NASA or the NFL? 4-star UGA target trends in each direction

Brookwood 4-star junior linebacker Leonard Warner III will have a different outlook on his college choice.

Leonard Warner III is a 4-star junior linebacker at Brookwood High School. He’s heavily considering UGA along with Alabama, Auburn, Duke and Georgia Tech.

UGA is working hard to land him right now and he’s responsive. The 6-foot-4, 226-pounder clearly passes the eyeball test, but also aces the real exams during the school day.

That’s where the arc of his story might take a different path than most recruits. His father Leonard Warner Jr. is an educator and he shares that his son’s college choice will be more than which school runs a 4-3 vs. the 3-4 defense.

Just how important? Consider the following statement:

“I even told him that if he decided that he didn’t want to play football anymore to just go ahead and make that call,” his father said. “He can make that call. He would be fine. We would be fine. Leonard can go to college without football.”

But the nation’s No. 9 outside linebacker for the Class of 2017 is not considering that option.

“He told me he really likes playing football,” his father said. “But I want him to make sure he knows about all his options. He’s not going to have any Daddy issues with me wanting him to go play football for the big school. I’m not living through him at all. We’re just going to look at his choices and narrow it down. He’s going to make that call and we’re going to support him 100 percent in whatever he does.”

Warner is aiming to pursue an engineering degree and has been invited to attend the 2016 Congress of Future Science and Technology Leaders in Boston next summer. The event is organized by the National Academy of Scientists and Technologists. Former astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, serves as the Academy Science Director.

Will it be NASA or the NFL? There’s a reason for that aside from his grade-point average.

“He has so many letters from schools with stem programs,” his father said. “Those are the engineering and science programs. We get more stuff from those engineering and science programs from the academic side of colleges than the football stuff. College football teams send a ton of stuff, but we get more stuff from stem programs than we do football programs.”

Stem programs are a specific curriculum in the disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. His mother said the family understands that UGA offers “a little bit” of engineering studies for him to pursue in Athens. 

He’ll check out Stanford and Notre Dame this summer, too. Both schools have a chance to sneak into his Top 5 once he visits those programs.  

“We need to make those visits for when we have time to actually see and tour the campus,” his father said. “The games are one thing, but we really need to go see these schools on visits when we have time to explore the campus itself.”


Jeff Sentell covers UGA recruiting for and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play Between the Hedges.

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