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Jeff Sentell / AJC
Four-star Kenney "KJ" Britt is rated as the nation's No. 15 ILB prospect for the Class of 2017.

Sentell’s Intel: It is not just Auburn or Georgia for 4-star LB Kenney Britt

OXFORD, Ala. — Georgia continues to be a major contender for Alabama four-star ILB Kenney “KJ” Britt.

He said on Wednesday afternoon the Bulldogs send him the best edits. Britt also felt the #SICEM17 group of commitments was one he could easily see himself playing with. Characters. Competitors. Fun guys. Great players. All that.

His coach, Ryan Herring, believed Britt was about to commit to Georgia awhile back. Put two fingers together. Try to slide a pair of tickets to this week’s game between them. We’re talking that close. The Bulldogs haven’t lost ground, but other schools have complicated that decision.

Britt made sure to watch the North Carolina game on TV last weekend. He was impressed.

“I like Georgia,” Britt said. “Great coaching staff. I know they are building it up.  I watched that game the other day and saw they have a lot of fight in them. I think coach (Kirby) Smart is going to be a great head coach. He’s going to be a guy to know. … Everything over there feels good and it feels new.”

Britt plans to take his official visit to Georgia after his senior season. He can enroll early, but might not because the possibility of playing at Stanford is that intriguing to him right now. Stanford does not allow January enrollment and that’s the only possibility which would keep him from enrolling early.

We could cover all of that and more on why the four-star inside linebacker might choose Georgia. Or Auburn or Ole Miss and even Michigan.

Britt plans to take an official visit to Georgia after his senior season. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
Britt plans to take an official visit to Georgia after his senior season. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)

Yet sooner or later we’d get to the good stuff I learned about Britt. I have long regarded him as an underrated prospect who always has a good time at camps. He’s always seemed clearly better than a lot of the guys ranked above him.

Yet the reasons why Auburn, Georgia, Michigan, Ole Miss and Stanford (his official visits) want him so bad go deeper than that.  There’s his 350-pound hang clean or the fact he’s never missed an early Wednesday morning bible study in two-plus years at Oxford.

That event takes place about two hours before school starts. Players skip that all the time. The average attendance would be five or six Yellow Jackets.

But I’ve heard stuff like that before. There are usually one or two elite guys every year who fit that profile around the South. Britt goes beyond that.

Oxford coach Ryan Herring has been around the game all his life. Robert Herring, his father, has won more than 200-games and multiple state championships along a distinguished 40-plus years of coaching in Alabama and Georgia.

Ryan Herring brings up things that nobody says about the players they coach and teach. That bible study group was just one example.

“I’ve never had one like him,” Herring said. “He’s the best kid I’ve ever known in my whole life including when I was growing up and since I’ve been in coaching 18 years. He’s got a maturity about him that’s unparalleled.”

The Oxford coach said he saw Britt talk to his mother-in-law at length.

“Then right after they spoke, my wife’s mother was almost in tears after meeting him and talking with him and how she was so impressed,” Herring said.

Then consider what Duke linebackers coach Jim Knowles told Herring about Britt.

“He talked to me about him last spring,” Herring said. “He told me ‘Now you know we don’t have a chance to get Kenney but that may be the best and most well-rounded conversation I have ever had with a teenage boy.’ He said our country has a chance if there are more guys like Kenney growing up out there.”

His high school coach says Britt is the best person he's ever been around in his entire life. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
His high school coach says Britt is the best person he’s ever been around in his entire life. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)

The Duke coach just volunteered that. It almost made Herring tear up about the nation’s No. 15 prospect at inside linebacker.

“I’ll say this: There’s not a better kid out there in this country as far as character,” Herring said.

Herring’s father — a Hall of Fame coach in Alabama — has gone to Christian concerts with Britt and his son.

As far as what he does on the field, the 6-foot-1, 228-pounder is the classic downhill gap-filler. And yet he goes to the Nike regional in Atlanta and earns MVP honors among the linebackers.

That should have been outside his skill set. He earned a ticket to “The Opening” in Oregon and shined amid the nation’s best in a 7-on-7 tournament. That should have exposed the weaker elements of his game, but he made the All-Tournament team after shadowing receivers in coverage. The first team.

He’s even better than that when the pads come on. Britt made a hit earlier this season which should be on every highlight reel this year showcasing the most violent plays in America.

“I’ve never seen anything like that before when a guy gets hit and does a flip and literally lands in the same spot as where the contact was made,” Herring said. “I’ve seen people get hit and knocked back and go flying and helmets come off, but I’ve never seen somebody run right through somebody, make them flip and they stay in the same spot. They do a full flip. I’ve never seen that.”

Britt scored a 24 on his ACT and thus was accepted into Stanford and earned the official visit that only comes after academic qualification. The teachers at Oxford love him. Even the ones that remember him from elementary and middle school.

“When we have pep rallies, the teachers who have had him in their class run up and hug him like he is Elvis,” Herring said. “And he’s not embarrassed about somebody giving him accolades or appreciation in a public setting. I am 41 years old and Kenney has twice the social skills that I have.”

Herring’s father thinks Britt could go right into college coaching after his playing career.

“He said he could be a 24-year-old linebackers coach in college right off the bat,” Ryan Herring said. “That’s how mature Kenney is and how well he relates to people.”

Britt, Part II

Britt places his recruiting in the proper perspective. He’s got a difficult decision and it sounds like the life-long benefit of a Stanford degree is weighing on him. He plans to study either engineering or nursing.

