Would you like to receive DawgNation news alerts? Excellent! News alerts will be displayed in your browser.
Jeff Sentell/DawgNation
Michael Daugherty is already a big in-state name to know for the 2023 class.

Michael Daugherty: Young All-American in-state DB already ‘loves Georgia’

Want to attack every day with the latest UGA football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel brings. This entry will offer a good first look at 2023 All-American defensive back prospect Michael Daugherty at Grayson High in Metro Atlanta. 

The Class of 2023 in the state of Georgia continues to be a big thing for DawgNation to pay attention to. It is because of talented young players like Grayson’s Michael Daugherty.

While it is very early, the growing number of elite 2023 prospects in the state is vast. These young men also know one another well from playing together growing up in various showcases, All-Star events and select Football University (FBU) camps.

When Treyaun Webb told DawgNation recently he expects the 2023 class at UGA to “break the internet” because of the prospect haul, he named Daugherty as one of the four-to-six names he wants to play with.

Webb is the lone commitment in the 2023 class for Georgia. He’s already a strong influencer for that group. That 2023 class even has its own text thread chain that is approximately 30 players deep. And growing.

Webb said he’s love to play on Saturdays with Daugherty. Rightfully so. The young defender from Grayson High even has a family connection to UGA, too.

The 6-foot, 175-pound sophomore has already committed to the Under Armour All-American Game for 2023. Daugherty was ranked today by 247Sports as the nation’s No. 3 safety and No. 48 overall prospect for 2023. He is also on the 2020 MaxPreps.com Preseason Sophomore All-American team. He has a 3.7 GPA and lists a 4.5 clocking in the 40.

That’s a lot already for his resume. What drives him? He told DawgNation it is to honor the memory of his grandfather. Johnny Paschal meant quite a lot to his loved ones.

“I play this game for my family,” Daugherty said. “When I lost my grandfather on April 13, it kind of struck me by surprise. We expected it with everything he had going on but to see my grandma and the rest of my family so sad, it really affected me. I was like ‘Dang, man. How do I bring that joy back to our family?’ so that was a big change for me in my life and the way I had been thinking.”

Michael and his older brother, K.J., spent the day with Pachal right before he passed away.

“Mike made a promise to him that he hasn’t shared and you can tell it gave him peace because Daddy left the next morning,” his mother Phoenix Daugherty said.

His mother said her son become more focused “overnight” after that moment.

“I had to make a decision about my life,” Michael Daugherty said. “At that point, I was just playing football for me and at some point in every player’s life, they are going to find out there is a much greater cause than that. I made the choice then to do all of this for my family. That’s when it really set in. I buckled down. Even with offers coming in. I felt like that was the point of my life where I had to make all of this about something greater than myself.”

“It felt like I lost it all and to get it back I had to focus on my family as my real anchor for my life.”

Paschal was very hard-working. He was a man of few words but he also placed his family above all things. He stressed to his grandson to never cut corners and to work hard for everything he wants from life.

“There was always something special about his laugh when it came to Michael,” Phoenix Daugherty said. “It was like it echoed how proud he was.”

When he saw his grandson develop in football, he told him he’d be there on the 50-yard line for all his college and professional games. That will not happen.

But it still can.

“To honor him, we promised my Mom that wherever Mike is there will be a jersey on the 50-yard line in the stands with my Dad’s name on it.”

Micheal Daugherty-Georgia recruiting-UGA recruiting
Michael Daugherty plays the game to honor his family and the memory of his beloved grandfather. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

Michael Daugherty: A few schools to pay attention to early

Daugherty had a recent tweet of interest. Especially since he dropped a #wristwatch hashtag. Check out the two bands across his wrist in that Grayson High practice photo.

He picked up his offer from Georgia back on May 16.

“That was a great feeling because I had already taken to coach [Charlton] Warren for such a long time,” Daugherty said. “I didn’t ever want to seem like one of those kids who would ever be asking for an offer. I wanted to be patient. So when it came, I was one of the happiest kids in the world.”

“That’s right down the street. Down the road. I had a cousin that went up there [to UGA] and played DB in Damian Swann. He’s just a great guy and a cousin on my Mom’s side. He talked to Georgia about me a little bit and talked to my Mom about Georgia, too. I just think that the Georgia connection has always been there for me even when I was little. Especially with my grandfather liking them so much.”

