SAN ANTONIO, Tex. –When Kelee Ringo shared his college decision with the world at the All-American Bowl, it was a starter’s pistol for a torrent of news regarding the Georgia football program.
The Saguaro High senior (Scottsdale, Ariz.) standout signed during the early period but kept it all on the hush until that live NBC announcement back on Jan. 4.
It seems like a full Netflix season binge has taken place since that day: Assistant coach Scott Fountain leaving. Jake Fromm leaving. Cade Mays leaving. Solomon Kindley leaving. Monty Rice staying. Malik Herring staying. Eric Stokes staying. Richard LeCounte III staying. Jamie Newman coming in. Tre McKitty coming in.
This seems like a good chance to reset just what Ringo’s decision meant for the program. Let’s start with the fact he is the highest-rated signee in the nation’s No. 3 class. Ringo settles in at No. 8 nationally for 2020 on the 247Sports Composite ratings. That ranking might even rise with the final 2020 evaluations.
It also makes sense to begin with a common scouting debate with Ringo. That would be his eventual college position.
Most take one look at Ringo and check the size. 6 feet. 2 inches. 205 pounds. Still growing.
A common back-and-forth will then ensue. He’s already that big.
It isn’t outlandish to project that he will wind up as a future elite NFL safety in the Minkah Fitzpatrick mold.
That’s what Fitzpatrick was at Alabama. If a player is already that big in high school, he better be special if he hopes to remain at cornerback in college.
Ringo just might be that type of player. The discovery process with that begins with checking the film.
Watch him work. Consider that 4.35 laser time in the 40.
Saguaro High School coach Jason Mohns has been privy to a lot of talks and his future with college coaches. Especially to that specific parley about whether Ringo’s long-term future is at corner or safety.
“Everybody that first sees him goes he is probably a safety right?” Mohns said. “You’re not used to seeing corners that are that big and that physical. But the kid is a 10.4 state champion in the 100 meters. He’s a back-to-back 100 meters champion in the state of Arizona. He ran the fastest time in the state last year. So why do you need to move him?”
“He’s got great feet. He’s got great hips. He’s got tremendous speed. He’s got great length. He’s got the instincts of a great cornerback. He’s what I have heard described as a unicorn. They don’t make them like Kelee. That is what makes him so unique and so special.”
“He can play that corner position. Now you’ve got a boundary corner that can match up with everybody who is trying to get those big-bodied receivers and single them up into the boundary. Now you’ve got a guy who can go up and he can physically match those guys.”
Mohns makes a logical case. Who is going to be able to cover guys like Ja’Marr Chase and George Pickens?It better start with a big and physical corner that can really run.
Could this actually be a case of signing a player who can go step-for-step with those guys? Rather than a position switch given his size?
“There just aren’t that many guys like that walking around,” Mohns said. “Number one you have to start with his speed. His closing speed is unreal. I think his physicality and his length really make him special. The combination of those three things and the ability to really get up in a guy’s face to be physical and then open up his hips and run with him is a rare combination.”
Ringo just might be that unicorn.
Kelee Ringo: The things DawgNation needs to know
Mohns can describe Ringo in a few phrases: Freak athlete. Passion and love for the game. Desire to be great.
He shared two essential Ringo stories thatDawgNation needs to know. Especially for those that are thinking of wearing his No. 5 jersey in Sanford Stadium one day.
The firs of those goes back to his sophomore year. That’s when the 5-star moved from his native Washington to Arizona. It was certainly a period of transition. Starting with the fact he was moving from receiver to cornerback.
Saguaro was a little thin at corner that summer. They needed to see if Ringo could play that position for a program that has grown accustomed to winning Arizona state championships.
This story begins in the middle of summer in July.
He was working out with his new Sabercat teammates in what was seen as “the middle of monsoon season” in Arizona.
“It will rain and then the next day it will be 115 degrees outside so there is actually humidity which we usually don’t get in Arizona,” Mohns said. “We had a morning workout. It was his first day there and about halfway through the practice he was ready to go back home to Washington.”
Bryant Westbrook, the former No. 5 overall pick in the 1997 NFL Draft, was his new cornerback coach at Saguaro. Westbrook was also a former All-American cornerback at the University of Texas.
