CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Lawrence Cager vividly remembers his life-changing conversation with Kirby Smart last January.
“Word had got out I was going to transfer, and Georgia was the first to call,” Cager told DawgNation on Saturday at his off-campus apartment across the street from the University of Miami.
“Kirby was like, ‘I’m not going to lose you this time, right? You’re going to come home now.’ ”
Cager had to finish up his business degree first, which he did en route to Friday’s graduation ceremony on the Hurricanes’ lush, tropical campus.
But while Cager’s body stayed in Coral Gables for school and training, his mind has been in Athens.
Cager uses “we,” and “us” each time he references the Bulldogs, and he has a strong knowledge of UGA’s personnel, having clearly built relationships with his new teammates.
“My mind went to Athens as soon as I made a decision to be a Bulldog, I felt right at home,” Cager said. “Coming out of high school, I’d wanted to be a Georgia Bulldog from the jump.”
Back then Mark Richt was the Georgia head coach and UGA didn’t have any scholarships remaining when Cager looked to commit.
Cager chuckles at the irony of it all.
It was UGA offensive coordinator and former Hurricanes’ assistant James Coley who was most responsible for recruiting him to Miami — and away from schools like Alabama, which had then-coordinators Lane Kiffin and Smart courting him.
And, of course, Richt ended up coaching Cager at Miami.
Plenty of other schools called Cager after the 2018 season at Miami: Oregon, Iowa State, Nebraska, Oklahoma State, Maryland and Florida.
But Cager, who led Miami with six TD catches and a gaudy 17.8 yards-per-catch average last season, knew as soon as he heard from Smart that he was headed to Georgia
Of course, the 6-foot-5, 218-pound Cager could just as easily be in an NFL camp right now — or on a Major League Baseball roster, for that matter. Cager was that good of a center fielder coming up through the youth leagues in Baltimore.
But with a 40-inch vertical jump and a sub-4.5-second 40-yard dash to go with a prototypical NFL receiver frame, Cager figured football was his game, and it has served him well.
Smart said at the conclusion of spring drills that receiver was the position he was most concerned with, and Cager has the look of an impact player and immediate starter.
Cager will arrive in Athens on May 28 to embark on the next chapter of his football life, and he couldn’t be more excited about his decision.
“Everyone thought I would declare for the draft, and I was close, but I ended up making the right decision,” Cager said. “You see DK Metcalf went late second round, and Riley Ridley went fourth round.”
And Georgia football, Cager believes, is on the verge of a historic season.
“This football team, I feel like we can win a national championship,” Cager said. “That’s the goal, and we’ll work for that, and I can’t wait until the start of the season.”
Georgia WR Lawrence Cager