Good morning, DawgNation! It’s hard to tell whether Saturday’s 20-13 win at Auburn or Mark Richt’s surprise visit to see Jacob Eason — henceforth referred to as The Visit — was the best thing to happen this weekend.
With the win over Auburn, UGA took the all-time series lead for the first time since 1986 and Richt improved to 10-5 against the Tigers. The victory also preserved the chances of a 10-win season. The season will ultimately be considered a disappointment, but ten wins is still an accomplishment, especially after losing a Heisman Trophy candidate midway through the year. What’s most impressive, though, is that UGA rebounded with back-to-back SEC wins after reaching one of the low points of the Richt era.
Now, on to what may one day be made referred to around tailgates as “Coach Richt Goes to Washington.” It’s exceedingly rare for a head coach to visit a recruit on a non-bye week, let alone fly across the country to do so. The Visit was not only a big move on the part of Richt, but also one that was impressively kept under wraps until he tweeted out the news from Jake’s Cafe in Washington.
Richt made a few statements by taking the trip. Keep reading to find out what those were.
1. 11-year-old fan had something to say to a 4-star LB commit
The state’s top high school players spend their Fridays focusing on football, but one fan has something else on his mind. Cade Donaldson, 11, makes it a point to find 4-star inside linebacker commit Jaleel Laguins after every Oconee County game.
Donaldson doesn’t just track down Laguins for an autograph, however. He has a message for the state’s No. 20-prospect, who is considering official visits to several SEC schools and has one lined up to LSU on Nov. 28.
If Donaldson can already recruit this well, UGA may find a way to bring him on full-time.
2. Only one official visit remains for the nation’s No. 1 prospect
Rashan Gary, a 5-star defensive tackle and the nation’s top prospect, will be on Ole Miss’ campus this weekend for an official visit. This means that only one official visit remains for the coveted recruit as he already took an official visit to Michigan in September, and has one set up at Auburn on Nov. 28 and at Southern California on Jan. 15.
Fighting for the final chance to land an official visit are Alabama, LSU and UGA. To raise the stakes even higher, Gary’s mother previously told SEC Country that the five schools receiving official visits will be her son’s top five.
UGA is somewhat on the outside looking in for Gary, but landing an official visit could change that.
3. Nation’s No. 1 athlete shared his thoughts on Auburn visit
Mecole Hardman, Jr. is one of the top targets on UGA’s board. The 5-star athlete was at the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry, which was his first time watching a game at Auburn. Hardman shared his first impressions with SEC Country, and UGA fans may like what he said about the Auburn atmosphere.
“It wasn’t as loud as I thought it would be, but the jumbotron they have is crazy,” Hardman said.
The jumbotron is actually “crazy,” but it sounds like the nation’s top athlete was a little disappointed in the crowd. Hardman wasn’t let down by UGA, however. He had some positive things to say about the team.
4. Top junior described his budding relationship with UGA
4-star offensive tackle Tony Gray discussed his recruitment in a video interview with DawgNation after helping his team secure a 49-20 win in the state playoffs. It’s still early on in the recruiting process for the 6-foot-5, 262-pound junior, but Gray had a few interesting bits of information to share.
He heard from UGA coaches before his game and relayed what their message to him was. Gray also talked about his relationship with UGA and which other schools he’s heard from.
5. What statements did Richt make with his trip out West?
Despite just securing a 20-13 victory over rival Auburn, and with Georgia Southern on the horizon, Richt made The Visit. After the news broke, reactions followed. The consensus is that Richt’s breakfast with Eason sent a variety of messages.
Not one to share more than is needed, it wouldn’t have been surprising if Richt explained he made the trip because he was craving an omelette from the Pacific Northwest. But the UGA coach did open up about The Visit and how it played out.
Although Richt talked about his eventful Sunday, it’s likely he made the trip for a couple of reasons. He might not have disclosed all of them, but his actions speak louder than his words.
6. John Theus has a message for fans about Jacob Eason
After The Visit, enthusiasm about Eason’s arrival at UGA may be as high as its ever been. Some fans expect the nation’s No. 2 passer to arrive at UGA and galvanize the program. While he may one day live up to the lofty expectations already set for him, starting UGA tackle John Theus hopes fans don’t make it harder for Eason.
Theus, A former 5-star recruit himself, knows a little bit about expectations. Playing quarterback in the SEC is difficult. There is a reason not many true freshmen start right away. Theus explained it best: “It’s college football, it’s a complete other level.”
That’s why he felt compelled to issue a plea for UGA fans. And it’s one worth receiving.
William McFadden covers UGA recruiting for DawgNation and is an SEC multimedia reporter for SECCountry. Give him a follow on Twitter for sports news and opinions you probably won’t agree with.