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Sam Speigelman/SEC Country
Nakobe Dean, a 5-star inside linebacker, had an engaging unofficial visit last weekend at UGA.

Mother of 5-star LB Nakobe Dean on UGA: ‘Best visit so far’

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. Where do the Bulldogs stand with 5-star ILB Nakobe Dean after his recent unofficial visit? That’s what we will explore today. 

It sounds as if the Georgia Bulldogs will be in it for the long haul with 5-star inside linebacker Nakobe Dean.

Dean, fresh off an unofficial visit to Athens this past weekend, had a lot to say about that trip. Was it his best unofficial visit to a college campus?

The nation’s No. 1 ILB prospect (247Sports composite rankings) used the word “definitely” in his answer to that topic.

When I begin to hear the subsequent buzz about Dean potentially choosing Georgia over the next few months and down the stretch of his decision, I will think of the following things.

  • He holds a 4.7 grade-point-average and his father is a physician. Dean will seek out a great academic fit.
  • That said, it appears that Stanford should no longer be seen as the contender that some reports have made them out to be.
  • Dean does not plan to make his decision until approximately Dec. 13. That’s his birthday. He will then sign on Dec. 20.
  • Can he enroll early? He’s planning on doing just that, but it also sounds like he will have to smooth out a few wrinkles with Horn Lake High School in Mississippi.
  • The engaging way that his mother told a story about Georgia assistant Dan Lanning implementing the Dean family “Freestyle Friday” event with his own family. She saw it with her own eyes on a FaceTime feed.

His mother, Neketta Dean, shared that “Freestyle Friday” story with DawgNation. It is just as intriguing a detail as her thought the UGA trip was also her best-ever college visit, too.

How “Freestyle Friday” connects the Deans with UGA

Nakobe Dean grew up with a “Freestyle Friday” tradition in his household. That’s a chill day.

The kids could eat chicken wings. Or play video games. Friends could be invited to come over. Those things weren’t allowed in their home except on Fridays and Saturdays.

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Nakobe Dean will not make his college decision known until December. That will likely be on Dec. 13. It will be his 18th birthday. (Sam Spiegelman/SEC Country)

“It was something sometimes like playing board games or a dance contest,” his mother said. “So then Coach [Dan] Lanning said he liked that. He sent me a [Facetime] video one day of him and his three boys and his wife were all like ‘Mrs. D, it is our Freestyle Friday and we’re loving it and having fun’ and to me, it showed that he was listening to us and really valued the relationship. He incorporated something that we did into his own family home. That just adds a personal touch to things and it gets a little more personal with things going both ways between us and Coach Lanning there.”

She said that her son already loves “the realness” of the recruiting approach of the UGA staff.

“It is the realness right now of the coaches at UGA that outshines some of the other schools,” she said. “Some schools are kind of pushy. Some schools don’t push enough. They have just the right mixture at Georgia. They push. But not too much. Their care and concern just go above and beyond.”

It starts with Lanning.

“I have mad respect for his recruiting coach Dan Lanning at Georgia,” Neketta Dean said. “He has already pulled the family in and made us feel like a part of the Georgia family already. That’s Coach Lanning. That’s Coach [Mel] Tucker and Coach [Glenn] Schumann and even Coach [Kirby] Smart. They are making us feel like we have a true place there at Georgia. Not just for what he can do for them on the field but also the true great person they feel they can help my son to become.”

Neketta Dean shares her view on the UGA opportunity

His father, the family practitioner, doesn’t have a favorite college visit or a favorite school so far.

“My momma loves Georgia,” Nakobe Dean said. “She loves Georgia. To her, it was the best college visit she ever had.”

His mother has been on almost every college visit her son has taken, too. So that’s a big sample size.

“It was the best college visit I have had thus far,” Neketta Dean said. “With most of the other visits, it is the same old routine. They talk. They tour. Talk and tour. Whatever. I guess that Coach (Kirby) Smart and his staff have found a way with this to make it interesting and engaging. They did a scavenger hunt but the fun thing about the scavenger hunt is that almost every building and every facility at the school was a part of that scavenger hunt. So as we were coming up to every building, we would talk about it. They took all of that and made it all very fun and very engaging.”

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Nakobe Dean rates as the nation’s No. 1 ILB prospect in the class of 2019 per the 247Sports composite standard. (Sam Spiegelman/SEC Country)

She noted the little things, such as the academic advisors at the ready who were attached to the departments of the university which interested the prospects.

“It was just an awesome day,” she said. “It was educational but fun. The right words to use here are informative and fun. It has been the best visit so far. It outshined all the rest. So far.”

