at the next level. Those are sound projection tools based off a young man’s length, size, speed and tape. He was never going to get an SEC scholarship with that size.
The metrics won’t flatter Brock. The stuff he excels at can’t be quantified or distilled on film.
They seem to matter a great deal here.
Van Pran-Granger had a lot to say about Brock. Yet when he was done, he said something that is never said at the end of interviews. Even for a young man like Van Pran-Granger who has certainly been raised right.
“I’m just happy I got the call to be part of something like this for Cade,” he said. “Definitely. I think that Cade deserves some attention as well. Thank you for doing this.”
The scholarship guys don’t even know one another all that well. They will not until they’ve lived together on campus for a bit . They certainly don’t text back and forth with a preferred walk-on every day.
Yet that’s what the nation’s No. 1 center does. The same for the state heavyweight wrestling champion and future road grader Austin Blaske.
“Energetic guy,” Van Pran-Granger said of Brock. “Very energetic.”
That’s a good starting point on all things Brock. The neutral voice from New Orleans who just started to get to know Brock last summer when he was certainly trending to UGA.
“Cade is a very good guy,” Van Pran-Granger said. “Very funny as well. I just like being around him. I like him a lot.”
What’s the best story here about Brock? That’s a tough question. There are many. Ratledge, the All-American tackle who has grown up tussling with Brock, tries to.
“The funniest thing is one day is I’m driving home,” Ratledge said. “I just hear a truck rumbling along behind me. So I look to my side mirror and Cade’s just staring at me with. Driving along. With his football helmet on. That’s Cade. That’s what I see in my view.”
That is a typical Cade Brock story.
“I like whipping people,” Brock said. “Especially guys that are bigger than me. Guys that are supposed to beat me because they are so much bigger than me. I like making them quit. Getting in their head. Breaking their will. That’s my favorite part of football.”
Cade Brock: With the intro out of the way ……
A party of five has gathered together in the athletic offices at Darlington. Atha, the head coach at Darlington, is there. He’s carrying a box from Bojangles.
Ratledge, the 5-star Georgia signee, is there. He often serves as a 6-foot-6 and 315-pound mirror for Brock. His presence allows an observer to see the same guy he’s known since he was little.
They played left guard and left tackle next to one another for Darlington. The pair would often play both ways.
“There was this time that Cade and I were at guard and tackle and we worked on those two guys across from us all night,” Ratledge said. “By the time that game was over, they were contemplating a lot of things about their lives by the end of the game.”
There was that time Ratledge knocked Brock out cold on the football field. It is a story that Atha will still shake his head about. So will his father Dean Ratledge. He’s also in the room.
Tate’s father is a longtime assistant coach from across the state. He coached the defensive line at Darlington this past season.
It meant he coached Brock. The better term might be that he was the one who tried to hold the reins.
There are two cameras set up. Brock is there, too.
“Do you need us to take our shirts off?” Brock says. “Because we can do that. I can certainly do that. I don’t know about Tate over here, though.”
There’s a dance in New Orleans called “The Gritty” that is starting to get some attention. The LSU guys did it last season. Van Pran-Granger will do it around the guys. Brock will, too.
“Just seeing Cade try to do it is really funny,” Sedrick Van Pran-Granger said. “Seeing Cade do it in his cowboy boots is pretty funny to me.”
When Ratledge took his many prospect trips to UGA, his lifelong buddy tagged along.
“He was going and I’m a big Georgia fan,” Brock said. “Of course I wanted to go whenever he did. Why wouldn’t I? It is Georgia football, man.”
There was that time when Ric Flair was at the 2019 UGA game. Brock was there. So was 5-star TE prospect Darnell Washington.
The nearly 6-foot-7 Washington didn’t know who Flair was.
“I immediately starting giving him crap for that,” Brock said. “I just treat those other guys like regular people. I think some of them appreciate the fact I treat them and talk to them like a real person. Not this famous guy on the internet and that football player who is all that. They are just guys like me. It has got to be weird now for everyone to treat them as anything but regular people. They are just good at what they do.”
