5-star DT Travon Walker defines how soon he could make his decision
Want to attack every day with the latest Georgia football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel will bring at least five days a week. The play sheet today calls for:
When the word “soon” comes up everyone has their own definition for Travon Walker. Walker, who rates as the nation’s No. 2 DT prospect for the class of 2019 on the 247Sports composite, is one of the biggest remaining targets for UGA in 2019.
Recruiting fans will scan as much as they can about Walker and hope to learn when the nation’s No. 28 overall prospect might make his choice.
It bears repeating that the only definition of soon that matters is the one Walker adheres to.
- Will it be by August 1? “I don’t see it,” Walker said.
- September 1? “Somewhere around 50 percent. Maybe not that. I don’t know if it is that much because I really don’t want to rush it,” he said.
- Maybe October 15? “Nothing later than midseason of my senior year,” Walker said. “That’s if I am feeling it. If I am not feeling it by then, then I won’t do it then.
Has he felt it yet? Walker said that he did at one point. Maybe. That was at the beginning of his recruitment.
“I was really close that first time I went to Clemson,” Walker said. “I was feeling it and I want to say it was at a camp and then I went back for the Auburn game. So then I was really thinking ‘Dang. Is this the move?’ and that was just one school that I really liked. I won’t say I almost committed to them, but that was one school that really took the lead for me early.”
Clemson did not even offer Walker as fast as some other heavyweights did. But he did say that was a school that he did closely consider committing to.
There is a reason why he does not wish to rush the matter.
“It is very tight right now so it is very stressful,” Walker said. “I’m having to look at every minor thing regarding every college right now because it is getting very tight.”
Why would it be….
Clemson: “They have a foundation with coach (Dabo) Swinney where it is just like very family oriented. They will treat you the same if you go on a visit with multiple players as they would if you were alone. You are like family in Clemson every time you visit.”
Georgia: “I get that question all the time. I know that question is going to come to me. The answer there is the coaching staff. Kirby Smart just signed a 7-year deal. That is a firm foundation. You know that head coach is now committed and not moving around. I know that man will be my coach for all the years I am there if I choose to go there. I like the security there to know that he’s going to be at Georgia now.”
South Carolina: “It is a brotherhood there. For example, when they go on a trip for their training like their boot camps and the way they do it shows they are a brotherhood. You are not just relying on yourself. You rely on your teammates as well.”
Clemson and UGA are digging in for Travon Walker
The 5-star DT made it clear which schools have shown the most interest of late.
That was Clemson and Georgia as of this week.
“It is non-stop,” Walker said. “Hitting me up constantly. Everyday. Family members. Texting me every day. A day won’t go by without them saying a good morning text or something like that. There’s not a day that goes by when one of those two schools do not hit me up every day.”
It is THIS close.
“A lot of people think it is going to be a certain school and I am just looking at Georgia because I have players there I am close to and I always go there,” Walker said. “Of course, I will visit there a lot. It is just right down the road. But it is very tight.”
Walker can name key relationships at Clemson, Georgia, and South Carolina. I feel those connections do go under-reported in this recruitment. He has strong ties to both Clemson and South Carolina with whom he could play.
There are cousins at South Carolina. Lyn-J Dixon, a 2018 RB from nearby Taylor County, is at Clemson.
According to Walker, they are very close. He said Dixon was “like a brother” to him.
Former Upson-Lee teammate David Marshall is at Georgia. But there is that Nolan Smith fella to think about.
“Nolan is on me every day,” Walker said of the 5-star Bulldog commit. “People may not know this, but Nolan and I are like brothers. I talk to his Mom. He talks to my Mom. We talk to both of them like they are our mothers.”
Here’s why Travon Walker could choose Georgia
Let’s cut through the clutter in a typical recruiting story. Do you want to know why Walker could ultimately choose UGA?
It is not the location of a certain school. The coaches matter, but only to a certain level. Scratch off weight rooms and gear and all those things.
Walker wants to play football as a professional vocation. No shocker there. He also wants to receive the very best college training and development in order to prepare him to do so. Georgia’s best pitch would be the “iron sharpens iron” chorus.
