Sentell’s Intel: Why Aubrey Solomon’s mother feels UGA is standing out

Sabrina Caldwell takes part in her family tradition by posing with her sons, Kermit Solomon (left) and Aubrey Solomon, after Lee County's 55-29 win against Houston County on Oct. 7 in Leesburg, Ga.

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 be leaning and also add a dab of perspective to help fans figure out what it all means. __________________________________________________________________

LEESBURG, Ga. — Aubrey Solomon is one of the nation’s best players at a premium position in the Class of 2017. His recruitment already is expected to go well past National Signing Day.

We had a thorough report on everything related to the 4-star DT on Monday but wanted to return to that story with a little more insight regarding the person who will have the biggest influence on his decision.

That would be his mother, Sabrina Caldwell. Caldwell isn’t the typical football mom or single mother. She’s confident and aware of this opportunity. She’s served in the Army, and that level of commitment and discipline has been instilled in her two sons.

Solomon told DawgNation after his game last Friday that Caldwell will “100 percent” have her hands on the wheel of his recruiting process and he will go with the school she eventually endorses.

“UGA is, by far, doing the best job right now recruiting Aubrey,” Caldwell said. “It is funny when they reach out to him they constantly ask him about his family or whatnot. Then they ask how he is doing.”

She said Georgia has two important ambassadors in that relationship: player personnel director Jonas Jennings and defensive line coach Tracy Rocker. They can relate to what she and her son are going through by virtue of common life experiences.

Caldwell has detailed the respect she has for Jennings and Rocker in interviews. Jennings plays a valuable role in this relationship. His outlook and personality add a mentorship component to Georgia’s player development program that cannot be overstated.

“You’d think these other schools would have read those articles and tried to get me to meet the directors of player personnel they have at their schools, but they haven’t thought about that yet,” Caldwell said.

She matter-of-factly stated no school has a relationship that comes close to having the trust level that already has been established between Jennings, Rocker and her family.

Aubrey Solomon had made it clear that his mother, Sabrina Caldwell, will play an integral role in shaping his college decision. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)

The Bulldogs are respectful of her schedule. She’s a professional and has asked that coaches limit their contact periods around the times in the week she might be available. There was one school that kept abusing a request she made not to text her during the daytime.

“UGA has never done that to me,” Caldwell said. “They respect that I have a family to raise and that I had a life before all of this recruiting came about.”

Caldwell also detailed why Solomon’s recruiting will go past National Signing Day.

“It might go at least before May,” Caldwell said. “Probably April. We have got a lot of family things going on around National Signing Day, and he’s a family person. Family comes first.”

She’s going to need time to fully vet all these schools and will pay close attention to the degree path. That’s where Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh took the time to personally sit down with her son and map out what that would look like at Ann Arbor. That played a huge role in how the Wolverines earned his commitment before Solomon had his reasons to back away from that pledge in August.

Caldwell also is looking at depth charts. They are charting it all out to see where his best chances are to play. They have discussed his official visits. She thinks Michigan will either be the first or third official visit. UGA will either be his second or his fourth official visit.

She described her son’s decision as “open” and stated she doesn’t really want her son to stick close to home. But that’s an interesting variable. Solomon was born in California, and he’s lived in different places. Caldwell also expects to move from South Georgia once both of her boys are in college.

Auburn is actually the closest big-time program to where she lives. Alabama and Georgia are 200-plus miles away. That “home” designation will be a tough variable to quantify.

“I give UGA a lot of credit because they have shown so much love for Aubrey,” Caldwell said. “But I told Aubrey that he doesn’t want to be blinded if they show you all this love without still looking more closely at what all they have and not just the love they are showing. He needs to make sure the school he chooses has everything he needs and is the best place for his academic path, too.”

Why Michigan lost Solomon’s commitment 

Caldwell has been impressed with Georgia for some time. The example the Bulldogs set when they sent her more than a dozen cards for her birthday made an impact. It moved her to tears and definitely got the attention of the 4-star DT she sees at the dinner table every night.

That attention to detail was an example of what Michigan didn’t do this summer in its recruitment of Solomon. The 6-foot-3, 305-pounder made what he now calls an “immature” decision when he committed to Michigan on a spur-of-the-moment visit. He made that trip by himself while his mother was with his younger brother in Louisiana.

