ROME, Ga. — Tate Ratledge announced his choice to go play college football on live television on Monday morning.
Commitment stories are always supposed to state what a decision like this one from the nation’s No. 5 OT (per the 247Sports Composite ratings) means for everyone.
The first thing it means for Ratledge and his family is that his father, Dean, is going to need a new front license plate for his truck.
Ratledge, who grew up a Tennessee Vol, chose to play for Sam Pittman and Georgia on Monday.
That big orange “T” which had held down that pole position for so long now has to go. Dean Ratledge expected to change his front vanity plate later on in the day. He had already bought the right one.
The decision was streamed live by several outlets from the McCallie-Kennedy Library on the main grounds of the upper school at Darlington School.
He becomes the ninth public commitment for the Georgia class. The decision now moves the Bulldogs past Florida State to the nation’s No. 5 class on the 247Sports Team Composite ratings.
Georgia is now the only program in the top 5 with less than 14 total commits.
Ratledge said he had the decision made up in his mind for some time. It was shortly after his G-Day trip.
He was born in Tennessee and his family is chock full of fans of that program.
Ratledge said he could see himself living at both schools without football for four years. Both of these schools were good fits.
What did it come down to?
“Finally, one just stuck out more than the other,” Ratledge told Atlanta’s Fox 5 leading up to his decision. “It is more about the people there I’d say than anything.”
Those “people” will include his future teammates at Georgia like elite QB commit Carson Beck and the entire coaching staff, among many others.
That phrase will definitely include Georgia offensive line coach Sam Pittman. We’ve got a story to share about that one.
“The first two years that Sam Pittman recruited Tate the two of them never really talked about football,” his father Dean Ratledge told DawgNation.
Let’s turn the clock back with Tate Ratledge
The Bulldogs desperately need massive tackles in the 2020 class with at least a couple of front-line starters expected to explore their NFL Draft options after the 2019 season.
The nearly 6-foot-7, 305-pounder will be a rising senior at Darlington this fall. He’s the sort of athlete that plays both ways for his Tigers. Ratledge also punts at an approximate 39-yard net average for his high school program.
Those are a few of the reasons why he is rated as the nation’s No. 39 overall prospect for this cycle on the 247Sports Composite ratings.
This recruiting journey was one where the Bulldogs made themselves a factor early in his recruiting process.
DawgNation was visiting with Ratledge earlier this year when he shared a little story.
It came about in the midst of an interview.
When he said it, he was standing right around the 50-yard line on his high school game field.
The story involved Pittman.
Ratledge was looking for advice from the longtime assistant on a classy way to let down a school that he was just no longer interested in.
“Coach Pittman and I talked about that,” Ratledge said. “I was like ‘How do I tell some of these coaches to say no and I’m not interested in them and they need to stop recruiting me in a nice way’ with all of that.”
Pittman’s reply was pretty humble. Even for an ace recruiter. It reflects the man he is on the trial.
Ratledge summed up what Pittman said this way: “After I answer this question you are not about to do this to me, right?”
He was laughing as he shared that story.
“He was like ‘Honestly you text them’ with that,” Ratledge said as he recreated that conversation. “Because if you call them, then they will keep on and keep on. They will keep saying things. You text them. But if you do call them, then you talk the whole time.”
The 4-star OT has gone through a decision grind where a lot of these recruiting pitches seem like great tasting flavors of the same vanilla ice cream. The major programs all basically offer the same things.
But the big tackle from Rome said the way Pittman goes about his business just puts the sprinkles on top of it all.
“Coach Pittman always does,” Ratledge said earlier this year. “He doesn’t talk about football unless you bring it up. He’s more personable than most people. So I like that. Coach [Will] Friend [at Tennessee] is the same way. He’s really personable. I try not to decide places because of coaches but it kind of makes it hard.”
“Let’s say I do go to Georgia just because of coach Pittman. Well, you never know. He could be gone.”
That’s why Ratledge said he chose a school based on where he would want to go if he was just a student. That is a great “fit” scenario in which football is taken out of the discussion.
“That’s the way I kind of look at it,” he said. “I just try to look at it like that. My Dad kind of taught me about that.”