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Jeff Sentell/DawgNation
Jalen Kimber. He's already on campus as a mid-year enrollee at the University of Georgia.

Jalen Kimber: The stories you haven’t read yet about the UGA early enrollee

Major Burns. Jalen Kimber.

There may have already been a point sometime this week when those two looked at one another on the UGA campus and just shook their heads.

For those two to both end up in Athens as members of the 2020 signing class at UGA as early enrollees? Let’s just say the odds went long in that opposite direction of all that.

Burns, a Baton Rouge native, was committed to LSU for almost six months prior to a de-commitment on Dec. 11. That was one week before the early signing period. He signed with Georgia that week despite not a single one of those 247Sports “Crystal Balls” pointing to him to do so.

That just adds to the following timeline.

  • Feb. 3, 2019: Commits to Texas A&M
  • March 25, 2019: De-commits from Texas A&M
  • June 6, 2019: Commits to LSU
  • Dec. 11, 2019: De-commits from LSU
  • Dec. 18, 2019: Signs with Georgia
  • Jan. 6, 2019: Enrolls as a mid-year signee at Georgia

The odds for Burns alone have to be placed on the table to consider this tandem story in full. That’s because there was a time 11 months ago where it certainly looked like Kimber was going to commit to Texas A&M.

It makes sense. He’s too special of an athlete for those flagship Texas programs to let him leave the state without a 15-round fight.

The SEC West program had a great shot at Kimber, but then oddly hit the pause button.

Jalen Kimber-Georgia recruiting-Georgia football
Jalen Kimber is already an early enrollee at Georgia. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

Jalen Kimber: How UGA swooped in to pull him out of Texas

There’s only so much that needs to come out about this story, but it would be accurate to say Kimber was set to commit to Texas A&M. That was back before he blew up as a recruit and started receiving the big-time national offers like the ones he would get from Alabama and Georgia.

Maybe the Aggies were trying to save more early slots open for nationally-rated corners to come check out College Station. The irony here is that Kimber was a national prospect. An All-American at that.

Yet for some strange reason, he was asked to wait about the same time that Burns committed to play for the Aggies. Kimber felt he was sure about the fit, but A&M was not.

Jalen Kimber-Georgia recruiting-Georgia football
Jalen Kimber had a big hand in helping bring Major Burns to Georgia in the 2020 class. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

That opened the door for a school like Georgia to come in and actively recruit Kimber.

“I feel good about all of that now,” Jalen Kimber said. “I’m glad all of that happened and I feel very good about where I am at right now.”

The world will never know if that commitment would have stuck. Especially since Kimber was clearly a national elite recruit from the moment he tested so well at a March Opening regional.

When Kimber chose Georgia, he was an instant recruiting trail advocate for the Bulldogs. He had also gotten to know Burns well while camping with him in Atlanta for the Rivals.com Five-Star Challenge.

“If I was with Texas A&M still then, then I am not telling him to come to Georgia after he de-committed,” Kimber said. “Now we’re together. That is crazy. I think about that all of the time. That situation come have been totally different but now it is kind of the same, but it is not. We’re both now at Georgia.”

It can also be stated that Burns de-committed from the flagship SEC school of his home state because he didn’t feel that fit was mutually the same for both parties as it once was. Especially to reopen his recruitment the week prior to the first day of the early signing period when he planned to enroll early.

It might not seem logical for a long-standing pledge to de-commit from the national championship favorite when the program is in the same city, but that’s what Burns felt lead to do.

“As soon as the de-commitment happened I didn’t what to pressure him,” Kimber said. “So I just hit him up. I said ‘I don’t want to bother you’ because he was taking this time to go through what he has to go through but I told him that “I think you should consider us [UGA] and I think we could be a really good duo.'”

Kimber sent a text to Georgia defensive backs coach Charlton Warren first. Burns had already had an offer from the Bulldogs back in April.

Texas A&M sent a large posse of its staff, including head coach Jimbo Fisher to see Burns on Dec. 12.

Georgia just sent Warren. But it already had another guy here in Kimber.

He texted Warren first. To basically ring the bell and let him know that Burns was the type of player Georgia needed to take a long look at. Burns was his next text after that.

If this was playground basketball, then be sure to credit Kimber with the dime for the early advance work on Burns. He helped pave that road during an uncertain time for Burns.

“That was my assist there,” Kimber said. “Seeing him as the 5-Star Challenge Major is a ballplayer. Real physical. 6-foot-2 and a corner. He can really help us out in the long run.”

