Would you like to receive DawgNation news alerts? Excellent! News alerts will be displayed in your browser.
Jacolby Criswell/Morrilton High School
Jacolby Criswell is showing strong interest right now in Georgia. The feeling does appear to be mutual.

Jacolby Criswell is a big name to know in the QB puzzle at UGA for 2020

Jacolby Criswell is a Devil Dog from the state of Arkansas. Could he be the next Bulldog QB in the class of 2020?

That name is worth remembering. Criswell has big arm talent and his relationship with the UGA staff is off to a promising start. It seems like it has been that way since last summer actually.

Jacolby Criswell-UGA recruiting-Georgia recruiting
Jacolby Criswell had a terrific showing in Athens last summer to earn his UGA offer. He took a picture here with UGA support staff member Jesse Stone. Stone also hails from Arkansas. (Jacolby Criswell/Contributed photo)

That is why Kirby Smart is expected to visit Morrilton High School in Arkansas today.

Don’t be led too far astray by the rankings right now for this guy.

While Criswell does chart as the nation’s No. 8 dual-threat QB on the 247Sports Composite, that just pegs him as a 3-star. (The pure 247Sports rankings list him as a 4-star and the nation’s No. 6 dual-threat for 2020.)

“Colby” did not throw like a 3-star QB last June when he road tripped through Georgia and camped at UGA.

It was a “who is this kid from Arkansas?” moment when he picked up that Georgia offer. It came at a time when the Bulldogs were searching high and low for their QB choices in the 2019 class.

Criswell got his offer in advance of several other highly-rated in-state and Southeast QB prospects.

The reason? That’s likely because Criswell threw the ball very well that day. It wasn’t his best showing, he said, but it was up there among his best workouts for any college staff.

He said Jim Chaney dropped two names that his camp showing brought to mind: Drew Brees. Steve McNair.

That is some all-time-great company, but his film definitely makes one want to grab some popcorn.

It seems as if Criswell tries to throw it to the guy always in the furthest reaches of the screen on these snaps.

But he gets it there. He really gets it there.

“Colby” also realizes his position is meant to distribute the ball to playmakers. That’s why his scramble clips and then his 4.67 best showing in the 40 do not flash until late in his reel.

Some of those throws are the reason why coaches park a camera on a platform lift in the end zone to get that wide angle “All 22” shot.

He’s heard the term “gunslinger” a few times by now. It fits.

“When I was three or four my brother and I would just go outside and throw rocks,” Criswell said. “I would just have to hit something far away with every single one of them. I finally got introduced to football when I was six years old and I was just out there and picked up a ball and started playing catch with my friends.”

That’s where it all began, but he didn’t play quarterback until he was in the seventh grade.

There is legit mutual interest with Jacolby Criswell

Jacolby Criswell-UGA recruiting-Georgia recruiting
Jacolby Criswell said he grew up slinging rocks at targets 30 and 40-plus yards away when he was six or seven years old. That’s where that big arm comes from. (Jacolby Criswell/Contributed photo)

Criswell expects Smart to visit his program today. Morrilton High School already received a visit from James Coley and receivers coach Cortez Hankton earlier this month.

He is feeling the love.

It starts with that offer. That highlight reel might look a little light, but he only played in five games last fall. That’s because of an injury.

It was a hamstring issue that basically saw the LCL (lateral collateral ligament) in his knee become detached.

Georgia kept up the contact with a 3-star QB from Arkansas. Even when he wasn’t even playing. That’s how good Criswell was the day he camped in Athens.

“They haven’t drifted away once,” Criswell said. “It was a time – I think it was in August – when I got hurt and they were the first ones to call and make sure I was okay. They have kept that constant communication throughout even when I wasn’t playing. They were always checking up. Always sending me stuff.”

Chaney made sure of that.

“It was coach Chaney,” Criswell said. “He wanted me the most and then just starting in January coach [James] Coley and I have been texting almost every day. We’ve been keeping that same relationship going and he thinks I can be the man at Georgia.”

“So I feel like once I go take a visit there soon and then we can talk football,” Criswell said. “I can learn a little more about Georgia and we’ll see what happens after that.”

This will be a really hard look. Georgia has a real shot with Criswell.

