In-state receiver Zion Puckett interested in UGA, plans to name top 10 soon
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 today calls for a chat with 4-star Zion Puckett from Spalding High School.
GRIFFIN — Spalding High School doesn’t pump out SEC players on the regular. But there is an easy tell to figure out which player in the program is special.
His No. 1 jersey gives it away.
That is the number that coach Nick Davis personally gives out to the player that embodies everything his program hopes to instill in his players.
“You have to earn that one,” Zion Puckett said.
Zion Puckett has been wearing that No. 1 since his sophomore year. That’s something around the Jaguars.
It might mean more than the fact Puckett has 24 listed offers on his 247Sports player page.
Or his rating on the 247Sports composite as the nation’s No. 36 receiver for 2019.
The 6-foot-1, 192-pound prospect could probably graduate early, but will not. Puckett plays football in the fall, basketball in the winter and runs track in the spring.
“In 22 years, he’s definitely the best football player I have ever coached,” Davis said. “I’ve had some good players but overall on and off the field with character and everything, he’s still number 1. He gets it. If you tell him to do something one time, that’s all you have to do.”
“You’re never going to get a call or a chat or an e-mail from any teacher about Zion and anything,” Davis said. “That’s what also makes him special. Being the type of player he is at a place like Spalding where we don’t have players like him but every so often, he could really be a bad kid. But he is not. He really makes my job easier and he makes everyone here respect him a whole lot.”
Puckett also competes for Cam Newton’s elite black squad during the 7-on-7 season this time of year. He rates as the nation’s No. 211 player overall for 2019 and No. 23 in Georgia.
How does Zion Puckett feel about UGA?
It would be a stretch to say Puckett is deeply interested in Georgia. Not yet. He needs to learn more about the Bulldogs. He’s already talking with new receivers coach Cortez Hankton.
“Georgia contacts me about every other day,” Puckett said. “I’ve been kind of busy and I know some schools might not hear from me a lot and think that I’m not interested in them but that is not the case.”
Puckett said he has already chatted a couple of times with Kirby Smart.
“He has talked to me about just taking the time and getting a chance to be around him and the players and just get a chance to bond with all of them,” Puckett said. “They want me to get up there.”
He started out being recruited by James Coley when he coached receivers. Hankton is now the lead there.
“I haven’t been down to Georgia since the ninth grade,” Puckett said. “They tell me that a lot has changed so I want to get up there. I know the program has really turned it all around football-wise and I know that academics have always been there at Georgia. But what they are showing now is that they are producing. They are producing a lot right now with that program.”
The two-way standout has lived in Griffin all his life, but he did not grow up a fan of any certain school.
What position will Zion Puckett play on Saturdays?
If Davis had his choice, he would opt to place him on both sides of the ball.
“Offensively he is special with the ball in his hands,” Davis said. “But for him, if playing at the highest level possible for the longest period of time is what he wants to do, his ceiling is probably greater at DB.”
He thinks that that ideal long-term spot would be at cornerback.
“Coaches ask me all the time about where to play him,” Davis said. “I am glad I don’t have to make that decision with a player that’s as talented as Zion is.”
But watch his highlights. The plays he makes on defense are telling. Watch how the guys he rocks on tape fall back. They do not fall forward.
“He’s so explosive,” Davis said. “He’s stronger than what everyone thinks he is.”
When asked about his best highlights, Puckett feels those were also on the defensive side of the ball. That’s where he can be physical and bring his 295-pound power clean to bear between the lines.
He wants to study both architecture and engineering in college. The intended minor might also be mechanical engineering.
If you scan his film, he looks a lot like Miami signee Marquez Ezzard. That’s an Anquan Boldin type. Big. Physical. Goes over the middle. Does everything. Ball skills.
Puckett doesn’t post a blazing fast time in the 100 meters. But he also never seems to get caught.
An early read on his forthcoming Top 10
Look for Puckett to trim down his list of schools to a top 10 later this month.
That top 10 is likely to include five football schools and five academic schools. Puckett will aim to find the best fit that touches both of those aspects of his upcoming decision.
He’s planning some spring game visits. The first one will be to Ohio State on April 14. He will not take any of his official visits in the spring.
Stanford is after him. He’s working to get that 25 on his ACT to qualify for an offer. That’s a school he knows will make his upcoming top 10.
Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech and Tennessee are all after him. The attention from South Carolina has also been very strong.
Look for Auburn and Ohio State to also make that top 10 when that comes out over the next few weeks.
He has an easy rapport over the phone with recruiters from Auburn, Georgia Tech, Ohio State, South Carolina and Tennessee at this time, among others.
Puckett has not been advised to drag this decision out. When he knows, he will likely make the move.
“He’s in a good position here,” Davis said. “He can tell those schools where he wants to go and not wait for that really great offer. But he needs to narrow it down. You know how kids are. They build a relationship with a coach through recruiting and they don’t want to let them down. But what I need him to understand is him waffling when he knows where he needs to go could be holding up the process for somebody else.”
That’s an impressive way to look at it. Davis knows the other schools will just move down their board when they know Puckett is heading elsewhere.
“You see a lot of kids wait until signing day and have five or six different hats and do all of that,” Davis said. “All that drama stuff. We’re not doing that here. We’d be blocking the blessing out there for somebody else, too. He’s not going to hold onto those other schools when he knows where he wants to go.”
“That’s what we want to do,” Davis said. “But if he doesn’t have a clue, then he doesn’t have a clue and we will do it another way.”
Puckett also knows the difference between a real and a “play play” offer. He said if he wanted to, he could commit tomorrow to play at a lot of those schools on his offer list.
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