Want a daily lap through Georgia football recruiting? That’s what the Intel will bring at least five days a week. We’ll cover the news and which way this 4-star or 5-star might lean and add a dab of perspective to help fans figure out what it all means.
POWDER SPRINGS, Ga. — Perspective.
There are fewer things that are more important in this life. The ability to add context and timing to every important moment allows us to see what things actually mean.
With so much of the reporting focus this week on that DeAngelo Gibbs fella and the rising 2018 and 2019 storylines, it makes sense to come back to the one recruit that will be in everyone’s headlines during the recruiting home stretch for 2017.
Aubrey Solomon, the 5-star defensive tackle from Lee County, will be that guy.
Those that are paying close attention will see the Georgia staff is working like “Mad Men” promoting and advertising the program’s wares for an immediate short-term injection of talent with the 2017 class.
That’s working. Georgia’s class is rated No. 3 nationally. The staff is cleaning up in the state like everyone’s first plate from Christmas dinner. The numbers say 9 of the state’s Top 15 prospects are heading to Athens. The ratio extends to 11 of the state’s Top 20 and even more blue-chips are on the way.
But let’s cut to the chase. Solomon told me 5 things yesterday that Georgia fans will want to know regarding his decision.
Here’s a teaser: He indicated to me that the Bulldogs will get his last visit.
And last visits. There will be several.
The 6-foot-4, 290-pounder has rated as Georgia’s most important undecided target for months now. It sounds like he has a very strong perspective regarding the program, but he’s also said a lot of pro-Georgia things in the past and then abruptly committed to Michigan on an impromptu visit.
The first thing to know is he won’t make his decision anywhere near National Signing Day.
But the 5-star prospect felt comfortable saying his decision should be made by March 1.
“My sister is fixing to have a baby,” Solomon said. “It is either at the end of January or at the beginning of February. She wants to be there for my signing day so I am not trying to have one of those problems where her water breaks on National Signing Day and I have to go to the hospital.”
See what I mean about perspective?
Mr. Solomon is set to be an uncle and that will rightfully be the most important thing in his family’s world over the next two months.
That’s no matter how many Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia and Michigan fans will read every word he says over the next 65 days.
He’s already taken official visits to Alabama and Michigan. Don’t expect him to take another unofficial to Michigan. It is just too far with all the other visits will make.
Solomon flies to the West Coast on Jan. 12 for an official visit to USC. Auburn’s official will be the next week on Jan. 20. Florida will get his final official visit on Jan. 27.
Solomon on UGA
- What about Georgia?
“The plan is to take as many visits as I possibly can to Georgia,” he said. “Just because they are not getting an official doesn’t mean they are completely out.”
We hit the pause button. I asked him if the Bulldogs were trending negatively by the way he has scheduled those officials. Are they sort of out of it?
“No, sir,” Solomon said. “Not even close. It is a dog fight.”
Does Alabama, Georgia and Michigan seem like his top group?
“I wouldn’t say those are my Top 3,” Solomon said. “But if we did a Top 10 then they would definitely be in there. I know I need to cut my list down real fast.”
He said Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Michigan and USC would all make that Top 10. Solomon plans to cut it to a Top 3 after his three remaining official visits.
2. He didn’t name Georgia. What does that mean?
“I believe one unofficial visit is as good as one official visit,” Solomon said. “Because I am on campus. So that’s that. I would tell DawgNation not to read into all that hype that I am not going to Georgia or am not interested in Georgia because that is very wrong. Georgia is still way high on my list. I’ve got some family there. Well, not family but I call (UGA freshman offensive lineman Chris Barnes) my brother. He’s like a brother to me. So that’s family, then my friends like (Trenton Thompson) and all of them. I’ve got a lot of connections to Georgia so it wouldn’t make any sense for me to rule them out this early.”
Solomon said that Clark and Thompson plus Georgia freshman defensive tackle Tyler Clark are all “huge pulls” to Athens.
“They talk to me a good bit once a week and twice a week just trying to get me familiar and all that,” Solomon said. “They tell me how much they need me. It is just a brotherhood (up) there especially being in the 229 (The Southwest Georgia area code) and we played against each other.”
He singled out why those connections were different.
“I can say that Georgia is the only school that gives me that family vibe like that,” Solomon said. “I know more people at Georgia. I have played against them. Played with them. Seen them play. That is just a different feeling.”
Side note: Solomon doesn’t like cold weather. He said it makes his joints stiff. He’s originally from California. He said he believes he could endure the cold weather in Michigan, but did bring up a fear of sub-zero temperatures.
3. Has Georgia let him know how much he’s needed?
“The whole coaching staff really lets me know,” Solomon said. “I talked to Coach Smart a couple of days ago. He just emphasized I am a big target for them. (He said) Don’t read into all of that where I won’t play and I won’t do this and that. Because he said the best man will get on the field. He knows my work ethic and he knows I am willing to do whatever to get on that field. He was just telling me that I could play early.”