“Yes, sir,” he said. “I plan on making a decision a month or two from now. But once I go up there and if I like what I hear, then that’s where I will be.”

If that trip goes well, could he pull the trigger early and choose UGA? Is that really what this sounds like?

“Yes, sir.”

That day Jacolby Criswell camped at Georgia

There is another recruiting relationship at work here. Jesse Stone, who has been a grad assistant working with the QBs at UGA since 2016, is also an Arkansas native.

“Georgia is recruiting me pretty hard honestly,” Criswell said. “I keep that good relationship with coach Stone. He’s from Arkansas. He knows everything about Arkansas and my school. He also knows some of my coaches so he says he knows I am a good person. So that’s kind of how Georgia and I got in contact with each other.”

“Georgia is recruiting me pretty hard. They are being 100 percent with me. If they keep on doing that, they will have a real chance.”

Criswell had just five games in 2018, but he threw for 1,300 yards and 14 TDs in basically half a season.

Jacolby Criswell-UGA recruiting-Georgia recruiting
Jacolby Criswell said he expects to have made his college decision by the end of his junior year of high school. (Jacolby Criswell/Contributed photo)

It all started here with that camp showing.

“I went to the camp and I have to admit every ball that I threw was right on the line,” he said. “No wobbling. It was just all sprials.”

It was one of those incredible workouts. A young man starts flashing. A grad assistant checks it out and huddles with an analyst.

Then a position coach. Somebody calls the coordinator. Everyone gets on the phone and tells another coach higher up the food chain to head over and check this young kid out.

Chaney was very impressed.

“He said the way that I threw the ball was so powerful yet it was accurate,” Criswell said. “He said he coached Drew Brees and talked about my height. He said that compares a little bit to Drew there. Then he said I’m a little bit compared to Steve McNair as well.”

Criswell is a strong communicator. He has an instantly likable personality that a lot of elite QBs somehow miss out on.

But he did lose a few style points.

He didn’t know who Steve “Air” McNair was when Chaney initially told him that.

That’s a product of the generational gap. McNair, who died tragically in 2009, was named the Co-MVP of the NFL in 2003.

McNair was so good that year some commercial spokesman named Peyton Manning had to share the MVP with another QB.

“I was like ‘who is Steve McNair’ and I had to look him up for a little bit,” Criswell said. “So I did and then I said I could see myself there with that.”

Most coaches – especially a vet like Chaney – loathe comparisons. Yet exceptions are made in recruiting.

Criswell said Chaney told him he delivered the ball powerfully and with precision. That’s what “Air” McNair was known for. The body types are also similar.

He said that his Morrilton teammates get on him for “being a little thick” at times.

Which schools are recruiting him heavily? 

Criswell feels only a handful of schools have stayed on him the way the Bulldog have. Ole Miss was one of those. That’s because of former offensive coordinator Phil Longo. Longo has moved on to be the OC at North Carolina.

Arkansas State, Oklahoma State and TCU also stayed in constant contact. Houston is also “in the mix” here for Criswell.

North Carolina should get a big visit in March. That’s because of Longo. Criswell’s brother, Dre Greenlaw, also just wrapped up his career at OLB for Arkansas. He is now training for the NFL combine.

It sounds like the relationship with Longo will be big. He also mentioned Mississippi State as a school that is also showing up heavy in his recruitment.

He lists business management and sports management as potential college majors.

“I have a lot of schools that I have pretty good relationships with,” Criswell said. “If I have pretty good relationships with all of them, then it is going to come down to the school. I’m pretty big on school. So it will be whatever school then would provide me with the best education.”

“If I pick the right school for the best education, then football will take care of itself.”

Criswell plans to enroll early in January of 2020. He said that he could possibly have a decision ready by April.

“I just want to have this process done before football season starts so I can focus on football and have that already behind me,” Criswell said. “But I don’t think it will be long.”

It is “more than likely” that he will have made his commitment by the end of his junior year.

“I think I am going to take officials in the spring,” Criswell said.

Does Georgia have a shot at getting one of those?

“Georgia?” he replied back. “For sure.”

Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina, Oklahoma and TCU are also in the mix there for those. He listed Ohio State as his all-time favorite school, but that program has yet to offer.

Watch that one, though. There might be something there with new offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich. He was recruiting Criswell last fall when he was the OC at Oklahoma State.