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Jeff Sentell / AJC
Think you were bummed out by the Vandebilt loss? Check out 4-star UGA offensive line commitment Netori Johnson.

Sentell’s Intel: How big-time UGA commit Netori Johnson handled the Vanderbilt loss

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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ELLENWOOD, Ga. — Take a look at the feature photo with today’s Intel post. It is a snap of Georgia 4-star OG commitment Netori Johnson in the final minute of the Vanderbilt game.

This picture was worth 140 immediate words to Johnson. That’s the kind of response it generated when DawgNation let him see that image.

“I guess I do look mad there, right?” Johnson said. “That’s mad. That’s what is going through my mind there. I’m tired in that picture now. We just played a game the night before and I’m tired. I was so tired. But I’m also thinking about how in the world that Georgia could be losing to Vanderbilt.”

“I’m thinking I wish I was out there on that field to try and stop that. To help prevent that. That’s how much I love Georgia. I don’t even like to see anything like that. I was upset. I was thinking about how much stuff I am going to hear if we lost to Vanderbilt and then we lost to Vanderbilt. Man, I have not stopped getting teased about Georgia losing to Vanderbilt.”

Johnson said he was definitely tired of what he was seeing.

“Things are going to be different when I get up there,” Johnson said. “Things are most definitely going to be different.”

Johnson said a friend or two then started in with the text messages. One of his buddies is a big Florida fan.

“He was texting me and saying if ya’ll lose to Vanderbilt,” Johnson said. “He was loving it because he loves Florida.”

The 4-star prospect is ranked as the nation’s No. 6 offensive guard and No. 83 prospect overall, but his summation of what he felt will sound a lot like what most die-hard Georgia fans felt that day.

It sounds like the loss to Vanderbilt was quite painful for Johnson to stomach. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
It sounds like the loss to Vanderbilt was quite painful for Johnson to stomach. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)

Johnson expects high school coaches across the state to use Georgia losing to Vanderbilt as a teaching point.

It already happened at Cedar Grove. His team played very well last week. That mirrors Georgia’s effort at South Carolina.

“My coach was upset with our defense yesterday and he used Georgia as an example,” Johnson said. “He said we have to stay focused after winning a big game and then come back the next week and start getting sloppy. He then said that’s how you lose to Vanderbilt.”

When he heard that, he said the feeling he had at Sanford Stadium came right back.

“I’m like ‘Aw, man coach’ why did you do that to us and have to bring up that Vanderbilt game again?” Johnson said.

A little news on Netori 

Johnson was the guest this week on another Wednesday Night Live Facebook chat with a Georgia commit. DawgNation’s Facebook page hosts a live recruiting chat every week. His Cedar Grove football team was fresh off an eye-opening 49-0 demolition of Pace Academy last Friday.

Netori Johnson (left) and his Cedar Grove teammates Justin Shaffer (right) will be a pair formidable guards at UGA beginning next season. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
Netori Johnson (left) and his Cedar Grove teammate Justin Shaffer (right) will be a pair of formidable guards at UGA beginning next season. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)

He said he’s at the point where he wants to take a few official visits soon to take advantage of his status as one of the nation’s top recruits. UGA offensive line coach Sam Pittman doesn’t even know it yet, but he planned to share the news with him this week.

“It is a respect thing,” Johnson said. “I want him to know about it before I go on them.”

But Pittman should know where his heart is.

Johnson plans to take all five of his official visits. That’s something he’s earned. Those close to him have also encouraged him to do.

“It is a once-in-a-lifetime thing for me here,” Johnson said. “That’s really what it is. It is a good opportunity for me to get around a little bit, have some fun and see a lot of schools.”

The former Alabama commitment made sure to say he won’t take an official visit to Tuscaloosa. He’s aware of what that might look like. So he’ll visit Oklahoma in the very near future. He will also take officials to Auburn and Florida in the SEC and mentioned Michigan as another spot.

His Georgia official will likely be the only one after the season. He said there’s nothing for DawgNation to worry about with those trips.

“Mom loves the facilities and the academics,” Johnson said. “She loves everything about it. It’s an hour and 20 minutes up the road. There’s nothing better than being a Dawg. … There’s nothing taking me away from Georgia. Nothing at all.”

Introducing “Mommy rolls” 

To put it simply, Johnson has enough personality to power his own reality show one day. His journey to elite recruit status is inspiring and yet he goes through life with uncommon joy.

