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Chris Kirschner and Jeff Sentell / AJC
Major UGA targets Nico Collins (left) Aubrey Solomon (right) both took their official visits to Michigan last week.

Sentell’s Intel: Jim Harbaugh and Michigan are a serious threat to 2 of UGA’s top targets

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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Michigan has been and will continue to be a major factor in the decision of two of Georgia’s priority remaining undecided recruiting targets.

That’s 4-star DL Aubrey Solomon and 4-star WR Nico Collins. Both of those young men are rated among the Top 5 vital undecided recruiting targets for the Class of 2017 in Athens.

Collins and Solomon both recently took visits up to Michigan. Both came back touting the crowd and atmosphere at “The Big House” and everything that went along with it. It was the first game for both prospects in Ann Arbor and it made a big impression.

That’s exactly what those two guys should be feeling after a trip to one of the great towns and venues in college football.

Should we start this discussion by looking at the bright side? I guess that would be that Jim Harbaugh knows football and is an esteemed talent evaluator.  He chased hard for current UGA freshman tight end Isaac Nauta.

If the Wolverines are going hard after the same guys that Georgia is, then that’s a good thing. It means that the Bulldogs are truly going after the nation’s elite talent.

Nico Collins comes in at No. 5 on DawgNation's list of the most vital remaining recruiting targets for 2017. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
Nico Collins comes in at No. 5 on DawgNation’s list of the most vital remaining recruiting targets for 2017. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)

Harbaugh even told Nauta that he’d go in the upper half of the first round of the NFL Draft one day if he signed with Michigan. That’s a strong pitch and he has the resume to say things like that.

You can bet that he’s put just as much gravy on the words he’s shared with both Collins and Solomon. Michigan earned an abrupt commitment from Solomon this summer after Harbaugh personally sat the Lee County (Leesburg, Ga.) standout down and walked him through the courses and classes he’d need to pursue a nursing degree at Michigan.

That stood out. No other coach had taken that approach with Solomon. He eventually de-committed from Michigan and reset everything on his recruiting timeline to the point he didn’t even plan to make a decision by National Signing Day. His mother Sabrina Caldwell is a major stakeholder in his decision and she told DawgNation earlier this fall to not expect him to make his decision at all in February and pointed to 1-2 months after National Signing Day.

Solomon told 247Sports.com’s National Recruiting Insider Ryan Bartow Michigan now leads following that official visit.  He also said it would be very hard to beat them.

His mother accompanied him on that trip. She went about the process of collecting all the information for her 31-question survey she had for the Wolverines. Solomon also told Bartow that while he previously favored Georgia he doesn’t have a No. 2 school at this point.

My take on this development is that there is a lot of “visit love” associated with the emotions attached to a great trip. There are still a great many pro-Georgia aspects to his recruiting. His mother also felt UGA was standing out less than 30 days ago.

Solomon (far right) has said that his family will have a big role in his eventual decision. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
Solomon (far right) has said that his family will have a big role in his eventual decision. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)

The 6-foot-3, 305-pounder has had several great visits and has named leaders at several points during his recruitment. I’ll expect him to feel similarly after future visits to Alabama and Clemson.

He also told Bartow that he didn’t have to take an official visit to Athens because he has been there so many times. The new contenders for his remaining officials are Alabama, Clemson, Oregon and USC.

As for Collins, Landof10’s Brandon Justice also reported a great many Wolverine positives after his official visit.  The 6-foot-5 receiver said Michigan was his best visit yet and he’d never experienced a game-day atmosphere like he took in on that trip to Michigan.

He saw Michigan demolish Maryland and one of his highlights was hearing an entire section of Michigan fans chant his name while he was on the field.  The Clay-Chalkville standout (Pinson, Ala.) also plans subsequent official visits to Alabama and UGA in January.

Michigan appears to be sitting pretty for both right now. But there will be a lot of road up ahead regarding these decisions.

Some might feel that’s because there’s also a lot of airline miles between Ann Arbor and their homes in the Deep South. That may not be that big of a factor with these two prospects.

Solomon’s mother plans to move away from Georgia once her youngest son graduates in 2018. He’s also a football prospect at defensive back. There are also a lot of family ties between Michigan and Collins. His father grew up there and his grandfather still resides there.

Get to know a 2017 commit better 

Dawgnation held another one of its “Wednesday Night Live” chats with a Georgia commitment last night at Hapeville Charter Career Academy. We got the chance to chat with 4-star cornerback commitment William Poole and the fans really took a liking to Poole.

The senior shared why he’s taking a break from social media right now. The viewers also learned he’ll be at the UGA-Auburn game and his hopes for playing right away. Poole was asked the proverbial silent commitment question and he said the number was currently at five.

That’s good. 5-star safety Richard LeCounte III placed the silent commitment number at four when we spoke to him last month.

Poole also helped us pick out the question of the night among more than 250 comments. That honor went to DawgNation Facebook Live viewer Rob Cain. Cain will receive a $100 gift card from Kroger for that effort. He asked Poole who he’d like to line up against if he could defend any UGA receiver — past or present — on the practice field.

Poole chose UGA legend A.J. Green.

Want to see the entire chat? The full broadcast is embedded below.

 

The Wray family has another big-time prospect

Georgia already has a commitment from 4-star OT Max Wray in the Class of 2018. He had an interesting climb from skinny kid to major recruit status.

Max Wray (right) and his younger brother Jake can basically block out half of a room in their home. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
Max Wray (right) and his younger brother Jake can basically block out half of a room in their home. They are both massive human beings. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)

Well, the sequel to that recruiting story has already arrived. That’s in the form of his younger brother Jake Wray.

