SAN ANTONIO, Texas — I learned something this week in Texas. No, it wasn’t the top BBQ spots or the 5-star steakhouse.
It wasn’t even the green tomatillo salsa or the sublime homemade root beer at Silvio’s Deli off the Riverwalk. It had seemed like all the local food around that attraction was of the 2-star variety.
The school bell rang for me on Tuesday when I got the chance to visit with the parents of Stanford 5-star OT commit Walker Little.
They seemed like the kind of folks that you can talk to for five minutes and it seems like you guys were neighbors 10 years ago.
There are a lot of families in the Georgia recruiting class this year like that.
I asked the Littles about Georgia. So just how close was it?
I wasn’t expecting much. Their son did narrow down his finalists to just Stanford and Texas before he made his decision. That was on the same day that 5-star OT Isaiah Wilson pledged to UGA, too.
The answers were stunning.
“Walker and (Georgia offensive line coach) Sam Pittman really clicked,” his mother Sara Little said. “I felt that was the connection to Georgia there. There was a week there that I thought he was going to Georgia.”
Her husband agreed.
“We all did for about a week,” Doug Little said. “We were fine with it. We just thought that was where he was going to end up going after that visit. There wasn’t a thing that happened or didn’t happen for Georgia that caused things to change.”
That shows how well the Houston resident’s official visit went for the Auburn weekend.
“There was definitely that ‘visit high’ like folks say after we went to Georgia,” Doug Little said. “He didn’t have that feeling anywhere else. Not like at Georgia. That was unusual for Walker.”
So what happened here?
The Littles said that visit ranks as their son’s best official. But a key disclaimer there is he has yet to take his official to Stanford.
The quick summary is he changed his mind. Nothing to find fault with there. It just sounded like a better mix of all things topped off by a Stanford degree.
But the reason Georgia was “really in it” came down to two men. The most important one was Pittman.
Little’s father detailed exactly what that meant to their family.
“That man is just really genuine,” Doug Little said. “It really comes across that he really cares for the kid and he is honest. He tells them how he feels whether it is good, bad or indifferent. I felt that is what attracted Walker to him. There was a trust there almost immediately knowing he would be hearing exactly what Sam thinks about him.”
“I liked that too just knowing that I felt like this guy would take care of my son. Regardless even if he wasn’t as good when he got there or if he got hurt. I felt like I could see Coach Pittman really liked my son personally and not just from that player standpoint.”
His mother felt her son “absolutely” valued the connection with Pittman as much as any other recruiter.
“I think Sam and coach (Mike) Bloomgren who is the coach at Stanford are right up there neck-and-neck for us as far as the quality of guys that were recruiting our son,” Doug Little said.
They also said they loved Matt Luke at Ole Miss. The Littles actually sent two of their children to Ole Miss. They were already leaned way into football as a way of life in the SEC.
Closing thoughts on UGA
“Athens reminds me of a larger Oxford which is a compliment,” Doug Little said. “Because we love Oxford and we love Ole Miss with two kids there. There is a similar Southern culture there which we love.”
Doug Little also appreciated what he saw out of Kirby Smart.
“I think maybe the one thing is the education factor at Stanford played a big role here,” Walker Little said. “The other thing is he had built a longer relationship with the coaches there at Stanford for a couple of years as opposed to getting there a little later with Georgia.”
They described the official visit as “phenomenal” and the overall choice as “tough” to eliminate Georgia.
They said that Jacob Eason and Isaac Nauta served as great player hosts for their son on his official visit. There were also a couple of students from Episcopal in suburban Houston that also chose to study at Georgia.
“It was also so unique how all the Georgia fans after that visit were tweeting me and sending me these kind messages,” Sara Little said. “There is still this one lady who always wishes us well. The Georgia people were just so sweet.”
There were also a couple of students in Little’s class that had also received their acceptance into Georgia at roughly the same time. It all added to that week where it looked like everything was trending toward Athens.
“Georgia people are just good people,” Doug Little said. “It is a great school. I can’t think of anything negative about that staff. I wish nothing but success for Georgia. I think that Kirby Smart is awesome. He’s just so solid and he’s going to do so well at Georgia.”