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Brant Sanderlin/AJC
The parent of an elite recruit shares his thoughts on just how hard Kirby Smart recruited his son.

How does Kirby Smart compare to Nick Saban on the recruiting trail?

Want a daily lap through Georgia football recruiting? That’s what the Intel brings at least five days a week. We’ll cover the news and which way this 4-star or 5-star might lean and add perspective to help fans figure out what it all means.


Good morning, DawgNation.

It was a light weekend for the official visits of the “crosses fingers” variety at UGA.

The Bulldogs had just one undecided prospect with a committable offer on campus. By all accounts on social media, Markaviest “Big Cat” Bryant seemed to really enjoy himself surrounded by seven UGA commitments plus junior college DE target Brandon Henderson.

Bryant still does not plan a public decision until National Signing Day.

The Class of 2019 for the state of Georgia also grabbed the spotlight yesterday as the True 19 game was held. Georgia’s best sophomores took on their peers from Texas and we previewed that clash with a rare Sunday morning Intel.

I’ve got loads of specific stories from that game to share this week, plus an in-depth profile of one of the game’s major stars.

There is also an Aubrey Solomon update which follows below. But the blog kicks off kicks off with something a little more big picture than that.

Kirby Smart and Nick Saban and the trail 

The DeAngelo Gibbs decision came down to Alabama and Georgia. Just how close was it? What was the difference?

His father said that both Alabama and Georgia recruited his son like he was the last safety coming out of high school football this year.

Deon Gibbs felt that Georgia coach Kirby Smart was just never going to let up.

“I commend Kirby on that because that is what it takes to build a program up in this recruiting world,” Deon Gibbs said. ” …. That’s what it is going to take to build up Georgia to the way things are at Alabama.”

Gibbs described the recruiting climate for an elite target like his son aptly.

“It is a dog-eat-dog world,” Deon Gibbs said. “You can’t assume anything. You never know that one thing that is going to cause you to win a recruit or lose a recruit.”

Georgia earned the commitment. But it was definitely close.

“Let me tell you one thing about Nick Saban and Alabama,” Gibbs said. “He’s a legend and he worked his tail off recruiting DeAngelo. I understand why Alabama is where it is.”

Nick Saban, left, with Kirby Smart during the SEC championship. (BRANT SANDERLIN/AJCC)
Nick Saban, left, with Kirby Smart during the SEC championship. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

He made one point extremely clear.

Gibbs thinks Saban is the driving force behind all the success the program has attained and maintained during one of the greatest recruiting and on-the-field runs that college football will ever see.

“Not his assistant coaches,” Deon Gibbs said. “He recruited us to the ‘Nth’ degree. And now I think a lot of that is in Kirby, too.”

Which coach recruited DeAngelo harder? It sounded like a stalemate, but with one asterisk: Time.

Smart and Georgia have clearly benefitted from the time he spent meeting and greeting the nation’s top recruits while serving as one of Alabama’s most effective recruiters.

He brought discipline and scheme and a ton of ideas and strategy to Athens, but he also brought along all those long-standing recruiting ties.

They simply knew Smart longer than they did Saban.

“Kirby was longer,” Deon Gibbs said. “We really developed a relationship with Kirby because of DeAngelo back in the ninth grade. We fostered that relationship so when he came over to Georgia that really sparked our interest in the University of Georgia.”

If Kirby stayed at Alabama, the “SICEM17s” at Georgia this year would have had a lot fewer teeth of the 4 and 5-star variety.

“It would have been a done deal for us at Alabama if Kirby stayed there,” Deon Gibbs said. “Jake Fromm would have never flipped. Richard LeCounte would have probably gone to Ohio State. … It would have been a different creature.”

How have things gone so far for Gibbs?

I’ve put together an in-depth story on one under-reported aspect of what Gibbs went through prior to his senior year at Grayson. Look for that later today on DawgNation.

I had very little idea of the depth of what took place. That’s because Gibbs tried to keep it very close to the vest.

He’s also been at UGA for about two weeks now. How are things going? His father shared how that transition has been so far.

“We are so happy to be at Georgia,” Gibbs said. “We are blessed. We are so ecstatic about being at Georgia. We are recruiting for Georgia now.”

Things have gone very so well so far that Gibbs was scheduled to serve as a player-host for Alabama OLB commitment Markail Benton. Benton had scheduled his first official visit to Athens but canceled it the day prior.

Report: Solomon shutting it down 

247Sports.com’s Kipp Adams reported late Sunday night that Lee County 5-star DT Aubrey Solomon was done with visits.

Solomon and his mother Sabrina Caldwell told Adams their recent official visit to USC was their last.

Georgia DT target Aubrey Solomon (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

That’s another development in a very fluid recruiting saga. Solomon’s process has been a labyrinth for him and his family personally and not to mention how those decisions have had the fan bases at Alabama, Georgia and Michigan following every move.

Solomon’s process has been a labyrinth for him and his family personally to sort through. Those decisions have had the fan bases at Alabama, Georgia and Michigan following every move.

The bottom line is Solomon plans to announce his decision with a live ceremony on National Signing Day. That event will be broadcast by ESPN from Lee County High School.

The 5-star DT has been rated as the most important remaining target for Georgia’s 2017 recruiting class for quite some time.

The most likely way for Georgia to ensure that Solomon came to Athens was for him to take another unofficial or official visit. That would have been his last visit before he made his decision and it would have built upon all the goodwill established by the nine UGA commits he hung around with at all times during the U.S. Army All-American Game events in Texas.

Why would he still choose UGA? The biggest reasons why are found among his postgame comments from the U.S. Army All-American Game.

How do the Georgia commits feel about Solomon? We covered that last week.

The other official visitor of the weekend

Georgia Military College defensive end Brandon Henderson was the other recruiting target at UGA this weekend.

The 6-foot-5, 260-pound weak-side defensive end ranks as a 2-star recruit, but he has an impressive backstory. He was cut from the team twice at his first junior college stop, but continued to grow and prosper to the point he was able to take an official visit to UGA.

It’s not certain yet where he fits into Georgia’s class given the numbers crunch the program is experiencing with a crop that’s currently rated among the top 3 nationally for 2017.

Henderson holds offers from Bowling Green, Charlotte, East Carolina, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Houston, Kansas, Louisiana-Lafayette, Marshall, Northern Illinois, Toledo and Western Kentucky.

The South Carolina native has a lot of options. That much is clear.

I just wanted to include him in the morning blog because I hold a special level of respect for junior college players and what they endure to reach their football dreams.

I wonder how the new Pacific Pro Football League that will debut in the summer of 2018 will affect junior college football.

Players that wish to focus on football can opt out of both the college and junior college experience in that league. The fact they give up their college degree pursuit is a dangerous proposition, but that’s a story for another day’s blog.

If a player makes one of those teams, they can earn up to $50,000 per year in a different development system than college football or junior college football.

Henderson’s Hudl highlight film appears below.

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