This 5-star prospect knows he would have to beat out elite talent to shine for the Bulldogs. He would have to show the staff he deserves those on-field reps while going against elite offensive line talent. Georgia’s Sam Pittman has stacked up the 5-star OLs like Jenga pieces on his front.
“Nolan and I were looking at it on Twitter today,” Walker said earlier this week. “Georgia has the players now that have come a long ways from where it used to be. Georgia used to have one of the smallest lines in the SEC. Now they have one of the biggest. Georgia can say in a few years it might have the best line in the SEC. If I chose Georgia, I know I will look at its offensive line in my decision. I know I will want to get better and to really get tested in practice every day.”
A lot of schools can put weight on the bar in their facilities to make players bigger and stronger and faster. There’s not a school in the SEC outside of Alabama that can say it will have better players on the practice field to make a new recruit strive to get better every day.
Let’s also note that no school in the country outside of Alabama can say it has stacked the defensive line talent of late like Clemson has. The Tigers can also fit under that “iron sharpens iron” umbrella.
What about this late noise from Auburn?
Walker made it very clear that how each of his contenders (Auburn, Clemson, South Carolina, UGA) interacts with him over the next month will be key in his decision.
He said Auburn got a “late start” on him. The Tigers made sure to target him when his Upson-Lee High School basketball team was on campus for a camp of all things. Since that trip, he said that the Tigers have been on him non-stop. That’s for basketball and football.
Can a late entry like Auburn really get a hat on the table with Walker?
“I will put it like this because it feels like when you get a girlfriend and then a lot of other girls want to come at you,” Walker said. “Say your girl is a ’10’ and you have a lot of other girls talking to you that still look good. Your girl is still a ’10’ and those other girls look good but you know you still have a girl that has been with you for a long time. You want to stay loyal to loyalty and not just that ‘right now’ good-looking girl.”
I wanted to make sure I included that full quote in today’s blog. Why? Because I think that is one of the most honest and relatable definitions of the recruiting process I have ever heard from a college recruit. He shared that from a high school senior’s view.
Walker is an excellent communicator and yet he really raised the roof with that one. That was very relatable to his world.
Travon Walker? Recruiting analyst?
Walker is the sort of prospect that coaches lean on for several reasons at this stage of his recruitment.
They want to sign him, but they also seek his advice on two topics.
- Can this guy play?
- Would you like to play with him here?
Players seem to always know who the players are. They can tell. The Georgia coaches are also trying to recruit Quashon Fuller even though he is an FSU pledge. Walker was impressed by Fuller at The Opening last week. There was one move where Fuller hit 5-star OG Kardell Thomas with a spin move for an easy rep. That’s no small feat against the nation’s No. 1 guard for 2019.
Walker has even had his opinion on DL prospects gauged by Clemson, too.
“Clemson will reach out to me and tell me stuff like ‘get to know such and such this week and hang around him and figure out if you would like to play with that dude’ and like now with this period of recruiting coaches are reaching out to me and telling me things,” Walker said. “They want to come to their school and to look at some other players that I would like to play beside on the defensive line in college.”
That goes hand-in-hand with where he sits on everyone’s board.
“They tell me that since I am one of the tops on their chart they want me to play with other ‘dogs like me,” Walker said.
A cautionary UGA tale regarding Rick Sandidge
I won’t go into that much detail here, but it is clear South Carolina continues to do a great job recruiting Walker. Will Muschamp is personally involved in this recruitment for a couple of reasons.
- Walker is an elite DT who could also play out on the edge in the SEC.
- Muschamp’s wife hails from Thomaston as well.
So there is some level of a home-field advantage with how well they Gamecocks have been able to recruit Walker and also his family and his inner circle within his community.
It reminds me a lot of what transpired (to a degree) with that puzzling Rick Sandidge recruitment at the end of the 2018 recruiting cycle.
Sandidge told well-wishers at a send-off party he wanted to play for Georgia. It was just that South Carolina recruited Sandidge harder for a longer period than the Bulldogs did. It wasn’t just the position coach. The coordinators, the graduate assistants plus all the support staff were a factor there, too.
