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Jeff Sentell / AJC
Eastside 3-star CB Eric Stokes Jr. seems like a strong contender to join the Class of 2017 at UGA on National Signing Day next year.

Sentell’s Intel: How much longer will the race for superfast CB Eric Stokes Jr. go?

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.

Eric Stokes Jr., the senior at Eastside High blessed with 10.4 speed in the 100 meters, continues to take a good long look at UGA.

What did he mean by that above tweet? He made that the morning of the Georgia Tech game.

“I knew it was a big game,” Stokes said. “This is my home state so, of course, I would be there for the ‘who owns the state’ game.”

Stokes felt the Tech game was another good trip for him.

“I came out of that game feeling great about where I stand with UGA,” Stokes said. “I know they really want me and then I can easily see myself there.”

Those thoughts matter. He’s now trying to set up his official visit to UGA. He’s not sure whether it will be in December or January. Stokes said he’d open to whenever UGA wants to line up the players for any specific recruiting weekends.

“That doesn’t matter,” he said. “Just trying to get there.”

The 3-star cornerback prospect picked up his UGA offer this month. He’s rated as the nation’s No. 60 CB for this year’s signing cycle but the upside appears vast. The 6-foot Stokes has world class speed that can’t be coached.

He’s had an official set up with Ole Miss on Jan. 27 for quite some time. He’s also planning to take an official visit to Florida in January.

That all points to his intended finish line: National Signing Day.

Stokes feels that he’s at the stage where Georgia would accept his commitment at any time, but he’s not at that point yet.

“I want to check out all those other officials first,” Stokes said. “I want to check out those other schools first to make sure I am making the right decision.”

Stokes made two trips this month to UGA for games. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
Stokes made two trips this month to UGA for games. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)

Stokes was not a courtesy visitor. He’s had the chance for an extended period with both coach Kirby Smart and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker. He also checked out the layout of what his dormitory would look like on his most recent visit.

That definitely got his approval. His mother and his sister also joined him on his recent trip.

“My mother really doesn’t really talk much,” Stokes said. “We keep trying to get things out of her now. But my sister that was her first real college game and she absolutely loved it.”

Stokes went into detail about how much his sister loved the atmosphere at Sanford Stadium. Did the Tech result leave Stokes wondering about the future of Georgia football?

“It doesn’t bother me,” Stokes said. “I know that they had the game and they lost the lead. It doesn’t affect me. I know how easily that can change in the game.”

Here shared an interesting note. The Bulldogs are not recruiting him the hardest right now. That distinction belongs to both Iowa State and West Virginia. The Mountaineers have not let up and have consistently recruited Stokes harder than any other program.

“I can still see myself going far (away) but who knows where I will land?” Stokes said. “That’s the point with me right now. I do not know.”

He reiterated that. Stokes said he doesn’t even have a likely decision pegged in his mind right now.

“It is still being formulated,” Stokes said. “I would like to check out every place and the five places on my officials to see how all the places are before I really think about everything.”

He will do that complete breakdown after he’s taken all five of his officials. In this scenario, Georgia’s dorms would be compared to what he will see at Florida, Ole Miss and West Virginia.

One more speed read on Stokes 

Stokes also shared a significant thought which led to his projection in the latest mock signing class for Georgia for the Class of 2017. He told DawgNation he’s never seen a better gameday environment than what he witnessed at the Auburn-Georgia game earlier this month.

“Just the night sky and then the lights underneath and then how everybody lit up their phones that night against Auburn,” Stokes said. “That was nice. It was nice. Really nice.”

That trip was tied with his visit to Ole Miss for the Alabama game earlier this year. Those two venues have been his most thrilling windows into the world of big-time college football so far.

So the Auburn trip was a home run. When I speak to recruits that have considerable options, I have it in my head that one great visit is never enough. The school that lands Stokes — like any genuine SEC prospect — needs to hit a few Barry Bonds-sized taters to eventually win the race.

But then Stokes said he felt that same great vibe about UGA when he returned for the Tech game, too. Even when the home team lost.

That was the first recruiting trip that his mother joined him on. Stokes said his sister also made the trip with him to Athens for the Auburn game, too. His favorite moment of the Tech visit came when Smart sat him down and spoke from the heart to him.

“He talked to me, my mother and my sister,” Stokes said. “It was a good about 5-10 minutes. He stressed to my mother about how much they want me and how the academics will work out. Coach Smart wants her to know how Georgia stands among all my options in the classroom with schools. He wanted my mother to know about how my school will come first and then football will come second.”

He aims to be a Psychology major and feels that Georgia sets up very well for him to pursue that.

“(Coach Smart) said a lot of things,” Stokes said. “He said he can see me coming in. He said ‘I can’t guarantee you that you will start or anything’ but he said ‘I will guarantee that you will come here and I know that you will work your tail off and you will be comfortable and confident in your future.'”

Smart hit all the right notes when he said that.

“I want competition,” Stokes said. “Competition brings out the best. With great competition, I know I can become what I want to be in college. Easily. That will bring that out in me.”

He wants to wear No. 23 in college.

A name to put on the side burner (at least) 

The recruiting industry has started to pay some attention to the recent visit pattern of North Carolina athlete Brelin Faison-Walden. He’s rated as a three-star recruit and as the nation’s No. 28 OLB this year.

Faison-Walden also committed to Penn State back in January but gave UGA some heavy consideration. He even became UGA’s few official visitors this year.

Was it a token visit? There are two things that lead me to believe that is not the case. The first would be that he returned to Athens for another unofficial visit for the Georgia Tech game.

The second seems much more interesting to me. Faison-Walden very politely told me over the weekend that he’s not going to be conducting any interviews for the time being. He could not have been any nicer in the way he said he’s going to press the mute button for a little bit.

The logical first read into that situation is there could be some deliberation happening there. That’s the conclusion I feel would be the most appropriate in this setting.

Georgia assistant coach Shane Beamer also paid him a recent visit.

That’s enough to make every card-carrying member of DawgNation want to go fetch his film. Please allow me to save you and Google that time and effort this morning.




What’s going on with Tray Bishop?

Keith Niebuhr of 247Sports gathered up some interesting news on Auburn commit Tray Bishop on Wednesday. Niebuhr covers the Auburn recruiting beat and does a very good job at that.

As a professional courtesy, I will address one major point that was made in that copy. It has nothing to do with what position Bishop aims to play in college.

The best way to set that up is to note the Terrell County standout recently told Niebuhr he was only 85-to-90 percent committed to Auburn. Since that statement, Bishop took another trip to UGA for the Tech game. When asked to speak if his commitment status had changed after his most recent trip to UGA, he declined.

That’s a major shift in my mind.

Bishop is rated as the nation’s No. 4 athlete for the Class of 2017. He’s a prospect that the current Georgia commitments know very well. They’d love to see him added to the 2017 class at Athens.

So would Georgia defensive coordinator Mel Tucker and assistant coach Kevin Sherrer. The case can be made that Sherrer has recruited his South Georgia territory as well as anyone has nationally over the last two years.

Sherrer is also the lead recruiter for Bishop.

Bishop convinced me months ago that he really felt that receiver or safety would be his most likely path to making a living playing football. That’s why I felt it that commitment stuck to Auburn, it would never largely be about the chance to pile up more rushing and passing yards than Nick Marshall did for that staff at quarterback.

There’s another reason — which I will continue to keep close to the vest — about why I feel confident at this time projecting Bishop to UGA in DawgNation’s latest signing class for 2017.




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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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