“Imagine if someone was the best plumber in the world and everyone just blew him up because that is what they do? I just don’t understand that. I just treat them, like regular people. I tell all of them that I can whoop their tail.”
Cade Brock and Tate Ratledge: The stepbrothers
Brock and Ratledge have known one another for as long as they can remember anything. Brock turned 19 in January. Ratledge will be 19 in April.
“Cade was this tiny when we were little,” Ratledge said.
“Tate has been this big since we were six,” Brock fired back.
There’s a photo of the two of them in the kitchen. Ratledge was wearing that big orange “T” a lot back then.
“There’s Tate in all his Tennessee gear,” Brock says pointing out the photo. “Man, I hated him. Hated him in that Tennessee stuff. Awful. Ugly. Just awful.”
The Brocks were Bulldogs. The Ratledge family were Volunteers.
“That used to start all of our fights a lot,” Brock said. “They were Tennessee fans.”
“We used to fight a lot,” Ratledge said. “We’d see each other and fight one another. That was just our thing.”
Always. Get Cade and Tate together. Unsupervised.
It was almost certain there was going to be a scrap.
The fact that Brock rolled up his sleeves daily to test his might against a much larger kid is indicative of what he has always been about.
The Good Lord went light on the height here. But he did not skimp on the intestinal fortitude.
“They were four years old,” Dean Ratledge said. “We had a trampoline in the backyard. They are out there on the trampoline. Cade’s father and I are sitting there going this thing is not going to end well. The longer they played, the rougher it got.”
They didn’t play football together. They just fought. It all started with wrestling. They met because the two of them went to the same youth wrestling camp and trainers. It was meant to toughen them up when they were still young.
“Cade would jump up behind him and get Tate in a headlock,” Dean Ratledge said. “Tate hated that crap.”
They would just haul off and start wailing on each other. They’d just slug one another. Get tired. Stop. Roll over and quit. Then find something else to do.”
“They stopped letting us go against each other in football practice,” Cade Brock said.
Ratledge jumped in and finished his sentence. As they are both prone to do.
“Because it always will turn into a fight,” Ratledge said.
“And since I hate him and because he’s fat,” Brock counters.
That day Brock got knocked out, he wasn’t that mad at Ratledge. Not as mad as the coaching staff was.
“We’d just been doing this all our lives,” Brock said.
There’s a story about a Brock headlock followed up by a Ratledge body slam. It broke Brock’s bed frame.
“I’ve still got that same bed,” he said.
Preferred walk-on: Was this a move to secure Tate Ratledge?
There was an independent talent evaluator who proved to be key in Brock’s road to Georgia. It was not about Ratledge bucking for a spot for his long-time sparring partner.
Nathan O’Neal trains high school and college prospects. He will also prepare them in the interim period between the college and professional levels. He preps them for their Pro Days and individual workouts.
“He was a short guy, too,” Brock said. “He played defensive line and he told me that he just felt like he needed to help me out a little bit.”
O’Neal sent him tips. Drills by video. Brock gobbled it up. O’Neal told him that he was going to throw his name around to some FCS and non-Power 5 programs.
“It ends up that he and Coach [Tray] Scott and friends,” Brock said. “I didn’t even know that. He got coach Scott to look at my film.”
O’Neal even sent Scott’s phone number to Brock. He had him cold call the defensive line coach at UGA.
“But he didn’t tell me who it was,” Brock said.
Brock called. Scott answered. It all came together.
“I started crying before I got off the phone,” Brock said. “He was like if you want to play here, we’ve got a preferred walk-on spot for you. I told him that it doesn’t have to be a recruiting thing. That was all he had to do or say. I was coming to take that spot they had for me at Georgia.”
Did you catch that? He cries.
“That’s because he is really a softie inside,” Ratledge said.