Burns rates as the nation’s No. 11 safety for the 2020 cycle and the No. 155 overall prospect. But his size and length and 4.44 speed can also make him into a useful defensive back hybrid for the Bulldogs.

Jalen Kimber-Georgia recruiting-Georgia football
Jalen Kimber will be a long cornerback or a nickel corner hybrid during his early days at Georgia. He needs to put on some good early weight and retain his elite speed and quickness. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

Jalen Kimber: The other things to be sure you know

The orientation to Kimber also has to include the meat-and-potatoes part of his recruiting story. For this effort, we will bypass the immediately eye-catching elements such as his 247Sports Composite rankings and his Opening regional and finals testing.

He plays to honor a promise to a dearly departed grandmother. He vowed to Renee Kimber that he was going to use football to “make it” and get out of his Chicago environment that wasn’t conducive to young people having a lot of success.

A lot of his peers will say they feel the same way, but it is different here. This promise is deeply personal.

“For my grandmother,” he said earlier this year. “She passed three years ago right before I moved down to Texas. I made a promise to her. I am going to keep it. That is the main reason why I play football.”

Football was seen as a way out of that environment. That’s what his grandmother wanted it to be for “Boogie” when he grew up. She wasn’t a football fan but simply favored a way for “Boogie” to escape those circumstances.

“She passed but I am still going to uphold that promise and do everything I can,” he said earlier this year. “That’s my family and my grandfather still lives out there.”

He will say a prayer before every game.

“Then I will look up to the sky and talk to her,” he said.

Jalen Kimber-Georgia recruiting-Georgia football
Jalen Kimber currently rates as the nation’s No. 8 cornerback for the 2020 cycle. Expect to see that get a bump in the coming weeks. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

Kimber comes from a family of achievers. His father, Art Kimber III, successful plotted and planned and advised his son at an expert level. He could teach a class for parents of young recruits to learn the ropes of the recruiting game. But all the Kimbers have a physical mindset. That’s why Jalen’s father ran a full 26.2-mile marathon at just six years of age.

Kimber’s grandfather, Art Kimber Jr., is also a marvel at 74 years of age.

In his eyes, that vow now extends to him, too. He sacrificed for his nation and a Purple Heart, pair of Vietnam service medals, a Bronze Star, and a Presidential unit citation serve as vivid examples of that.

“Now I am just doing that for my grandfather as well because he lives in Chicago,” Kimber said.

If he makes it as a professional football player, that will be his main source of motivation.

“That would just mean everything to me,” he said.

His grandfather went on to serve as an educator and a track coach after his time in the service. He’s sounds like he should be retired now, but he is also a accomplished professional photographer. His father, the first Art Kimber, was into everything: Golden Gloves. Newspaper photographer. Police detective.

The Kimbers are a family of achievers. That can certainly be said.

Jalen’s younger cousin, Justin, also looks to be a legit 4-star prospect at WR in his own right. He’s already garnering a lot of attention in the class of 2021.

Jalen Kimber: The “mic drop” UGA visit and the athleticism

Kimber ranks as the nation’s No. 8 cornerback and the No. 127 overall prospect (247Sports Composite) for 2020. I’d look for that to get a final rankings bump after all of the All-American game evals have registered by the three major recruiting services.

Check out his testing at his Opening regional and then the Opening final. Those measures place him among the five most athletic performers in the nation for the 2020 class.

March testing: 

July testing: 

That 42-inch vertical plus 4.44 laser speed plus the 4.02 short shuttle placed him No. 3 overall out of all the elite athletes who tested at the Opening finals in Texas in July of 2019

The main goal for Kimber will be to put on weight prior to spring practice. It certainly seems feasible to project him around 180 to 185 pounds once G-Day rolls around given all the 5-stars in Georgia’s strength and sports nutrition programs.

Kimber just had a feeling about UGA. It first hit him back on March 28. Kimber was dropping in on a lot of schools. His trip to Georgia was part of two visits in a day amid a Southeastern swing.

He saw Georgia Tech in the morning and the Bulldogs later that day. He revered his time in Athens. Team Kimber didn’t leave until deep into that night.

When he did, he placed his hand on his father’s shoulder.  He knew. Even then.

“It started when we were walking out the front door from Georgia,” his father Art Kimber said. “He put his hand on my shoulder and said he already knew he wanted to take an official visit back here. I had a feeling about Georgia at that time. I really liked the vibe we had there. There was just something about the atmosphere.”

He was done. He said he was done and then acted like it.

Kimber never visited another school. That’s even though LSU kept right on recruiting him hard until he signed with the Bulldogs.

Now he’s in Athens. Rooming with Burns.

The odds of all of that are still stunning.

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