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Don't look now. Georgia running backs coach Dell McGee has another big 5-star RB target in mind for 2020.

California 5-star junior RB Kendall Milton says UGA has ‘major shot’ to sign him

Jeff Sentell

Want to attack every day with fresh UGA recruiting info? The Intel delivers that at least four days a week. This topic seems very standard regarding mutual interest with a 5-star RB who geographically should have low interest in UGA. But Kendall Milton goes against the grain on that, too. 

Kendall Milton could wind up at FSU, Oklahoma or Ohio State. He could land in his home state playing for what was once his dream school in Southern Cal.

The odds say that. But Georgia running backs coach Dell McGee has beat odds just like that of late for 5-star RBs in Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

Milton (Buchanan High/Clovis, Ca.) ranks as the nation’s No. 2 RB for 2020 on the 247Sports composite ratings. It also aligns him as the nation’s No. 10 overall prospect.

“I would say I would most resemble Leonard Fournette the way I run if I had to choose a back in the NFL right now,” Milton said. “He’s a big powerful back that can still make those cuts and get going.”

The 6-foot-1.5, 210-pound junior plans a decision prior to his senior year. He placed UGA in the top 10 he shared on social media back on July 9.

Do the Bulldogs have a shot?

“I think Georgia has a major shot to be able to get me to go to their program,” Milton said.

Why?

“I love the whole school,” Milton said. “I love coach [Kirby] Smart and coach [Dell] McGee and I love [support staffer] coach [Shawn] Williams because they are all great people. Great guys. Great coaches. I can see myself playing there at the next level. They produce lots of running backs to the NFL. They produced two last year and it would be great to be able to pick up where those guys left things off at Georgia and get something going there.”

Milton mentions Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. There’s also that Gurley fella who trots around California generating NFL headlines, too.

The Georgia push for Kendall Milton

His Georgia interest, while appropriate for this blog, needs proper context. Milton stated there is a misconception right now regarding his recruiting.

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Georgia running backs coach Dell McGee (left) was ranked the top recruiter of the 2018 cycle because of his role in bringing players such as 5-star RB Zamir White (right) to Athens. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

“Right now when I see articles of people saying he is leaning to this school or that school then that is something I have never said,” Milton said. “Right now, I have never actually narrowed that top 10 down at all. Those 10 schools are the only ones I have narrowed down. So right now I’m not leaning to any school. I’m just enjoying the season and there’s really no lean toward any school right now.”

McGee is the lead recruiter for the Bulldogs. That’s probably all that needs to be said.

“Talking to coach [Dell] McGee it doesn’t feel like you are just talking to a coach,” Milton said. “It feels like you are talking to a friend or someone you can attach yourself to and open up to and talk to. He has this like house warming feel when you talk to him.”

“That’s one thing that separates him from all the other coaches.”

Milton added the Bulldogs will “most definitely” have a shot to land an official visit next year.

“I’ve seen that their 2019 class has been a big class,” Milton said. “I believe they are the No. 1 in the country right now.”

He went on to add a 5-star name to that conversation. Milton has a long-distance “we still talk a little” connection to Bulldog pledge Nolan Smith.

“I think it is crazy because when I was I think in the seventh grade I actually played with Nolan Smith,” Milton said. “Nolan Smith and I played in a USA all-star game together before anybody knew who we were. It is great to see how he has come along with his game. We’ve both made a name for ourselves.”

He has very few questions right now about UGA. If he starts taking visits, then it will become interesting.

“Right now Georgia from what I have seen they have shown me they can make all the things happen for me I want to see in a program,” he said. “They’ve actually opened my eyes. That has attracted me to the program a lot.”

He also feels that location will not be a factor in his decision.

“I don’t see distance being a factor at all because I have family in Ohio, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Texas, Alabama and Louisiana,” he said. “All these states are all across the country. So I know if I go somewhere far, I will have people that will be able to take care of me and have my back.”