Brock plans to show up on May 31. What is Georgia getting here?
“Probably one of the hardest workers that they have ever seen come through there,” Tate Ratledge said.”He doesn’t care about size. He knows he’s not the biggest. He accepts it. So he is going to outwork you. That’s what he does.”
He is definitely hard to block. Opponents basically tried to trick him. Brock is so active he tries to fit into every gap he can possibly see on the field.
“The first word I think of with Cade is effort,” Dean Ratledge said. “I wish everybody would give the effort every day he does. I’d like to take his heart and pour it into some of these big ol’ boys who think they are bad.”
“The way he leaves the game field on Friday night is no different than when he leaves the practice field on Wednesday night and vice versa,” Atha said.
Scouting report: Preferred walk-on Cade Brock
So who’s meaner? Brock or Ratledge?
“Both of them have the anger management issues,” Dean Ratledge said. “They are going to get you. Both of them will. I mean they are gentlemen around here at the school and off the field. But when you punch their button on the field, you better strap it all up and hang on. Because they are going to try to humble you.”
Ratledge has to be the more physical one. He’s 315 pounds. It is just physics.
“The meaner one?” Brock asks out loud. “That’s probably me.”
“Cade is just a big ball of fire,” Ratledge said. “You try to say something to him during a game and you are going to get cussed out. He just reacts to it. Even from the guys on our team.”
“I just don’t really like people on the football field messing with me,” Cade Brock said.
There was the time he scooped a fumble and turtled his way along for a 92-yard score. He still holds that over Ratledge.
Even though it was junior varsity football. Brock was a linebacker back then.
“He was moving so slow that Elijah McCoy one of our old safeties or linebackers had enough time to get his phone out of his pocket and was running in reverse with Cade from along our sideline as he scored,” Tate Ratledge said.
That teammate was running backward. Videotaping the score. Staying ahead of Brock.
“The referee like ran to the end zone and turned around and waited on me,” Brock said. “I was so gassed.”
He’s always been the smaller kid. He’ll just be the smaller man at UGA.
“I will outwork anyone there,” Brock said. “My goal is to be the best defensive lineman at Georgia. That’s good enough. That’s everybody’s goal. I want to be the best.”
Brock isn’t a burner, but he is quick off the ball. Then he excels at the leverage game. No SEC lineman will be able to get underneath him.
“I think he figured out early on that he was going to have to play harder than everybody and outwork everybody because of his size,” Dean Ratledge said. “He is wide open every down in practice. Every rep. Never takes a down off. He is in excellent condition. I guess that’s just the wrestler in him.”
He no longer wrestles. Football was what he wanted to do.
Ratledge was cautioned to not go full-bore on his teammates at Darlington. He was counseled not to do that. If he did, Darlington would not have a team.
Brock was the one player they let Ratledge turn loose with both barrels on.
— NwGa Football (@NwGaFootball) August 9, 2019
He will not worry about anyone he lines up across from at UGA.
“Look at him,” Brock said as he motions to Ratledge. “The internet says he’s the best offensive lineman in the country this year. So why would I be scared of someone else who is not as good as he is? I see him every day. I take that on every day when they would let us. Who are they going to put in front of me that’s bigger and faster and stronger than him?”
“That’s what everyone says about when I get to Georgia. They say what are you going to do when you have to go against so-and-so. Am I worried? Come on. I’ve been going against Tate. Most of those guys at Georgia weren’t as good as he was when they were in high school.”
“Not a single one of them are going to get underneath him,” Ratledge said. “I will tell you that.”
Ratledge believes Brock will be more than just a practice player who elevates the scouts on the D-line. He will do more than just show up in a jersey for the home games.
“I don’t think you can limit him to just being a practice player honestly,” Ratledge said.
“I’ll hold for the field goals if they want me to or ask me to,” Brock said. “I don’t care. It is Georgia.”