The Class of 2020 recruit already stands 6-foot-5 on the growth chart and weighs 285-plus pounds. He’s also going to be an offensive tackle at the next level and has seen his recruiting spike over the last week.

He’s received offers from Ole Miss, Mississippi State and South Carolina this week. Wray also took an unofficial visit to LSU last weekend and hung out with 5-star QB Trevor Lawrence on that trip.

The Franklin High (Franklin, Tenn.) freshman put on weight a lot faster than his older brother. There’s no telling what he will look like when its time for him to play college football in the fall of 2020.

 

More good news from Team Wray

Max Wray, the older brother, is already planning to work to enroll early at UGA in January of 2018. The 6-foot-6, 285-pounder is rated as the nation’s No. 8 offensive tackle and overall as the nation’s No. 58 overall prospect for the Class of 2018.

The biggest reason why Wray is committed to Georgia would be offensive line coach Sam Pittman. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
The biggest reason why Wray is committed to Georgia would be offensive line coach Sam Pittman. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)

The big offensive tackle has already begun the process of lining up the classes he needs to take this summer at a local college in the Nashville Metro area to be able to graduate early and join the program next January.

Wray committed to Georgia back in April and hasn’t wavered one bit in his decision. He promptly un-followed all the coaches that he’d established recruiting relationships with on Twitter and has told his coaches at Franklin High to politely tell recruiters that stop by and visit the school that he’s not interested in playing anywhere but at UGA.

I expect Max to become a major behind-the-scenes recruiter for UGA in the off-season. Look for him to continue to take on a leadership role in building the Class of 2018 all around him.

Wray and 4-star Rome OLB Adam Anderson are currently the only commitments for the Class of 2018 at this time.

He can’t get to Athens fast enough given the program’s current short-term and long-term needs at offensive tackle.

A name to keep in mind 

Not much has been written about the next move for Blinn Junior College (Brenham, Tex.) cornerback Kendall Sheffield yet.

That’s because Sheffield doesn’t do much media. He was tight-lipped about his transfer from Alabama prior to this season to play at the same junior college that served as a way station for reigning NFL MVP Cam Newton’s star turn at Auburn.

Sheffield committed to play at Alabama while UGA coach Kirby Smart was still running that defense. The Texas native was a five-star recruit ranked as the No. 4 cornerback prospect and tabbed the nation’s No. 20 overall player for 2015.

UGA defensive coordinator Mel Tucker might get the chance to recruit a familar face over the next two months in Athens. (Joshua L. Jones / Special)
UGA defensive coordinator Mel Tucker might get the chance to recruit a familiar face over the next two months in Athens. (Joshua L. Jones / Special)

He redshirted his freshman season at Alabama and was coached by current UGA defensive coordinator Mel Tucker.

There’s a recent report linking him to Texas A&M to stay close to his home state, but I do expect UGA to be a factor. The 6-foot, 188-pounder would step in and immediately contend for a starting spot in Athens.

According to 247Sports’ Taylor Hamm, Sheffield has planned an unofficial visit with family to Texas A&M for the Nov. 24 LSU game. Hamm also reports through sources that Sheffield will return to College Station on an official visit in early December.

Sheffield was expected to receive heavy playing time this year for Alabama but abruptly transferred. He was running with the second team at cornerback prior to his mid-August departure.

He chose the Crimson Tide over interest in Texas A&M, Florida State and USC coming out of high school. Blinn’s season is over and Sheffield started in every game. He didn’t get much action but saw some passes because the starting cornerback on the other side of the defense has ironically committed to Alabama.

Sheffield transferred to Blinn and was able to play immediately. The move allows him to transfer back to any NCAA school — including those in Power 5 conferences like the SEC — without restriction.

He recently told 247Sports.com’s Chris Hummer that he plans to take all five of his official visits and make his decision sometime during the junior college signing period. That runs from Dec. 14 to Jan. 17. Given his ties to Smart and Tucker, I’d expect him to at least strongly consider taking an official visit to UGA.

 

Basketball good news up ahead?

Georgia basketball fans will be eagerly awaiting the news coming out of a 3 p.m. signing ceremony at Norcross High School today.

That falls in line with something my DawgNation colleague Seth Emerson wrote recently about college basketball recruiting for UGA. UGA hoops coach Mark Fox has been keeping his 20-win season streak intact by signing lesser-known prospects, but the program stands to get a talent infusion later today.

Georgia basketball head coach Mark Fox stands to be smiling pretty big later this afternoon. (Randy Schafer/Special)
Georgia basketball head coach Mark Fox stands to be smiling pretty big later this afternoon. (Randy Schafer/Special)

UGA is the runaway leader on the 247Sports Crystal Ball for Norcross forward Rayshaun Hammonds. There have been 11 predictions made on his future and every one of them points to Athens.

The 6-foot-7, 190-pound forward is rated the nation’s No. 50 overall prospect by 247Sports. Emerson points out that Hammonds would be the second-highest rated recruit to sign with Fox at Georgia.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope still holds that distinction as the highest-rated signee in the Fox era. Pace Academy senior Wendell Carter is also a possibility to sign with UGA during the early signing period and he’s rated No. 4 overall in the nation this year.

But I’d pump the breaks on that one. Duke is involved for the 6-foot-10 forward. We all usually know what that means. Georgia also missed on 4-star power forward Garrison Brooks yesterday.

The Alabama native chose Mississippi State over Georgia and North Carolina. Nicolas Claxton, the son of former Georgia center Charles Claxton, is the only other prospect known to be on Georgia’s radar for the early signing period.

 

 

 

 

 

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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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