Netori Johnson by Jeff Sentell 04192016
Johnson is rated as the nation’s No. 6 offensive guard in the Class of 2017. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)

He’s one of the few prep players (UGA commit Jaden Hunter would be another) I can already see being very comfortable analyzing football games in a studio chair if their careers took them in that direction.

Yet he’s also just very funny. A Facebook Live viewer asked Johnson Wednesday night if he wanted to be a comedian one day. He said that didn’t seem like a good fit.

He’s wrong. He could be because he’s a natural storyteller. That was apparent when another DawgNation Live viewer asked what was the favorite meal his Momma cooks up for him.

Johnson said she calls them “Mommy rolls.”

“What she’ll do is get some ground beef and get some cinnamon rolls,” Johnson said. “She’ll bake the cinnamon rolls and put the ground beef in the middle. She’ll wrap it around with bacon and put a little cheese over it and throw it in the oven. She’ll call it ‘Mommy rolls.’ It’s the best thing you can have. .. I can knock about four or five of them down.”

Those big mitts are going to be on Sam Pittman's offensive line at UGA next season. (Joshua L. Jones / Special)
Those big mitts are going to be on Sam Pittman’s offensive line at UGA next season. (Joshua L. Jones / Special)

Mommy rolls? More like fat rolls. Good thing he plays so hard.

That’s enough to make all of us want to go hit the gym after just reading that paragraph. It appears Johnson has something in common with 4-star junior OT commit Max Wray when it comes to food groups

When another viewer asked if he had a 6-pack underneath his UGA jacket, the 330-pounder found another term for abs.

“Right now currently I got a 1-pack,” Johnson said while rubbing his belly. “It is just a circle right here. I don’t think I will ever have a six-pack. I don’t even want to have a six-pack. I just want to be fluffy.”

UGA offer likely won’t faze in-state Auburn commit 

News traveled fast this week about a UGA offer for North Cobb linebacker Chandler Wooten. He’s rated as a 3-star prospect and as the nation’s No. 30 OLB for 2017.

The timing just seemed odd on several fronts. Wooten plans to enroll early and he’s been committed to Auburn for more than five months. The Bulldogs are the in-state school, but Wooten always favored Florida. The Gators were his dream school growing up and could have landed his commitment.

Wooten, a 3-star LB from North Cobb, still seems dead set on going to Auburn despite getting word that he has a UGA offer. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
Wooten, a 3-star LB from North Cobb, still seems dead set on going to Auburn despite getting word that he has a UGA offer. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)

Wooten, a 6-foot-2, 222-pounder, even took two trips to Gainesville during his information-gathering phase of his decision, but still liked Auburn better.

He still loves Auburn now.

“Auburn just has more of that family feel,” Wooten said. “Combine that with the relationships and how I feel about the Auburn coaching staff and that’s what put the Tigers over the top.”

Wooten and his family haven’t visited UGA since his sophomore year. He found a very considerate way to state that the contact seemed out of the blue.

That makes it hard for them to even think about  a visit or an official visit at this time. He also plans to enroll early.

“We haven’t really talked to the new staff and such and if I were to build a relationship with the new staff then I would definitely consider it,” Wooten said.

There was also some confusion about when UGA actually offered Wooten. He’s only one of about 10 elite linebacker prospects in Alabama and Georgia that most of the SEC are chasing after.

“They said they offered me a long time ago,” Wooten said. “But I just didn’t know it.”

Wooten has been committed to Auburn since May. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
Wooten has been committed to Auburn since May. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)

Wooten learned about his UGA offer when assistant coach Dell McGee visited North Cobb earlier this week. He said that McGee told him and his coaches that he’d already had the offer for quite some time.

If that sounds dubious, Wooten said that McGee verified that by producing a document that said he already has a Georgia offer.

“They showed me the offer sheets with all the prospects,” Wooten said. “Some people had a comment by them that said good-looking prospect and got to get him to camp but next to my name it said offered. Coach McGee even apologized to me for not expressing to me earlier that I had an offer. So that’s how it went.”

The Under Armour All-American described his status with Auburn as “very solid.” He loves the thought of playing behind all the young talent the Tigers have on the defensive line. Wooten said he’s “50-50” on the subject of visits even though Ohio State offered him earlier this month.

“I’m 50-50 on that and that’s 50 percent toward shutting down my recruiting all the way and 50 percent on deciding that I should take some visits,” he said.