“He’s a Bulldog,” Ratledge said in reply. “That’s because he is also fat and he will slobber everywhere.”
Cade Brock: That iffy period when Sam Pittman left Georgia
When Sam Pittman left Georgia for Arkansas, the staff reached out quickly to Ratledge to retain him. He was an anchor commitment for the class. Kirby Smart called him before that meeting was over.
Brock pretty much tried to put Ratledge in another headlock then, too.
“Cade was at my house,” Ratledge said. “He called me that night after he left my house. He left my house and called me trying to recruit me. I was telling him ‘Cade you have got to calm down with recruiting me’ because that’s not your job. I needed time to think and sort it all out.”
Ratledge called Brock first. He let him know the news on Pittman.
“I told him like ‘So’ when he said that,” Brock said. “I asked him ‘What does that mean? Does that mean you are going to follow him to Arkansas?’ and Tate said no. So I was like why are you going to go anywhere else? I mean they tell you at the very beginning of your recruiting don’t fall in love with a coach. Because it is what they do. I know they care about the kids and everything but it is a career. No coach wants to stay where they are forever. Making the same money with the same job.”
“I thought Georgia was the best place for him forever. So I was pretty biased with that.”
Ratledge said at the time that where ever he wound up, he would try to find him a spot as a PWO, too. It was in that brief week before he instantly connected with current UGA line coach Matt Luke.
“I told him ‘Don’t do it’ with all of that,” Brock said. “I am going to Georgia. I don’t want to go anywhere else.”
What Cade Brock plans to do at UGA
Brock knows he will be at Georgia to make his teammates better. That’s what his early role as a PWO member and a scout teamer will have to be.
“I’ll be there and get in a fight,” Brock said. “Probably the first day. I’ll try to be in a couple of them the first week.”
His former position coach will nod his head to that.
“He’s going to piss people off with how hard he plays and how he will never let up,” Dean Ratledge said. “I can guarantee you that.”
The bet here is he will earn their respect more than he ticks them off.
“At the end of the day, he’s my brother,” Van Pran-Granger said. “Scholarship or not. He’s a guy that is going to be putting in the same work that I am going to be putting in. I don’t look at it as a PWO guy versus a scholarship guy thing.”
When the Q and A portion of the visit wraps, there is a need for a few still photos.
“So this is the part where you want us to take our shirts off ?” Brock said. “Because you need a picture with our shirts off, right?”
The day trip to Darlington ends. Brock and Ratledge go back to class. When that day comes to flex for the cameras, Brock will be ready.
“I definitely don’t regret putting in the time I have to get to know him better,” Van Pran-Granger said of Brock.
Atha called him a “Bulldog” in every way. Not the cute white Bulldog that trots on the sidelines. He likens Brock to a pit bull. That would be the old school one DawgNation remembers guarding the junkyard.
“I believe Cade Brock has made Tate Ratledge a better player,” Atha said. “Sometimes with a big kid like Tate and a small program like ours it is hard to challenge a kid with his size. But that’s been Cade. He’s never been afraid to challenge anybody, including Tate Ratledge. Cade has been one of the best things here for Tate. Cade doesn’t see Tate any different than when they were four years old.”
“Even though Tate has grown up to about 6-foot-7 and Cade is what he is, that hasn’t changed a thing. When it came time to do one-on-ones it was just a given here that those two were going together.”
When he committed as a PWO, he was just grateful to see his 18-year dream come true. Brock even thanked the doubters. He said they gave him the fuel to make it all possible. Even when the odds looked long for a 5-foot-9 defensive lineman at Georgia.
Ratledge told his sparring partner that he was going to be a Bulldog before he told Sam Pittman.
Brock will treasure being a Bulldog as much as anyone in the class. We feel pretty good about that line, too.
“It means everything to me,” Brock said. “It is the first thing I think of when I wake up and the last thing I thing of when I go to bed. Every day. When I think of it, it sometimes keeps me from going to sleep. Every day.”