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Former Florida commit Jaleel McRae sounds excited about his recent UGA offer

Jeff Sentell

Want to attack every day with the latest Georgia football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel will bring at least five days a week. The play sheet today calls for a read into just exactly how former Florida commit Jaleel McRae feels about his recent offer from UGA. 

 

A former Florida commit told DawgNation “he’s loving it” in regard to what Kirby Smart is doing at Georgia.

That former Gators pledge would be Jaleel McRae. He ranks as the nation’s No. 6 outside linebacker in the Class of 2019 in the 247Sports composite rankings. The new transfer to IMG Academy also checks in as the nation’s No. 104 overall prospect on that same scale.

But there are at least three other data points to look at in his story. McRae committed to Florida two years ago.

That was to the old Jim McElwain staff. His pledge lasted until November 2017.

McRae also picked up an offer from Georgia last week. He also just so happens to have 5-star UGA commit Nolan Smith touting the wares of playing for the defending SEC champions from time to time on that IMG campus. Smith has his own unique way about that.

That seems like a good place to start regarding his interest in the Bulldogs.

“Georgia is up there on my list,” McRae said. “You know that [Georgia coach] Kirby Smart has got something good over there and I’m loving it.”

The 6-foot-2, 230-pounder was once a free safety prospect when he committed to Florida. But he just kept growing. McRae was likely one of the very first offers for new UGA special teams coach Scott Fountain.

McRae said that Fountain’s new territory for the Bulldogs will cover IMG Academy.

“I’m pretty sure he’s my new area coach,” he said. “We were basically just talking and close to the end of the conversation, he said I had an offer from Georgia. He just wanted to make sure that I knew that. He said they would love me up there in Athens.”

The 4-star recruit rattled off a list of schools that he feels are “up there” for him at this time. Those were Georgia, Georgia Tech, North Carolina State and Texas A&M. He said that the Aggies and the Yellow Jackets were really coming hard at this time.

“I don’t even really know where I am at right now, to be honest,” he said. “Some of those schools are already on me pretty hard.”

What has he learned about Georgia

McRae laughed at the thought of a former Gator commit winding up on the other side of the famed cocktail party in Jacksonville every fall. He said that could be possible.

Jaleel McRae-UGA recruiting
Jaleel McRae rates as the nation’s No. 6 OLB prospect for the class of 2019. (Zach Abolverdi/ SEC Country)

He’s also hearing a lot these days from Smith. Especially after Georgia extended that offer.

“Basically he just tells me about the University of Georgia and what they have going on,” McRae said. “They have the top class in 2018. They just might be back with another class like that in 2019. Nolan just is always telling me that after we get through playing together this year and play with one another once again in Athens. So I think about it. I think about it a lot.”

He already knows that the Bulldogs are going to get an official visit.

“I will be up there on an official visit up there whenever they play somebody big,” he said. “I will be taking one of my official visits up there. That’s going to happen. For a fact.”

McRae did also add that the Gators were still in it, too.

Jaleel McRae plays football for “14 reasons”

McRae’s Twitter handle of “14 Reasons” will naturally amp up a reporter’s curiosity.

“Well, there are a few things about that,” McRae said. “The first of those is that is my football number. That’s because that is my role model’s football number.”

Then he started ticking off the reasons.

  • His Grandparents
  • My parents
  • Sisters
  • Brothers
  • His lost cousin Andre Taylor that passed away tragically on August 16, 2017
  • His city
  • The young people who look up to him in his community
  • He loves the game of football
  • He also wants to help get his grandmother Shirley Chapman away from her nursing home care one day

The loss of his cousin is something that he thinks about every day. He said that he was always sick.

“We will always have like a family day on Sundays,” McRae said. “We always come together. I remember that Sunday like it was yesterday. I was walking out the door and I didn’t say goodbye to him. Then that Wednesday I was up and going to school and my Mom called me and told me that he died. It just hurt me. Every day I just think about him.”

The family fashioned together a necklace charm to honor his cousin’s memory. It has his picture on it. It has the date he passed away and there’s a blue sky with birds around it. The words ” we will miss you” also adorn that item.

It hangs over his bed at IMG Academy.

“I just look at it every night and just wish he was here,” McRae said.

McRae is lucky enough to have someone in his life he calls both a “role model” and a “big brother.” That would be D’Cota Dixon. The senior safety at Wisconsin also wears that No. 14. He signed with the Badgers in the class of 2014.

“I talk to him all the time,” McRae said. “About the spiritual life. About God. It is always about more than football and how life is going.”

Why Jaleel McRae answers to the nickname “Bill” 

Remember the cartoon “Little Bill” from back in the day? There’s a connection there with McRae and why everyone calls him “Bill.”

“When I was little I used to look like him,” McRae said.

He said he learned a lot from his time as a Florida commit. It taught him a lot about college football and the business side of the recruiting process.

“When coach Mac (Jim McElwain) was at Florida, I went to a junior day and that’s when he gave me the offer. It took no time for me to commit,” he said. “I went up there a little bit before I got that offer and I fell in love with coach Mac and what he was selling at Florida.”

That seems like a natural tug for an in-state kid from New Smyrna Beach.

“It took me about 30 minutes and I just committed right after that,” McRae said about his dream school. “I just fell in love with coach McElwain and the staff he had. It was unbelievable to me.”

He has learned something from that experience.

“I can most definitely tell the kids that are coming up that the recruiting process is a business,” McRae said. “You never know what coaching changes you are going to get with the school you may want to go to or have always wanted to go to.”

“I’ve really just been thinking about it. You never really commit to a school for the coaches. You commit to the school for that spot or because of your love for that school since when you get there all those coaches can leave. Then what are you going to do?”

What he’s already learned from his time at IMG Academy

McRae aims to be a criminal justice major in college.  He transferred to IMG on January 7.

“I know I’ve already gained weight here but it has mostly been muscle weight,” he said. “Because we get after it here in the weight room.”

He said the IMG brand has provided a challenge.

“Coming in I didn’t know if I could make it or not,” McRae said. “IMG is not for everybody. If you love the game of football, then you are going to make it here. Because this emphasis here is nothing but football and academics. And then on the school side, the academics part of it is way tougher than public school. I still have my good grades and everything.”

McRae definitely sees it as an early preparation for college football.

“You could really call it a redshirt year for college,” McRae said. “We have mandatory study hall on Tuesdays and Thursdays. They have the same thing in college.”

He came to IMG Academy to see just how could he could be and also to be able to graduate early and enroll at his future school in January of 2019.

“I came for the better competition,” he said. “Playing back home and against the teams in my city was not really getting me ready for college. At least not the way that this will get me ready for college.”

Miss any Intel? The DawgNation recruiting archive will get you up to speed just as fast as former Georgia All-American LB Roquan Smith found the ball after the snap.