Would UGA fans cheer for a receiver with the nickname “Gator” next season? What about if his favorite player was A.J. Green?
That answer is a resounding yes based off what Mark Webb can do. The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder is rated No. 24 nationally at receiver and No. 205 overall for 2017.
The four-star wideout dominated at the New Jersey regional for Nike’s all-star “The Opening” tour for his ticket to Oregon. But there’s a catch to his recruiting.
As far as those go, it will make the fans smile like Green’s UGA highlight reel. Webb’s first cousin is four-star running back D’Andre Swift. Swift is rated as the nation’s No. 1 all-purpose back for 2017. He’s one of Georgia’s top targets at a serious position of need.
The two visited Georgia last month and Swift returned two weeks later for G-Day. Swift told DawgNation after that visit he could see himself at Georgia. It is also worth noting he named his Top 10 schools on the day before he went to #93KDay, but told DawgNation after that trip he was ready to narrow things down.
The plot thickened last week when UGA receivers coach James Coley traveled to Philly to evaluate Webb and he received an offer that same day. Swift also earned his golden invitation to “The Opening” at that Nike regional. Those two have been touting themselves as a package deal and it would be a formidable combination for Georgia.
“My cousin and I have been looking at Georgia,” Webb said. “When we went down there we thought it was the perfect place looking around to see where we both fit in at. That could be that place.”
What did Swift think about Webb’s UGA offer?
“I just knew he was pretty happy about that,” Webb said. “I can tell you that. He was pretty happy.”
— SWIFT7️⃣ (@DAndreSwift) May 2, 2016
Webb (Archbishop Wood/ Warminster, Pa..) had an interesting comment regarding the package deal scenario.
“The chances of us being a package deal have seemed to grow as the weeks went on,” Webb said. “It was probably an 80 percent chance before I got the UGA offer. It is probably a 95 percent chance now. You can basically call it a 100 percent now.”
He felt UGA was a serious contender for the pair. Webb feels UGA, Alabama, Maryland and Penn State would also be strong options. They hold offers from all those schools and Webb feels there are a couple other programs Swift has an offer from he would strongly consider if they also offered him.
Webb said the one visit he took to UGA stands out as his most impressive trip to any school.
“I mean the coaches were unbelievable,” Webb said. “The place is like unbelievable. I couldn’t believe all the things went on in the upbringing of that school. The academic facilities are nice. I couldn’t believe how much money they put into that. The eating area was unbelievable. It was an experience when I sat down with the coaches and watched some film. They were teaching me some things already.”
His second most impressive visit would be Penn State.
“I can’t really put them in order after that but Georgia would be first and then Penn State would be second,” Webb said.
Don’t expect anything imminent. Webb won’t plan to make his public commitment until after his season. He said to look for the same from Swift, too.
“I know definitely that he and I will decide after the season,” Webb said.
He’s not familiar with prospects making a silent commitment so that is not an option he has considered at this point. Webb seemed certain the pair will take official visits to UGA and Penn State, too. He sounded content with his current options, but would also take a good look at Michigan and Ohio State if those offers came his way. He picked up an Alabama offer within 30 seconds of the one from Georgia.
The No. 1 reasons he’d choose Georgia would be the coaching staff.
“I would say it would be (UGA receivers) coach Coley and (UGA offensive analyst) Kevin Beard,” he said. “They are both unbelievable coaches. They both have got a totally different style of teaching and preparing guys how to play receiver and how to think about things.”
Freshman quarterback Jacob Eason is also a factor.
“I can see right now he is going to be an unbelievable player,” Webb said. “I saw his highlights from the spring game. His highlights were basically the whole spring game.”
Webb had a couple other tidbits: 1) He told his parents UGA was “an unbelievable place” to play; 2) The distance to Georgia would not be a hindrance. He regarded it as “not being too far from home” and felt his family could come see him play with regularity “if it were to happen.”
According to Webb, Coley told him he was a smooth receiver and his size would allow him to fit into different roles on the field. He was told he could come in and be a big-time playmaker.
He plans to study business or communications in college. The four-star prospect regarded his playing style as a cross between Green and former Ole Miss standout Laquon Treadwell.
Webb showed off maturity and confidence in his skills when the topic of his 4.76 laser time in the 40 at the New Jersey regional came up. He was expecting to time faster than that but did not allow it to bother him.
“I am not that type of receiver,” Webb said. “If you want to see my 40 you can come out and put a defender next to me and watch me run past him. People make a big deal of that stuff, but that’s not the game of football.”
He boiled down what he brings to the field with every snap he earns. Webb said the best play he ever made was at cornerback when he snagged a one-handed interception.
“I am going to work my best every down to get my team a win and get a touchdown,” said Webb, who excels at running the post. “That’s with the ball or without. Watch me without the ball in my hands. You will still see me working.”
That “Gator” nickname traces back to his youth days when he played for a team called the Gators. That was his first team. He wore their gear to the tryouts for his next team. He wore his Gators stuff on the first day of tryouts and Swift was there. Swift’s father told him not to wear those orange-and-blue colors back the next day. Webb did anyway and earned the “Gator” nickname from then on. It has stuck.
This is offer season. Georgia’s coaches are out on the road evaluating top prospects and Twitter is scattered with players sharing they are blessed to receive an offer from UGA. Yet the most important UGA offer of the month will likely be the one extended to Webb in Pennsylvania.
It just might lead to two Bulldogs for the Class of 2017.
Jeff Sentell covers UGA football and UGA recruiting for AJC.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play Between the Hedges. Unless otherwise indicated, player rankings and ratings are from the 247Sports Composite.