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U.S. Army All-American Andrew Thomas will show an uncommon commitment to Georgia during the final stretch of his recruiting process.

Sentell’s Intel: Another Georgia commitment plans to take just one official visit

Another day. Another Georgia commitment living up to Webster’s definition of that word.

Pace Academy senior offensive tackle Andrew Thomas was honored as a U.S. Army All-American selection with a jersey presentation at his school on Tuesday. The 6-foot-5, 326-pound talent shared some heartfelt thoughts on his decision to play in the Army game.

His commitment sounds Army Strong.

Thomas told DawgNation his commitment to Georgia means he will take no other official visits outside of just his one visit to Georgia. Clemson and Notre Dame were his other finalists, but Thomas will not take any more trips to see their schools and hear their pitches about playing for their teams.

Thomas posed with his mother and sister at his jersey presentation ceremony on Tuesday. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
Andrew Thomas posed with his mother and sister at his jersey presentation ceremony on Tuesday. (Jeff Sentell/AJC)

“I feel like I visited my top 3 schools enough when I was not committed,” Thomas said. “I went to see each of them multiple times and I felt like I saw what I needed to see. Another visit to me would not change things. I saw what I needed to see out of Georgia. That’s what did it for me. I don’t need to go on any more visits to see anything else.”

Thomas is planning his official visit for December or in January. It will be after the season. His Knights are the defending state champions in their classification.

AndThere must be something about the job Sam Pittman has done so far building a relationship with his future players. The choice Thomas has made about his post-commitment life as a recruit mirrors that of 6-foot-6 junior offense tackle Max Wray.

Wray, a four-star prospect from Tennessee, has a super-sized story that fits in superior genetics, an uncommon maturity plus a pastry-powered weight gain ritual that stretched out his stomach with second suppers.

He will be in Athens for the Tennessee game this weekend.

UGA is in great shape with another elite Pace lineman

It is no secret that Thomas is very close with Pace junior offensive guard Jamaree Salyer. Salyer is rated as the nation’s No. 1 guard in his class and as the No. 12 overall prospect for 2018.

Salyer projects to either guard or center on Saturdays.

Salyer (right) will likely play with Thomas at the next level barring a wild turn of events. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
Jamaree Salyer (right) will likely play with Andrew Thomas at the next level, barring a wild turn of events. (Jeff Sentell/AJC)

Those two have the same mindset when looking at their college options and have been linked. They’ve been taking their recruiting visits together for years. I continue to think that a great freshman year for Thomas at Georgia will assure that Salyer follows his close friend.

That’s not hard to figure out. The 6-foot-4, 325-pound prospect has liked Georgia for awhile now.

Yet, he told me something on Tuesday afternoon that shows just how much. It seems pretty close to the mark to already regard Salyer as a Bulldogs fan.

He’s watching the Bulldogs play this year and said he’s already thought about what it might be like to block for Jacob Eason under center at Georgia.

“For sure,” Salyer said.

But then he shared how he felt about Eason’s play so far in his freshman season. He gave a very descriptive answer about what it was like to watch the Missouri game.

“I called it,” Salyer said. “I watched the whole Mizzou game. I told my Mom before the last drive that Eason was going to win this game.”

“But he’s just a freshman,” his mother replied. “Then she said the normal things you hear about Eason. He’s a freshman. He’s going to have to take some time. This might not be his time yet.”

The 5-star prospect disagreed with his Mom.

“I told my Mom that this game might go down in history as his first big game,” Salyer said. “I told her that Eason was going to win this game. So, he got to the play where he threw the pass to Isaiah McKenzie and I was running (around) the house screaming after he did that. I was excited. I called it.”

Salyer was named the top offensive lineman at the Nike Atlanta regional on March 30, 2016 at Buford High School. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
Jamaree Salyer was named the top offensive lineman at the Nike Atlanta regional on March 30, 2016, at Buford High School. (Jeff Sentell/AJC)

Salyer felt that Ohio State is really red-lining the effort for him of late. He said that the Buckeyes are recruiting him just about as hard as Georgia. He’s getting about a dozen direct messages and maybe five text messages per day from that staff.

The junior said that his updated decision timeline might have a finish line at Nike’s “The Opening” next July. That’s the same path that Thomas followed.

“I think that I will probably be done with my recruiting by then,” Salyer said. “But if not or I am not sure about it, then I probably won’t make my decision then.”

He rattled off Clemson, Georgia and Ohio State as his primary options. But he did say that Florida has emerged as a new face. He said that Alabama was “kind of” still recruiting him heavily.

“Ohio State is just like, if I come up there and see it, then there’s no way that I cannot fall in love with it,” Salyer said. “A lot of schools, they just want me to come see what they have.”

A question I just had to ask

Football is all about competition. Good on good. Iron sharpens iron. So, I had to ask what happens during board drills or in one-on-one competition when Salyer faces off against Thomas.