Wooten did acknowledge that he feels that Kirby Smart is building something special at UGA. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
Wooten did acknowledge that he feels that Kirby Smart is building something special at UGA. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)

If he were to take visits, he said he would for sure go to Michigan State. Oklahoma was another stark possibility. Auburn would be his fourth. Georgia would possibly earn his fifth official visit.

UGA commit Trey Blount goes to the same church as Wooten. He knows a lot of the guys who will be going to play at Georgia.

“They are definitely building something very special over there with Kirby Smart from the outside looking in,” Wooten said. “Coach Smart is really building up a special defense and you can see the guys like Trey they are bringing in to help the offense. I can definitely see that they are going to do something special in the next couple of years.”

It doesn’t sound like that will be enough to sever the ties he has with Auburn. Wooten said if the proposed early signing period was in place now, then he’d have already signed his papers to play for Gus Malzahn.

Drastic improvement for another UGA commit 

Cedar Grove coach Jimmy Smith was effusive in his praise Wednesday for Georgia OL commit Justin Shaffer. The nearly 6-foot-5, 335-pounder plays left tackle for the Saints but will be a guard in college.

He said nobody really knows the player that Georgia is getting. Well, maybe just one person.

Shaffer is rated as the nation's No. 20 prospect at guard for 2017.
Shaffer is rated as the nation’s No. 20 prospect at guard for 2017.

“He has to be the most underrated player in the state of Georgia,” Smith said. “I tell you now that nobody really knows how good Justin is. He’s got a future as bright as Netori probably except nobody knows it yet. Well, I can tell you one that knows. That’s Sam Pittman. He’s been out here enough — more than anybody probably — and he knows how good Justin is going to be.”

Shaffer is rated as the nation’s No. 20 guard for the Class of 2017 and at No. 403 overall. He’s slotted as the No. 39 player in Georgia this year.

His ratings have been influenced by the fact that he was regarded as a tackle previously and that he plays that position in high school.


Bulldogs are a finalist for a 6-foot-6 tight end

Bullard High School (Bullard, Tex.) tight end Major Tennison is rated as the nation’s No. 11 tight end prospect in this year’s senior class. He’s all the way out of Texas but has taken a liking to Georgia despite that distance and how stacked the depth chart at tight end is right now.

Junior Jeb Blazevich is a team leader and has started 28 games in his UGA career. Freshman Charlie Woerner started the season opener against North Carolina and his classmate Isaac Nauta was rated as the nation’s top tight end coming out of high school last year.

Nauta ranks third on the team in receptions and receiving yards and second in touchdown catches. Sophomore Jackson Harris has also started a game this season in that crowd.

Tennison is still interested enough to place Georgia in his Top 3 with Alabama and Michigan.

“Like Alabama, they have been very honest with me and upfront,” Tennison told SEC Country’s Chris Kirschner. “I respect that a whole lot. I thought Athens was a very nice place and a great college town. Their season hasn’t gone quite as well as I think they would have hoped, but I think — given time — they’ll be the Georgia football of old.” 

 That’s a nice statement on a couple of fronts. Tennison said Shane Beamer and Jim Chaney have been his primary recruiters, but I don’t feel there’s enough of a connection there for Georgia to earn his commitment.

Alabama appears to be his eventual destination.

UGA lands in a Top 5 

South Florida 4-star prospect Christopher “C.J.” Henderson de-committed from Miami earlier this month. The 6-foot-1, 175-pounder is rated as the nation’s No. 15 cornerback for 2017.

He tabbed Georgia in the Top 5 he released this week. Henderson told DawgNation UGA was recruiting him as an athlete on both sides of the ball. He also said he’d take an official visit to UGA on Dec. 9.

Nike Football The Opening
Henderson is rated as the nation’s No. 15 CB for 2017. (Student Sports)

Henderson clocked a 4.39 laser-timed 40-yard dash at Nike’s elite “The Opening” combine and showcase back in July and his highlight reel shows off that impressive speed. He also played on the same 7-on-7 team with a host of UGA commits so he knows the core of the incoming class very well.

He got the chance to get to know Bulldog commits Trey Blount, Toneil Carter, Jake Fromm, Jaden Hunter, Richard LeCounte III, William Poole III during his time in Oregon.

Those factors — and assistant coach James Coley’s ties in Miami — likely landed the Bulldogs in his Top 5.

Those elements can help UGA with Henderson, but it is worth nothing that since he backed off that pledge to Miami he’s picked up a slew of predictions to Florida on 247Sports.com’s Crystal Ball Feature. There have been 11 predictions made by analysts and all 11 have him going to play for the Gators.

 

 

 

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