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Jeff Sentell/DawgNation
3-star DT Marlin Dean shares several stories of note about what it means to him to be a Bulldog.

Marlin Dean: It turns out the night UGA fell to Florida in hoops wasn’t a total loss

Want to attack every day with the latest UGA football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel brings. This entry gives a glimpse of what the Bulldogs are getting with recent 2021 commitment Marlin Dean from Elbert County High School in Northeast Georgia. 

Marlin Dean will serve as the 6-foot-6 footnote to Georgia’s loss to rival Florida on the court last week.

The Gators won on March 4 by a 68-54 margin at Stegeman Coliseum, but that event wasn’t a total loss. UGA picked up a 6-foot-6 win in another area inside the arena that night.

That was Dean. The 265-pound defensive line prospect had traveled the 40-odd minutes from the tiny hamlet of Bowman with a commitment on his mind.

“Yes, sir,” Dean told DawgNation. “Because when I came up there I was telling my parents I was going to commit. I knew I was going up there to commit that night. The coaches were all going to be up there.”

Dean did just that in the third quarter of that game.  

He told the staff he was going to be a ‘Dawg that night. The rest of the world had to wait another two days as he put two unique plans in motion.

The first was to get a “clue” edit in mind. He chose the talented graphic artist @HayesFawcett3 for a slick edit of his top schools.

This was a different request. He wanted to subtly try to let the world know what Tray Scott found out the night Florida beat Georgia on the hardwood.

Dean devised an edit which would shed a lot of light on which way he was leaning. When anyone saw that edit, they would notice that there were 11 schools that made up his top 10.

There was also a certain uniform that Dean was wearing at the center of it all.

“Like I told my coach there was an egg in the center in the middle of it all,” Dean told DawgNation. “Of all the top teams that had really shown interest and I was ready to fall in love with, well they didn’t have really anything to compare with Georgia. So with me having the Georgia jersey on in the center of it all, it kind of gave it away.”

While everyone was noticing his math, it was intended to plant a seed. This wasn’t a top 10. Or a top 11.

It was a top 1 that came out on the eve of his commitment.

“I was just having fun with it,” Dean said. “I had already committed so I was just having a little fun.”

Some recruits want to keep their decision reveal close to the vest with locked-up encryption on their phones. Zipped-up lip emojis all over the place.

Dean wanted to tell the world.

“So when I posted that I was trying to give it away before I posted the commitment poster,” Dean said. “But not that many people caught on to it so I just didn’t really even say anything until I posted that picture.”

Marlin Dean-Georgia recruiting-UGA recruiting
Marlin Dean committed to Georgia defensive line coach Tray Scott in the third quarter of the Georgia-Florida basketball game back on March 4. (Marlin Dean/Twitter)

What UGA is getting with its third 2021 commit

Brad Waggoner is the head coach at Elbert County. He played his high school ball at Landmark Christian and was a linebacker for two seasons at Georgia Tech.

He believes Dean will wind up as a 300-pounder in the SEC as his body develops. That is the logical call. It seems natural when a kid is already 265 pounds as a junior in high school. Especially given his frame.

“He can run as well,” Waggoner said. “He’s very athletic. Very agile. Got great feet. He will run extremely well for a big man. That was the one thing that stood out to me when I got here to Elbert County. He’s raw. He’s got a way yet to improve but at the same time, his ceiling is going to be very very high. He’s got a long way to improve but the things that he has got for sure is he has great great feet and he can run.”

Waggoner brings up the name of a former Bulldog as a means of comparison. The player parallel he had in mind was a former sixth-round draft pick who wound up playing 11 seasons in the NFL.

“I coached Kedric Golston all through high school,” he said. “He went on to play at the University of Georgia. When I first saw Marlin, he made me think about Kedric back when I coached him in high school. Kedric was a little bit bigger from a weight standpoint and a little more explosive but Marlin can definitely run better than Kedric did.”

Marlin Dean-Georgia recruiting-UGA recruiting
Marlin Dean just kept calling Georgia “home” over and over when he describes how much he likes the fit in Athens. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

Dean can grow to be a “zero” or a “three” or a “five” technique at the next level. The most likely projection would be as a “5” technique to start with.

The Elbert County standout said he was not likely to enroll early at Georgia in 2021.

Line coach Tray Scott and area recruiter Glenn Schumann proved to be big factors during the recruiting process.

Dean camped at Georgia last summer. He went to several games last fall, but things really escalated for Dean when the staff saw him in person at a “Junior Day” event in January.

The “raw” part of his early evaluation comes from the notion Dean worked as an offensive lineman during that summer camp at UGA. He had only played offensive line for Elbert County up until this past season.

“I just saw a different player this year when he went over to the defense,” Waggoner said. “You saw a different motor and everything else.”

Good kid. Humble kid. Team player. Waggoner felt comfortable using each of those phrases to describe Dean. That’s certainly what he is like in person, too.

He offered up an example with a story about the next big thing at Elbert County. That would be 2023 prospect Christian Harris.

Folks around the Elbert County program try to not say too much too soon about his potential. When they do, they will bring up the name Mecole Hardman Jr. as they describe his skill set.

“He’s fast now,” Waggoner said. “Fast fast fast.”