If he plans to live in Alabama one day, Auburn might be the best fit. That’s a main pitch from that staff. He also has great relationships with Georgia linebackers coach Glenn Schumann and Auburn linebackers coach Travis Williams.

KJ Britt was named to the All-Tournament first team at Nike's All-Star "The Opening" recruiting showcase this summer in Oregon. (Chris Kirschner / AJC)
KJ Britt was named to the All-Tournament first team at Nike’s All-Star “The Opening” recruiting showcase this summer in Oregon. (Chris Kirschner / AJC)

It seems like he is able to process all his options clearly. Part of that might come from a near-tragedy back in the summer. Britt, a friend and his little brother were rear-ended by a drunk driver coming back from a car wash at 4 p.m. in the afternoon. Everyone eventually came out okay, but his brother did have to go to the hospital and suffered a concussion.

“I just know how to take recruiting as it comes,” Britt said. “You can’t go through life expecting to see the next day so I just let recruiting happen and don’t try to force anything. That recruiting is just going to happen.”

Britt believes that everything happens for a reason. That accident allowed him to see how the schools who were recruiting him would react to that. Auburn sent about 15 cards to him, his little brother and his family.

“Every coach on the coaching staff called and checked on me, my brother and my family,” Britt said. “That impressed me a lot.”

Britt will visit Stanford on Oct. 21-22. He will go see Jim Harbaugh and Michigan on Oct. 1 for the Wisconsin game. His Auburn and Georgia officials will come in December. He’ll also schedule an official to Ole Miss during the season.

He said he will not make a silent commitment. He has not been invited to an All-American game. That’s a definite oversight.

Britt goes to Auburn a lot, but part of that is because it is so close. Another reason is that his grandfather lives in Auburn. He said the distance to Georgia is not a factor. He views that like he would a trip to Tuscaloosa.

Britt camped at Georgia earlier this summer. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
Britt camped at Georgia earlier this summer. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)

Stanford linebackers coach Peter Hansen will watch Britt play this week. He is taking that offer seriously. Coaching stability will be a key. He doesn’t want to play for a coach who might not have his job in two years.

Ole Miss has ratcheted up its pursuit and he now hears from a member of that staff every day. That includes head coach Hugh Freeze.

“I really and truly think you have to follow your heart and do what’s best for you,” Britt said. “.. I put all my trust in God and know everything is going to work out for me,” Britt said. “God will show me the place where I need to be.”

He knows where most of the top players in the South are going, but laughs when folks think they know where he’s going.

“I don’t even know where I am going yet so I don’t know how people may think they know when I don’t even know,” he said.

He’s not worried about scholarship slots filling up. If a coach calls him and says their programs has just one slot left and want him to take it, he won’t make a knee-jerk decision.

“If they really want me they will wait for me,” Britt said. “If they call me talking about spots then I could look at it as a blessing because maybe that shows God doesn’t want me there. I may look at that as God making my decision easier for me.”

He wants to play somewhere he will be surrounded by folks he enjoys being around.

“Relationships are going to be the key for me,” Britt said.

Another major UGA target at Oxford

Oxford sophomore offensive lineman Clay Webb picked up an offer from Mississippi State back when he was in middle school. He’s so physically powerful that he made the “Final 5” at the Nike regional for “The Opening” in Buford back in March.

Webb was repping at tackle and noticed no one was stepping in at center. He quickly fixed that and held his own with the elite rising juniors and seniors at the camp. Auburn had already offered by then. Alabama and Georgia offered after he turned in strong showings at their one-day camps this summer.

Webb already has four major SEC offers. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
Webb already has four major SEC offers. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)

The 6-foot-2, 295-pounder will be the strongest player in Oxford football history one day. Herring calls him a “freak of nature” who doesn’t know how strong he actually is. If he did, he might hurt somebody.

He’s a tackle at Oxford, but should be a multi-year starter at guard in the SEC. Georgia will be a major factor. His family moved to Alabama from Georgia and he has a lot of family in Georgia that are already urging him to play for the Bulldogs.

“My uncle John already tells me all the time I really need to go to Georgia,” Webb said.

Webb has relatives in Douglasville and Lawrenceville and an aunt who lives in Athens. His father was a college athlete who grew all the way to the 6-foot-8 mark. His mother is a physical education teacher at Oxford High.

Webb was very impressed by his trip to Georgia this summer. It is still early for him, but that planted a seed.

“Georgia definitely will have a shot with me,” Webb said. “I love the coaches there. I talked to the head coach myself and he was a very intelligent man. I would definitely play for him. He just seemed incredible to me already telling me what I needed to do to get ready for my future.”

He also got to know Georgia offensive line coach Sam Pittman on that trip.

“He was awesome,” Webb said. “He was funny when I went to the camp. When we went through all the drills he made funny comments about everything. It was a really good time working out for him at Georgia.”

The three-sport athlete currently plans to wait until his senior season to make his college decision. He also wrestles and throws the discus and shot put for the Oxford High track team. He’ll be at the Auburn game on Saturday and plans to visit Georgia at some time this season.

Did you see this?

The graphic edits that Georgia cranks out continue to impress. Britt is a fan. The Bulldogs sent one to five-star quarterback Trevor Lawrence recently that stands out.

Lawrence is rated as the nation’s No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2018. The 6-foot-6 junior at Cartersville High was expected to decide between Clemson and Georgia sometime right before fall camp, but it looks like that decision might come later during his junior season.

 

 

 

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