The nation’s No. 1 prospect at outside linebacker took a crucial official visit to UGA this weekend.
Lyndell “Mack” Wilson had never been to Georgia before and — with less than three weeks left until National Signing Day — it had to go great or there was no chance UGA would be able to sign him.
Well, it went more than great.
The 5-star linebacker gave the official visit a perfect “10” rating and said the pressure is on Alabama and Florida with his final two official visits to surpass what he felt at UGA this weekend.
“I feel like it is a great place to be with me seeing everything with my own eyes,” Wilson said. “I feel like it is a great football city and I feel like they will be very effective next year.”
Wilson was clad in all-UGA gear for his ride home and then was met with a swarm of at least 11 cards and letters when he got back home to Alabama. The program — now led by former Alabama defensive coordinator Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart — has clearly made an impression on the Under Armour All-American from Montgomery.
UGA, along with Alabama and Florida, is one of his three finalists. The program’s chances with Wilson are a direct result of his connection to Smart.
“Kirby and I are real close,” Wilson said. “He’s real comfortable around me and I am really comfortable around him.”
The 6-foot-3, 236-pounder remembers the first time Smart told him about his potential on the football field.
“He just walked up to me one time and said I had the chance to really be something special,” Wilson said. “That’s when he was recruiting Shaun Dion Hamilton to Alabama.”
That said, Wilson said Smart also left him with a little bit of reality, as his role as the head coach at UGA doesn’t afford him the chance to monitor him like he could before as the defensive coordinator at Alabama.
“He said I have a great opportunity to come in and play at Georgia but with him being the head coach he won’t be able to come out and recruit me as much anymore and keep me under his thumb,” Wilson said. “He’s the head man now. … He’s got so many other duties, but he made sure I knew his main job was to better me as a person after football also.”
Wilson said UGA inside linebackers coach Glenn Schumann will be his primary recruiter down the stretch at UGA. When the Carver-Montgomery standout drove home, he said his upcoming decision weighed heavily on his mind.
“I was thinking to myself real hard about how I have to make a decision in a couple of days,” Wilson said. “It has just been real crazy. I was thinking to myself real hard about how I felt about Georgia.”
He said that the UGA official visit has set the bar real high for Alabama and Florida to surpass. His hosts were Terry Godwin and Rashard Roundtree.
“They told me all about their 2015 class and the talent that came in and how they have a great chance to make an impact with their class next year,” Wilson said.
The 5-star prospect has reached one pretty important conclusion. He has said before that Florida held the best chance for him to get on the field given the depth chart and the notion the program hadn’t signed a lot of outside linebackers over the years.
Wilson said he now feels the chances for him to play right away at UGA are “about even” with the opportunities at Florida. He also plans to study Sports Management at UGA.
The senior — who aims to wear No. 1 at the school of his choice — is rated as the nation’s No. 14 overall prospect this year.
Man what a time. ? Athens, GA pic.twitter.com/IWRPxZ6wFK
— Feb The Month ✍ (@Iam__MW3) January 17, 2016
6'3 236lbs ?, stay tuned ? something better tomorrow ! pic.twitter.com/eE9XvThOFQ
— Feb The Month ✍ (@Iam__MW3) January 14, 2016
Unless otherwise indicated, all player rankings and ratings are from the 247Sports Composite.
Jeff Sentell covers UGA football and UGA recruiting for AJC.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play Between the Hedges.