Want a daily lap through Georgia football recruiting? That’s what the Intel will bring at least five days a week. We’ll cover the news and which way this 4-star like Kearis Jackson or J.J Peterson might lean plus add some perspective to help fans figure out what it all means.
The finish line is still over the river and through the woods for Peach County 4-star WR Kearis Jackson.
“I’m going to be a late guy,” Jackson said. “Probably after football season is over with.”
But that doesn’t mean the Georgia Bulldogs aren’t already straining to hit that tape first. The 4-star prospect performed well at Nike’s “The Opening” Atlanta regional on Sunday at Buford High School.
He wore a collection of red and black gear to the event. That included UGA gloves, a hat, T-shirt and wristbands he seemingly never takes off. There’s also a Miami wristlet he also keeps tethered to his opposite wrist.
Jackson visited UGA again on Saturday prior to the Nike event on Sunday. He said that the Bulldogs are coming after him harder than any other school.
Auburn is also not that far behind. That’s not in terms of how he feels about these schools but in the level of consistent attention that comes his way.
“The thing is I’m not really looking for attention,” Jackson said. “I look for an opportunity beyond all that attention. Not just to make the next level but to get on the field. Georgia tells me that I can come in early and play. They say I can be like Isaiah McKenzie was in the slot and I can be really tough.”
There’s a big difference there: Jackson measured in at 6 feet and weighed 203 pounds at The Opening on Sunday. He also clocked a 4.57 laser time in the 40.
Jackson said that Georgia’s play on the field this year will affect how he looks at a potential future in Athens.
“I like the way that things are going right now for Georgia so far and can’t wait to see how the season turns out this year,” Jackson said. “I really want to see how Georgia does passing the ball.”
How good is Jackson? He’s been virtually uncoverable so far during his 7-on-7 camp work with Cam Newton’s select All-Star team.
— Jeff Sentell (@jeffsentell) March 26, 2017
Georgia’s pitch to Kearis Jackson
The Bulldogs are selling that opportunity, but also added in a measure that applies to Jackson’s character.
“Kirby Smart and (UGA receivers coach James) Coley are telling me I can come in and be a leader of the class,” Jackson said. “They are not pressuring me. They just want me to do what’s best for me, though.”
That might be hard to do if he’s going to make a late decision.
The nation’s No. 26 receiver (per the splendid 247Sports composite) has a former teammate from Peach County at UGA. That’s sophomore DB Tyrique McGhee. McGee wasn’t expected to come in and earn playing time. But he did.
That’s a testament to the Peach County program. That area of Georgia consistently produces highly athletic and tough-minded, hard-nosed football players. The athletes at Peach County annually look like the sort that could serve as models for performance gear, jerseys and training equipment.
It has been that way since the early 90s with the likes of Jacquez Green, Randy McMichael, A.J. Bryant, Chris Slaughter, Darius Dewberry, Demarcus Robinson and McGhee.
“Tyrique says the same things that Georgia really needs me,” Jackson said. “I can come help out the offense. He said the way we work and train at Peach County that I will be prepared to play right away at Georgia if I was to come.”
A few things to keep in mind regarding Kearis
Jackson said he wants to play with another product from Middle Georgia. That player just so happens to be one of Georgia’s two priority targets on the offensive line for 2018.
“I want to play with my homeboy Trey Hill,” Jackson said.
Hill rates as the nation’s No. 2 offensive guard for 2018. He already has Georgia very high up among his favored schools.
Jackson has been to UGA more than any other school. He also said that Smart plays a big role in his recruiting. Gus Malzahn is also doing the same for Auburn, but it sounds like Smart has the most prominent role in his recruiting at this time.
It appears tight between Auburn and Georgia. He said the best college visit he’s taken would be between those two programs. Jackson also noted he’s had conversations with Stockbridge playmaker Marquez Ezzard and Tucker’s Josh Vann about all going to the same school.
He’s heard that the Bulldogs could only take “two to three” receivers in 2018.
Kearis Jackson’s view on spring practice
Jackson was honest. He said he watched Georgia work on Saturday, but really just paid close attention to the receivers. That meant he got a good look at the wideouts, but also the quarterbacks and the defensive backs.
Veteran Dominick Sanders stood out to him in the secondary.
He also saw an opportunity for him to earn a spot. That’s not critical, but reality. There’s a widespread notion among the high school coaches around the state that it is inconceivable how talent-rich Georgia hasn’t stocked the cupboard better in Athens with elite playmakers.
The Bulldogs got a good jump on things with four upgrades in the Class of 2017, but early enrollee Jeremiah “J.J.” Holloman is the only one there yet.
“I think those guys can be better and they know it,” he said. “I think I can come in and do some of the things that they are doing.”
Holloman caught Jackson’s eye among the receiver group.
He also shared a highly-interesting opinion on the quarterback position, putting in his two cents about the young buck from his part of the state.
“It is going to be a battle,” Jackson said. “I think so. Jake (Fromm) is really smart. He’s smart with the ball and is already changing plays at the line of scrimmage. He’s prepared to play in college.”
That was an interesting exchange. Jackson felt Jacob Eason was as advertised. The big arm. The bright future. But Fromm, in his opinion, had the better Saturday.
Let’s apply the right dash of perspective here, but not overseason it. That’s an encouraging sign for a young prospect like Fromm in just his first week of practice.
But that race is akin to Jackson’s own college decision. There is also a very looooooooong way to go in that one, too.
JJ Peterson has good news for Crimson Tide fans
Colquitt County linebacker JJ Peterson spoke with reporters on Sunday. He rates as the nation’s No. 1 OLB for 2018. The 4-star recruit has made four trips to UGA, but I’ve heard he’s been an Alabama lean for quite some time.
Peterson confirmed that on Sunday. He said the Crimson Tide refers to him as a “go-getter.”
“I just love Bama and really love the atmosphere there,” Peterson told DawgNation. “I love how the coaches talk to you and how they approach you. That just feels right. If you think you can play, then Bama will let you know that you can really play.”
Peterson could not immediately distinguish which school would come next in his mind after Alabama. Colquitt County coach Rush Propst told DawgNation earlier this month what he felt Peterson’s leaderboard might look like.
“The bottom line (for Peterson) is it is going to be Florida, Florida State, Alabama, Auburn and Georgia,” Propst said. “Those are the five. If you threw a six or seven in there, then six would probably be South Carolina, Tennessee, LSU or Michigan. That would be six, seven, eight and then nine for him.”
Peterson said UGA was also recruiting him very hard. The Bulldogs have a similar recruiting pitch to the Crimson Tide, but he explained that it just doesn’t come across with quite the same oomph.
“Those are just different feelings,” Peterson said. “It just feels more like home to me at Alabama.”
He’s not sure when he will make his college decision. There is no timeline.
Peterson weighed in at 210 pounds. He was a half-inch shy of the 6-foot-1 mark when measured on Sunday.
Alabama coach Nick Saban has made Peterson a priority for 2018. Peterson’s talent is obvious. The way he moves and the power in his legs was readily apparent. He has natural explosion and change-of-direction ability.
Former NFL great Willie McGinest picked up on it almost immediately on Sunday. McGinest took a special interest in him. Peterson does not have a strong male influence in his life outside of Propst.
McGinest told Peterson and his circle that he’d like to spend two weeks with him in order to really dial him in. It was surprising that the Opening coaches and evaluation staff only distributed six invitations among a talent-laden group of more than 300 prospects on Sunday, but Peterson was one of those six.
Peterson said he was laser timed at 4.7 seconds in the 40-yard dash.