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Hale McGranahan/SEC Country
Rick Sandidge's decision draws closer. What will his family focus on this weekend?

Head or heart? Rick Sandidge decision will come down to that

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. We’re a week out from National Signing Day and that can only mean another glance at one of Georgia’s top remaining targets for 2018: 4-star North Carolina defensive tackle Rick Sandidge.

 

Rick Sandidge is a recruit divided. That’s no joke regarding the nation’s No. 14 DT prospect for 2018.

His mother, Keshia, supplied DawgNation with a number of details to support that thesis. Sandidge feels her son’s internal leader has changed at least three times in the last two weeks.

“We have to look at this as which institution is better for Junior here,” she said. ‘”Junior has a heart decision and a head decision here. So that tells you how he is torn.”

Rick Sandidge-UGA recruiting
Rick Sandidge is a major remaining priority for UGA in the Class of 2018. (Hale McGranahan/SEC Country)

It seems logical to view Georgia and South Carolina as his two finalists.

Keshia Sandidge did say that one school has her son’s head. His heart belongs to the SEC East rival in the other corner. She stopped short of specifying exact details.

She’s right to scratch her head when she feels there’s too much polish on all the pitches from the assistants and head coaches. Those fellas are at least part-salesmen. She gets that. She accepts that.

Jonas Jennings, recently christened temporary road recruiter, is UGA’s Director of Player Development. In a recent profile, DawgNation chronicled why Keshia Sandidge views him as the most genuine person recruiting her son. 

Bobby Bentley, the former high school coach and father of South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley, coaches the running backs at South Carolina. Keshia Sandidge regards him as the next-highest recruiter on her own internal measure of reality.

Bentley and Jennings just seem more real. Less art of the deal.

This should be seen as a remaining joust between Georgia and South Carolina. That’s evident by the fact North Carolina did not come for an in-home visit this week.

The Sandidge family has stopped looking at schools based on a staff directory. The focus is on the buildings and the institutions. The things that make Georgia and South Carolina what they are that cannot be whisked away to another school by a moving truck and a professional promotion.

Her son, who goes by Junior to those who know him, might ultimately make this decision based on that, plus his connections to strength coaches and the academic support personnel at each school.

If he follows through with that, it sounds like he will make a decision based on his head. He’ll choose the school he feels gives him the most tools to be a successful, well-rounded adult.

If Sandidge does that, he’ll forgo the school that excites him the most about running out onto the field, wearing a certain uniform and playing in front of their home crowd.

That program has his heart.

Other moving parts of the Rick Sandidge decision

Rick Sandidge-UGA recruiting
4-star DT Rick Sandidge plans to let his finalists know about his final decision by Monday. (Hale McGranahan/SEC Country)

How deeply is Georgia in this? DawgNation has learned the Sandidge family has been investigating at least one aspect of the program that shows they have legit interest in winding up in Athens.

This blog tries to scatter details like hash brown toppings at Waffle House. But it will only go that far on that point.

Jonas Jennings, Tray Scott and Kirby Smart joined the family on that in-home on Wednesday. The visit lasted about two hours. The menu included barbecue chicken, chili, corn bread, pasta salad and sweet tea.

Smart put away the most food. That’s because Scott did not let him eat all day. They were that busy visiting schools in North Carolina.

“He was sitting in there waiting for the plate,” Keshia Sandidge. “He said, ‘Let’s get it’ when he was waiting to eat dinner.”

Contracts were discussed among the coaching staff. The Bulldogs also made it clear that playing time was a reality in Athens. Sandidge should not feel that he is a depth chart option at UGA.

Sandidge would not just be stored away on the defensive line in 2018 for seasons still to come. He would be given the chance to compete.

“They were trying to get him out of that thought of trying to be a placeholder or that Georgia was just going to load up here with him,” Keshia Sandidge said.

South Carolina will visit the Sandidge home on Saturday. The Gamecocks got the final official visit last weekend and will have the last in-home visit on Saturday.

That is likely a nod to the fact that South Carolina has prioritized Sandidge with a high level of intensity longer than the Bulldogs have. Keshia Sandidge even noted that very reason as the biggest reason why South Carolina is in this until the very end.

“They’ve been here the entire time and they have shown him he is a priority for the entire time and why he is a priority and how he fits in,” she said. “That’s the biggest plus for them. But then you’ve got the glitz and the glamour for Georgia and the relationship with [UGA line coach] Tray [Scott]. The glitz and the glamour there for Georgia is that the program just played for the national title.”

Rick Sandidge-UGA recruiting
Rick Sandidge has been told by UGA that he’s no longer a mere depth chart option for 2018. He could contribute right away. (Hale McGranahan/SEC Country)

It appears UGA has matched Carolina’s intensity over the last month. The Gamecocks do hold that edge for the duration of the deep commitment they have made in recruiting Sandidge to play in Columbia.

The family will go dark after that visit. The next step is they will gather together on Sunday. They will take apart and then piece together his choice.

The schools will know his final decision by Monday. That’s the plan. At least for now.

It is my opinion that this thing is so close that if Sandidge decided to delay his decision, I’d bet the school that said it was willing to wait as long as necessary would get him.

If the other school could not hold a scholarship for him, that might make things easier for the family.

A quick rep on the Tommy Bush situation

Does the late UGA push to Florida 4-star wide receiver Antoine Green indicate things might be off target with another priority target at that position?

What does that mean for the program with Tommy Bush in Texas? Does the staff prefer Green? Is the staff doubling down in the event Bush chooses another program?

That remains to be seen. Bush did confirm that he plans to see Smart and the Georgia staff in Texas on Friday.

“Coach Smart and Coach Coley coming in on a jet for about three hours,” Bush said. “Then head back to meet this weekend’s visitors.”

 

Miss any Intel? The DawgNation recruiting archive will get you up to speed just as fast as former Georgia All-America LB Roquan Smith found the ball after the snap.