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Jeff Sentell / AJC
Thomson High junior Christian Tutt is rated as the nation's No. 15 CB for the Class of 2018.

Sentell’s Intel: Former silent commit Christian Tutt will be a big visitor to UGA this weekend

Want a daily lap through Georgia football recruiting? That’s what the Intel will bring at least five days a week. We’ll cover the news and which way this 4-star or 5-star might lean and add a dab of perspective to help fans figure out what it all means.
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The young man they call “King Tutt” will be at the Louisiana-Lafayette game on Saturday.

That’s junior ATH Christian Tutt of Thomson High Schoool. It also seems safe to point out that the 4-star prospect won’t be around just to see those black jerseys.

For Tutt, it will be the first trip this year to a program that simply hits home with him. The nation’s No. 15 cornerback prospect for the Class of 2018 still calls Georgia his dream school.

That’s where his uncle Danny Verdun-Wheeler played. Georgia was the first major program to offer him in the summer before he entered high school. That’s a big reason why Alabama and defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt are still in it big for Tutt. Tutt still feels he has a better relationship with Pruitt than any other recruiter out there.

Tutt (right) calls UGA 5-star commit Richard LeCounte III (left) his big brother. That's because those two grown very close growing up and as they have both matured to elite prospect status. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
Tutt (right) calls UGA 5-star commit Richard LeCounte III (left) his big brother. That’s because those two grown very close growing up and as they have both matured to elite prospect status. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)

5-star UGA commit Richard LeCounte III will also be making a back-to-back trip from South Georgia to see UGA.

He’ll no doubt spend some time with Tutt. Those two are close. Tutt describes LeCounte as “my big brother” and they have always talked about playing with one another in college.

That’s going to be important as the Bulldogs are in a recruiting dogfight for Tutt with Pruitt and Alabama plus one other big name. That would be Ohio State’s Urban Meyer.

Meyer has targeted Tutt for daily text messages and conversation the same way he’s going after 4-star junior DB Derrik Allen of Lassiter High in Metro Atlanta.

For Tutt, this visit can go a long way. He plays for a true state title contender at Thomson this season. That proud program has one of its best teams in years. So he’s focusing on the season. That’s why he has only been to one game this year. That was when he took an unofficial visit to Notre Dame at the beginning of the year.

Why UGA this weekend? 

“I just want to get up there and talk to the coaches and stuff,” Tutt said. “I haven’t been up there in awhile. I want to come to a small game. Not a big-game environment and stuff because I already know how Georgia is. I will spend a little time with the coaches and some of the players.

Tutt said he was impressed by the win against Top 10 Auburn last week.

“I liked that,” Tutt said. “Georgia hasn’t been the team that I expected them to be this year. They had some mistakes and stuff but I still love them. I still love Georgia like that.”

Tutt said that Ohio State was recruiting him the hardest right now followed by Alabama and then Georgia. The nation’s No. 106 prospect for the Class of 2018 is getting a full-court press from the Buckeyes.

“I get a good morning text from coach (Urban) Meyer and (Ohio State defensive coordinator) coach (Greg) Schiano and (Ohio state defensive backs) coach (Kerry) Coombs every morning,” Tutt said.

The Buckeyes like the way he can cover receivers and how he can fly in off the edge and play the run. Ohio State wants him to come in and learn to play cornerback, nickel corner and safety. They want him to learn all of those positions.

UGA is only recruiting him as a cornerback or at the nickel.

“There have been a few teams that have been recruiting me as an athlete,” Tutt said. They want me on offense and defense.”

That pitch is going to go over well with Tutt. That’s what he wants to do.

“I really want to play everything,” Tutt said. “I want to be like (Michigan sensation) Jabril (Peppers) and Adoree’ (Jackson) and all the big things he’s doing at USC,” Tutt said. “I look up to them guys a lot. That’s what I want to do. I just don’t want to be one side of the ball. I like being on both sides and being in the kicking game.”

Tutt said that Jackson’s Trojans are recruiting him to play in all three phases right now.

The big reason he felt he could choose Ohio State would be the development process.

“They play five corners on the field,” Tutt said. “That makes a better chance for me to get right in and play. Ohio State talks to me a lot about coming in and playing early. Real early. I also saw where they have had so many players drafted in the first and second round. I’m trying to get into that league. I’m trying to get that check.”

The Pruitt factor 

Tutt told DawgNation two very interesting things this week regarding his recruitment. He said he was already a silent commitment to UGA back when Pruitt still served as the defensive coordinator. Tutt also felt that he’d be publicly committed to Georgia by now if Pruitt was still coaching at Georgia.

