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Nakobe Dean is the nation's No. 1 ILB for 2019 per the 247Sports composite rankings.

5-star LB Nakobe Dean “loves” UGA but still plans officials to Auburn, FSU and LSU

Jeff Sentell

Want to attack every day with the latest UGA football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel brings at least four days a week.  We will chop up what’s going on with 5-star ILB Nakobe Dean from Horn Lakes High in Mississippi today. 

The dialogue with 5-star ILB Nakobe Dean is always interesting. Always.

But when he’s rated by the 247Sports composite as the nation’s No. 1 ILB and No. 15 prospect overall, it only adds to the intrigue.

When he’s one of the few remaining uncommitted targets for UGA this cycle, it hits another notch.

Dean, the son of a physician, is smart as a whip (approximate 4.7 grade point average) and very accommodating. The future engineer still holds the unofficial record in my book for consecutive interviews granted in sub-40 temps in a 90-minute span.

He must have granted at least 10 one-on-one interviews that day at Buford High School, if not more.

The 5-star senior told DawgNation this week he will hold to a silent top 5 going forward. The most recent cutdown he shared was to a top 7, but he states it is really more like a top 5 now.

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Nakobe Dean comes off as a pretty funny guy in casual conversation. But it is low-key. He does it without really trying to do it. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

It was expected to come next month. It does not seem like a priority at this time.

“I was planning on releasing another [top] five but it is like …. like why?” Dean said. “The schools that are still in it know they are still in it. Those are the ones I am still talking to and they text me and everything. [There’s] No reason [to narrow it down.]

He flashed the wit at several points of our conversation, including a bit where he opined on silent commitments.

Dean is not a fan of those. But he sees a way to make the recruiters at his future school a little nervous while he still can.

“To be honest, I will probably not even tell the school on signing day,” Dean said.

He knows those coaches are set to extinguish his gas tank on the regular in college. Might as well flip that script on the front end while he can.

There were the big data points I derived from our conversation:

  • Auburn will likely get an official in September.
  • LSU still gets his last official set for Dec. 7. Why? The Tigers asked for it and he’s visited there more than any other school except for Ole Miss. That said, he didn’t feel the last official means a great deal. If anything, it gives him less time to appreciate what he takes in on that final trip.
  • His fall is busy. There will be some spontaneous visits, but the next one on the schedule will be the official to UGA for Vanderbilt on Oct. 6. His mother, Neketta, set that one up. She has shared her view about the fit with UGA. 
  • That recent FSU visit did move the needle for Dean. It could have been a cross-them-off-the-list visit, but the Seminoles made a lasting impression. His mother’s comments about that program likely still warm the hearts of FSU fans. That said, it was just his first visit to Tallahassee.
  • He’d like to return but just doesn’t know when. If his team plays for a state title this December, then his playing schedule will still be there the next week with the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic. The week after that is his birthday.
  • Dean is no longer sure he will make his commitment decision on Dec. 13. That’s his birthday. He might wait to do that on Dec. 21. It will be the first day of the new early signing period. Has he made up his mind on that front? “Not yet,” Dean said. “But if I do it will be on the actual [early] signing day.”
  • Alabama did not come up. He’s already taken an official to see the Tide. He’s only been to Oxford and maybe Baton Rogue more than he has been to Tuscaloosa. That’s still a major point even though the Tide just picked up a late 5-star ILB for the 2018 class. Alabama, Auburn, Ole Miss, FSU, Georgia, LSU and Texas A&M seem like that top 7 at this time.
  • He is still on track to enroll early.
  • Academics will not sway his decision. “I do feel I can go to any of the schools in my top 7 and I can do what I want to do in life,” the future engineering major also said.

Nakobe Dean shares his current view on UGA 

When asked about UGA, he used a few terms that grab the ear. Especially the word “love” and a “masterminds” description regarding a pair of assistant coaches.

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Nakobe Dean has already taken one official visit to Alabama. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

“I love Georgia you know,” Dean said. “Coach [Glenn] Schumann and coach [Dan] Lanning. I do most of my communication with them. Just getting up with them and them being such masterminds of the game and giving me tips all the time about what I can do better and what can help me.”

The UGA official is a matter of timing. Not the opponent.

“It just worked out well with my scheduling for the team and the team plan and everything,” Dean said. “I won’t have to be trying to rush or anything like that.”