The things I really like about Kendall Milton

He elite ability at 210 pounds. He picked up his first offer from BYU when he was in the eighth grade.

The future business and finance major carries a 3.4 GPA in the classroom and creates impressive highlights for a kid who was 15 years old last season.

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Kendall Milton is a 5-star RB in the class of 2020. (Buchanan Photography/ Contributed photo)

Check the reel up above. The size, speed and skill all pop. Milton can run the 100 meters in about 10.8 seconds.

He has 235 yards on 22 carries and four scores in 2018. That sets a nice pace after a 1,514-yard season as a sophomore. He pushed the throttle last fall for 8.7 yards per attempt and 25 total touchdowns.

Milton lives in a state known for transient players. The best ones flock to those national powerhouses.

Yet Milton plays for a program that houses a national volleyball contender. Buchanan’s volleyball program likely makes more waves than the football team. His Bears are 19-8 across his three varsity seasons up to this point, including a 10-3 mark in 2017.

It means something to him. Milton has been in the same feeder program for Buchanan since the first grade.

“This high school group I’m playing with now I have been playing with them since elementary school and the third grade up,” he said.

The connection he has to head coach Matt Giordano is also real. Giordano, a BHS alum, graduated from Cal-Berkley and spent nine seasons in the NFL. The former safety also earned a Super Bowl ring with the Colts in 2007.

“He has that knowledge and those connections and I’ve been here in the program for so long,” Milton said. “It is hard to leave a program that has been doing right by you your whole life.”

This is a different world for high school sports. But that last statement says something about Milton. It really says something about the man he’s growing up to be.

Football teams will use his body for a while. He will use them, too.

“This game [for me] has been a place where to go out there and get your mind off everything,” he said. “Just not think about anything. Just the play and just have fun. That’s always been there for me. Kind of a getaway. With the training and practice, you can take your mind off the real world and just have fun.”

Kevin Hardy, his famous uncle, was an All-American LB at Illinois. He won the Butkus Award in 1995 and was the No. 2 overall selection in the 1996 NFL Draft. Hardy, his mother’s brother, spent 10 years in the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Dallas Cowboys and the Cleveland Browns.

The moving parts on the Kendall Milton decision

Milton plans to make his decision prior to his senior season. That ballpark sounds like next summer. Look for him to choose a school that offers him room on their stage.

When he enrolls, he doesn’t want to be one of seven elite running backs. The depth chart needs to set up better for him than that.

“I want to be able to have a shot to get on the field early,” Milton said. “I also want to go to a school with a coach and a support system to hook you up for a career after football. Football always ends eventually.”

His aim is to attend a school with a top-tier business program. He will check those rankings out, too.

The California resident grew up a USC fan but feels he must separate those boyhood jerseys from maybe the biggest decision he will make as a young adult. Milton will be at the USC-Notre Dame game this fall, but the rest of his top 10 right sound like they are too far away to plan anything around his team’s schedule.

“Schools that have made me [feel like] a priority I would say are USC, Ohio State, Tennessee, Georgia, Oklahoma and Florida State,” Milton said. “I would say those schools have reached out to me the most. But right now they can’t really do that much because it is still before that September 1 date. They can’t do too much before that or otherwise. Or they might get caught up in a recruiting violation and all that. It is just as much recruiting contact as they are allowed to do with a junior like me right now.”

The schools among his top 10 are the ones that have simply caught his attention.

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Kendall Milton said he likes what he has seen so far out of Georgia coach Kirby Smart. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

“They show me I’m a big priority in their offense,” Milton said. “They show me I am No. 1 on their board and show me they want to get me on the field as soon as possible. That’s something big to me.”

He dropped an interesting nugget regarding 5-star junior CB Elias Ricks. Ricks, who also hails from California, is the nation’s No. 1 CB for 2020 on the 247Sports composite.

“Right now Elias and I plan on playing at the same college at the next level,” Milton said.