When they discuss that experience now, Solomon tells his mother she was right. He should have waited. But she counters that it was an important opportunity for growth. She’s cited author John C. Maxwell’s “Failing Forward” about learning from one’s mistakes.

Lee County 4-star senior DT Aubrey Solomon (left) and coach Dean Fabrizio attended the Corky Kell Kickoff Classic luncheon this year. (Rob Saye / Special)

“Aubrey used everything we talked about as tools to make that decision,” Caldwell said. “He applied all those tools correctly to be his own man and make his decision. He put his money where his mouth was and convinced me, ‘OK, I was fine with it.’ ”

Caldwell shared her perspective on the “spelling test” incident regarding Solomon and some correspondence he received while he was still a Michigan commit. The Wolverines sent him some mail in which his name was misspelled. Michigan also sent Solomon a thank-you letter for attending a summer recruiting event.

That was another error. Solomon wasn’t able to attend that function. Those factors were enough to trigger his de-commitment in August. How important was that? Caldwell said her son probably would still be committed to Michigan if those events had not taken place.

“We are still going to take that official visit because the coaches are not at fault, and they are not the ones who sent that mail to you,” she said. “But it is all about attention to detail across the entire program.”

She knows the Wolverines send thousands of letters to recruits every month. That’s why Michigan still has a shot. But she also sees other big-time programs sending those same letters.

They haven’t misspelled her son’s name, so it sticks out when one school makes that mistake. Caldwell said Alabama and Georgia have benefited the most from Michigan’s mistake.

“But I give Michigan a lot of credit, though,” Caldwell said. “They owned up to their mistake. It takes a strong person to own up to a mistake like that and then to say that it happens and that they are not going to make that mistake again.”

Cam Akers said what? 

It has been more than a week since 5-star RB prospect Cam Akers visited Georgia for the Tennessee game. The nation’s No. 2 RB prospect took an unofficial visit and clearly enjoyed interacting with the other UGA commitments and other priority targets in the crowd.

The Clinton High (Clinton, Miss.) standout told the Jackson Clarion-Ledger something recently that I found interesting about his recruitment.

The Bulldogs already have a pair of commitments at his position: Toneil Carter and D’Andre Swift. Swift is rated as the nation’s No. 4 RB in 2017. Carter checks in at No. 7 nationally.

Cam Akers (42) is rated as the nation’s No. 2 RB in the Class of 2017. (Jeremy Birmingham / Landof10.com)

Akers is aware of that. He told the Clarion-Ledger that Georgia picking up a second commitment at RB would not be a deterrent. His interest has not waned during the last month.

“If anything,” Akers said, “it may have picked up.”

The 5-11, 213-pounder once was committed to Alabama. He still plans an official visit to see the Crimson Tide for the Texas A&M game on Oct. 22.

I’m not calling for it yet but simply setting the table for a realistic possibility here. Georgia projects to lose senior Brendan Douglas to graduation and juniors Nick Chubb and Sony Michel to the NFL draft at the RB spot after this season.

Running backs coach Dell McGee would be beyond pleased to see Akers, Carter and Swift fill the holes created by those departures. Akers and Carter also plan to be January enrollees.

The last UGA de-commitment

Former UGA commit Latavious Brini seems to be on his way to Miami. (Latavious Brini / Special)

Georgia saw 4-star CB Latavious Brini (Hialeah, Fla.) de-commit from its Class of 2017 last week. There were a few layers to that one. First, he committed to UGA as the nation’s No. 33 prospect at his position.

Brini has the size and length that Georgia wants from its secondary going forward. The 6-2, 200-pounder also had a good relationship with receivers coach James Coley. Coley’s ties in South Florida from his days coaching at Florida State and then Miami were an asset there.

Yet Brini told DawgNation he was only “87.6 committed” to UGA on Sept. 9, and it appears he had his statement prepared to de-commit saved on his phone just a few days after that. But he waited weeks to finally go ahead with it.

When he did, he asked for no interviews and for his decision to be respected.

DawgNation was able to learn the following regarding his future going forward:

  1. He thinks UGA is still a contender in his decision going forward.
  2. He still plans to take an official visit to Georgia.

It is worth noting that Brini has taken two unofficial visits to Miami during the last month. He also recently picked up an offer from Oklahoma.

Of note: There have been 16 recent predictions that Brini will wind up at Miami on the 247Sports Crystal Ball feature.

 

 

 

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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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