His mother enjoyed the visit. She sang those praises about Georgia, but she also indicated (when asked) that she has not yet selected her favorite school for her son to attend.

“To be honest for me, my No. 1 for him is his overall well-being with his health and faith,” she said. “My No. 2  would be his academics. But then the No. 3 is football. It will take care of itself. I’m not really concerned about the depth chart and where he is going to play. Is he going to be a redshirt or what? Whatever that may be. That is not going to be my interest when I go to these universities.”

Mothers always know best. She shared interesting little details about her son and his humility. He must have done 11 back-to-back interviews on a chilly Sunday in March at The Opening Atlanta regional. Dean did several of those with a blanket draped over his shoulders.

“We’re not big on titles and stars and rankings,” she said. “We know all of those will go away next August when he is on a college campus. All of those can change. He won’t go to college as a big-shot 5-star. That’s a ‘right now’ title and he doesn’t get caught up in titles. That’s something that somebody else has put upon him. We know those things can change. We also know that he has to work and grind.

“His input will be what creates his output. Input equals output. That’s what it is for us. .. Everything that people talk about with him now, well next year there won’t be anyone talking about that.”

It seems as if Dean is always studying. When he left The Opening, he told DawgNation he was going to study his anatomy and physiology texts the 5-plus hour ride on the car ride home. When it was time for his prom, his mother found him studying an hour before he had to leave for that event.

It is no small wonder that the last “B” grade he picked up was in middle school.

What did Nakobe Dean think of his recent visit to UGA? 

Ingenuity.

That’s a quick way to describe how he looked at that recent unofficial. That scavenger hunt concept combined some physical activity with an information fact-finding tour with competition. It was informative on the sly.

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Nakobe Dean ranks as the nation’s No. 2 ILB and as the nation’s No. 25 overall prospect on the 247Sports composite rankings. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

“That visit was great,” Nakobe Dean said. “I’m glad that I got to hang around the coaches at Georgia a little bit more in a way without the stress and business of recruiting. That really allowed me to see more of the campus. I got to see the whole campus because of that whole scavenger hunt. I toured the campus without it actually feeling like a big tour of the campus because I was on a scavenger hunt.”

That came without the trappings of having to go from point A to point B to check out the school facilities.

“I already thought very highly of Georgia in the first place coming into the visit,” Dean said. “But this visit was more of a ‘get comfortable’ visit with Georgia. The coaches. The people. Some of the recruits I might play with. I loved that aspect. Just that aspect of getting more comfortable with the thought of playing in Athens.”

Did the combination of getting to know the coaches along the scavenger hunt in a relaxed setting wind up being his best and most enjoyable visit so far?

“Yes, sir,” Dean said. “Definitely.”

How does he feel about the way Georgia recruits him?

“I feel like they recruit me pretty straight forward,” Dean said. “It is more like what they can do with me and the number of other guys they bring in. The things they tell me about the number of guys they bring in every year. There’s not anything fake about it. It is just real.”

Dean told DawgNation that he’s thinking about flipping the script on his previous plan about narrowing his top schools. He has a top 15 at this time and had thought about dropping it to a top 8 at some point during the summer.

“I might push it all the way to the end of the summer,” Dean said. “Just come out with a top 5 or a top 3 at the end of the summer.”

He said it would be hard to cut his many options down to a top 3 or a top 5 right now. That’s why he will need to kick the tires on that decision across the summer months.

The nation’s No. 27 overall prospect said that UGA will definitely get an official visit. He also said that he has very few remaining questions about the Bulldogs.

There will be a big visit weekend for recruits in July up ahead. That’s when the Bulldogs will unveil their completed locker room in the new West End Zone project. That might draw him back on his next visit to UGA.

He’s also never seen a game in Sanford Stadium. His official visit will be able to remedy that.

Dean hoped to take another unofficial visit to FSU on Wednesday but wasn’t able to do so because of a sinus infection.

North Gwinnett DB Quinton Newsome releases his top 7 

Quinton Newsome, a hybrid cornerback/safety prospect in the Class of 2019, released his top 7 on Wednesday. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound standout rates as the nation’s No. 81 safety prospect in the 247Sports composite rankings.

He’s one of three defensive backs that Georgia offered at North Gwinnett High School earlier this year.

Newsome has a lot of the heavyweight programs in the mix for his decision. I would not expect that one to be resolved soon. He just started to come on as a big-time recruit late last season and earlier this year.

The 3-star prospect is a punishing tackler who also has the ability to press his assignment up close as a cornerback.

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.