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Cavazos Family/courtesy
Lejond Cavazos says he sees a lot to like at both Georgia and Ohio State.

DB Lejond Cavazos has UGA, Ohio State in a dead heat

Jeff Sentell

Want to attack every day with the latest Georgia football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel will bring at least five days a week. The play sheet calls for a breakdown of where elite cornerback prospect Lejond Cavazos stands after trips to Ohio State and UGA last week. Cavazos was one of the most impressive prospects to camp at UGA this month. 

Do you read that starter paragraph each day? Maybe you should. There are little things that are dropped in there from time to time.

The catchphrase for Tuesday regarding IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) junior defensive back Lejond Cavazos has his future spot at cornerback. The recruiting world hasn’t caught up to that yet.

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Lejond Cavazos was one of the most impressive prospects to camp at UGA this month. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

The 2020 prospect is rated as a 3-star safety and No. 302 overall by 247Sports. He’s not ranked on the 247Sports composite. That will change.

Look for him to eventually rise to a top 5 prospect at cornerback. It will not shock me to see him listed with nation’s top 30 prospects for 2020. At least.

Cavazos was good enough to start two games for IMG as a sophomore last season. I saw him work early last fall against Miami Central and made sure to tuck his name away.

He also roomed with future 5-star receiver Jermaine Burton (now at Marietta) in the 2020 class, too.

Let’s tick off the reasons why he is a rare player:

  • He’s a two-sport athlete and an accomplished hurdler. He’s clocked a 7.93 in the 60-meter hurdles and a 13.80 at 110 meters. Those are special high school times for a prep hurdler, but he’s a football player first.
  • Cavazos wasn’t healthy this year at Nike’s The Opening regional. He still posted a 4.56 laser time in the 40 with a 43-inch vertical and a power ball toss of 37 feet. His hamstring limited him to a 4.39 in the pro agility shuttle. He clocked a verified time of 4.03 seconds in that 5-10-5 at an earlier showing.
  • It meant a Sparq rating of 115.08. That’s in the 99th percentile of all tested athletes. It was good for 46th overall this cycle. It rates as the fifth-best showing beyond the 2019 class.
  • Can he play? The fact he started last year (two games) for IMG Academy and will start this year satisfies that curiosity.
  • When he worked out for Georgia and Ohio State last week, both programs saw him as a cornerback first and a do-it-all defensive back second. Both staffs halted his workout early because they didn’t need to see any more.

When the ranking services catch up as they usually do, he can chart as a top 15 overall prospect for 2020. He can contend for the nation’s top cornerback spot in 2020.

Kirby Smart worked him out personally. DawgNation was told that Cavazos turned in a sub-4.5 time in the 40 at Ohio State.

“Both schools view me as a corner,” Cavazos said. “They both really said they liked my height and my size and my quickness. They both want me to play corner, but they said if that doesn’t work out then I could definitely go to safety easily.”

Cavazos would rather play cornerback. He feels that’s his best spot, but will play whatever his squad needs him to do at IMG. Urban Meyer and Smart both stayed close to Cavazos and his family during those visits.

Lejond Cavazos on UGA and Ohio State being so close

Cavazos has really liked Ohio State and Georgia of late. The Bulldogs turned his head with a visit this winter that was followed up by a G-Day visit. He has said the Bulldogs were in a top-school position. 

He went to see Ohio State first last week. It left a distinct impression on him, but then came Georgia.

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Lejond Cavazos said the back-to-back trips to UGA and Ohio State last week have complicated his decision. (Cavazos Family/courtesy)

“It definitely complicated it a lot,” Cavazos said. “Coming off that Ohio State visit, I was like ‘This is the school’ and this and that and then going to Georgia hearing like kind of the same stuff makes it really a hard decision. They are both really good schools so I don’t know what I am going to do now leading up to a commitment.

“I thought I was going to commit like in a couple of weeks before I go back to school so it really just made it a lot harder on me.”

What happens now? Will he now ride through his junior year and see which school stands out after Sept. 1? That is a key date. Schools can then contact him per NCAA rules. That will reflect where he stands on their boards.

He also will watch them closely this fall.

“That is probably what I am going to stick back to doing,” he said.

What’s the best thing he likes now about Ohio State? Georgia? His answer was basically the same for both.

“I would say probably their career plan program they have going on with their players,” Cavazos said. “They set you up to succeed for a life outside of football.”

He liked that they didn’t focus on the football.

“They both have a good plan as well for their life after football. Those are like the two main things for both schools that I like the most. They have a Plan A which is something else that is outside of football.”

He could not discern any clear differences in terms of facilities.

“I really like both setups for their facilities,” he said. “I can see myself succeeding at both schools. They are both really nice. They both have what I need.”

