Sentell’s Intel: Georgia’s recent message to DeAngelo Gibbs was delivered with painful honesty
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It will be hard for anyone to forget how Tennessee defeated Georgia this year. The timing of that last-gasp Hail Mary made it an instant classic for the winning team.
UGA defensive coordinator Mel Tucker had to be gnashing his teeth over that ending but used the time afterward to continue to recruit 4-star safety DeAngelo Gibbs. DawgNation rates him one of the program’s top remaining priorities in 2017.
Gibbs, the state’s top uncommitted prospect in the 2017 cycle, shared what Tucker said with DawgNation on Wednesday.
“Tucker told me something right after the game that stood out,” Gibbs said. “He told me, ‘See, that’s why we really need you. That’s why we need you back there. You could contribute to prevent that if you were playing for us.’ ”
The nation’s No. 3 safety said it was another great trip. Gibbs said he had seen everything UGA had to offer after his first five visits but keeps coming back. He’s been to visit Georgia at least 20 times but returns because he wants to monitor if anything changes.
“I felt great after the visit,” said Gibbs, the nation’s No. 41 overall prospect. “I felt amazing. I feel like every visit (to Georgia) gets better and better. I talked to the coaches and talked to the players, and we’ll just see what goes on from there.”
Gibbs expects to make a return trip later in the season. The Auburn and Georgia Tech games seem like the best bets, but he wasn’t sure when he would return.
He plans to release his five official visits on Saturday through his Twitter account. The time for those is drawing close because he will enroll early in January. The current plan is to make his announcement at the Under Armour All-America Game.
Gibbs stood next to Georgia 5-star commitment Richard LeCounte III during the crucial moments of the Tennessee game. When Jacob Eason hit Riley Ridley for that go-ahead touchdown pass with 10 seconds to play, his exuberance was clear.
He compared those emotions to the way he felt the previous week watching the Vols storm back to defeat Florida. He went to the Georgia-Tennessee game expecting to see another thriller. Gibbs even predicted it would go to triple overtime, but that the home team would win.
“I was up a lot cheering for the home team at Tennessee, too,” Gibbs said. “I was just cheering for the home team.”
The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder is good at giving guarded answers in interviews. He could be a card shark in poker or coaching defendants for the witness stand in court.
But the joy on his face that night in Sanford Stadium was telling. Was that just cheering for the home team?
“When Jacob threw that pass for the touchdown, that shook the whole stadium,” Gibbs said. “That was amazing, and how could anyone just sit down and just say, ‘Man, that was a good throw’ and that be it. I just had to get up off my feet. That was a great back-and-forth game with everybody cheering.”
At the time, he even predicted more back-and-forth was on the way.
“I told everybody around me to watch out and watch Tennessee catch this Hail Mary the way that game was going,” Gibbs said. “When I said that, everyone around me said, ‘Don’t say that’ now.”
Gibbs described the mood in the Georgia recruit section as dead silence after Jauan Jennings made that catch. He was able to read the play the whole way sitting across the field in the opposite end zone.
“Nobody really knew he caught it, but I knew exactly as soon as he put his hand on it he caught it,” Gibbs said. “I just turned around and was like, ‘Dang, he caught it,’ and everyone was like, ‘Whoa and no,’ and after that, all you could hear were the Tennessee fans all going crazy.”
His cousin Nigel Warrior is a freshman safety at Tennessee. Gibbs said Warrior told him the Volunteers worked on that play every day after practice last week.
Look for him to visit UGA at least two or three more times before he reaches his decision.
His routine is similar. He checks out the fit. Can he see himself there? What does it still feel like? Does he enjoy being on campus? Does he like going out at night? Those things — plus a clear path to the field– are what he looks for.
“It always boils down to the atmosphere,” Gibbs said. “Does it feel like home? Can I relate to Athens real well? I enjoy all my visits when I go to Athens. It is never a bad visit.”
He said he’s seen everything he needs to at Georgia. The fun he had in the end zone after Eason threw that touchdown may have been telling, but he advised that’s not everything. He was having fun with a lot of Georgia guys, but that won’t shape his decision.
“Those are my guys,” Gibbs said. “Those are my boys. But I’ve been saying this ever since people started asking me about recruiting. People asked me if I was going to follow Nigel. People asked me if I was going to follow (former Georgia signee) Chad (Clay) to college. It is my decision. I’m not spending anyone else’s four years. I’m not spending the four years for Jamyest (Williams) at South Carolina even though he’s my dude. He’s got to do that. It is my four years and where I want to pick to play to spend my four years where I want to be. It is nobody else’s decision but mine. I mean, I’m going to talk to my parents about it. It is like 20 percent their decision and 80 percent on me. That is what I want to do.”
He wasn’t certain about his next visit. He brought up a potential visit to Alabama for the Texas A&M game on Oct. 22. That could be his first official visit.
Georgia and USC commit Jamyest Williams
Jamyest Williams plays with Gibbs at Grayson High. He was a major UGA target prior to committing to South Carolina about six weeks ago. The 4-star cornerback rates as the nation’s No. 55 overall prospect and No. 7 nationally at his position.
He’s committed to an SEC East rival, but nothing has changed in Georgia’s pursuit of Williams. He told DawgNation the Bulldogs still are recruiting him heavily. Williams was also at the Tennessee game on an unofficial visit.
The playmaker got a chance to spend “a good bit” of time with Georgia defensive coordinator Mel Tucker before the game.
“But before the game, what was real special was something Kirby Smart did,” Williams said. “Coach Smart came up to (Gibbs) and I. I think (4-star ILB) K.J. (Britt) was there, too. But Coach Smart came up and talked to me and (DeAngelo) and some other guys and kind of walked off.”
Williams uses the nickname “D-Lo” to refer to Gibbs.
“But then out of all the recruits, he came back and talked to me and D-Lo,” Williams said. “He said, ‘We need to get this guy here’ about me. By him doing that, it showed me that he really wants me.”
He didn’t really know what else to say about that. But it was clear Smart made a strong impact with those words.
“I’ve made my decision, and I’m good with it in my heart,” Williams said. “Anything is possible. But I am still 100 percent committed to South Carolina.”
The 4-star cornerback is close to E.J. Price. Price is a year older than him, and the two were teammates last year at Archer. Price recently made headlines with his decision to transfer from Southern Cal and choose another school closer to home to continue his career.
That decision was abrupt. Price is in the first semester of his freshman year at Southern Cal, but he reportedly already has been granted a release by the Trojans.
There wasn’t a lot to discuss now, but Williams thinks Georgia will be a major contender for Price going forward. He also plans to do his best to get him to come to South Carolina.
Price developed strong feelings for UGA line coach Sam Pittman during his recruitment last year.
Nothing to see there
North Carolina 4-star linebacker Justin Foster plans to make his college commitment during halftime of his game on Friday night. The Crest High School product has a pool of three finalists: Clemson, Georgia and North Carolina.
He’s rated as the nation’s No. 6 prospect at OLB and at No. 87 overall, but there’s nothing for DawgNation to get its hopes up about. Foster is expected to choose Clemson.
The Bulldogs can sign up to six linebackers in 2017, but Foster won’t be one of them. I could roll off the names of at least nine other prospects at that position who are more likely to play at Georgia and who have visited campus much more frequently.
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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.