That was two days before he got an offer from his dream school in LSU.

He took an impactful unofficial to UGA last fall for the Notre Dame game. The atmosphere really impressed him in that nighttime environment. He also had the chance to visit Tennessee a couple of times last season. Those trips allowed him to visit with defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley.

How does Daugherty feel about the chance to play in Athens?

Micheal Daugherty-Georgia recruiting-UGA recruiting
Michael Daugherty is already rated among the nation’s top 50 players by 247Sports for 2023. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

“I love Georgia,” he said. “I talk to Coach Warren a lot. That’s my guy. We are on the phone here and there when I get the chance to call him myself. We just talk about football. We don’t talk about the recruiting aspects of it all there. We talk about how he’s doing and how I’m doing.”

“Not just the football and the recruiting parts. I think it is real important to have that relationship with somebody who is going to be at Georgia for a long time and is really influential in that program.”

“I like Georgia a lot. I stand very well with them right now.”

When visits are allowed again, he said he would like to see LSU, Oregon, USC, Florida and Texas. He would also hope to make return trips to FSU and Georgia.

Daugherty said he has even discussed committing at the same time with Georgia legacy Justin Benton of Newton High School. But no firm plans are set there. That’s what those two guys have grown up dreaming and thinking about since they first met.

Benton was at tight end. Daugherty was set to cover him at safety. There was a collision. Daugherty wound up on the ground, but he did not give up the catch. He had been locking down everyone else all day.

What is he looking for in his eventual decision? Daugherty has an advanced understanding of what he is looking for.

  • Life after football 
  • Alumni progression in his eventual career
  • The school that signs him has to recruit him as a priority
  • Have to feel comfortable inside that program

He eloquently expanded on the third and fourth bullet points there.

“When I get there it is all going to change from when they are talking to me on the phone and telling me all about,” he said. “They are caking it up right now. But I have to feel comfortable there. I’m going to be there for three or four years and such and such. I have to be okay with being away from my mother and all my family for so long. I just need to be able to say ‘Hey this is where I want to be’ because of the recipe to my success comes with that life after football, staying close to home and having that home feeling.”

“But if that having that home feeling doesn’t come by staying close to home doesn’t come then I will definitely be able to venture out.”

Check out his freshman film below.



(the recent reads on DawgNation.com)

Did you know the weekly DawgNation.com “Before the Hedges” program is now available as an Apple podcast? Click to check it out and download it. 

Micheal Daugherty-Georgia recruiting-UGA recruiting
Michael Daugherty could play all over the secondary at the next level in the SEC. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

A neat story about the early development for Michael Daugherty

Daugherty currently projects to that nouveau “Defensive Athlete” position made famous by former Clemson All-American Isaiah Simmons. His tape shows that he has played the high safety spot, worked at cornerback, and rolled down into the box on some snaps. He’s even played the nickel corner, too.

“I feel like my versatility is helpful because of how the offensive schemes are going today,” he said.

Daugherty is now rated as a safety but he could play either cornerback or safety at the next level given the size and skill set he has shown up to this point.

The hand-eye coordination, the way he works with his hands and footwork is also there. That’s due to the great technical coaching he gets from noted trainers like Oliver Davis II and Justin Miller. Daugherty also plays for the well-known “Hustle, Inc” 7-on-7 squad out of Metro Atlanta.

But a foundation was already there prior to his work with those well-respected folks.

He actually grew up learning martial arts. Daugherty might be less than a year away from a black belt, but he hasn’t given that discipline a lot of his attention over the last few years.

“I started off real early developing with it and that training helped my fluidity in the way that I move,” Daugherty said. “My transitions and moving my hips. That definitely helped me starting off young and it has stayed with me through muscle memory. I think that definitely helps me out and transitions to what I do on the field.”

That black belt is definitely a goal. But he would like to accomplish it sometime down the road.

He’s got his focus set on putting a Paschal jersey on all those 50-yard lines first.

We have a new way to comment on our DawgNation stories. To do so, you must be a registered user on the DawgNation forum. If you haven’t registered, please go to the Forum homepage on DawgNation and look for “register” on the right side.