That’s another brick to the argument the Bulldogs need to complete the west end zone and upgrade their weight room to stand out nationally there.

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Lejond Cavazos knows that Nolan Smith dude pretty well as teammates at IMG Academy. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

It wasn’t specifically stated, but it sounds as if UGA and Ohio State are well out in front. Cavazos only planned to work out for Georgia and Ohio State this summer.

“They are both definitely tied right now,” Cavazos said. “Everything that I heard from one school I also heard from the other school. They both said the same things and made the same points.”

He plans to check out both schools this fall, and he did not rules out making a commitment.

“I will go to each school’s big game this year,” Cavazos said in reference to both Georgia and Ohio State.

How did the Georgia visit go for Lejond Cavazos? 

Georgia thought very highly of Cavazos both before and after the workout. He left an impression on Smart.

“He said I’m what they want,” he said. “Coach Smart told me that I checked off all the boxes.”

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Lejond Cavazos said he already has a very good relationship with first-year Georgia assistant coach Dan Lanning. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

Georgia’s workout focused on speed and running drills. The Buckeyes wanted to see what his backpedal looked like.

What was his favorite part of the UGA trip?

“Just chilling with the coaches,” he said. “That was with both Coach Smart and Coach [Mel] Tucker. Just that feeling you get when you are around family. It felt like that.”

Smart worked him out personally.

“He has a great arm,” Cavazos said.

It meant a quick hook.

“After my second or maybe third one-on-one rep, Coach Smart said he saw what he needed to see and that I should stop,” Cavazos said.

He likely had more in the tank. Cavazos is described by those who know him as a competitor. He was always trying to jump the highest on the trampoline or to be the fastest swimmer in the pool growing up.

That instinct cannot be instilled.

“When he was a kid and his [older] brothers would hit him, he wouldn’t come to complain to us,” C.J. Cavazos, his father, said. “He would hit his brothers back. One of his brothers is now 6 feet tall and 280 pounds and his big brother Josh would come upset to us and tell us, ‘Why does Lejond keep hitting me’ and ‘Can you tell him to quit hitting me’ with that.

“I’d tell him, ‘Lejond is the little kid, and you are the big kid, and you are telling me to get him to stop hitting you’ There was something wrong with that picture. … Lejond has always been that kind of stubborn and hard kid. When you are the youngest of six you are either going to be that or get run over.”

No matter how well he tests or drills, that attitude will be what separates him from his peers in football.

C.J. Cavazos has a high opinion of the Bulldogs.

“Georgia is a phenomenal program and has evolved into a national power,” he said. “Georgia’s academics are second to none. Their support system to help their players to graduate is something I like a lot and their fan base is crazy. We love it. Their spring game was just a taste of what it is.”

“We want him to go to a program that is a very passionate program like Georgia who cares about their players.”

How did the Ohio State visit go for Lejond Cavazos? 

The Buckeyes made sure to name drop.

“They definitely liked my feet,” Cavazos said. “They were comparing me to a lot of their corners from past years saying I was a lot like so-and-so and they said I could be like this guy and that guy. Ohio State told me about my potential with where I’m already for this age. They brought up where I am right now and then I will have the development of two more seasons of high school. They said that where I am at right now, that I could be really good when I go off to college.”

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Lejond Cavazos is a starting safety at IMG Academy. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

(Key fact: Ohio State has had five defensive backs selected in the first round of the NFL draft over the past three years.)

Meyer made an impression when he spoke to Cavazos after a drill.

“He stopped me after my 1-on-1s and just told me that I was a freak athlete,” Cavazos said.

The IMG junior still wasn’t fully healthy at either workout. But he was still able to clock a 4.4 showing in the 40 in Columbus.

“I still have some resistance when I run,” he said. “I can be a lot better.”

His favorite part of the Ohio State trip was the feedback he got from the players about what it is like to be part of the  Buckeyes. He said he spent more time with Meyer than Smart.

“It wasn’t a lot more,” Cavazos said. “They were pretty much with me the whole time along both visits to each school.”

The X-factor in the recruiting of Lejond Cavazos

Cavazos will have a tough eventual choice: Buckeyes or Bulldogs. But he seems to be as well-equipped as a prospect can possibly be to sift through a tough decision.

That’s because of personal and professional relationships established by his father. C.J. Cavazos can count two NFL head coaches in his inner circle. They help the family determine what is real, what is fake and what is necessary when it comes to the next steps for Lejond.

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Lejond Cavazos also has great ability in track as a hurdler. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

Cavazos speaks frequently with Todd Bowles and Anthony Lynn. Bowles is the head coach of the New York Jets. Lynn leads the San Diego Chargers.

