Get to know Georgia’s newest commitment Rashad Cheney Jr.
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 a prospect like Rashad Cheney Jr. might lean plus add some perspective to help fans figure out what it all means.
Emotional. Happy. Shocked. Surprised.
Those were the words Rashad Cheney Sr. plucked from the dictionary to describe how he felt watching his namesake commit to Georgia last Saturday.
“I was just so emotional when he did that, man,” Cheney Sr. said. “They had to give me a box of Kleenex. I just lost my composure. I was so happy for him.”
His son, a defensive tackle prospect for the Class of 2019, had just picked up that offer two days before that life-changing decision.
“It is going to be really hard now to pull me away from Georgia,” Cheney Jr. said. “I fell in love with the chance to play for the new defensive line coach. That’s Tray Scott. It is going to be hard for anyone to get me away from him.”
Cheney committed directly to head coach Kirby Smart.
“I don’t know about most dads but I don’t know if any father really believes that can actually happen with your son,” Cheney Sr. said. “I think about surreal. I think about shocking. But I really just feel so humble and proud this is happing for my son. I never expected this. My son has exceeded all my expectations for football.”
He said his son came to him on the day he was offered and said he would commit. That was last Wednesday.
While others say they need so much time to examine and visit and study all their options, it took this sophomore prospect two whole days. UGA assistant Dell McGee was also a key figure in his decision. McGee serves as his area recruiter.
“My son told me he’d been thinking about this since he was a kid,” Cheney Sr. said. “But he had never expressed that to me. He had always kept that love he had to play for the University of Georgia to himself. I never knew that.”
Rashad Cheney Jr. will the first member of his family to play college football. That moment also meant a great deal to him.
“When I committed all I was thinking about was where I came from in the state of Georgia,” Cheney Jr. said. “It kind of got to me a little bit. It was real emotional for me. But when I committed all coach Smart said to me was ‘Give me a big hug’ after I did that.”
He didn’t tear up.
“A little water got in my eyes,” Cheney Jr. said.
That statement there reinforces the character description that Cheney Sr. used for his son.
“If I could just sum him up in a few words I would say very very humble and very gentle,” his father said. “But at the same time, he walks with a strong quiet confidence. You can tell he is a quiet and confident young man but he has never been that rah-rah or a ‘ Look at me’ or ‘Hey, look what I did’ or ‘I am the best’ every day. He’s always been a thinker. Always just looking and thinking. Just a real humble young man. I can honestly say that.”
Getting to know “Bubba”
Call him “Bubba.” Chaney is the third commitment for the Class of 2019 at Georgia, but those who know him well call him “Bubba” every day.
That’s been his nickname since he was a little kid who grew up playing baseball. When his father used the word “humble” over and over to describe him, that definitely fits.
If you look closely at that picture of him in the Georgia locker room in that black No. 58 jersey, you’ll see a pair of dog tags.
Those carry the name of his best friend James Dew. He passed away tragically. Cheney told DawgNation that his friend shot himself. He said he wears those tags every day.
“I’m getting one with his ashes in it,” Cheney Jr. said.
The Bulldogs offered him to play on the defensive line. Georgia thinks he will be a hybrid that will eventually get up to about 275 pounds but still retain the closing speed to play on the outside in certain formations.
He weighed in at 247 pounds and measured 6 feet, 2 inches in height. He even charted an 81-inch wingspan. That was one of the biggest wingspans Georgia measured on a prospect last weekend.
What was the moment for Rashad Cheney Jr. like?
Before that decision was shared, Smart spoke about the word “commitment” and what that meant.
“Coach Smart talked about how strong of a word that was,” Rashad Cheney Sr. said. “He just asked him if he was really truly committed and if he was ready.”
Cheney Jr. said yes. With passion.
Smart told them that they really liked his son as a prospect. He was already on their radar.
“I was kind of nervous about it as a father,” Cheney Sr. said. “But what really made me feel better about it was we got a chance to talk to some of their current players. One of the questions I asked was how did the older guys treat all the younger players coming into the program. What was it like when they were in that role? I was trying to find out about hazing and all that.”
The players responded with a message of family. There would be none of that. He was told that any player who joins the program is brought in to make Georgia better. Those players will be needed to win games and will soon be called upon to fill vital roles on the depth chart.
“They said what the older guys do is take you up under their wing and show you where all the classes are,” Cheney Sr. said. “It seemed very sincere and it was the same message coming from all five of those young men.”
The Cheney family was sold on Georgia at that moment.
“I think it is going to be pretty hard to get my son away from Georgia over the next two years,” Rashad Cheney Sr. said.
How does the nation’s No. 5 WR feel about UGA?
IMG Academy rising senior Brian Hightower is rated as the nation’s No. 5 receiver. He clearly looked that part last Sunday at the most recent regional for Nike’s “The Opening” in Orlando.
The nearly 6-foot-3 and 202-pounder “got open” and flashed as one of the top prospects in the camp. Hightower earned one of the 12 invitations to the elite prospect camp this summer in Oregon.
What he thinks about Georgia is a big topic of interest. While the Bulldogs have piled up tremendous recruiting wins in the Kirby Smart era, they still haven’t gotten serious with one of the nation’s elite receivers.
While all indications are that true freshman Jeremiah “JJ” should play like one of those Top 5 prospects in Athens, he was only ranked at No. 18 in the nation when he signed.
It seems like more of those Top 10 receivers would be chomping at the bit to catch balls from 5-stars Jacob Eason and Jake Fromm. There’s also the ability to line up against defenses geared to stop the run with talented backs like Nick Chubb, Brian Herrien, Elijah Holyfield, Sony Michel and D’Andre Swift in the backfield.
Translation: That’s a lot of man coverage and balls coming one’s way from an NFL prospect under center.
Hightower has had an offer from Georgia for quite some time. He hears a lot from Georgia ace recruiter James Coley, but listed schools like Miami, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Ole Miss and Oregon as his top schools.
What about Georgia?
“I think that Georgia is growing,” Hightower said. “I talk to Coach Coley a lot. He wants me to come up for a visit so we are planning on that.”
That will be Hightower’s first visit to Athens.
“I think Coach Coley is a good guy,” Hightower said. “We are just trying to get to know each other very well. He reaches out a lot.”
How can the Bulldogs climb in his mind?
“I can’t really think of anything really,” he said. “Coach Coley and Georgia are doing everything they can do. I just need to get up there for a visit and see how I like it, though.”
There won’t be a lot of time to make up ground. He told DawgNation he plans to make his decision on June 20. That’s his little brother’s birthday. His younger sibling means a lot to him and he wanted to make his day even more special.
Shatee, his little brother, also happens to favor Oregon.
“He looks up to me a lot and wants to be just like,” Hightower said. “He also loves the college spotlight that comes with all this and enjoys being around it.”
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Follow Jeff Sentell on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play Between the Hedges. Unless otherwise indicated, player rankings and ratings are from the 247Sports Composite.