UGA lost a tight end commitment today. Garrett Walston, a 3-star tight end from North Carolina, de-committed from UGA and flipped to North Carolina.
That’s what all the headlines say. Good for UNC. Tar Heels coach Larry Fedora even authored a subtle yet hilarious tweet about it.
Count me among the opinion the short-term loss sets up a long-term commitment gain. Any understanding of the Walston flip should take into account several moving pieces. Maybe he didn’t like that thrashing the Bulldogs took from Alabama. Maybe he didn’t like the way UGA was still going after several other top-rated tight ends across the nation.
Maybe he just wanted to be closer to home. His younger brother is just beginning his promising prep career. Walston favored UNC up until the point he committed to UGA back in the summer.
The cards on the table have changed since then. That’s when the 5-star tight end and the nation’s No. 1 prospect at the tight end spot was still committed to Florida State. Former Buford standout Isaac Nauta has since de-committed and there would not be a lot of argument contrary to the position UGA has an excellent shot at landing him.
Nauta is close to his family. They live in the Metro Atlanta area. He also wants to play in a program that features the tight end. Nauta also just took a very satisfactory official visit to UGA for the Alabama game. That checks off a lot of elements he’s looking for.
Yet thinking this is solely about Nauta only scratches the surface. This gives UGA signing cap relief. I believe UGA is staring at a Signing Day number of 25 scholarships.
Walston drops UGA to 16 commitments. That said, have you see the players UGA is going after? If UGA does land Nauta, that number would ascend to 17 committed slots.
That’s not enough room to reel in elite prospects like Willie Allen, Derrick Brown, Brian Burns, Shyheim Carter Sr., Kyle Davis, Terrance Davis, Landon Dickerson, Rashan Gary, Mecole Hardman, Jr., Grant Holloway, Gregory Little, Jacob Mathis, Tre’ Nixon, E.J. Price, Demetris Robertson, Jeffrey Simmons, Tyler Simmons, Nigel Warrior and Devwah Whaley?
Can you imagine UGA only being able to take just eight of those 20 names? That’s not even thinking about scholarships for new starters at kicker and punter.
UGA might also have two silent commitments. The notion does not seem far-fetched by those who follow UGA football recruiting very closely.
If that’s the case, then the remaining open scholarship slots drop to six of those 18 prospects. Look at those names again. UGA will be in a numbers crunch if even half of those guys say yes to UGA. I’d put UGA among the top two schools for at least nine of those guys.
Walston will now be wearing Carolina Blue on Saturday next fall. I will consider that a win for both sides.
Jeff Sentell covers 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.