The Gamecocks made sure the Sandidge family was on a first-name basis with academic support, the nutrition staff, and the strength and conditioning coaches months prior to National Signing Day.
It was an interesting contrast. Keshia Sandidge, his mother, said no single recruiter established a better relationship with her son than Georgia line coach Tray Scott. That was on a 1-to-1 basis. But it seemed like Scott was recruiting against more than a dozen members of Carolina’s program at all times, too.
“It just came down to where Junior fit best,” she said. “This was his decision. We wanted him to go to South Carolina. But there were so many tell-tale signs that it was going to be the best place for him.”
To put it simply, the Bulldogs got in late on Sandidge with the sort of full-court press (that was when Director of Player Development Jonas Jennings and the whole defensive staff got involved) that the Gamecocks had in place for several months prior to the crunch time of his process.
It sounds as if Carolina defined itself to Sandidge and his family better than the Bulldogs did.
“If we knew Georgia as well as we did South Carolina it would have been like comparing apples to apples,” Keshia Sandidge said. “Literally. It was already hard. That’s what stood in the way. He will tell you today he wanted to go to Georgia. But because the plan was so clearly laid out for him and what he would be doing at South Carolina they gained an edge. He’ll tell you today he wanted to go to Georgia but because the plan was so clearly laid out for him and what he would be doing and who would be responsible for him helping him achieve that there. The plan was crystal clear for him at South Carolina.”
“He will tell you today that he wanted to go to Georgia and his heart was at Georgia but he just couldn’t refuse or he could not bypass the future he saw so clearly for himself at South Carolina.”
Sandidge chose the Gamecocks. That said, Scott is still very much loved by that family.
“We still have a genuine love for Coach Scott,” Keshia Sandidge said. “Not anything conditional because Coach Scott genuinely became a part of our family. His son’s birthday is on the same day as Junior. I sent him a text for his son’s birthday. That relationship and that love didn’t stop just became Junior chose South Carolina. Coach Scott did what he was supposed to do while he was recruiting us. He did an absolutely fantastic job.”
A few more rapid-fire things for the week
- Been hearing from a couple of sources for a while now that the Bulldogs (and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker) have an interest in Texas A&M commit Demani Richardson at safety. Richardson looked good in Texas at The Opening. He’s been committed to the Aggies since February, but he rates as the nation’s No. 8 safety and at No. 115 overall on the 247Sports composite.
- Here’s another habitual reminder regarding 5-star WR commit Jadon Haselwood: He was actively recruiting a couple of major UGA targets at the Opening last weekend, including 4-star RB John Emery Jr. out of Louisiana.
- While we are on the subject of reminders, it seems that even the Georgia commits do no hold much hope of an eventual flip of 5-star LB prospect Owen Pappoe from Auburn. Pappoe reiterated out in Texas there was no way he could ever see that happening. File this one under “never say never” in recruiting but make sure to put it right there with The Easter Bunny, Loch Ness Monster, and The Tooth Fairy. It just seems very far-fetched at this time.
- One of our forum readers asked me the other day about something they had read about 4-star J.D. Bertrand. He was pegged to flip to Florida out of the UGA class. I wish you could have seen the faces of UGA commits Dominick Blaylock and Ryland Goede when they heard that opinion. That picture would have been worth at least 2-3 Instagram stories if we’re looking for a modern definition of that phrase.
- The latest of reasons why that is simply absurd is that Kirby Smart has promised those three that they can room together in Athens. Those guys are already planning out that spot. Blaylock is hardcore committed in every sense of the term, but I also look at Goede in the same light. I doubt he even takes an official visit anywhere else this fall.
- Kyle Hamilton, the UGA target from earlier in the year, flashed a lot of spectacular play out in Texas, too. Hamilton committed to Notre Dame and that should be seen as a very solid commitment. What also seemed to be clear regarding Hamilton is that he is an elite safety. The Irish got a very good one in Hamilton, and that young man proved it on a national stage. I’d look for him to eventually be rated as a mid-tier 4-star recruit at the minimum.
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