Dell McGee is not the only recruiter putting in good work. If he was, then everyone else needs to find a new line of work.

Milton said connects well with FSU head coach Willie Taggart and RBs coach Donte’ Pimpleton. There is another good vibe with Ohio State RBs coach Tony Alford. Alabama’s Tosh Lupoi has a strong track record with elite California prospects and that continues here.

Oklahoma RBs coach Jay Boulware also checks in strong. Milton tabbed Penn State RBs coach Ja’Juan Seider and Texas peer Stan Drayton as coaches of distinction in his recruitment, too. Miami’s Thomas Brown (the former UGA player and coach) is another assistant in his top 10 he is fond of.

That’s a lot of running back coaches. Which made it interesting to hear how Milton meshes best with Keary Colbert (TE/Slot receivers) and head coach Clay Helton at USC.

The other head coaches he has been in touch with besides Helton and Taggart would be Ohio State’s Urban Meyer and Lincoln Riley at Oklahoma.

He is also impressed with Kirby Smart. The third-year coach has a reputation that has been enhanced by that 2018 Rose Bowl win.

“Just seeing his past he seems like a great guy,” Milton said. “With his coaching record, he seems like he knows what he is doing. He has a strong reputation for winning and getting his team to those big games. Everybody wants to be able to get to that national championship [game] and I feel he’s a coach who can bring his teams to that level. I feel like that’s a big thing.”

Milton said it seems like FSU, Oklahoma and Ohio State seem to be recruiting him with the most intensity from within his top 10 at this point. But he also felt that might change come September 1.

“It seems all the other schools are just waiting back and hanging back until September 1 to make that move,” he said.

A little quick game regarding UGA recruiting 

  • 5-star WR commit Jadon Haselwood is not expected to be at the Austin Peay game. As of now, he tells me he will be looking hard at that Auburn-Washington tilt at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
  • Haselwood had a tremendous game during a thriller in Alabama against a stacked Hewitt-Trussville team with five SEC commits. He made plays in all three phases, including what he believes to be the third blocked extra point of his stellar career with the Saints.
  • In several published reports, 5-star junior OG Justin Rogers backs off what some felt might or might not have been a forthcoming commitment. That could have been translated publicly as an all-star game or school choice. He seems to be waffling about all of that now.
  • The guest list will be interesting this weekend. I bet it will be a time for a lot of the in-state 2019 commits to show and also the key developing targets for 2020.
  • Need further proof that UGA recruiting is becoming a national brand? 247Sports lists the Bulldogs with 35 offers out to 2021 prospects. That said, there are just eight of those at this time from the state of Georgia. That speaks to a national footprint, but also that UGA has to get out there quicker for out-of-state targets.
  • Those elite 2021s to know are 4-star QB Brock Vandagriff (Prince Avenue Christian/Bogart, Ga.); 5-star WR Julian Nixon (Centennial/Roswell, Ga.); 5-star OT Micah Morris (Camden County/Kingsland, Ga.); 5-star OT Terrance Ferguson (Peach County/Fort Valley, Ga.); 4-star strong-side DE Jonathan Jefferson (Douglas County/Douglasville, Ga.) 4-star LB Chaz Chambliss (Carrolton/Carrolton, Ga.), 4-star OLB Zavier Carter (Hapeville Charter/Atlanta, Ga.) and 4-star S Jaquez Smith (Hapeville Charter/Atlanta, Ga.) in 2021.
  • This may interest only me but a recent count tells me that 48 out of the 84 Bulldogs on scholarship will wear a number between 1-36 this fall. That’s proof positive that the lower the number, the better the player. Georgia also has 37 guys wearing a number that falls between 1-20.
  • The first game falls on September 1, but that’s also a landmark for the 2020 class. That’s when schools will be allowed to reach out to juniors via mail and edits and all other forms of correspondence. That’s when reality hits the road in terms of all those verbal scholarships up to this point.

 

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.