Thomas is a year older, but Salyer carries the higher national ranking in his class. They are both about the same size.

The coaches at Pace said it is a sight to see. Salyer might actually be stronger, but then Thomas plays with better technique. When the two close friends face off, it usually results in a stalemate about 90 percent of the time.

Both players go both ways on the defensive line for the Knights. Thomas actually said that he prefers defensive tackle to offensive line, but he realizes where his future lies on Saturdays and potentially on Sundays.

Salyer will also be at Georgia on Saturday for the Tennessee game.

The latest with Georgia commit Trey Blount 

Trey Blount, a 4-star receiver, is another Georgia guy at Pace Academy. The school is quickly turning into a UGA pipeline, especially given the fact that one of UGA’s all-time greats (Terrence Edwards) is now the receivers coach at Pace.

Blount is one of his prodigies. The 6-foot-2, 196-pound standout is fresh off one of the best games of his prep career. He had 5 catches for 152 yards that went for 3 touchdowns. He also lines up at defensive end and added 6 tackles plus one stop behind the line of scrimmage. He already has 2 sacks this season.

He’s been an effective behind-the-scenes recruiter for Georgia. Alabama ILB Monty Rice told DawgNation recently that Blount painted a very bright picture of things to come in Athens, which included national championships.

His story is every recruit handles this journey differently. Blount stayed on Thomas about Georgia until he committed. Then he switched gears and did the same with Salyer.

Blount (right) said he's going to take every chance he can get to develop great chemistry with 2017 QB commit Jake Fromm (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
Trey Blount (right) said he’s going to take every chance he can get to develop great chemistry with 2017 QB commit Jake Fromm. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)

But Blount decided to place his focus on his high school team once that season came around.

“I am just trying to be a team player for Pace Academy,” Blount said. “That’s where my focus needs to be and that’s where I want it to be. We have to focus on Pace right now. When the season comes to an end, then that will be the time for me to go hard at some guys about Georgia again. I am going to jump right back in it and go hard at guys for Georgia again.”

But sometimes he can’t help it.

“I still recruit Jamaree and other recruits here and there,” he said.

Blount said the names on his list for the here-and-there messages to choose Georgia were 4-star ILB Kenney “KJ” Britt, 4-star prospect Jeremiah Holloman plus Rice and Salyer.

He’ll also be at Georgia this weekend. He’ll be an active pitchman for Georgia, but he still plans to take all of his official visits.

That’s the example that seems right to him.

“I am just trying to see what the other parts of the United States have to offer and what that will look like,” Blount said. “I want to see what California looks like. See how beautiful the weather and scenery is. I just want to see what it looks like.”

He thinking about Alabama, Notre Dame, Oregon and UCLA as his official visits. He said that UGA will also definitely get one. Blount said he’s also hearing a lot from Auburn right now.

“Let everybody know that when I gave Georgia my commitment back on May 1, then that was it for me,” Blount said. “I was locked in for Georgia from then on. I’m not going anywhere else. I want DawgNation to know that I’m a Dawg. I will always be a Dawg and for the next four and then on to the next 40 years after that I will be bleeding red and black.”

Another commitment will use all five of his official visits

The previous stories offer a good sampling of perspective when it comes to commitments and their decisions regarding official visits.

Robert Beal, a four-star UGA commit at defensive end, felt he wasn’t going to take any more official visits. He told DawgNation that on two separate occasions last month.

The nation’s No. 3 weak-side defensive end appears to have changed his mind. We discussed his trip to Alabama this weekend on Monday.

Beal told Kipp Adams of 247Sports he will now take all five official visitswith future trips planned to Georgia, North Carolina, N.C. State and Texas over the next three months.

Beal (No. 58 at right) is rated as the nation's No. 3 weak-side defensive end prospect for 2017. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
Robert Beal (No. 58 at right) is rated as the nation’s No. 3 weak-side defensive end prospect for 2017. (Jeff Sentell/AJC)

Beal will enroll early and told Adams that he will enroll at Georgia as soon as he finishes his week at the Under Armour All-American game.

I don’t think much has changed with Beal. There’s really no reason to worry, but the thought of him taking other visits has to be a concern. I’d just label it a slight concern.

Here’s why: Beal is off at IMG Academy this fall for his senior season. That’s a boarding school in Florida that’s home to about 50 other elite recruits. If Beal opted to not take his official visits this fall, then he’d be facing a lot of weekends where he would be sitting in the IMG athletic dorms all by himself. Most of IMG’s elite underclassmen are also taking visits across the nation, too.

He’s hours away from his family, and the alternative to not going to see any other schools on official visits except to UGA in that setting strikes me as a very tedious way to spend my last few months of high school.

 

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Follow Jeff Sentell 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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