Nation’s No. 3 defensive end: ‘I just like Georgia a lot right now’

Norcross High School junior defensive end Robert Beal is a major recruiting priority for UGA in 2017.

Robert Beal, the nation’s No. 36 overall prospect, won’t be among the wanted 93,000 at G-Day. That might be why UGA defensive coordinator Mel Tucker was in the Norcross High weight room bright and early on Friday.

That’s the first day the college coaches can hit the road. Those two couldn’t speak, but Tucker’s presence was just another example of how the new Georgia gets after it on the recruiting trail.

The nation’s No. 3 defensive end won’t be at G-Day. But Beal will not be Alabama or Tennessee or anywhere else either.

“Taking a break from all the visits and stuff,” Beal said, who wants to wear No. 5 in college. “I’m trying to relax.”

He’ll be at home but plans to be sure to catch G-Day on television. He also shared a few thoughts that suggest that Georgia is in a good spot.

“I just like Georgia a lot right now,” Beal said.

Beal is rated as the nation’s No. 36 player overall for the Class of 2017. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)

Which program is recruiting him the hardest?

“Georgia,” he said. “UGA. You know they are right down the street.”

But before he said that, he made a sound which might have been the most interesting of several pro-UGA answers. No dictionary has a word for that “pfft” sound he made.

It conveyed the same “are you kidding me” sentiment that might fit what Beal would say if anyone asked if he played any football.

Georgia was recruiting him the hardest and that sound made it clear. Georgia is going after him so hard Tucker might have still been in his weight room Friday even if Beal was going to G-Day.

He seems to be that big of a priority

“I just recently visited Georgia and just had a genuine conversation with the coaches,” Beal said. “It wasn’t really football, but just them getting to know me.”

He thinks Tucker can get him to where he wants to go in the game. Beal has visited UGA twice in the last month. The first one was an overnight chill visit where he got to hang with five-star freshman Isaac Nauta, among others.

But he brought his family on the last one two weeks ago.

“My dad is a big Dawg fan,” Beal said. “So he was just grinning the whole time he was there. My mom also loved it. She’d been there before with the old coaching staff. She loved it then and still loves it now.”

The 6-foot-4, 232-pounder said UGA is using a three-man scheme to recruit him harder right now than Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, North Carolina and North Carolina State, among others. That’s head coach Kirby Smart, outside linebackers coach Kevin Sherrer and Tucker.

“Coach Smart is a funny guy,” Beal said. “He tells me all the time ‘We want you’ and ‘Let’s get the deal done’ and he also tells me to stay in state and be a hometown hero.”

The academic side of UGA is a good fit. He wants to major in broadcasting.

“It would be something special,” Tucker said. “You can’t go wrong with what they offer at Georgia,” Beal said. “It is right down the street. Not too far from home. You would get that excellent degree and possibly have a chance to go to the league.”

Beal might have just as much natural talent in broadcasting as he flashes on the field. His natural speaking voice resides comfortably in Barry White and Darth Vader territory. Beal and other Blue Devils read some Dr. Seuss books to kids at the Boys and Girls Club this week around Norcross. One of his coaches said the kids were stunned just listening to Beal speak.

Beal has been to UGA two times in the past month. He plans to study broadcasting. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)

“I want to study broadcasting and use my voice,” said Beal, who has been compared by his high school coach to Norcross alum and UGA linebacker Lorenzo Carter.

Beal said he doesn’t really know any three coaches on a college staff as well as he knows Smart, Sherrer and Tucker. Which schools are doing the best job of showing him how he’d thrive in their defense? Beal mentioned Alabama and North Carolina right along with UGA.

The rising senior named North Carolina as the school which was coming on strong in his mind of late. He’s seen by most programs as a 3-4 or a 4-3 defensive end.

“It is that hybrid defensive end and outside linebacker position,” he said. “I can play outside or put my hand on the ground in the dirt and go. I’m fine with both.”

Beal said his coach does not plan to let him participate in spring practice this year. He’ll just stress his conditioning and strength training. His coaches don’t want to risk him getting injured prior to his senior season.

His older sister, a senior at Norcross, is a major factor in his decision. Beal won’t enroll early, but he’s seeking to follow her to the same school she enrolls in this fall.

“She loved Georgia, too,” Beal said. “If I like it, then she will like it, too. We sort of have that bond like that.”

He said Miami was one school he still needs to learn more about. That’s proof that the former UGA coaches on that staff made a great impact on him.

“I don’t really have a set time for when I will decide,” Beal said. “It’s just whenever it happens, it happens. It is whenever I feel comfortable at a place.”

Don’t expect that to be anytime soon.

“I’m not close to a decision right now,” Beal said. “I’m just taking my time with this. I still have got aways to go.”

DeAngelo Gibbs, the five-star cornerback, told DawgNation he also expected Tucker to stop by Grayson High School on Friday. Gibbs, the nation’s No. 10 overall prospect, does plan to be at G-Day.

“I just want to see a great game,” he said.

G-Day, Georgia’s annual spring football scrimmage, is scheduled for 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 16, at Sanford Stadium. Check back here daily for DawgNation’s G-Day coverage brought to you by Georgia United Credit Union.

Jeff Sentell covers UGA football and 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.

Unless otherwise indicated, player rankings and ratings are from the 247Sports Composite.




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