Ladd McConkey: The reasons behind his Georgia football commitment
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It is not often that one can call up an SEC football recruit and hear Vivaldi as his ringtone. As unlikely as that may seem, that is still Ladd MConkey’s ring tone.
That was his pick from years ago. He’s never bothered to change it up. That same “The Four Seasons” classic also served as the ringtone for his older brother, Hinton, for a time, too.
They have that in common along with the No. 15 jersey they have always worn. Hinton McConkey just finished up his career at West Georgia. He still wore that No. 15.
That is the number McConkey also picked out on his weekend official visit to Georgia.
The Chatsworth resident hopes to wear that it Athens one day. That digit goes back to his father and the No. 15 he wore for Dalton High School years ago.
“He was red and black, too,” Ladd McConkey said. “He said I look good in red [on the visit] and I think that you do, too.”
That was maybe the last time his family wore predominately red to football games. The McConkeys grew up a Tennessee Volunteer family. It will certainly change this fall as McConkey committed to UGA on Super Bowl Sunday.
He will sign with the Bulldogs tomorrow at 11 a.m. on National Signing Day.
McConkey told DawgNation he needed only a few hours in Athens on his official visit to know what he was feeling from being on campus measured up with what was the logical play.
Ladd McConkey: The clinching official for Georgia football
The Bulldogs prioritized him late in the 2020 recruiting cycle and eventually became his first Power 5 offer. That elevated his options from what he felt were “very good choices” between Army, Coastal Carolina, Chattanooga and Jacksonville State.
“I knew Georgia was a fantastic school both academically and on the football field,” he said of choosing UGA. “I knew that going into it that it was a really good school. But once I got there, it really felt like home. It felt like that was the right fit for me so I knew right then that was what I needed to do.”
He did get that feeling.
“I knew by the end of Saturday that I was going to make my decision and tell coach [Kirby] Smart the next morning,” McConkey said. “It really was just a combination of everything. That Saturday night coach Smart came out and ate dinner with us. Just being around the coaching staff and some of the guys just really felt like the right fit for me.”
His player host for his official weekend was redshirt freshman TE Ryland Goede. Smart talked about everything with the wide receiver prospect. Football. Family. School.
“Just like it was a normal conversation,” he said. “We just sat down and talked about everything. Like we were having dinner with anybody.”
New offensive coordinator Todd Monken met with McConkey and a few other visitors on that Saturday. He showed them clips of what he likes to do. But he did so with NFL film with the Cleveland Browns and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
That was his teach tape.
“He showed the outside guys how they could get the ball and the running backs how they could get involved,” he said. “How the slot guys can get involved and make plays, too. It showed me how dynamic the new Georgia offense can be and it really caught my eye.”
Smart brought up an interesting name. When it shows up in print, it makes a lot of sense.
It was newly-minted Super Bowl champion Mecole Hardman Jr.
McConkey is very fast and elusive. Hardman was all that and then maybe another gear coming out of high school, too.
There will be very few college freshmen in 2020 that can claim they can run like Mecole did as a freshman back in 2016.
But the point lost in all the tired Wes Welker-Julian Edelman-Hunter Renfrow parallels here would be just that.
Georgia’s offense needs more explosive players like Hardman. It could use another hummingbird buzzed on Red Bull type.
Hardman was also right under 170 pounds coming out of Elbert County.
“We were kind of talking about my weight a little bit and he said that Mecole played here and he was how every many pounds like 165 or something like that when he got to Georgia,” McConkey said.
The former 5-star was rated as an ATH because he was primarily a quarterback in high school. McConkey will have more game reps (his 2017 and 2018 seasons) at WR along his time at North Murray.
“Coach Smart said [Mecole] was tiny but that he didn’t take any hits,” he said. “He said he was shifty enough.”
McConkey won’t be Mecole fast, but he will have those speed demon and suddenness elements to his skill set. He will also be an inch-and-half taller and with great hands. The future Bulldog currently will weigh right at 165 pounds, but he played his senior year at 174 pounds.
He’s currently on a region champion basketball team. North Murray will be hosting the region tournament. It is kind of hard to pack on pounds while serving as a playmaking guard on the basketball team.
“The plan is for me to get up to 185 pounds so I could be able to really play and hold up at that weight for the season,” he said. “I felt really good at 174 this year and I think that I can get up to 185. I’m going to try to do that before the season.”
The thing that hits home with Ladd McConkey
McConkey committed to Smart.
“I just said to coach Smart ‘I think I’d like to commit to the University of Georgia’ and we just got up and he gave me a hug and he gave all of my family a hug,” Ladd McConkey said. “It was just awesome.”
McConkey kept using the phrase “super excited” to describe it all, including how his family took it all in.
“They all just had a blast as well, too,” he said. “They really felt like it was the place for me. So they are all super excited for me.”
McConkey wasn’t the hyped-up recruit. He had much smaller programs wooing him until the Bulldogs came along. Does it mean more that it all shook out the way it did?
“I don’t know if I told you this one yet but my brother was there for me,” Ladd McConkey said. “He always kept telling me just be patient. ‘Be patient.’ I can still hear him telling me that now. He said “I promise it is coming for you’ and ‘you work so hard’ and ‘it is going to happen’ and he just knew it.”
Hinton McConkey kept saying: “The big offer is going to come.”
It certainly did.
“Me just being patient and it finally paying off has definitely been a blessing,” McConkey said. “It really is just so surreal.”
The McConkeys have a big shopping list to check off. New car flags. New vanity plates. New house flags. New everything.
It means they have a lot of Gs to buy.
“So my brother and I and my mom and I actually bought our first Georgia shirts while we were on the visit,” he said. “My brother wore his yesterday. We are all getting used to it. We are glad and blessed and thankful that we are getting used to it.”
“It won’t take long.”
He had planned to commit before that official visit wrapped up.
“Once I got up to Georgia it was obvious that was where I wanted to be,” he said. “That was the plan. It just kind of happened while I was up there.”
When Team McConkey got back home, they celebrated with family friends that are die-hard Bulldogs. They ate, hung out and watched Hardman in the Super Bowl. McConkey said he is working on his “woof” and a proper bark.
“We’re getting there,” he said.
What will it be like when he signs him name on that letter of intent on Wednesday?
“It is overwhelming,” he said. “It is unbelievable really for it to happen like this. It is a special moment right now in my life. I’m not sure how I am going to feel when I sign it but I know it is going to be relief and just super excited.”