Harris is already a couple of inches taller than Hardman right now. The 6-foot freshman already has SEC offers from Arkansas and South Carolina.

When Waggoner took Dean and Harris to visit the Gamecock this winter, he was struck by how happy Dean was that day for Harris.

“South Carolina offered our freshman that day and I really got to see a different side of Marlin that day,” Waggoner said. “He was just so happy and excited for his young teammate that day. He was more excited about that freshman getting that offer than anything else that day.”

Marlin Dean-Georgia recruiting-UGA recruiting
Marlin Dean chose Georgia on the night that Florida beat the Bulldogs on the basketball court. He was at that game on an unofficial visit that night. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

Why was it Georgia for Marlin Dean?

Tennessee finished second in the race. Penn State actually came in third place.

“I will say it was Georgia because they really showed the most interest,” he said. “Other coaches showed interest but Georgia texted me every day. They came to the school. They check up on my parents and stuff like that. Then towards academic wise, they really cared what I wanted to major in and stuff like that. They really said that they really wanted me and they showed the extra effort that they really wanted me. That’s what made me fall in love with them so fast.”

Georgia offered him on January 18 of this year. It was his first offer from a Power 5 school.

“They were the first big one to show interest,” he said.

Coach Scott made a big early statement to Dean. It stood out.

“He said that when coach showed him the film,” Dean said. “He made sure he saw me. He said he saw an animal in me. He said there was more that I can improve in. [Coach Scott] said he wanted to be the coach that give me the tools I need to continue to play.”

Hardman hails from the same community as Dean. That’s quite a coincidence. As of the 2010 U.S. Census, that town had a population of 862 residents.

It now has a former Georgia Bulldog among its former residents and a future one. The odds of that, we might say, seem longer than the 6-foot-6 Dean.

Dean said he has been inspired by Hardman and his older brother. His older brother showed him at an early age what it took to play the game.

“But then Mecole really set the tone,” he said. “It was ‘Oh just because you come out of Bowman you can still go farther and farther’ and since he is in the league now it really showed me that anybody can come out of a small town and make a name for themselves.”

Hardman was reaching out to him before he got that offer back in January. Dean also shared his very unique reaction to that offer.

“At first I was like, this is not real,” Dean said. “Not Georgia. Out of all people? Georgia? Nah. I had gotten invited to a lot of junior days but not offered. When I went to Georgia I just thought that they were just looking at me. The next guy was really going to get the offer.”

Scott and the Georgia staff told his parents he was getting the offer first. Then they told him.

“I still felt like it was fake,” he said. “To this day, I still feel like it is kind of unreal. It is just crazy. Everything is moving so fast.”

That’s because it did.

When Dean told Scott he was going to commit, that news was met with great joy.

“Let’s get it done,” Scott said in reply. “Momma, your son is a Bulldog now.”

That made it seem very real. He looked over and saw that his mother almost in tears.

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Marlin Dean said that former Georgia star Mecole Hardman Jr. had already been reaching out to him before he was even offered by UGA. (Marlin Dean/Twitter)

What will motivate Marlin Dean between the hedges at UGA

Waggoner believes this commitment will stick. That is the type of person he sees in Dean. Dean told DawgNation that the pledge is solid, but he might still go check out other schools on visits, too.

“He’s a high-character kid,” Waggoner said on Dean. “Never going to get in trouble. He also has a lot of respect for his parents. You don’t see it all the time anymore but he has great admiration for his parents and his parents have played a great role in his life.”

Dean is already squatting more than 500 pounds. His power clean is also north of 315 pounds. Those are good lifts given his age and the length of his arms and frame. Waggoner believes that the young man has clear NFL potential.

“He’s raw but he has NFL talent,” Waggoner said. “I’ve coached several guys who played in the NFL and he’s just like they were. Now, he’s going to have to keep improving and fulfilling that potential but he has all the intangibles to do it.”

Dean wore No. 56 last year. That was because his grandmother was born in 1956. He plans to change that to No. 55 this fall for another very good reason.

He’s inspired by the memory of his grandfather. Ernest Fortson was born in 1955. He took a job at a Hartwell machine assembly plant when he was 14 years old.

He kept that job at that same plant until January. That’s when Fortson passed away at the age of 63. He was a huge Georgia Bulldog fan.

That’s why there is a R.I.P. Pops message with a blue and red heart atop Dean’s Twitter profile.

“My biggest motivation now is my grandpa,” Dean said. “Ever since he passed. The last conversation we had he said to me ‘You keep going’ and ‘Don’t let me down’ and that just gives me more motivation to keep going.”

“I know that he’s looking down on me now from heaven. He’s smiling and looking down on me and saying that he is proud of his grandson.”

When that offer came, Dean said his grandfather was able to go around saying his grandson was going to go to UGA.

When Dean told him about the offer, he said the first thing Forston asked was if UGA had seen his grades yet.

“He was like ‘That’s good’ because he says that it is not always about the talent,” Dean said. “It is about what is in your head, too. You have got to make smart decisions when you go up there. That really gave me something to think about with that, too.”

It mattered a great deal to him.

“He didn’t know about all the other offers,” Dean said. “He just knew about Georgia. With me committing to Georgia, I feel like that he would be saying that he was proud of his grandson.”

Dean has his head bowed and his hands clasped in his commitment edit. That is the reason why.


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