Mark Richt needs to go? Not this week. This was a huge “Go Mark Richt” weekend.
The hot-seat-chilling-jet-plane-flying-5-star-QB-meet-and-greeting coach had a bigger Sunday than most all of us. The 15th-year UGA coach flew to the Pacific Northwest to meet quarterback commitment Jacob Eason for breakfast on Sunday. He left after the Auburn win on Saturday and was in his Lake Stevens-area hotel room by 10 p.m. on Saturday night.
Was it a home run? How did it go? Before we dial in the specifics, let’s cut to the chase.
“Man, Jake is going to Georgia,” his father Tony Eason said on Sunday night.
Why? Consider the four-to-five hours Richt spent with the Eason family on Sunday. 247sports.com’s Rusty Mansell already reported how Richt finished the drill on a 10-egg omelette for breakfast.
What happened before that meal was another recruiting trail classic. When the group loaded up to go to breakfast, Eason’s mother drove her Lexus. The heater was shot on the Mercedes-Benz that Tony Eason was restoring.
So he fired up his 1992 blue-and-silver Dodge four-wheel drive pickup. That’s the one Jacob gets for Saturday night dates. It is also the one with the Georgia “G’ sticker on the back of it.
“When Coach Richt saw that, he said we have got to ride in that,” Tony Eason said. “You’re sporting a ‘G’ on the back of that thing.”
Tony drove. It was a 5-speed. Jacob, naturally, was riding shotgun.
“And here’s coach Mark Richt riding hump,” Tony Eason said. “He’s in the middle of the two of us and there was a time when I had to put that thing in reverse and gear it down low to the seat. I was like ‘Sorry, coach’ and didn’t want to come too close. .. He had to move his knees around the gears when I was driving. So that was pretty fun. He was a trooper. Coach Richt was all for it.”
Let that paint the picture of just how committed Richt is to return next year and making sure no other Big 10 or SEC rivals poach his prize recruit.
The trip was planned about a week out, so no matter what happened in the Auburn game he was flying into Seattle to check out the keystone of the 2016 class. Tony Eason was able to keep the trip a surprise. That’s why Jacob wasn’t able to have friends over or spend the night with one of his friends.
Tony Eason said that when his son saw Richt, he was surprised.
“I think Coach Richt said like ‘Good morning, big guy’ to Jake or something like that,” Tony Eason said. “It wasn’t anything spectacular.”
But the effort was. Richt flew about eight hours on Saturday and Sunday so he could spend maybe four-and-a-half hours with the Eason family on Sunday. He left around noon in order to make a 2 p.m. flight back to Georgia.
“It was a short visit, but coach (Richt) really wanted to do it,” Tony Eason said. “It all went great.”
He summed up the visit this way.
“Coach Richt said he’s never done this before for a recruit,” Tony Eason said. “Especially fly cross-country after a game all by himself. He wanted to reaffirm to Jake how important he was to him, the program and to Georgia. Coach really did all that and did some. That was a rare and special thing for Coach Richt to do that. After that, it was three guys all sitting around and chatting and talking ball and having fun. It was more like a social visit than a recruiting pitch or anything. We got to know coach on a more personal basis and had him here at our house.”
How do the Easons view UGA’s struggles this year?
“Georgia lost (Nick) Chubb and have a new offensive system and have had some struggles in a few areas,” Tony Eason said. “They had a bad October, but if there was total dysfunction that team would’ve quit on those coaches. I haven’t seen that or heard that and Jake knows a lot of the players on that team very well. He’s got a good vibe for that and those players are standing behind their coach and those coaches and everybody is “all in” for Georgia. Jake’s not really worried about it. He’s talking to a lot of the guys who are going there with him and they’re basically talking about what posters they are going to hang in their dorm room.”
Tony Eason said there are still “all kinds of coaches” from other schools direct messaging his son on Twitter. He’s under the impression his son does not respond to most of them. He said Jacob was talking to a Washington State coach to try and help a teammate get a scholarship, his father said.
“I asked him the other day if people were still pestering him and he said there are all kinds of people who were ‘trying to get their foot in the door’ or something,” Tony Eason said. “But he’s not talking to anybody. He’s too busy focused on Lake Stevens football here in the playoffs so why bother? He’s going to Georgia. But that doesn’t mean people don’t quit trying.”
Eason’s birthday is on Tuesday. He will turn 18.
Jeff Sentell covers 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.