Of course, that stuff is in the coulda-woulda-shoulda-so-what realm of speculation. I still found it interesting to learn. It helped me understanding where his recruiting is at right now to know that’s how he felt about UGA and how he also values that relationship with the current defensive coordinator of the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide.

When Pruitt talks to him, Tutt said it is always a great conversation.

“He’s the person that really got things started for me,” Tutt said. “He liked the way I played going into my ninth grade year. I haven’t even played in high school yet and he came and talked to me, told me he liked the way I played and introduced me to Coach (Mark) Richt. That’s when they gave me that scholarship offer. I liked the way he coached and everything. … He started everything here for me with this man and that’s why I make sure to always show loyalty to Coach Pruitt.”

That loyalty would be the biggest reason why he would choose Alabama.

“He believes the same thing that the coaches at Ohio State say about me,” Tutt said. “He believes I could come in and play early. He said I could come in and help the defense but the ‘Bama defense doesn’t really need any help. Honestly. Maybe I could be part of the reload.”

The race for King Tutt

Tutt said that coach Kirby Smart and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker are recruiting him for Georgia. There’s also constant attention from his area recruiter Shane Beamer. LeCounte is also a major factor, too.

LeCounte — no surprise here — is also a major factor, too. He said the program needed to just keep coming with more of the same stuff to attract him.

Yet the 6-foot, 185-pounder made it clear there are three schools in his top group: Alabama. Georgia. Ohio State.

Tutt is rated as a 4-star cornerback prospect for 2018. He was once a silent commitment to UGA. (Sonny Kennedy / Special)
Tutt is rated as a 4-star cornerback prospect for 2018. He was once a silent commitment to UGA. (Sonny Kennedy / Special)

“I really loved it when I went up to Ohio State,” Tutt said. “I’m still homegrown and I still love my home state. That’s always going to be my hometown and home state. I was raised in Georgia. I still kind of like my way to go to Georgia but I will be thinking about it a lot. Just because I am in Georgia doesn’t mean I have to go to Georgia. You know what I am saying? I just have to keep weighing my options out. But Georgia should just keep doing the same thing. I might end up there.”

LeCounte will also loom large.

“He taught me a lot of things and has kind of watched out for me since I have been in this recruiting game and stuff,” Tutt said. “We want to play with each other because my ninth grade and 10th-grade year we played against each other and we battled against each other. We do want to play together at the next level. He always talks to me about coming to Georgia. He’s recruiting me and stuff and I am listening to him.”

Tutt is a unique prospect. He thinks it is good for a prospect to name leaders. He’d like to do the same, but he can’t choose right now between Bulldogs, Buckeyes and Tide. He said the next two schools favors would be Florida State and Notre Dame after that.

What kind of a shot do the Bulldogs have right now?

“Georgia most definitely still has a good shot at me,” Tutt said. “They really have a good shot at me. Georgia fans really haven’t got anything to worry about.”

Christian Tutt UGA visit by Christian Tutt Special
Tutt’s uncle Danny Verdun-Wheeler (far left) joined UGA head coach Kirby Smart at a UGA basketball game last season. Tutt (second from right) told DawgNation that Georgia has always been his dream school. (Christian Tutt/ Special)

The 4-star cornerback knows which colors his uncle Verdun-Wheeler would like for him to put on, but he said that the former Georgia LB and Thomson High great is letting him walk things out regarding this decision on his own.

He’d like to enroll early, but Tutt has been told by his school it has never been done before in their school system.

Tutt’s ratings have dropped over the last year. I think they will climb back up again after the evaluators see him on the camp circuit and get a good look at his junior film. Tutt has become an even more dangerous kick returner but has also evolved into a tenacious defender from his cornerback and nickel corner spots.

Check the film out for yourself. He flashed nowhere near the level of physicality on defense as a sophomore that he has this season. There’s a reason that Tutt (we’ll get to that) is playing what looks to be inspired football this year.

Tutt’s decision date

He’s set to make his announcement on May 30 of next year. That date carries special significance for him and his family. His older brother Chris Tutt passed away this summer in a car crash. It was yet another tragedy that has rocked Tutt’s life. He saw one of his close friends drown in the summer of 2015.

I applaud the gesture. He’s using that “look at me” commitment decision moment for something much greater than himself. That to call attention to the life his brother lived and also just make sure everyone knows how important that relationship was by choosing to honor his brother on that day.

Tutt also changed his jersey from his old No. 2 to the No. 1 that was worn by his older brother Chris when he played for Thomson. Tutt wants to make so many plays that Thomson will retire that No. 1. His older brother’s car veered off the road and struck two trees. Chris Tutt would have been a sophomore defensive back at Fort Valley State this season.

Those are two ways that Tutt has found to add happy memories to off-set the pain anytime a young person passes on so early.

 

 

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