“We just had a long talk with him,” Mohns said. “Our defensive backs coach Bryant Westbrook had a long talk with him about trusting the process. The whole reason why he came out to Arizona to be with his mom and play at a program like ours. He bought into it. He believed in it. It was hard that first couple of weeks and the first couple of months were tough for him.”
The Sabercats guessed right about the position fit.
“We knew about five minutes in that kid was special,” Mohns said. “He had been a running back and a receiver but we could tell five minutes in that he had it. He has so fluid with his feet and his hips and his transition into his pedal. He took to it right away, got better and better and started every game for us for three years.”
The other story comes from this year. It was his All-American year as a senior. It would prove to be the first time that Saguaro didn’t win a state title in Arizona since the 2012 season.
“The thing that will stick with me is our starting tailback, who was a Division I kid and over a 2,200-yard rusher, went down in the first half of week two,” Mohns said. “We didn’t really have another guy who was the next guy and so after the game I went to Kelee and said ‘Hey Kelee I think we need to get you involved on offense and get you the ball’ and he said ‘Coach I got you’ and ‘Whatever you need’ and never once hesitated.”
There was some potential for him to do just that. That’s not lost on Mohns. It is what makes that story stand out.
“Obviously a kid who is a 5-star,” Mohns said. “He has his future ahead of him playing cornerback. He took a big risk running the ball. He stepped up for his team. He became a leader as a senior. I just think what he did for his team was special and a lot of kids in his situation might be concerned about getting dinged up or they were thinking about their future. His only concern was our team and thinking about what was best for our team. That was pretty special.”
Kelee Ringo: What he will bring to the Georgia program
There are currently three former members of the Saguaro program who are now in the NFL. Ringo’s name is going to go up on the All-American wall at Saguaro for the football team. Mohns said he was the first to be voted as a team captain for an All-American Game.
Ringo was so well respected by opponents as a junior that there were only five pass attempts thrown his way.
“He is going to be someone who is talked about for a long time on our campus,” Mohns said.
I want to thank my head coach @CoachMohns for how much love he showed that he has for us tonight. We finished the game for him, and it ended with the best game I’ve had in my career. I love my squad, couldn’t have had a single yard without them. #sagu
— Kelee Ringo (@KeleeRingo) October 5, 2019
What will Ringo bring to the Georgia program?
“He’s going to bring a tremendous level of talent to their secondary,” Mohns said. “To match up with the kind of receivers you are going to match up with in the SEC. He’s also going to bring a passion for the game. If you spend any time around him, he’s got a bright smile. His personality and his energy is contagious and guys like being around him.”
There was the time during All-American week when a DawgNation forum reader watched a seven-minute interview clip with Ringo and counted up dozens and dozens of “yessirs” laced throughout the conversation.
That was not just Ringo when the cameras were rolling.
“He’s very humble and very respectful and just a genuinely good kid,” Mohns said. “He’s a good heart and he cares about doing the right thing. But he wants to win, too. That’s another thing. He’s not just a sweetheart that is just going to come in and be everyone’s pal. He wants to win. He wants to be great and he wants to do it the right way. That’s what makes him so special.”
Ringo on Ringo: What he told DawgNation about his decision
Check out the featured interview slot at the top of this page. That’s about seven minutes of Ringo on all things Ringo.
He breaks down just how important Georgia RB signee Kendall Milton was to his decision and why they plan to be roommates in Athens when he arrives this summer.
Ringo also shared why Texas was the early leader in his decision and what Georgia had to do to overcome that early Longhorn lead.
What else is in there? Well, there’s a full video clip of him announcing that he signed with Georgia, but also other topics like….
- Why did he choose to sign with Georgia?
- What was the reaction of the Georgia coaching staff?
- What was it about Kirby Smart and his background coaching defensive backs?
- How close was it?
- When did he start to feel like Georgia was the school for him?
- His father is a Master Chief in the U.S. Navy. How much of an impact has his service made on his life?
- What does he plan to accomplish at Georgia?
- Which current player on the team and future teammate does he know well?
Check out the Ringo highlights from Desert Edge this fall. He called it one of the best games of his high school career.