His mother made an impressive move during the season regarding his recruitment. She asked all the major contenders to fill out a survey with very targeted questions regarding her son’s potential fit at their school. Solomon said that all of those surveys are not complete.
He quickly named Alabama and Michigan as great degree fits so far. That’s because he’s already seen everything from those schools on those two aforementioned officials.
He thought USC would also be a good fit.
Does he have a sense of the academic fit at Georgia yet?
“I sure did forget about that,” Solomon said. “Georgia is a good fit, too. Because I want to do sports management and you know maybe broadcasting and all of that. Georgia has a great program in all of that.”
The next two elements will stand out.
4. When will he take his next visit to Georgia?
His next visit to Georgia should be in February. But Solomon indicated he plans to take several unofficial visits to Athens.
“I want to go and find a way to visit at some time in January,” Solomon said. “I want to find a way and then go a few more times in February. I think after I am done doing my series of unofficial (visits) at Georgia I will finally make my decision.”
Solomon said it will be hard to take repeat visits to both Michigan and USC during the stretch run of his decision. More “Round 2” visits will be possible at Auburn, Alabama, Florida and Georgia.
“I believe I might probably get a second-hand look at a lot of these other schools that are closer to go to,” Solomon said.
5. The Georgia commitments are on him like … well …. like savages.
“I don’t think anybody does a better job than Georgia when it comes to recruiting,” Solomon said. “Especially when it comes recruits recruiting other recruits. It doesn’t get better than UGA. It is unbelievable. The love they show you and then the love they get from the fans is just unreal.”
He’d love to wear a low number at Georgia. Or at any school. But those are hard for defensive linemen to claim. He said he’d be fine with sticking his with high school No. 91 on Saturdays.
Understanding Solomon’s recruiting history
I had a theory about Solomon. He was sort of like the guy who experiences that “visit love” after a lot of his major visits. The nation’s No. 2 defensive tackle has frequently named a lot of leaders over his recruiting journey.
I think the list has included: Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia and Michigan. I can’t recall if he’s ever named Clemson as a leader or not. Some of those schools have been named a leader more than once.
Stereotypes are usually misguided and perception is usually in the eye of the beholder. So I asked Mr. Solomon about that.
How does he see it? Does he see why others might think that way?
“I was very immature early in my recruiting process,” Solomon said.
But then Solomon said that it is all coming from a good place. He simply wants to make sure he expresses a lot of positive things about every visit. That’s his way of saying he appreciated the hospitality and the way he was treated on each trip.
“I give all the schools their credit,” Solomon said. “I don’t really like bashing the schools. I am going to say I really like that school after a visit. But that doesn’t mean that they are my leader. That’s where people get it wrong. I am just very optimistic. … I just want to share my thanks on it. Tell them thanks for having me. I am not really naming my leader I am just saying I really like that school and what they have to offer.”
Lee County coach Dean Fabrizio summed it up well.
“You have to consider that all of these schools have great programs, great academics, great facilities and great teams with great coaches,” he said. “You can’t help a kid for being wowed a lot by all of these great options when he goes to these places. This is a tough decision.”
Is he worth all this fuss?
That’s a no-brainer. Absolutely.
Solomon is rated as the nation’s No. 2 defensive tackle this year in a down year for that position. Especially around the South. He’s the nation’s No. 31 overall prospect.
It may be a down year, but Solomon’s skill set would’ve likely made him a Top 10 tackle even in the vaunted defensive tackle crop of 2016. Georgia landed four very good ones from that lot. Solomon could drop right in and earn immediate playing time in that rotation.
“There are not a whole lot of guys with his size who can bend as naturally as he can,” Fabrizio said. “Then there are even fewer that can play with leverage like he can and have that rare first-step explosiveness. That’s why he is just that rare combination of everything that these big-time schools want and that’s why he is so coveted.”
The Daily Gibbs update from yesterday
My SEC Country colleague Chris Kirschner delivered another timely update on elite Georgia target DeAngelo Gibbs from the second day of Under Armour practices.
Here are the need-to-knows:
- Gibbs has arrived at a decision. He made that decision on Wednesday
- He only applied to two schools. That was a major key as he is set to enroll early in January and had to be accepted into the class in order to start classes next month.
- When asked, he was able to readily share the potential reporting dates at Georgia (Jan. 7) and at Alabama (Jan. 9) when it comes to that early enrollment.
- He would not room with his life-long friend Dylan Moses at Alabama. He would likely room with his cousin J.R. Reed at Georgia. Reed transferred to Georgia from Tulsa earlier this year. Reed is expected to have a fine career at Georgia as a physical and explosive safety.
I deem that last factor to be an interesting nugget regarding his decision.