DAVENPORT, Fla. — A lot of things have changed for Christian Tutt since he played for Thomson High School last season. Tutt followed the trend of national prospects being lured to Florida juggernaut IMG Academy.
That’s not the only other change in attitude and latitude for the nation’s No. 1 overall cornerback prospect for the Class of 2018. He also saw Jeremy Pruitt leave UGA and take the defensive coordinator post at Alabama. How big was that? Colossal.
He considered the topic for a moment and felt if Pruitt would’ve remained at UGA, that program was “probably” where he’d have wound up. His relationship to Pruitt — which he considers the closest he has with a recruiter — now has Alabama as his favored school.
Pruitt offered Tutt when he was 14 years old. He told him earlier this season he believed in him before anyone else did by offering him during the summer prior to his freshman year.
“I’ll still make sure to give my hometown and home state school a real good look even though I am now going to school in Florida,” Tutt said. “They are in my favorites. (UGA commit) Richard (LeCounte III) and I were talking about them the other day. I still lean towards them, but I can say Alabama is coming at me the hardest right now. Pruitt is over there as he made that move. That’s the school I’ve really been leaning to. They are my favorite because of that relationship with Pruitt. The relationship I have with Coach Pruitt is why. I don’t have a relationship with any other coaches except for UCLA and coach (Demetrice Martin) like that.”
The new IMG student-athlete said UGA defensive coordinator Mel Tucker has reached out to him twice. Tutt is planning a trip to Athens, Ga., in March, but expects to visit Pruitt at Alabama before he goes up to UGA.
“UGA is in the top but to get back to the level they were on I have to get back up there and see how it is and how Kirby (Smart) is and how it is it with the new staff,” Tutt said.
Tutt already knows when he plans to commit. He will choose his school after his junior season. He said LeCounte will be a factor in the program’s favor. He said fellow Class of 2018 recruit Tyreke Johnson is the only other prospect he has that close of a friendship with.
“Me and Richard have been close for more than a minute,” Tutt said. “He’s already recruiting everybody, but he’s been trying to get me up to Georgia and to commit. I told him I was going to hold out for a little while.”
Tutt has made a move that continues to raise eyebrows of high school coaches whenever it happens, but he’s internalized his IMG move as a decision that empowers his future.
“The spring has been good,” Tutt said. “We have been going against the top talent in the nation at defensive back and receiver and just get that work in after practice and stuff. We do 7-on-7s and one-on-ones so the experience has been good. I’m meeting new people, seeing new faces and getting used to playing with new teammates.”
He’s been joined by the No. 1 player in Alabama for this recruiting cycle, among many others. IMG’s team was heavily represented at the Nike Orlando regional qualifiers for the Opening. That’s the summer camp for elite prospects at Nike headquarters in Oregon. They are selected through the regional qualifiers.
“It is getting my body right for the next level not only mentally but physically,” Tutt said. “They have all the resources there with vision training and mental training and speed training. All that stuff will be very helpful for my career at the next level.”
Tutt plans on taking summer trips to Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State to make sure he has enough data to make his decision. He took a West Coast tour last summer. He’s seen as the nation’s No. 12 overall prospect for the Class of 2018, according to 247Sports.
Unless otherwise indicated, player rankings and ratings are from the 247Sports Composite.
Jeff Sentell covers UGA football and UGA recruiting for AJC.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play Between the Hedges.