Kirby Smart’s new recruiting chore: Reeling in a 4-star RB from his alma mater
Dameon Pierce has no leaders. The four-star running back is as quick to say that as he is to find the hole.
“All the schools are at the same level with me right now,” Pierce. “No one school is standing out.”
But Pierce, rated by 247Sports as the nation’s No. 6 RB for 2018, has already been prioritized by several schools. UGA sent three coaches to Bainbridge High School in South Georgia last week and extended an offer to the nearly 5-foot-11, 210-pounder.
Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, running backs coach Dell McGee and outside linebackers coach Kevin Sherrer shared in that evaluation.
“Georgia is just another great program that is interested in me and is giving me a chance to play with them,” Pierce said.
The rising junior has already scored 45 career touchdowns. He’s set or tied 14 school records, including five career records. Pierce was at G-Day last month, but there’s an even bigger connection.
Bainbridge happens to be where UGA head coach Kirby Smart played his high school ball. Does that mean Smart will put an extra emphasis on his recruiting, aside from his status as the class’ No. 64 overall prospect?
Not really, says the running back. At least that’s how he feels.
Pierce was a part of the record crowd at G-Day last month and got to chat with Smart. He pointed out how much bigger he had gotten since he last saw him.
“(Smart) said he was glad to have me and we talked about just football in general,” Pierce said.
UGA’s running backs tradition will not be a big influence on his decision, but McGee told him the Bulldogs coach likes what he’s seen so far.
“He likes my running style, my size and overall character,” Pierce said. “He likes what I can bring to the field for them.”
All the schools are on the same shelf right now to him.
“If you want to say they are on a shelf then I’m taking it like a library,” he said. “One book at a time. I’m thinking about each college carefully and taking my time.”
He may not need the Dewey Decimal System for Auburn. That was his first offer during the spring of his freshman year, and a host of other schools have followed. Florida State was the only other school aside from UGA to send three coaches to check out the 2,060-yard back this spring.
The rising junior didn’t grow up a fan of any particular school and felt Auburn was currently recruiting him harder than any other school.
“They have a good program,” Pierce said. “I went down and watched their practice. They practice with a fast tempo and have well-disciplined guys. That is a great program overall.”
Does that give Auburn the inside track?
“Everybody is pretty much the same right now,” Pierce said. “I am just sitting back and taking all of this one day at a time.”
Stanford sent its offensive coordinator and running backs coach to Bainbridge this spring to evaluate Pierce. He will make sure that the academics will be a great fit along an offer list that stacks up at 17 schools and four SEC schools. Clemson, Florida State, Miami, Michigan State and Nebraska are also among those big-time offers.
“(My academics) have to be in the same shape my athletic game is,” he said.
That’s why he’s made all “A’s and B’s” up to this point. He’s already taken his standardized tests and qualified for a scholarship.
Bainbridge coach Jeff Littleton said Pierce is the total package. He’s coachable, studies the film and can see the angles with good vision and run with power. He felt Pierce gets stronger as the game goes on and pointed out his work in the weight room. The sophomore can power clean 330 pounds, bench press another 340 and squat 500-plus pounds.
“Most college coaches look at him and comment to me that he looks like he is a college athlete already,” Littleton said.
Watch him play for the first time and he hopes his original running style stands out.
“I hope people will say they cannot compare me to any other back,” Pierce said. “I’m just my own unique athlete with their own running style.”
When he’s not practicing or lifting to get better, he will lay down and think about football. That’s his hobby. His favorite part of playing football is going through practice with his team.
What’s the best play he’s made? He had another uncommon response.
“My first touchdown,” Pierce said. “Because that kind of popped everything off as far as my career. There’s nothing like that first one.”
The reason why he plays the game also doesn’t sound like something a high school sophomore would say.
“Just to make everybody proud of me,” Pierce said. “They are going to be proud down here no matter what but I feel if I take the extra step in life and try to succeed in college I can establish a future and a foundation for the young kids in my community. That will be something great to be remembered for. Helping people. Helping my community.”
He hopes to make his decision some time by his senior year.
“It is going to be a long process,” he said. “I’m going to put a lot of thought into it and talk to my coaches and family about it and make a good decision for myself and my future.”
Other things to know about Pierce:
- He wants to improve on his top-end speed this summer. Pierce runs track and was clocked at 11.2 seconds in the 100 meters this spring. That’s after a 4.56 time in the 40 at UGA last summer.
- Just 16, he ran for 2,060 yards (6.7 yards per carry) and scored 34 touchdowns last season. LIttleton said Pierce has already gained about 10 pounds since then and packed on more muscle mass and added speed.
- Pierce got to visit Auburn, Florida State and UGA this spring.
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. Unless otherwise indicated, player rankings and ratings are from the 247Sports Composite.