How badly does Kirby Smart want to sign the No. 1 prospect out of the state of Georgia?
UGA was considered a “lock” to sign Brown over a month ago, but things have changed dramatically since the Bulldogs changed head coaches. Now Auburn appears to be the school to beat, followed by Tennessee and Alabama.
Why did Smart fly to the Gwinnett school twice on Thursday? The first trip was to chat with Brown’s parents for an hour in the morning. The return flight was to hang out with Derrick’s parents during his basketball game (see pictures below), and then for Smart to look Brown in the eyes one last time before signing day.
What was Smart’s message? “He said Derrick will be coached to the highest level, especially with him being a defensive coach,” said the recruit’s mother, Martha Brown. “We’re still getting to know each other. He was basically laying his resume out, and giving his track record.”
Brown’s mother disputed the report that her son has three leaders. Did anything change between Brown and UGA when the Bulldogs changed head coaches? His mother paused before answering.
“The only thing there was having to go back and get to know everybody at Georgia … not only did Coach Richt change, but the whole staff changed,” Martha said.
“We enjoyed Coach Richt, but we always told Derrick: You go to the school because of the school, not because of the coach. And this was a prime reason for that right now with everything that has happened with the coaching changes at all (of his final six schools).
“That’s the reason you go to the school — because of the school. With that said, Coach Richt is a great man.”
Brown’s mother had high praise for UGA defensive coach Tracy Rocker, who was a holdover from Mark Richt’s staff. “They’re still in the running because he stayed.”
The Brown family met with Auburn coach Gus Malzahn on Thursday night, and was scheduled to leave on Friday for an official visit at Tennessee.
Back to Smart: He didn’t really try the “stay at home to play for your home state” sales pitch with Brown. There was a reason: “Derrick doesn’t really consider Georgia his home state, and he lets everybody know that. He tells everybody that he was born in Mississippi. I know there are a lot of interviews that he has done where he says ‘You know I’m from Mississippi?’ He pretty much puts that out there … but I feel like Derrick would be in good hands if he signed with Georgia.”
Here are the pictures from Thursday night via DawgNation’s Jonathan Phillips: