Master Teague III committed to Ohio State at 3:33 p.m. (CT) on Sunday. Those that subscribe to the “follow the visits” method of recruiting analysis can see a clear path.
Teague visits Ohio State on Friday. Earns an offer. He announces a decision day on Saturday. Commits on Sunday.
The 4-star RB (per 247Sports) told DawgNation exactly what all of that meant.
“Even though they didn’t offer they were leading,” Teague said. “We were having faith that we would get the offer soon. They were leading for me and for my family and for us from about May 19 on. We made the decision then they were leading for us and had faith we would get the offer and we did.
“They’ve really been leading for that long. We were still assessing each of the schools but we really couldn’t find anything that was better than Ohio. We prayed on it and felt led that was the place.”
He’s committed to Ohio State. That’s not changing. So why should a Georgia reader care? A great deal of recruiting fans can be regarded as fickle. The short-term interest disappears when the choice is made.
Teague’s behind-the-scenes story will hold the attention a little longer than that. Let’s start with the notion the Buckeyes didn’t appear in his top 3 when he named them.
So why were they always his leader?
“We think that is just the best place for me and the best fit,” he said. “We felt led that they have a great place to be developed as a player. They have a lot of things in place for guys and their careers outside of football and things to do with player development preparing guys for when football is all done.”
He raved about Buckeyes RB coach Tony Alford. Teague felt he could be pushed and developed by him more so than any other coach.
Teague camped one final time at Ohio State last Friday. He left with that offer. But what happens if that offer never came?
He said he never thought about that.
“I just felt I would go out there and earn it and felt like that was something the Lord has led us to,” Teague said. “I didn’t want to question that and just went out there and did what I do.”
But what if the Buckeyes never offered?
“I would just go with the top choice that I had out of those offers I had in my top 3,” Teague said. “But we didn’t have really any doubts about what we were going to do on Friday and what was going to happen.”
Teague was able to move fast because he already had a strong relationship with the Ohio State staff.
“We’d already done that side of it so all we needed was the offer,” Teague said. “We got it and then we made a move on it.”
Georgia would have been Teague’s choice if Urban Meyer never offered. That seems clear.
Conspiracy theory time or just a Plan B?
Teague filmed his commitment video in late May. That was well before his Ohio State offer.
His video is an accurate reflection of his Christian faith. He cites many passages of scripture in that narrative. It is the belief here that every word is genuine. He lives his faith.
Teague kneels in prayer during the transitions in that video. He works out in T-shirts representing his top choices, but it all leads back to him on a bended knee. A close look at the video shows he’s wearing a different white T-shirt in the opening scenes than he does at the end.
That’s the moment when he steps up to reveal his Ohio State shirt and choice. The Nike “swoosh” is a clear tell.
“It didn’t really cross my mind at first about that,” Teague said. “They were both white shirts. The one I had on was the one I had on. But it was a Georgia shirt. We didn’t get behind it and think about all that.”
He laughed about it afterward.
“They were both white shirts,” Teague said. “We just had that one on when I shot it. That was what I was thinking when I watching the video. You could kind of see it a little bit. Some people probably noticed that was a Georgia shirt. I guess it might have tricked some people that I was going to Georgia.”
When asked, he shared Georgia would have indeed been the choice at the time that video was first filmed.
“Of course I guess if the Ohio State offer didn’t come then that would have been the place,” he said. “But Ohio State was leading and offered. So we just pulled the plug on it.”
Alternate endings are shot with commitment videos all the time. Videos are also shot and the endings have to be altered. That’s part of the business of covering decisions made by 17- and-18-year-old young men.
Things change. That’s about the only constant. They change.
“There’s nothing Georgia could have done or have changed anything,” Teague said. “There was no problem with Georgia or anything. At the end of the day, we just felt Ohio State was the place for me.”
The player developmental options at Ohio State were a key factor. He kept coming back to that.
“Ohio State is also more developed with its winning tradition right now,” Teague said. “Their program is more developed. Both teams win but Ohio State does win a little bit more now. But I do feel like both places are a great place for a running back.”
What does this now mean for 5-star Zamir White?
It was ironic that Georgia and Ohio State were at odds. That also appears to be the case with 5-star RB Zamir White. White rates as the nation’s No. 1 RB for 2018.
The Buckeyes also have made a strong charge for White, but Teague is now their second RB commit for this cycle. Ohio State also has another 4-star all-purpose RB commit. That’s three potential backs.
Does Teague think the Buckeyes will still pursue White?
“They have offered Zamir but I don’t think he will go to Ohio,” Teague said. “I think they will take him because they offered him. That is an offer they gave out and he is a great back as well. But really I feel like he won’t come. But if he does I won’t worry about that. We still want to go where the best place is for me. I don’t want to let one person dictate my decision.”
Teague said the same thing earlier this spring when he was considering Georgia. That’s when White seemed to be a heavy lean.
It is the right mindset.
Imagine how foolish an elite back would feel if he skipped out on the offer he wanted because of competition. That’s not the mindset it takes to excel in college football. Players thrive because of competition, not because they set a course to avoid it.
What if any other RB didn’t pan out because of a lack of effort, grades or injuries or a myriad of any other factors? The prospect who decided to go to the school that the 5-star RB didn’t choose would feel pretty silly at that point.
Class at the very end
Georgia wasn’t the choice for Teague. Yet there was a great deal of mutual appreciation at the end. The feeling was mutual.
“We thought Georgia was a great school and appreciated them recruiting me and wanting me,” Teague said. “They still want me even though I’m committed now. I think that right there is just out of respect and I think they will respect my decision. I’m thankful for the people down at Georgia and what the coaches at Georgia have done for me. I was blessed to be recruited by Georgia but at the end of the day we just followed the Lord and went in a different direction.”
Teague told the UGA coaches not to waste any more time recruiting him.
“Coach [Dell] McGee and Coach [Kirby] Smart both said congratulations and wished me well,” Teague said. “They hoped that they were the choice but were wishing me well like a lot of schools say. They said if anything changed or anything happened to let them know. Because they said they would accept me and be there for me if I wanted to change my mind or whatever.”
Don’t count on that.
“I’m pretty firm on where I am going unless something big big big happens,” Teague said. “But I’m appreciative of them reacting the way they did to my decision.”