His mother, who is very busy these days as the Horn Lakes High (Miss.) booster club president, booked that trip. That was really one of the only open dates he had left.

“My momma really set it up, to be honest,” Dean said. “She set it up. She just knew it was open and she just set it up with the coaches. I just came home and she told me about it.”

She asked “Would it be a good time” and then waited for the thumbs-up.

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Nakobe Dean made sure to enjoy himself at the Nike Opening finals this summer out in Texas this summer. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

He said he’s been to Athens about “four or five” times. How does he picture a potential future at UGA?

“I’ve been to Georgia a lot,” Dean said. “I’m comfortable around the people. But honestly, I feel like when I get to college it is going to be different than visits. I know it is going to be different than visits. I know I have been to schools plenty of times.”

“I know it will be different when I get there and I start hanging out with the guys and actually doing classes and working out. I just know it is going to be different. I’m going to meet more people and associate with more people and be out on my own and just grow at any college that I pick.”

Is Georgia still in that no-need-to-be-named top 5?

“Of course,” he said. “For sure.”

He went on to detail the biggest reason why he might eventually choose UGA.

“My competitive nature,” Dean said. “I know they are deep at linebacker. I’m not planning on going anywhere and just start. I’m not saying I want to start going in. That is the goal, but depth is good and I do want myself to be challenged. I know that if I can beat out anybody else, then I could probably be the best.”

Dean would actually worry about a school where he could come in and soar to the top of the depth chart right away.

The FSU visit did make a difference to the Dean family

Dean broke down the evolution of his interest in FSU.  He said the Seminoles are “underdogs” in the ACC right now but yet they do have a “strong culture.”

“I had Florida State in the race already,” he said. “I wasn’t going to rule them out until after I visited them. But then after I visited them, I decided to keep them among the top schools. I did love the visit. I would like to get back down there and to get more [of a picture] of the school.”

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Nakobe Dean was named to the all-event defensive team at the Nike Opening back in July. It allowed him the chance to shake hands with NFL star Ezekiel Elliott of the Dallas Cowboys. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

The Seminoles not only managed to stay in the race, but they likely made up some ground.

“It helped their chances a lot of course,” Dean said. “It actually made me actually have a picture. I can picture it. I didn’t know how Florida State looked at all, to be honest. Because I didn’t know they had a huge stadium like they did and the people around it and I just couldn’t picture it in my head.”

“I can picture some of the other SEC [schools] you know growing up in Mississippi. I saw a lot of those stadiums in the games but didn’t really watch Florida State like that then. That visit really gave me a good perspective on the school.”

Dean did acknowledge that the trip was one of his very best visits. To any school.

“The coaching staff and everybody really had a great impression on my mother while we were there,” he said.

He feels it will be hard to get back to FSU.  If he does have time, it will mean Horn Lakes did not meet its goal of winning a state title this season.

That FSU trip might require a shoehorn to cram its way into his schedule. Or at least a playoff upset.

“It couldn’t be after the season,” he said. “Because I plan on making the decision then. If everything goes according to plan [his season] with state and everything, the only weekend I have free is the LSU weekend.”

Neketta Dean, his mother, shared a pretty clear view of that visit from her end.

Comparing the FSU interest vs. LSU vs. UGA

LSU feels like “home” to him. He’s been able to get over there with greater frequency during his time as a recruit.

“LSU was one of the first schools to offer me,” he said. “It has always been a feeling there. They will always have a place in my heart.”

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Nakobe Dean will make his college decision in December and enroll early after the Under Armour All-American Game at his future school. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

His conversation with the UGA coaches started out with off-the-field matters, but that is no longer the case.

“We started off talking about life,” Dean said. “It was not [all] ball from the jump. They would always see how I was doing and how I was chilling and everything like that. But now I feel like it is more ball. Which I like.”

“I like it with more ball. I am always trying to learn. You can call me and ask how I am doing. Then we can talk a little ball. We can talk all day about that.”

Dean says that Lanning is funnier. For sure.

“Just his personality,” he said while describing Schumann as more of a football brainiac.

He’s working out the little things on each school now. The big things are what allowed each school to crack his last top 7 and stay in that kinda-sorta-silent top 5.

“The little things get overlooked,” he said. “Like how I would get taken care of if I was on the field and got hurt. Kind of like the training rooms and everything.”

 

Miss any Intel? The DawgNation recruiting archive will get you up to speed just as fast as former Georgia All-American LB Roquan Smith found the ball after the snap.