Bowles speaks very highly of both Mel Tucker at Georgia and Greg Schiano of Ohio State.

The son listens to the father here. He also advises recruits in a professional capacity. His father, like his son, is also an engaging communicator.

He is honest. His straightforward style was able to recruit his wife, Melba, into naming their son “Lejond.” It took him about nine months of recruiting, but he was able to sway her.

The full story on that naming right is a topic for another blog, but it shows something about this family.

Steering his son through this choice will be something akin to his 779th rodeo.

“He doesn’t think I’m listening to him a lot of times but I do,” Lejond Cavazos said. “I just don’t show it enough but what he says really helps me. His two best friends are head coaches in the NFL. They give feedback on what I do and what I have to work on. It really helps me in terms of bettering myself.”

Cavazos is a very connected recruit. There are the many relationships he can draw on such as UGA commit Nolan Smith and Burton from their times at IMG Academy. Trey Sanders, another IMG 5-star, told DawgNation wherever he goes he will bring Cavazos along.

Tony Brown, the former track and football star, was a 5-star prospect and the nation’s No. 9 overall prospect in 2014. That is another family friend. Taron Vincent, the former 5-star tackle at IMG Academy, is also trying to reel him to Ohio State.

His father was also a high school coach at one time at Carter High in Dallas. That’s where he met a young Urban Meyer when he was just a young assistant on the recruiting trail.

“My father is a great resource,” Cavazos said. “He’s not going to tell me where to go. He knows that this is my decision and he’s just told me that he knows that both of these schools [Georgia and Ohio State] are very good options.”

What will happen when his son tells him he is ready to make a commitment? That’s the only time he will put the proverbial foot down. This is what father says he’d tell his son.

“I’d be like, ‘OK, today is Friday. You’re telling me this is what you want to do. You have seven days to sleep on it. If you wake up next Friday in the morning and you come to tell me this is still your school, that’s when you call that school and tell them you’re ready to commit.’ We’re done then. But we’re not going to do anything on a knee-jerk reaction. We’re going to pray about it and sleep on it every day for a week.”

When that is vetted, there will be no games.

“I will be totally honest with these coaches,” C.J. Cavazos said. “The only way to do this is the right way. Be honest. Not waste their time. Time is money for these coaches. If you waste their time, you waste their money. They have other kids they can go and get.”

The Cavazos family will respect the fact these recruiters are professionals.

“I’ve told Urban Meyer that when he commits, we are done,” his father said. “I’ve told Lejond this. We are not going anywhere else once he commits. So he’s not ready to do that. I don’t have a timeline. It is not about me or his mom or his family. It is whenever he is ready.”

Fast and furious things to keep in mind

  • Check out the official visit recap from Chris Kirschner of SEC Country regarding 5-star ILB Nakobe Dean. Dean told Kirschner that Alabama “did everything it needed to do” on that visit. It sounds as if  the Tide made a favorable impression, but not enough for them to race out to the lead after his first official visit. It was very Smart of the Bulldogs to get Dean on campus for a rigorous workout prior to that Alabama visit.
  • DawgNation readers should be well-informed on the name Bryan Bresee by now. He just picked up a rash of Crystal Ball picks to Ohio State from writers who cover that program over the last month. That’s something to monitor. The nation’s top prospect for 2020 should cut his options down to a smaller group this summer, but I don’t expect him to make a public decision anytime soon. He will be competing at The Opening Finals in Texas later this month.
  • I have gotten a lot of questions of late about the defensive tackle spot for the Bulldogs and where the Bulldogs will go after the decision made Monday by C.J. Clark to stay home and play for North Carolina State. The short answer is that it will lead to a greater emphasis placed on the following names: Travon Walker, Derick “Rambo” Hunter and Quashon Fuller. Fuller told me recently he is still committed to Florida State but that all the schools within his top 5 are “basically neck and neck” at this point. We’ll go into deeper detail with the conversation later on this week. The 6-foot-4, 272-pound strongside defensive end could play all up and down the line at UGA. Georgia continues to make up ground here after two recent back-to-back visits.
  • Here’s another popular question: What’s going on with Tray Scott on the recruiting trail? The most straightforward answer I can give here is what I hear from sources. Scott is a genuine person on the recruiting trail. No sizzle. He will keep it real. It seems like that approach will really work for those who value that style. But he is not slick and will not give off that professional sales approach. It will not work for everyone, but it will matter a great deal to those who value knowing exactly where they stand in a deep-rooted recruiting relationship.
  • Georgia continues to make up ground on another key defensive line target. That prospect is currently committed to another SEC school. We will tackle that one later this week, too.

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.