CLOVIS, Calif. — Kendall Milton committed to Georgia for the second time on Monday. The nation’s No. 4 RB prospect chose the Bulldogs from a commitment ceremony with a live network stream out of a Dave & Busters near the Fresno suburb.
The video used to share that news with the world was produced by DawgNation. The full version is the one contained with the video player above.
When that news broke, it was hard to not to imagine Georgia running backs coach Dell McGee with a joyful grin like he still knows something about recruiting these 5-star backs that the rest of college football does not.
That smile would not be complete without the man pumping his fist up and down over the fifth occurrence that a 5-star RB prospect has chosen the Bulldogs since he became the team’s running backs coach after the 2015 season.
“This decision took a lot of thought,” Kendall Milton said. “It took a lot of long talks with my family and people that I consider close to my family. I just feel right about the decision.”
That fist is essential to the visual. That’s because it was what McGee did when the silent commitment first committed to the Bulldogs back on June 14. That was the day of his official visit when he tried on the red, black and white Georgia jersey variants.
“It was a photo shoot,” his mother, Carla Milton, said. “He was like ‘I want to commit tonight’ and I was like ‘Now’ and I was like ‘Are you sure you want to do this now?’ and I was like ‘Go get your Dad over there, talk to him and see where we are at with it’ when he said that.”
They talked. They had the conversation. The son convinced the father.
“Are you sure?” Chris Milton first asked his son. “Are you positive? Is this real? Not an emotional decision? Are you sure?”
Kendall then said what he needed to say.
“Then they pulled Dell over,” his mother said. “We told him first.”
It was a simple message: “I’m coming. I want to commit.”
Those were the words.
“Then I remember him just pumping his fist the way he does it as he walked away.”
McGee’s method earned another one of those “Dell yes” recruiting moments for DawgNation. They agreed to tell Kirby Smart and Sam Pittman and James Coley the following morning at breakfast.
“That was great,” Kendall Milton said. “It was all really great.”
Kendall Milton poses with a happy family of Miltons and relatives at a family event the day before his commitment decision. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)
The important things to know about Kendall Milton
It already amounts to a great recruiting week for the Bulldogs. Chad Lindberg, the stout 4-star Texas OT, made his commitment to UGA on Sunday evening.
Milton becomes the third 5-star prospect in Georgia’s 2020 class. He’s the third-highest out of 16 public commitments at this time. That still leaves UGA trailing Clemson, Alabama, LSU and Ohio State in the chase for the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class for this cycle.
Want to know something else the rest of the world probably doesn’t about Milton? We’ll save the story of his early first football practices and those “twinkle toes” for another post and his love for watching any kind of car videos that are on YouTube or whatever.
How ’bout the fact that he’s just 17? Milton is 17 and won’t turn 18 until after he has enrolled early at Georgia in January of 2020. He’ll celebrate his next birthday in February.
That’s one of a great many things that are apparent here about the nation’s No. 22 overall prospect (also per the 247Sports Composite ratings) for 2020. The way he moves and the power that he will one day bring to the SEC with his 220-plus pounds once he celebrates those 19th and 20th birthdays offer up a glimpse of potential to get excited about.
His father used the word “surreal” over and over to describe the experience of making their way as a family to commit to playing for McGee, Smart and the Georgia football program.
“There are some programs in the country you can go to and you can go, ‘You know I play college football,’ ” Chris Milton said. “There are other programs where you can say ‘You know, I play D-1 ball,’ and then there is a handful of programs that you go to where you go to and you can say ‘This is a stepping stone because you are going somewhere else,’ and this is one of those programs.”
Kendall Milton is on his way to play for Georgia. The decision was made silently last month. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)
What will Kendall Milton’s next move be as a public commit?
There will be some easy adjustments here. His older brother, KaLonn, played for the Fresno State Bulldogs. So this family (and its already impressive collection of 11-plus Georgia hats) will remain a Bulldog family.
The grill utensils for his father, Chris, don’t change. He has a few handles inscribed with “Bulldogs” for some of his 5-star grillwork.
When asked about his goals, the rising senior at Buchanan High didn’t bring up a Heisman Trophy. Even though UGA made an edit for him with one of those on the locker room floor.
He does not have to start right away. It didn’t sound like the Georgia moment on his mind was to pile up a bunch of yards or carries or score a touchdown at Alabama in 2020.
“I am 100 percent ready to go get started and go get this natty,” Kendall Milton said.
The handy 5-star Georgia recruiting dictionary will define that “natty” term as a national championship. Milton wants one of those. Badly.
That’s why he has already been in ninja stealth mode working on top targets for the last several weeks.
“I need that natty,” he continued on. “I need that natty at the end of the year. That big trophy that lets you know that your hard work paid off. You’re the best team in college football. That’s what I am going for.”
This decision should be seen as quite solid. Milton plans no other visits except for those to Georgia. The Milton family has already circled that Sept. 21 date against Notre Dame for their first unofficial visit during the season.
As stated earlier, the newest 5-star Georgia commitment plans to enroll early in January of 2020. The family was not able to determine which school finished second in the chase for Milton.
“He didn’t have one,” Carla Milton said.
DawgNation believes it would have to have been between Alabama and LSU.
“Those are two programs that stuck with me all the way through up until the final days of the recruitment,” Milton said. “They’ve let me know from Day 1 from now after we’ve said this and even until the day that pen touches paper.”
Kendall Milton has already been celebrating his commitment out in California. The family started a little bit early on Sunday night. He’s flanked here by his mother (right) and his great-grandmother (left) in the family room at their home in California. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)
The pivotal moment that led Kendall Milton to UGA
His mother remembers a conversation last fall. They were just sitting in their family room. It was after the homework was done and there were no videos or car shows to watch.
“Last year he said, ‘You know I’m liking Georgia,’ ” she said.
Her reaction was essentially “say what?” as she thought about her son having a football career three time zones away.
“Of course I was like ‘what?’ because I didn’t know anything about Georgia,” she said. “So even though I know he had said that it was not until we visited in April that I think it could be a possibility. So I held out that long, about him possibly playing at Georgia.”
Milton spent basically three full days in Athens. He saw it all. School. Facilities. Dorms. Downtown. He learned about how the Bulldogs support their players in their life after football. That stuck in his mind because the future business major wants to own a chain of car dealerships across the country when he’s 40.
He saw those things. But what he remembered was the love from that G-Day crowd. The spring game scrimmage crowd got their arms all around him. It was a big UGA hug. He felt the love.
“Especially being there with all the top guys and everything,” Milton said. “Kelee [Ringo] said that it seemed like we are already playing and are stars at Georgia. Because of everybody in the stadium basically knew who we were when we walked into the stadium.
“They stopped us. Wanted to take pictures and everything. To take pictures with their kids. Seeing the crowd. We all saw their energy. Seeing the fan support of how much they loved seeing us there all stood out. We were all talking about that the whole weekend. Just the energy that surrounded us at the stadium.”
That was when the crowd was maybe a little over 50 percent capacity, too.
“Everybody, when they saw us around the hedges there, they just ran down,” Milton said.
It did sound every bit like the Bulldogs put themselves in the red zone to score this commitment with that official visit. But it wasn’t without some late drama.
“I would say coming off those two other official visits (Ohio State and LSU) that everything was basically even between all the schools going into it,” Kendall Milton said. “It was kind of just looking for what stood out the most and Georgia stood out the most at the end of the day.”
“Then we made that decision.”