BUFORD, Ga. — An unlikely complication happened on the way to four-star cornerback William Poole III committing to Georgia sometime this spring, which seemed his likely path.
The Florida Gators derailed that thought. Poole told DawgNation on Sunday at the Nike Opening regional at Buford High School his recent Florida visit parked his commitment plan.
“I really saw how the coaches at Florida treated me and now see how it is there,” Poole said. “Because I’d never been to Florida before. I saw that depth chart they have and didn’t know they have two defensive backs coming out this year (to the draft) in Quincy (Wilson) and Jalen (Tabor) if everything goes right for them this season. They also have a lot of walk-on defensive backs, too. They definitely made the impression I can be that guy to come in and make an instant impact and be that guy they need.”
He said UGA and Florida are “tied” at this point.
The Hapeville Charter standout earned a coveted golden invitation on Sunday to Nike’s all-star combine in July among the nation’s elite at the company’s headquarters in Oregon.
Perhaps the big takeaway from that Florida visit was he learned he was the No. 1 cornerback target for Florida in 2017. That’s not so cut-and-dry at UGA. He knows UGA is recruiting a lot of defensive backs, including five-star DeAngelo Gibbs, four-star Jamyest Williams and five-star Stanford Samuels III, among others.
Poole feels he has a better relationship with UGA’s Kirby Smart when it comes to the head coaches, but he feels more at ease and comfortable around new Florida defensive backs coach Torrian Gray.
Each school has a unique appeal to him. He feels Florida’s pitch is more exclusive and that school is currently recruiting him the hardest.\
‘They tell me they’ve put out some offers for DB’s but I’m the type to actually research it and they don’t offer a lot of defensive backs,” he said. “Corners specifically. They offer a lot of safeties, but they don’t offer a lot of corners.”
The nation’s No. 12 prospect at cornerback said UGA coach Kirby Smart has told him he is also No. 1 at cornerback on the board in Athens, but he’s also done his UGA homework with that, too. He knows “there are a lot of corners they are looking at right now at this point.”
But he’s just stating a difference and not just an advantage one program has over another. He knows how talented those UGA targets are and wouldn’t mind playing with them. .
“It would be really nice to play with all of them,” he said. “That would be a great secondary.”
Poole has not updated a timeline for his decision but noted that Auburn is also trying to get into the mix, too.
“I backed out of that plan to make a commitment right now so I am now just going to take my time with it,” he said. “I want to make sure the decision I make now is the best for me.”
He plans to wait to take his official visits during the season and make up his mind in late fall. That’s worth watching because he will also enroll early. .
Why would he choose Florida?
“Just the depth and (new defensive backs) coach (Torrian) Gray,” Poole said. “I love how he coaches and he was recruiting me hard when he was at Virginia Tech. So now that he is at Florida he is really close now.. It wouldn’t be a problem for me to go to Florida. I love the energy their (defensive backs) play with. I feel I can come in and fit right along with that.”
What’s the lure to stay in-state at UGA?
“Mostly because it is home and I like the things that Kirby Smart is doing over there,” Poole said. “I would have a lot of family support come to Athens every week to see me play. So there would be a big family feel to that.”
Poole said he heard from Smart pretty quickly after that Florida trip.
“He just told me that my decision is for me,” Poole said. “But he also said ‘you know where your heart is’ and don’t let them guys fool you and things like that.”
The 6-foot, 176-pounder feels that he has seen everything both schools have to offer.
“It will basically be what I feel in my heart,” he said.
Poole is rated as the nation’s No. 101 overall prospect for 2017.
Unless otherwise indicated, 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.